Redemptive history– the work of God throughout time in graciously granting salvation to sinners for His glory– is bifurcated in the book of Hebrews in at least two ways, both of which are centered in Christ. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Exegetical Issues’ category
Imagine if you will a situation in which a headlight on your new car blew and you found that the design of the headlight fixture was so unusual that you needed to consult the owner’s manual of the car in order to know how to fix it. Flipping through the owner’s manual, you find that the headlights are mentioned in several different sections– sections devoted to topics like “Driving Safety” and “Your Car’s Electrical System.” Now, reading through these sections might tell you many things about your car’s headlights. But if there was a section specifically devoted to the topic “Headlights,” then it would make the most sense to turn to this section first to find out the answer to the question, “How do I change my headlights?” Relying on other parts of the owner’s manual alone, rather than examining the most relevant section, may actually lead you to wrong conclusions about how to change your headlights and cause great frustration to you and to others. In a similar way, when looking to examine a particular doctrine found in Scripture, one should begin by exploring the section of God’s Word that is most relevant to the discussion of the teaching in question and not by trying to draw conclusions from various other Bible passages.
Dr. Vines has apparently had at least some exposure to Calvinistic exegesis of the proof-texts used for Unlimited atonement mentioned in my previous post and he has chosen to disregard these explanations in favor of his own tradition, as demonstrated in the following quote:
“There’s no way you can monkey with the text and play exegetical games and get around the fact that the Bible teaches when Jesus died on the Cross, He died for the sins of the whole world.”
After giving his definition of what Calvinists believe concerning Limited atonement and after making an appeal to popular Baptist hymns in an attempt to demonstrate that Baptists do not believe in this doctrine, Dr. Vines next turned to the proof-texts commonly used on both sides of this debate.
Limited atonement proof-texts cited:
In one sense, Dr. Vines was more even-handed than some anti-Calvinists in his presentation against Limited atonement, for he actually did, at least, present some of the common proof-texts that help persuade people that Limited atonement is a biblical doctrine. The texts he cited are as follows:
[Please read the last two posts for the context of what you are about to read.]
The verse I mentioned at the end of the last post, Revelation 5:9, which mentioned the song the saints will sing in heaven to Jesus, who ransomed people for God from throughout the world by His blood, provides an excellent transition to the next point under consideration, that of Dr. Vines’ appeal to Baptist hymnody, as he expressed with the following statement:
“We sang these beautiful songs tonight… about the Cross, ‘For Man, the creature’s, sin.’ That’s the death of Christ for the whole world!”
Dr. Vines attempted to demonstrate that the hymns sung in Southern Baptist churches are indicative of incompatibility between Southern Baptist beliefs and the doctrine of Limited atonement. In response to this, I would like to assert that the songs found within the majority of Southern Baptist hymnals fall into three categories:
[Please see yesterday’s post for the context of what you are about to read.]
Dr. Vines began his anti-Calvinism speech with the following two statements, declaring:
“Number 1. I’m not going to attack individuals in this message. I have many friends and they’re many sincere Christians who are Calvinists. I’m not dealing with personalities or individuals; I’m dealing with the theology of Calvinism; Number 2, What I’m going to say to you tonight is not exhaustive. I will not deal with every Scripture that is used on both sides of the issue, nor will I address every logical argument pro or con.”
Likewise, the current series of posts on Strange BaptistFire are in no way an attack on Dr. Vines as an individual. I personally have little knowledge about Dr. Vines or his past ministry. I do know that he has a very good reputation among many in the Southern Baptist Convention. As Dr. Vines said, “I’m not dealing with personalities or individuals.” Instead, my contribution to this series of posts will be to examine Dr. Vines’ recent teaching against the doctrine of Limited atonement. Following Dr. Vines’ lead in terms of relative brevity, this will not be an exhaustive treatment of the Bible’s teaching on the extent of the atonement. Again, as Dr. Vines stated, “I will not deal with every Scripture that is used on both sides of the issue, nor will I address every logical argument pro or con.” I do hope, however, to give a fairly throrough examination of Dr. Vine’s teaching on this subject as presented in the speech under consideration, as well as asserting what I believe to be the biblical response to his position.
Why Must Our Hermeneutics Be Trinitarian?
by Vern Sheridan Poythress
[Published in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 10/1 (spring 2006), 96-98.]
Our hermeneutics must be Trinitarian because God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Consummator, is Trinitarian. When we interpret either the words of God or the works of God, we need to take into account who he is. Everything we know about him, including his Trinitarian character, potentially influences our understanding of his words and his works. Moreover, when people introduce erroneous conceptions of God, whether deistic, pantheistic, unitarian, or modalistic, those errors will inevitably affect interpretation of the meaning of God’s words and works, because meaning is influenced by one’s conception of authorship. The effects may often be subtle, but may sometimes also be dramatic.