Connect316: Brethren of Like-mind

Tonight I will be giving a short testimony of my journey in and out of Calvinism to a group of around two hundred pastors, educators, scholars and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. This group, of which I now consider myself a supporting member, calls itself “Connect316.”

There is something powerful about being with others of like-mind. I had this in abundance as a Calvinist, but honestly I felt very alone for quite some time after recanting TULIP.  Calvinists have online boards, conferences, cool speakers, provocative authors and even rap artists. They have an easy to explain 5 point system, an established label and an abundance of resources for every age level. I walked away from that to find…well…how do I put this in a nice way….

…I found many who just want to get along. They want to avoid conflict at any cost. Sure, they reject the claims of Calvinists, but they see this whole debate as a fringe issue that for the most part should be brushed under the rug. Maybe they are right? Maybe we shouldn’t confront the Calvinistic teachers, singers, leaders and scholars as they teach the future generations that God does not really desire for all to repent unto salvation? What harm is done if all our seminaries become Calvinistic? So what if a majority of our pastors graduating from these institutions do not believe God self-sacrificially loves and provides salvation for every person? I suppose to some people that is not a concern worthy of a brotherly confrontation.

However, for those who see that this is a point worthy to be addressed, where do you turn? Are their others of like-mind? Yes. There are other SBC ministers who are concerned about the Calvinistic resurgence and desire to promote an age-old robust biblical soteriology that has too often been overlooked by this generation.

I am not any kind of authority or spokesman for this group, but if I were to summarize the uniting focus in one sentence it would be this:

“Those who believe God genuinely loves, desires, and thus provides for the salvation of every single person.”

This group of scholars, ministers and laymen, while still affirming man’s sinful condition from birth, insists that every individual is personally responsible for their own choices in response to God’s gracious provision and loving appeal to be reconciled (2 Cor. 5:20). In other words, this group denies the concept that mankind is born unable to willingly respond to the powerful, Holy Spirit wrought gospel truth.

This group is not afraid of the word “election.” They simply refuse to accept the gnostic influenced interpretation of this biblical concept first introduced in the 5th century by a former Manichean philosopher from Africa who did not know Greek.*

They believe God unconditionally elected Israel to bring the light of salvation to the rest of the world, so that whosoever turns to that light will be reconciled to God.

They believe God’s atonement is provided for all but only benefits those who choose to believe and repent in light of God’s gracious appeal to do so.

They believe God is abundantly gracious in providing redemption through His Son, revelation by His Spirit through the word, and fellowship in His Bride, but no one will be compelled against their will to partake in this gracious provision. Nor shall anyone’s “will” be irresistibly altered by some divine mystical force. No, man alone is responsible (read “able to respond”) to God’s self-revelation and appeals for reconciliation. There is no biblical reason to suggest that a fallen man is born incapable of responding to God’s own gracious appeals to be reconciled from that fall. 

This group believes God has predestined all who are in Christ to be made holy and to be adopted on the day of redemption (Eph.1:4); something all believers eagerly await (Rm. 8:23). And how does one come to be “in Him?” Paul tells us quite clearly:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

We are not included “in Him” before creation, but only after we hear the message of truth and believe.

Now, this is a group of the SBC with whom I’m proud to be associated!

 

 

*Loraine Boettner, Calvinism in History: Before the Reformation (a Reformed Historian and Theologian): “It may occasion some surprise to discover that the doctrine of Predestination was not made a matter of special study until near the end of the fourth century. The earlier church fathers placed chief emphasis on good works such as faith, repentance, almsgiving, prayers, submission to baptism, etc., as the basis of salvation. They of course taught that salvation was through Christ; yet they assumed that man had full power to accept or reject the gospel. Some of their writings contain passages in which the sovereignty of God is recognized; yet along side of those are others which teach the absolute freedom of the human will. Since they could not reconcile the two they would have denied the doctrine of Predestination and perhaps also that of God’s absolute Foreknowledge. They taught a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will. It was hard for man to give up the idea that he could work out his own salvation. But at last, as a result of a long, slow process, he came to the great truth that salvation is a sovereign gift which has been bestowed irrespective of merit; that it was fixed in eternity; and that God is the author in all of its stages. This cardinal truth of Christianity was first clearly seen by Augustine, the great Spirit-filled theologian of the West. In his doctrines of sin and grace, he went far beyond the earlier theologians, taught an unconditional election of grace, and restricted the purposes of redemption to the definite circle of the elect.”– quoted from: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/boettner/boettner_calvinism.html [date accessed: 3/12/15]

 

24 thoughts on “Connect316: Brethren of Like-mind

  1. “Those who believe God genuinely loves, desires, and thus provides for the salvation of every single person.”
    …………………
    Calvinists would add, provides for the salvation of every single person without distinction.

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  2. Augustine:
    “In his doctrines of sin and grace, he went far beyond the earlier theologians, taught an unconditional election of grace, and restricted the purposes of redemption to the definite circle of the elect.”
    ……………………
    “he went far beyond the earlier theologians,”; Augustine also went beyond scripture.

    1Cor 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leighton – You rhetorically asked – “What harm is done if all our seminaries become Calvinistic?” Just take a look at what resulted in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and our New England states! I worked 12 years in RC Ireland, and with such a large number of evangelical Calvinistic Irish just across the border in the northern six protestant counties, it was a shame as to how small the number was of who came south to co-labor to win their co-Gaelic neighbors. I saw it as directly related to your “antichrist” view of the papacy in their theology, and their Calvinism, which viewed anyone in RC as having the mark of the beast and therefore identified as among the reprobate already. Keep up the good work for sound doctrine concerning God’s universally provided for and offered mercy!

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  4. Boettner said:
    They taught a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will.

    Good to know they taught Arminianism…

    Boettner said:
    Since they could not reconcile the two they would have denied the doctrine of Predestination and perhaps also that of God’s absolute Foreknowledge.

    This is ridiculous, unfounded conclusion. The Calvinist seems to find it inconceivable that a person can find foreknowledge and predestination compatible with libertarian autonomy, however the fathers seem to have no such compulsion.

    Tertullian (circa 160 – 220)
    If He had checked (man’s freedom), would He not then seem to have been rather deceived, through want of foresight into the future? But in giving it full scope, who would not say that He did so in ignorance of the issue of things? God, however, did fore-know that man would make a bad use of his created constitution

    Origen (circa 185–254)
    Moreover, in order that you might understand that the cause of each person’s salvation is to be found not I God’s foreknowledge but in that person’s intentions and actions, notice that Paul tormented his body and subjected it to servitude because he feared that, after having preached to others, he himself might perhaps become reprobate

    Justin Martyr (circa 100 – 165)
    So that what we say about future events being foretold, we do not say it as if they came about by a fatal necessity; but God foreknowing all that shall be done by all men, and it being His decree that the future actions of men shall all be recompensed according to their several value, He foretells by the Spirit of prophecy that He will bestow meet rewards according to the merit of the actions done, always urging the human race to effort and recollection, showing that He cares and provides for men.

    Irenaeus (2nd century – 202)
    But God, foreknowing all things, prepared fit habitations for both, kindly conferring that light which they desire on those who seek after the light of incorruption, and resort to it; but for the despisers and mockers who avoid and turn themselves away from this light, and who do, as it were, blind themselves, He has prepared darkness suitable to persons who oppose the light, and He has inflicted an appropriate punishment upon those who try to avoid being subject to Him.

    Clement of Alexandria (150-215)
    And what voice shall He wait for, who, according to His purpose, knows the elect already, even before his birth, knows what is to be as already existent? Does not the light of power shine down to the very bottom of the whole soul; “the lamp of knowledge,” as the Scripture says, searching “the recesses”? God is all ear and all eye, if we may be permitted to use these expressions.

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  5. Dizerner: Boettner has a wonderful ability to irritate me to no end. And he seemed to get Arminianism totally wrong.

    Leighton, thanks for writing. It’s been somewhat lonely here too–at least it would be worse without the fellowship of (theologically) likeminded brothers and sisters online.

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    1. Oh wow. Great point Darin.

      I believe Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints or Once-saved Always-saved are all just as bad a heresy as Calvinism, in fact it logically connects to Calvinism and denies free will (that you can’t reject Christ in your future), as well as being very unscriptural in all ways.

      As much as I love John 3:16 and Arminianism I could never consent to joining this.

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      1. Hi Dizerner. Do you believe that once you get to heaven you will always be saved after that, or will your free will still allow you to fall and be lost? If you believe eternal security begins then, why, and why would it be impossible for God to have it start at regeneration instead of waiting for resurrection? Thanks.

        Also, am I forgiven, per the last post?

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      2. You say:
        Also, am I forgiven, per the last post?

        Absolutely brian, I apologize for being so overly sensitive.

        You say:
        Hi Dizerner. Do you believe that once you get to heaven you will always be saved after that, or will your free will still allow you to fall and be lost? If you believe eternal security begins then, why, and why would it be impossible for God to have it start at regeneration instead of waiting for resurrection?

        First of all, there’s no point in throwing in “possibilities” since I don’t set any limits on God. It’s “possible” for God to set up any system at all, one were atheists are rewarded for being intellectually honest about their feelings or where all religions lead to God. So possibilities don’t add in any way to the argument and should be avoided as red herrings.

        You say:
        Do you believe that once you get to heaven you will always be saved after that, or will your free will still allow you to fall and be lost?

        I believe both heaven and hell are permanent irreversible states of being. There is good Scriptural evidence for that. This life however is a valley of decision because we must hold firm to the end in our faith.

        This is perhaps an awkward and inappropriate place to discuss OSAS, POS, ES, and SOB. I could start a thread on theos.org.

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      3. Thank you my Brother, Dizerner, for your kind, humble remarks.

        I will have to decline right now too begin a new discussion. I probably should even curtail my interactions here, because my summer school schedule has been more than I thought.

        But I appreciate your thoughts on answer to my questions posed concerning eternal security.

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      4. Dizerner I am wondering what your theological affiliation is? What group are you part of?

        I ask this because Leighton Flowers and myself and probably most of those who post here are Baptists (and Baptists hold to eternal security, that we cannot lose our salvation once we are saved, in this life and also in the next). Despite the fact this is an ostensibly Baptist website you said of the believe that we cannot lose our salvation that “I believe that . . .are just as bad a heresy as Calvinism.” Are you now declaring all Baptists to be heretics and that our heresy is “just as bad a heresy as Calvinism”?? Do you really believe that Leighton Flowers is a heretic?

        If you believe that: then why are going posting on this Baptist blog?

        You also claimed that “it logically connects to calvinism and denies free will”. This is not accurate as most Baptists are not calvinists and hold to the ordinary conception of free will. I just want clarification from you as you make these claims. I doubt I would convince you of our Baptist view at the same time I want to know whether or not you actually consider Baptists to be heretics for our belief that we cannot lose our salvation.

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      5. Brother please know, that with all my heart, I want to be convinced of what the Word of God teaches. To the very best of my ability (and I know no one is perfect) I do no want any bias or prejudice to effect how I read the Word of God. I’m sure most Christians would attest to that (I like to believe the best of people) but of course I want people to know that too.

        You say: Despite the fact this is an ostensibly Baptist website

        Um. I was vaguely aware that there was a Baptist affiliation, but It’s a website on theology. If I have to be a Baptist to read a website on theology I’ll leave pronto.

        You say:
        you said of the believe that we cannot lose our salvation that “I believe that . . .are just as bad a heresy as Calvinism.” Are you now declaring all Baptists to be heretics and that our heresy is “just as bad a heresy as Calvinism”??

        I don’t think Calvinism is a serious heresy, my intent was it was just as bad an error as Calvinism (I only used to the word heresy for people that would call Calvinists heretics, and yet hold to a similar doctrine). I don’t see Calvinism as a heresy jeopardizing any central tenant of Christianity, and I’ve stated that on this very blog. So I was “hyperbolizing.” Do I see Eternal Security as as bad an error as Calvinism? I would say close to it, because it directly denies the Word of God and the ability of a free will rejection of Christ, and perhaps in some situations were it could mislead in a person in grievous thing to think everything is “okay” with God yet he ends up in hell, even more serious than Calvinism.

        You say:
        Do you really believe that Leighton Flowers is a heretic?

        No. I don’t think Calvinism, Eternal Security or Open Theism are any serious heresies but just errors in doctrine. I count them all brothers if they hold to fundamental truths of salvation by faith in grace through Christ.

        Aren’t there Baptists that don’t believe in Eternal Security?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Brothers, I am in need of some solid fellowship in the North Dallas Area. I am a Non-Calvinist so preferably, not under Calvinistic leadership, but however I do not desire to be in a fellowship that thrives off of making a tirade out of our Brothers that are Calvinistic, so please provide me with a list that are lovers of the truth, but yet are respectable and irenical in their disagreements with the Calvinist. Please assist me in whatever way possible.

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  7. Your desire to want to be convinced of what the Bible teaches is commendable and shared I think by most of those who post here, even if they disagree on some issues.

    I asked you what your church affiliation is, and I ask you again, what church are you part of? I want to know where you are coming from.

    You misunderstood my comments about your posting on a Baptist blog. The issue is not that you have to be Baptist to read this blog or participate: the issue is that you came in explicitly saying that Baptists hold to a heresy that is just as bad as the heresy of calvinism in our belief in eternal security. A person who espouses heresies is a heretic. In your claim and in the use of the term heresies you were declaring all Baptists to be heretics. I believe the problem is that you are using this term in a careless and irresponsible manner. All of us have errors in our beliefs and theologies, but if all errors ought to be designated as heresies then all of us are heretics. That is using the term way too broadly.

    The term heresies ought to be more narrowly used in reference to denials of essential Christian doctrines such as the trinity or deity of Christ, beliefs affirmed by all genuine believers. In this way, genuine believers may be mistaken on certain issues but they are ot heretics. Some examples, calvinism and open theism are serious errors, but if a calvinist or open theist affirms essential doctrines such as the trinity and deity of Christ and incarnation and physical resurrection of Christ, we should say they are in error but they are not espousing heresies nor are they heretics. The same is true of eternal security, genuine believers hold both positions, and as a Baptist I believe the denial of eternal security is an error but I will not designate someone who makes that error as espousing heresies or being a heretic. We could take this same reasoning and apply it to millennial views (Premills, AMills and Postmills cannot all be correct and yet they are not espousoing heresies nor are they heretics for being mistaken in this area) or rapture views (pretrib, midtrib, pre-wrath, posttrib cannot all be correct and yet they are not espousing heresies nor are they heretics for being mistaken in this area). I believe the careless use of the term heresy brings all sorts of confusiion and unnecessary divisiion among professing believers. So it should be reserved for denials of essential doctrines not issues that godly people can and do disagree about. In the future perhaps it would be better if you do not engage in “hyperbolozing” and declaring other believers to be espousing heresies when they hold views different than yours which do not involve essential doctrines. That is an inappropriate usage of the word heresies and you should refrain from using it in that way in the future.

    As far as I know Baptists affirm eternal security, this a common Baptist distinctive. What church are you a part of, and do all of you deny eternal security?

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    1. Hi Robert, Eternal security is not a Baptist distinctive, as the history of the 17th century General Baptists and present day Freewill Baptists demonstrates. Just thought you might like to know. Believers’ baptism is the main distinctive, of course, and a necessary sound doctrine for pastoral leadership (Titus 1:9).

      But personally, I believe eternal security is sound doctrine and necessary for pastoral ordination also. If you have ever been on an ordination council you know how it makes you think seriously about what is necessary to believe for pastoral qualification, and what are just doubtful disputations.

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      1. Brian you are correct, I should not have made it seem as if all Baptists hold to eternal security: “As far as I know Baptists affirm eternal security, this a common Baptist distinctive.” It would have been more accurate to say something such as “most Baptists hold to eternal security, though there are some exceptions such as X and Y.” Believer Baptism is **the** distinctive among Baptists as it is the common denominator among all of us.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. You’re right, I misspoke. I was thinking in my head how people so easily condemn another wrong thing when they have a willingness to hold to incorrect ideas and it came out all wrong. I sincerely apologize for that.

      I self identify as a Christian mystic Arminian who holds to Sola Scriptura. I will fellowship with anyone who respects the Word of God and loves Christ, and I greatly dislike labeling Christians and see it as unscriptural (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, etc.). I realize it’s for the sake of convenience, so that you can quickly know what people believe, but I still dislike and avoid it, because people are far to eager to give a human institution the veneration of instant respect and orthodoxy without taking everything to the Word. I’ve fellowshiped in various churches over the years but none of which I’d completely agree in doctrine so it’s pointless to say. I like to see people as individuals and I think that the Word of God addresses people as individuals as well.

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      1. Dizerner,

        “You’re right, I misspoke. I was thinking in my head how people so easily condemn another wrong thing when they have a willingness to hold to incorrect ideas and it came out all wrong. I sincerely apologize for that.”

        Glad to see your change of mind about the use of the word heresies. Apology accepted.

        “I self identify as a Christian mystic Arminian who holds to Sola Scriptura.”

        I know what an Arminian is, but what is a “Christian mystic Arminian”?

        ‘I will fellowship with anyone who respects the Word of God and loves Christ,”

        Good that is one of the primary reasons for not using the word heresy in reference to genuine believers.

        “and I greatly dislike labeling Christians and see it as unscriptural (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, etc.). I realize it’s for the sake of convenience, so that you can quickly know what people believe, but I still dislike and avoid it,”

        At times labels can be useful as long as they are not used in a pejorative way.

        “because people are far to eager to give a human institution the veneration of instant respect and orthodoxy without taking everything to the Word.”

        Well unfortunately that is a common problem with many people, refusal to think for themselves, refusal to “be a Berean” which **is** someone who “takes everything to the Word” to be tested via evaluation by the Word.

        ” I’ve fellowshiped in various churches over the years but none of which I’d completely agree in doctrine so it’s pointless to say. I like to see people as individuals and I think that the Word of God addresses people as individuals as well.”

        Well if you are looking for a perfect church, perfect doctrinally, that may not be possible here, as one person put it, “the only perfect church is the one in heaven, down here all are less than perfect, some less perfect than others!” 🙂 Kinda reminds me of the infamous line from ANIMAL FARM that: “”All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” 🙂 While we may not find a perfect church down here, we need to be involved in a local church in order to be obedient to the Lord and in order to be in submission to others and mutually encouraging to others as well.

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      2. A Christian mystic emphasizes the experiential aspect of religion, that we can experience God, and that Scripture places a strong emphasis on experiencing God. I see it aslo as a matter of emphasis on mystery in the nature of God.

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  8. Leighton,

    If “predestination” in Romans 8:29 refers to the nation of Israel (which I believe it does), and since adoption to sonship belongs to Israel (Romans 9:4) then Ephesians 1:3-14 could be read as follows (please notice the distinction of the pronouns “we” or “us” in relation to “you”)….

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us (the Jews) in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us (the Jews) to adoption as sons (Romans 9:4) by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

    In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us (the Jews; especially Paul) the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we (the Jews) have obtained an inheritance, being predestined (Romans 8:29) according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we (the Jews) who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

    In Him you (Gentiles) also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

    Just a thought.

    God bless, brother.

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    1. Phillip,

      I believe that you are making a mistake here, and it occurs at the very beginning of your post where you write:

      “If “predestination” in Romans 8:29 refers to the nation of Israel (which I believe it does), and since adoption to sonship belongs to Israel (Romans 9:4) then Ephesians 1:3-14 could be read as follows (please notice the distinction of the pronouns “we” or “us” in relation to “you”)….”

      The mistake you are making is to take the reference in Romans 8:29 to be referring to “the nation of Israel” alone.

      This is a mistake because Paul in Romans 8 throughout the chapter is talking about things that have reference to all believers not just “the nation of Israel”. In Romans 9 there are textual indicators that he is speaking of “the nation of Israel” at certain points. In Romans 8 however there are no such textual indicators and again Paul is speaking not just about “the nation of Israel” but about all believers. We know that the church at Rome was a mixed church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, so it would be better to take Paul in Romans 8 as speaking to BOTH Jews and Gentiles throughout that chapter.

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  9. John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him.shall not perish but have everlasting life.

    Interlinear Bible – thus indeed loved God the world that the Son, the only begotten, he gave that every believing in him (or believing ones) not should perish but might have life eternal

    John 3:16 does not even have “whosoever” but those believing in him or believing ones. To many times we want to say that “whosoever will believe in him” But it is talking about believers already, in a present continuous state of believing. Believing ones. Not those we are trying to get saved (only God saves) Preachers say when preaching, W H O, S O, E V E R, LEAVING OUT THE WORD BELIEVES. iT IS TALKING ABOUT A GROUP THAT CHRIST DIED FOR, BELIEVING ONES.

    iT DOES NOT SAY “WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE

    “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON IN ORDER THAT BELIEVING ONES SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIVES”

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