Do You Know Balthasar Hubmaier?

Balthasar Hubmaier (1480-1528) was a thoughtful opponent to the doctrine of the bondage of the will and of predestination that was prevalent in thought of Luther, Zwingli and the Magisterial Reformers.

For Hubmaier, the liberation of the will is the work of God through the preaching of the gospel, “Through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, it is liberated from its bondage to sin through the new birth.” (Schriften, p. 322).  Through the gospel God takes the initiative in drawing men to himself.  As the gospel is proclaimed, God’s Spirit convicts human hearts and leads them to confess Christ.  While God takes the initiative, he does not make the decision for man.  By His “attracting, drawing will” . . . God “wills and draws all men unto salvation.  Yet choice is still left to man, since God wants him without pressure, unconstrained, under no compulsion.” (Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, p. 135)

Hubmaier’s distaste for the doctrine of predestination is unconcealed.  He wrote, “It were a false God who should day words, “Come here,” and yet in secret in his heart should think, “Sit yonder.”  It would be an unfaithful God who should publicly offer grace to man, and should clothe him in new raiment, yet in secret take it away from him and prepare hell for him.” (Vedder, Balthasar Hubmaier, p. 197.)

via Dr. Bruce Prescott, at MainStreamBaptists.org

 


You Need to Know Balthasar Hubmaier

by Pastor Brandon Cox

Baptists sometimes miss out on great ancient resources found in some great theologians and leaders of the past who probably impacted our theology as much or more than the Reformers, but the Reformers get all the kudos.

Take, for example, Balthasar Hubmaier, an early anabaptist leader. (It’s not capitalized because the word “anabaptist” was never a particular sect or denomination, but rather a term loosely applied to those who “re-baptized” those who had already been baptized as infants. They were also called “radical reformers” and many lived and died martyr’s deaths before Luther and Calvin walked the earth. But I digress…)

Hubmaier was heavily influenced by Erasmus and other Swiss leaders early on, but soon found plenty of platforms upon which to debate, particularly on the issue of believer’s baptism. Hubmaier had the gaul to assert that people should be baptized as responsible adults who were making the decision to follow Christ on their own, and that such baptism should be by immersion, and further that such baptism accomplished no particular saving work but was rather an act of obedience to Christ. In Hubmaier’s own words…

Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is when a man first confesses his sins, and pleads guilty; then believes in the forgiveness of his sins through Jesus Christ, and turns to live according to the rule of Christ, by the grace and strength given him from God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The he professes this publicly, in the eyes of men, by the outward baptism of water. He is then truly baptized, even if the baptizer did not speak these words over him. – via Hubmaier “The Christian Baptism of Believers.” In The Writings of Balthasar Hubmaier, by Davidson, 128.

What really catches my attention most in Hubmaier’s writings is his assertion that religious heretics probably shouldn’t be burned at the stake, be-headed, thrown in the stocks, or otherwise tortured, maimed or killed by the church, or by the state, or by the church-run state, or state-run church (it all gets so convoluted since Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and many other “reformers” who left Catholicism continued to rely on state powers for the prosecution of heretics).

And on the issue of sola scriptura, Hubmaier again pushed a crazy agenda – that the Bible alone should be the authority in regards to God’s pattern for the church and for the individual believer’s life. He often used nothing but Scripture in his debates with leaders who relied as much on the writings of church leaders and fathers as they did on the inspired testaments.

Hubmaier was a pacifist, but not entirely so. Though he opposed war, he did recognize the allowance that Scripture made for military defense, but clarified that this power rested in government alone and never in the church, and further that military might should never be a means of imperialism, even in the name of “converting the heathen to Christianity.”

Hubmaier wasn’t perfect in his theology by any means, ever-clinging to his belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary and a few other odd details, but on the whole, he looked like a modern-day Baptist.

His death was, like so many others, a sad testament to a portion of Christian history that we may as well be brutally honest about. He was killed by Christian leaders in Austria because of his beliefs about baptism and because he baptized Zwinglian adults who converted to his teachings. Yep. Jesus is perfect, but His bride can have a nasty side. As Patheos bloggers Fred Sanders writes,

Balthasar Hubmaier (born around 1480) was martyred on March 10, 1528. Hubmaier was trained in Roman Catholic theology on the eve of the Reformation, earning a doctorate with the Johann Eck who would later be on the front line of attacking Luther. He became convinced of Protestant doctrines and allied himself with the Zwinglians at Zurich. As he continued his studies, he became convinced that water baptism is for adult believers, not babies.

It’s hard to remember how radical this view, believer’s baptism, was considered to be back in the sixteenth century. If you became “baptist,” you were considered not just doctrinally wrong or unpopular, but a positive danger to the foundations of civic order in Christendom: an enemy of the state. The Roman Catholic church and the Protestant churches agreed that you should repent or die; the best you could hope for was exile from established civilization. Hubmaier himself had the distinction of being imprisoned and tortured in Zwingli’s Zurich as well as in Catholic Vienna.

When placed on trial, Hubmaier prepared a careful statement that emphasized the common beliefs held by all Christians. But he was burned at the stake for the handful of points that deviated from the consensus of the day. – via Fred Sanders’ Patheos blog

So many of my Baptist friends claim that our traditions must be rooted in the Reformation or else we have no roots at all. To this I would say, first of all, that what matters most is our doctrinal, practical, and missional alignment with the church as it is found in the New Testament, even if nineteen hundred hears of total heresy had to be skipped. But I would also say, read up on the radical reformers and the anabaptists of six hundred-ish years ago and I think you’ll find some fathers with whom you identify well.

[Originally posted HERE by Brandon Cox]

30 thoughts on “Do You Know Balthasar Hubmaier?

  1. I wrote a paper on Hubmeier and his view of free will during the debates that were ongoing between Luther and Erasmus. An excerpt from that paper:

    For Hubmaier, the debate was more than a mere intellectual, philosophical, or even theological exercise. The debate had practical consequences. The writings of Luther on the subject had reached Nikolsburg, and the results were not good. After hearing that man’s works had no merit in God’s eyes, and that He alone was the sole cause of man’s actions, many had begun neglecting doing good works, such as fasting, being charitable, and praying among others. Many were also blaming God for their sins. They had fallen into the trap Erasmus had warned existed in denying the freedom of the will. Thus Hubmaier’s concern can be seen as pastoral in nature; he thought that believers should accept responsibility for their actions and strive to live a holy life….

    The basis for Hubmaier’s argument is an understanding that man is composed of three parts: flesh, soul, and spirit. Each of these parts has its own will. Before the fall of man, all were good. After the fall of man, the flesh lost its freedom, and “is not able or capable of anything other than sin, striving against God and being the enemy of his commandments.” The soul was wounded in the fall, such that it cannot choose to do anything good, nor can it refuse to do anything evil “since it has lost the knowledge of good and evil.” The spirit of man has “remained upright, whole, and good,” trapped like a prisoner because of the guilt of the flesh and the soul. Nothing can be done with the flesh, except to let death take its course. The soul, however, is not beyond repair.

    After one is saved, the soul knows once again what is good and evil, thanks to the word of God and the instruction of the Holy Spirit, and stands between the flesh, still worthless, and the spirit. The question arises as to how this restoration occurs. Hubmaier asserts that this is affected through the Word of God. While he is not clear as to the point by point process of this, he implies that when a person hears the word, that person is then able to freely choose, first to believe and second to obey.

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  2. ERICFUTRELL writes, “… when a person hears the word, that person is then able to freely choose, first to believe and second to obey.”

    It is here that discussion begins. Everyone agrees that it is the hearing of the word that conveys faith and by this faith a person comes to believe and then to obey.

    Why then doesn’t everyone who hears the word come to believe and obey? If all receive faith on hearing the word, why isn’t that faith effective for all (irresistible as the Calvinists say)? The Calvinists explored those questions and developed their theology. Non-Calvinists don’t like the answers to those questions but don’t have other answers, so they just complain about Calvinists.

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    1. Who said everyone receives faith on hearing the word?

      Hubmaier was pointing out that when the word is preached, people are able to freely respond, either with faith followed by obedience or with rejection and continuing in disobedience. Who of us knows all the reasons someone might choose to reject the good news of Jesus Christ. Self-loathing, blinded by the enemy, thinking it too easy, works based salvation, poor experiences with Christians in the past.

      The Anabaptists didn’t dwell on understanding how grace worked or was extended; their main focus was on discipleship. Share the good news and then teach and train new believers how to live the Christian life. Delving into such philosophical speculations goes well beyond the pages of Scripture, and since the Anabaptists were committed to Scripture alone, they focused on what Scripture plainly said and acted on that.

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      1. ericfutrell writes, “Who said everyone receives faith on hearing the word?”

        Exactly the point raised by the Calvinists. Faith comes by hearing the word, but everyone who hears the word does not receive faith. What’s happening? Calvinists concluded that God is involved by choosing whom to give faith and whom to deny. No one has come up with a more plausible explanation.

        Then, “Hubmaier was pointing out that when the word is preached, people are able to freely respond, either with faith followed by obedience or with rejection and continuing in disobedience.”

        I think he had it correct in concluding “either with faith followed by obedience.” Paul tell us in Romans 8 that the unsaved cannot please God, and from Hebrews 11, we know that one must have faith to please God. The word is the means that God uses to convey faith to people. The unsaved are, in their natural state, always rejecting God. To be able to respond freely to God – to believe and obey – requires that a person be given faith. Without faith, a person continues as he always has – rejecting the gospel. With faith, a person believes and obeys. We see the hand of God in some people being given faith while others are not.

        Then, “Delving into such philosophical speculations goes well beyond the pages of Scripture, and since the Anabaptists were committed to Scripture alone, they focused on what Scripture plainly said and acted on that.”

        The Calvinists looked at the Scriptures to sort out the radically opposite reactions of people to the gospel. Only the Scriptures could explain this, and that explanation was that it had nothing to do with people themselves – salvation of all of grace.

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      2. RHutchin writes: “Exactly the point raised by the Calvinists. Faith comes by hearing the word, but everyone who hears the word does not receive faith. What’s happening? Calvinists concluded that God is involved by choosing whom to give faith and whom to deny. No one has come up with a more plausible explanation.”

        If you are referring to Romans 10:17, there is no verb in that verse; the verb is understood. When that’s the case, “is” might best be inserted there. And this whole verse is a summary, or conclusion based on what’s previously been presented. That’s why it starts off with the Greek word “ara.” Paul essentially is saying that faith can only be exercised by hearing (I’m taking the ek as a preposition of means), and this hearing (sense of hearing) by (dia as means as well) the word of Christ (concerning Christ, about Christ) – the good news – the gospel.
        Let me rephrase: Paul talks about the need to call on God for salvation. Then he talks about how in order to call on God, they need to believe, and to believe they need to hear, and to hear someone has to preach, and the preacher needs to be sent. As he is talking about Israel here (and why they are not coming to salvation), he then states that they didn’t all obey the good news. In verse 17 he reiterates that to exercise faith one needs to hear the gospel. He goes on to say that they have heard and they knew what to do, they just still disobeyed. They did not exercise faith but rejection.
        As to no one coming up with a more plausible explanation…I’m afraid that one is on you. Other have been convinced of the alternative that the non-Calvinist, non-Arminian has presented. The choice, as I see it, is whether you choose to believe or not. In your system, I guess you really don’t have a choice.

        RHutchin says: “The word is the means that God uses to convey faith to people. The unsaved are, in their natural state, always rejecting God. To be able to respond freely to God – to believe and obey – requires that a person be given faith. Without faith, a person continues as he always has – rejecting the gospel. With faith, a person believes and obeys. We see the hand of God in some people being given faith while others are not.”

        Here we are going to disagree. I don’t see faith as being conveyed by the word of God. I see the word of God as presenting the choice: believe (exercise faith – same word in Greek) or reject. If we never heed the word of God, we will continue in rejection. But we have been given the freedom to exercise faith. (Now I know you have a different presupposition and that to continue this discussion would be to argue in circles around each other. I know I won’t convince you, and I know you won’t convince me). When you say with faith a person believes and obeys, I think that you are being redundant. Faith and belief are the same word in Greek. With belief, a person believes. With faith, a person exercises faith. Nowhere does Scripture put it that way, I don’t recall off the top of my head (though I could be misremembering, and if I am, gladly present the reference). What Scripture does say is that with faith a person calls on the name of the Lord. In order to exercise that faith, they first need to hear the good news. It’s not that hearing the gospel brings faith, but an opportunity to exercise faith. Otherwise, there is nothing on which to believe (with salvation as a result).

        RHutchin writes: “The Calvinists looked at the Scriptures to sort out the radically opposite reactions of people to the gospel. Only the Scriptures could explain this, and that explanation was that it had nothing to do with people themselves – salvation of all of grace.”

        And so they Calvinists go beyond Scripture and make a conclusion that Scripture never openly presents – that people are predetermined and chosen for salvation.
        I will agree with you that salvation is not of ourselves. Scripture does make that clear. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:18) This verse points out the fact that salvation is indeed of God. God graciously grants salvation to those who believe. (Contrary to the interpretation that “that not of yourselves” refers to faith; “that” is referring back to “you have been saved.”

        With this last bit in mind, I thank you, my brother in Christ, for the conversation, but I must be about church stuff and sermon preparation. I’ll try to respond if I can, but if not, may God bless you richly and may you find yourself in His will at all times.

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      3. ericfutrell writes, “If you are referring to Romans 10:17, there is no verb in that verse; the verb is understood. When that’s the case, “is” might best be inserted there….In verse 17 he reiterates that to exercise faith one needs to hear the gospel.”

        Romans 10:17 has: ‘…pistis ex akoas…” loosely translated as “faith out of hearing.” One issue is whether a person is born with a dead faith that is awakened by the preaching of the gospel or people are born without faith and faith is conveyed to the person by the preaching of the gospel. Your position is that people are born with faith that is then awakened by the gospel and that “we have been given the freedom to exercise faith.” Where does that freedom come from – is it also innate to the unsaved or also enabled by the gospel?

        What do we read of Israel in v18-19: Did Israel not hear? Of course, they did. Did Israel, not understand? Of course they did. What’s the problem? – “Israel is a disobedient and obstinate people.” This leads to Paul’s question opening Chap 11, “Did God reject his people?” Under your system, Paul should have asked, “Why did Israel reject God?” However, we have a Calvinist question, “Why did God reject Israel?” The answer, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew…there is a remnant chosen by grace.”

        You write, “It’s not that hearing the gospel brings faith, but an opportunity to exercise faith.” That is a thoroughly Pelagian concept (which is OK if that is what you believe; I just don’t buy into it). When the gospel is preached, we expect to see all who hear the gospel then exercising faith. Your position is that people are enabled to exercise their faith through the preaching of the gospel and then turn around and refuse to exercise their faith to believe and thereby reject salvation.

        You have created a system where the preaching of the gospel enables a person to exercise faith unto belief and that people have freedom to exercise faith. That supposedly explains how people reject salvation. In your system, Israel, having heard and understood the gospel, refuses to exercise faith unto belief – Israel freely chooses to reject God. However, Paul asks, in the face of Israel’s rejection of salvation, “Did God reject his people?” Further Paul says, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Paul says nothing about the things you put forward to explain Israel’s rejection.

        So, we have a choice: Believe what you claim or believe what Paul tells us.

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      4. RHutchin: writes: Romans 10:17 has: ‘…pistis ex akoas…” loosely translated as “faith out of hearing.” One issue is whether a person is born with a dead faith that is awakened by the preaching of the gospel or people are born without faith and faith is conveyed to the person by the preaching of the gospel. Your position is that people are born with faith that is then awakened by the gospel and that “we have been given the freedom to exercise faith.” Where does that freedom come from – is it also innate to the unsaved or also enabled by the gospel?

        My position is that people are born with the ability to exercise faith. I do not believe that man lost the ability to choose in the Fall. I do believe that this is part of us being made in the image of God. However, that image in us was marred by the Fall (not done away with as some say – point out where Scripture says that). And when it comes to sin, as the BFM says, as soon as we’re able to make a moral decision, we will sin. But that doesn’t mean that we have lost the ability to make a choice. But until presented with the gospel, we don’t have the opportunity to exercise faith for salvation. Man cannot save himself. God took the first step. God initiated it. We just have to respond. And if we truly don’t have the ability to make the decision to receive salvation through Jesus re reject the gospel offer, then it wasn’t a good offer. It makes God out to be a liar.

        RHutchin writes: What do we read of Israel in v18-19: Did Israel not hear? Of course, they did. Did Israel, not understand? Of course they did. What’s the problem? – “Israel is a disobedient and obstinate people.” This leads to Paul’s question opening Chap 11, “Did God reject his people?” Under your system, Paul should have asked, “Why did Israel reject God?” However, we have a Calvinist question, “Why did God reject Israel?” The answer, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew…there is a remnant chosen by grace.”

        Actually, God has every right to reject His people for rejecting Him. In Deuteronomy, He consistently tells His people that He sets before them life and death, blessing and cursing. All based on their obedience or disobedience. However, God is patient and merciful, and, yes, gracious. He could have wiped His people out and started over (He even talks about this with Moses, and Moses intercedes on behalf of the people). Paul’s concern in Romans is not why they rejected God; he’s already talked about sin and how we have all sinned. His concern in asking this question is to address why it seems that God is now focusing on the Gentiles instead of continuing to work among the Jews to bring them to salvation. Has God abandoned them because of their disobedience, despite His promises to them? “No!” Paul answers.

        RHutchin writes: You write, “It’s not that hearing the gospel brings faith, but an opportunity to exercise faith.” That is a thoroughly Pelagian concept (which is OK if that is what you believe; I just don’t buy into it). When the gospel is preached, we expect to see all who hear the gospel then exercising faith. Your position is that people are enabled to exercise their faith through the preaching of the gospel and then turn around and refuse to exercise their faith to believe and thereby reject salvation.

        I think you apply the Pelagian bogeyman here. Pelagian essentially taught that man can save himself, that he could keep from sin, and essentially attain perfection. I whole-heartedly reject that theology. Why do you expect to see all who hear the gospel exercising faith? You’re right when we say that my “position is that people are enabled to exercise faith through the preaching of the gospel and then turn around and refuse to exercise their faith to believe and thereby reject salvation.” If this is not the case and God has predetermined who He is going to save and reject, then God is a monster who is not acting according to the character that He reveals in Scripture. If we don’t have the opportunity and ability to respond, then we are nothing but preprogrammed robots, and God a puppeteer who is the author of sin. This is the logical conclusion of a deterministic system.

        RHutchin writes: You have created a system where the preaching of the gospel enables a person to exercise faith unto belief and that people have freedom to exercise faith. That supposedly explains how people reject salvation. In your system, Israel, having heard and understood the gospel, refuses to exercise faith unto belief – Israel freely chooses to reject God. However, Paul asks, in the face of Israel’s rejection of salvation, “Did God reject his people?” Further Paul says, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Paul says nothing about the things you put forward to explain Israel’s rejection.

        For this: see above, and look up judicial hardening. I believe Leighton talks about that here on this sight, or listen to his podcasts on the issue. As to Paul saying nothing about this: Romans 10:21 – “But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Here we see Israel’s consistent rejection of God, and we see God’s mercy and grace.

        RHutching writes: So, we have a choice: Believe what you claim or believe what Paul tells us.

        You set me up as counter to Paul. I don’t believe that I am. I believe your system reads too much into Scripture, pulling in philosophical arguments that go beyond the word of God to explain things that Scripture sometimes doesn’t explain. Me, I’d rather go with the text in its context (paragraph, chapter, book, history, culture, linguistics, etc).

        It comes down to this: If we are told to believe, that means that we can believe. If the offer is genuine, then we can accept it. I don’t fall into the category that says that man is completely and utterly unable to respond (dead in the context of sin points to our separation from God and our inability to save ourselves – our need for a Redeemer, Savior, Life-giver).

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      5. ericfutrell writes, “Man cannot save himself. God took the first step. God initiated it. We just have to respond.”

        This describes the synergism that is basic Pelagianism and found notably in Roman Catholicism. You describe Pelagianism to have, “essentially taught that man can save himself, that he could keep from sin, and essentially attain perfection.” That, however, ignores the focus on free will that provides the foundation for those things. The “semi-Pelagians” kept the free will part while denying the rest as you do. However, Pelagianism is all about free will and a synergistic approach to salvation. So, if you are all about free will and the idea that “We just have to respond,” then there is not that must to distinguish you from Pelagianism. It’s just a label. Calvinism is a label for those who are monergists and deny that the unsaved can freely choose salvation until regenerated. The labels identify the two sides of the issue. I have yet to see anyone distance themselves from one or the other although some make attempts to do so as you did – the test is whether one embraces free will and a synergistic approach to salvation.

        Then, “And if we truly don’t have the ability to make the decision to receive salvation through Jesus re reject the gospel offer, then it wasn’t a good offer. It makes God out to be a liar.”

        You express the essence of Pelagian thought. The Arminians recognized the problem, so they added that God had to extend prevenient grace to an unsaved person to enable the person to make a decision. Of course, they had God extend grace to all and some Arminians say it happens at birth. So Arminianism reduces to Pelagianism. The goal is to preserve free will as you seem to want to do.

        The difficulty is that the combination of a “good offer” and “free will” should be that all accept salvation. If not, then there must be a basis for a person to reject salvation. As those who accept and reject are both said to receive a good offer and both have free will, then the basis for rejection has to be some other factor. I am not aware that anyone has come up with such a factor. Have you?

        Then, “If this is not the case and God has predetermined who He is going to save and reject, then God is a monster who is not acting according to the character that He reveals in Scripture. If we don’t have the opportunity and ability to respond, then we are nothing but preprogrammed robots, and God a puppeteer who is the author of sin. This is the logical conclusion of a deterministic system.”

        Let’s recognize that a person is a “preprogrammed robot” by virtue of a sinful nature not any action of God (other than to decree that all humanity would be corrupted by Adam’s sin – Calvin called this a horrible decree). God is not the puppeteer in any sense of the word as God leaves the reprobate alone to be controlled by their sinful nature.

        The primary issue concerns the sinner who is described by Paul to have no desire for God or spiritual things. In that state, the person has no opportunity or ability to respond – that’s the nature of sin. It is God who must provide the unsaved with the opportunity and ability to respond. God certainly does that for His elect. Does God do it for the non-elect? It’s nice to think that He does, but since they never change, how would we know? Nonetheless, the only distinction between those who accept and those who reject is that which God does – ultimately it must be God who determines who will be saved and who is passed over.

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      6. PS: You said:You have created a system where the preaching of the gospel enables a person to exercise faith unto belief and that people have freedom to exercise faith.

        Faith and belief are the same thing. Same word in Greek. So it is that the preaching of the gospel gives the opportunity to exercise faith / believe unto salvation. This ability to choose is misused and misapplied prior to encountering the gospel. People choose themselves, rules, regulations, Allah, Buddha, Joseph Smith, the various Hindu gods, earth, nature, science…people place their faith in these things all the time. This is faith misapplied. The unsaved man has the ability to believe in / place faith in something, but until the gospel is presented, they will believe in falsehood and will never experience belief unto salvation.

        Why do people reject God instead of believing in Jesus for salvation? I’ve already said I don’t know all the reasons why. Why do some people believe in Jesus for salvation rather than reject Him? I don’t the why here either, and Scripture doesn’t tell us. I’m sure the reason is different for each person. But I cannot go beyond Scripture to answer this. All I can say is that we have the ability to choose, to believe. Only when we are presented with the gospel do we have the opportunity to believe unto salvation. Some are saved and some are not. It is not my role to play God and figure out why. My role is the share the good news so that people will have the opportunity to respond in faith or rejection. Jesus said that we will be hated because they hated Him first. That men love darkness more than light. If someone rejects God and His offer of salvation, that is on them; it is not on God.

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      7. ericfutrell writes, “So it is that the preaching of the gospel gives the opportunity to exercise faith / believe unto salvation. ”

        That language is eerily similar to that which Norman Geisler uses in his book, “Chosen But Free.” Are you and Geisler joined at the hip (so to speak)?

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      8. ericfutrell writes, “Faith and belief are the same thing. Same word in Greek.”

        Yes and no. Faith is usually the translation of pistis – a noun. Believe is the translation of pisteuo – a verb, an action. Perhaps a slight difference but the concept is the same. Maybe like: I have a hammer; I hammer nails. Believing is the application of faith – Maybe that was the point that James was making: You have faith; demonstrate it in action (or works).

        Then, “The unsaved man has the ability to believe in / place faith in something, but until the gospel is presented, they will believe in falsehood and will never experience belief unto salvation.”

        Yes, but would certainly be a corrupted form and in the presentation of the gospel would lead to a corrupted acceptance. I would associate it with those described in the gospels of people who believed and were named as disciples but then turned away.

        Then, “Why do people reject God instead of believing in Jesus for salvation? I’ve already said I don’t know all the reasons why….Scripture doesn’t tell us.”

        Actually, the Scriptures say, “You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.” (John 5) “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8) “you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” (John 10) “For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts,” (John 12) So, the Scriptures say a lot about that which keeps people from believing – these verses are often cited by Calvinists but ignored by others as you seem to be doing.

        Then, “All I can say is that we have the ability to choose, to believe.”

        Here is where Scriptural support is lacking. Paul says, “The mind of sinful man is death,…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Romans 8) It would seem that the control that the sinful nature has over the unsaved must be broken before a person can believe. So Paul says, “because of his great love for us, God…made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.”

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      9. RHutchin writes: This describes the synergism that is basic Pelagianism and found notably in Roman Catholicism. You describe Pelagianism to have, “essentially taught that man can save himself, that he could keep from sin, and essentially attain perfection.” That, however, ignores the focus on free will that provides the foundation for those things. The “semi-Pelagians” kept the free will part while denying the rest as you do. However, Pelagianism is all about free will and a synergistic approach to salvation. So, if you are all about free will and the idea that “We just have to respond,” then there is not that must to distinguish you from Pelagianism. It’s just a label. Calvinism is a label for those who are monergists and deny that the unsaved can freely choose salvation until regenerated. The labels identify the two sides of the issue. I have yet to see anyone distance themselves from one or the other although some make attempts to do so as you did – the test is whether one embraces free will and a synergistic approach to salvation.

        I am afraid you misunderstand synergism. According to Dr. Malcolm Yarnell: Synergism teaches that man is co-responsible for the initiative in salvation. Divine grace is conditional upon cooperation by human free will. What I believe is that God initiates salvation, and He did so by promising a way to be saved and by sending His Son Jesus to save us. He took the first steps. He could have wiped everyone off the face of the earth, but He didn’t (mercy). Instead He made a way (grace).

        RHutchin writes: You express the essence of Pelagian thought. The Arminians recognized the problem, so they added that God had to extend prevenient grace to an unsaved person to enable the person to make a decision. Of course, they had God extend grace to all and some Arminians say it happens at birth. So Arminianism reduces to Pelagianism. The goal is to preserve free will as you seem to want to do.

        The problem underlying both Calvinism and Arminianism is that they go beyond Scripture to say that man has no free will. The Pelagians were wrong in that they denied a sin nature and that salvation was by grace. What I am speaking of is opposed to Pelagianism. Stop throwing the word out as a label when you are not using it correctly. Part of me thinks that you are knowing and willingly distorting my beliefs into something that is associated with heresy.

        RHutchin writes: The difficulty is that the combination of a “good offer” and “free will” should be that all accept salvation. If not, then there must be a basis for a person to reject salvation. As those who accept and reject are both said to receive a good offer and both have free will, then the basis for rejection has to be some other factor. I am not aware that anyone has come up with such a factor. Have you?

        I’m not sure I understand your first sentence. Just because man has been given free will and God makes a good offer, doesn’t mean that all will chose to accept it. I am fine not knowing the answer, as Scripture doesn’t give us on, unless it is sin and men loving darkness. I’ve already said I don’t know. Your system tries to determine why when Scripture doesn’t go there. So much for sola scriptura.

        RHutchin writes: Let’s recognize that a person is a “preprogrammed robot” by virtue of a sinful nature not any action of God (other than to decree that all humanity would be corrupted by Adam’s sin – Calvin called this a horrible decree). God is not the puppeteer in any sense of the word as God leaves the reprobate alone to be controlled by their sinful nature.

        If God decreed that man would be corrupted, then He is by necessity the author of sin. If he decreed to save some, then by default He sends people to hell. They are not responsible for this, but He is. That is not the God of Scripture.

        RHutchin writes: The primary issue concerns the sinner who is described by Paul to have no desire for God or spiritual things. In that state, the person has no opportunity or ability to respond – that’s the nature of sin. It is God who must provide the unsaved with the opportunity and ability to respond. God certainly does that for His elect. Does God do it for the non-elect? It’s nice to think that He does, but since they never change, how would we know? Nonetheless, the only distinction between those who accept and those who reject is that which God does – ultimately it must be God who determines who will be saved and who is passed over.

        Where in Scripture does it say that man is unable to respond? Where? And the gospel is the opportunity. And to your last statement: you go beyond Scripture to assert this. Nowhere does it say that God does this. Once again, so much for sola scriptura.

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      10. ericfutrell writes, “If God decreed that man would be corrupted, then He is by necessity the author of sin.”

        Not necessarily. Let’s review the facts. God made Adam/Eve and placed them in the garden. God then stood aside so that Satan could enter the garden. God was beside Eve while Satan tempted her but did not intervene to prevent Eve from eating the fruit. When Eve offered the fruit to Adam, God was also present and again did not intervene to prevent Adam eating the fruit. God gave Adam the freedom to decide whether to eat the fruit after telling Adam that he was not to eat the fruit. Adam was tested and failed the test. Adam was the author of his sin and not God. God could only be considered the author of sin because He declared to Adam that eating the fruit was sin.

        Then, “If he decreed to save some, then by default He sends people to hell. They are not responsible for this, but He is. That is not the God of Scripture.”

        Two things condemn a person to hell: (1) their unrighteous nature and (2) their sins. So, Paul says, “Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4) By their sin, people are excluded from heaven. God does not send people to hell; God excludes sinful people from heaven. People are responsible fully for their failure to enter heaven.

        Then, “Where in Scripture does it say that man is unable to respond?”

        “No-one can come to me…” (John 6)
        “This is why I told you that no-one can come to me…” (John 6)
        “…you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice…” (John 10)
        “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him….For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” (John 12)
        “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Romans 8)
        “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1)

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    2. Jesus attributed the difference between those who come to Him in faith and those who don’t, to _men_. Although we’ve all read John 3, these verses put the statement of Jesus in its context, and they are always good to hear:

      John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

      15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

      16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

      18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

      Jesus just said that those who believe in Him are not condemned, but that those who do not believe in Him are condemned already, _because_ they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. He seems to think that we ought to recognize our visitation, which suggests that the Holy Spirit must be involved in revealing who He is, which agrees with what He said about the Father revealing truth. Again, it doesn’t seem like God would condemn people for what He has forcefully done to them, but let’s move on.

      Then He explains the condemnation Hespoke of in the previous verse, in terms of why some come to Him and others don’t: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and MEN loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”.

      19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

      You could object that all have done evil deeds, and that all have that tendency to hide from the truth and light, just like Adam hid from God when he sinned. Jesus elaborates on it in the next two verses: He says that everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it because our deeds are evil.

      20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

      Then He contrasts the one who does evil with “he that doeth truth.” If you are one of those who is inclined to accuse Jesus of teaching a different gospel than Paul, you might think He is saying that some do evil and avoid the light, but some do good, and want to show off how good they are, that they have done nothing wrong.

      That can’t be what He is saying, can it? How would that interpretation square with the parable of the publican and the Pharisee? Jesus couldn’t possibly be saying that they are justified in self-righteousness, can He? I think it is significant that He says that all avoid the light because they do evil, but that there are some who do come to the light, those who _do truth_. Though it is good to come to the light and evil to avoid it, He isn’t contrasting “those who do evil” with “those who do _good_”, but with the ones who “doeth _truth_”. If they do truth, that can’t mean they are doing self-righteousness, but they are wanting it to be clearly seen that their deeds are “wrought in God”. So all that leaves for the deeds to be that they are wanting to be clearly seen to be wrought in God, are their responses to the convicting Holy Spirit. The one who comes to the light “doeth truth”, some deeds that are “wrought in God”, which really cannot be works of flesh or works of the law, can they?

      I conclude that He is saying that the deeds that He says they want to be clearly seen that they are wrought in God, are simply the act of responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, coming to the light and responding by believing. Believing in Him is what He is talking about in John 3, after all. That is wrought in God, although the person receiving Jesus decides for believing or against. There is grace and power in conviction, and the person believing simply receives it in faith, allowing God to lead him into Christ in faith. The “receive…the love of the truth” from the Spirit of truth, that they might be saved.

      21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

      And beyond that, the Bible really doesn’t explain why some do truth when others refuse to. But the fact that the word of God does not explain ought to make us respect the fact that we can’t really explain it authoritatively without God’s light, either. And He simply hasn’t told us. At least we ought to be careful not to place so much emphasis on someone’s theological speculations on this subject that we create doctrines that we say must be adhered to. And we ought to check all speculations with the Bible to see if they are true.

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  3. Quoting Brandon Cox, “So many of my Baptist friends claim that our traditions must be rooted in the Reformation or else we have no roots at all.”

    That being the case, we should encourage our baptist friends to join with the Calvinists and adhere to sola scriptura.

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    1. You’re invited Roger to read my assessment, linked above, of whom I felt was the most faithful the principle of sola scriptura between Luther, Zwingli, and Hubmaier. In short… their views on baptism indicate clearly which one!

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      1. As I wander through your paper, I noticed that you wrote, “In spite of this excommunication, finalized by the Pope Leo X in January, 1921,…” (pg 10) I think you meant “1521.” Do you know that Leo died in December of that same year? Is it worthwhile for me to point out such trivia – in both instances. Probably not. Actually, little mistakes like that often heighten one’s attention to detail. Too bad I didn’t know you back then; I would have proofread the paper for you.

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      2. Thanks Roger for pointing those things out. I really should go through and edit it, for I have seen other grammar and spelling errors. And I am always interested in historical tidbits from Christian history, even if I may have heard about them before. Did you know Augustine’s “conversion” from Manichaeism happened soon after Priscillian (whom I think was an early baptistic evangelical reformer) had been beheaded for a number of, what I believe were, false accusations, including Manichaeism.

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      3. Did not know that. History is not my strength. Now, I have to go look up Priscillian just to figure out what you are talking about.

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      4. What I meant is, yes, I think it is worthwhile for you to point out interesting trivia from Christian History? Thanks.

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  4. He might be more my guy! 🙂 (Although I am a Pentecostal and I believe in conditional security, I don’t know his viewpoints on that.) Did he have to do with the Zwiklian – probably false – prophets? (or something like that)

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