Is JD Greear a Calvinist?

written by Leighton Flowers and Eric Kemp

As we approach the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting, the political lines are being drawn. Recently, JD Greear was nominated to be the next SBC President. I can imagine that as the members of the Convention consider their options, foremost on their mind is that person’s theological alignment. Today, the most hotly contested theology is the realm of soteriology (doctrine of salvation), especially since the rise of Calvinism’s popularity over the last two decades among the “young, restless and reformed” within the SBC.

In 2009 a Time.com article proclaimed, “Calvinism is back…”. The article goes on to claim that its rise is due, in large part, to the personalities at the forefront of the movement.

…with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle’s pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention. The Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible sold out its first printing, and Reformed blogs like Between Two Worlds are among cyber-Christendom’s hottest links.

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Greear in a panel discussion with other leading Calvinists: Mark Driscoll (left), John Piper & Ed Stetzer

While Driscoll’s pugnacity was his undoing, Calvinism grew unabated. Calvinist internet behemoths like The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, GotQuestions, Stand to Reason, Christian Research, Apologetics Ministries (CARM) and Ligonier ministries dominate Google search options for questions about theology proper and apologetics, not just soteriology. When it comes to the battle for internet supremacy in Christendom, there is Calvinism and then there is everything else.

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This supremacy extends to the seminaries funded by the SBC. Albert Mohler, one of the leading figures of the New Calvinism, is President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship SBC seminary. Just after tweeting a promotion of Tabletalk, produced by Ligonier Ministries (an exclusively Calvinistic source began by the late RC Sproul Sr.), Dr Mohler gave his own hearty endorsement of JD Greear as the next SBC President.

In a recent article put out by The Gospel Coalition, a list of the top 125 most influential leaders in the “gospel-centered movement” was released. What was meant by the phrase “gospel-centered movement?”  The author Jared Wilson explains,

“I tried to think keenly about all the folks whose voices have given shape to this still-developing movement, sometimes called ‘young restless and Reformed’ (YRR), ‘neo-Reformed,’ ‘gospel-centered,’ etc.”

 

JD Greear made the #52 spot on Wilson’s list of the top most influential in the rise of the “young restless and Reformed.”

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Tom Ascol is executive director of the Founder’s Ministry, which unashamedly seeks to establish Calvinism as the core theological tenant of the SBC. From the Founder’s “About” page:

Founders Ministries is committed to encouraging the recovery of the gospel and the biblical reformation of local churches. We believe that the biblical faith is inherently doctrinal, and we are therefore confessional in our convictions. We recognize the time-tested Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) as a faithful summary of important biblical teachings and the abstract of that confession known as the Abstract of Principles.

Much in the same way The Gospel Coalition implies “Gospel-Centeredness” requires an adherence to Calvinism, The Founders Ministry is asserting that without Calvinism the gospel needs “recovery.” Does Greear secretly support this “recovery of the Gospel” agenda? After all, the first point of his stated reasons for running is “the gospel above all.” One has to wonder if he means “the gospel” as defined by The Gospel Coalition and The Founders in the sources quoted above? What do you think?

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Greear’s one of many appearances on TGC with other leading Calvinists

Despite Greear’s Calvinistic associations, endorsements and even his own clear soteriological sermons on hotly contested passages such as Ephesians 1 and Romans 9, there are many who still insist he is not really a Calvinist, or at least he is not the type to promote one soteriological view over the other.

Really? How do we know that?

Stealth Calvinism?

In the same way Calvinistic pastors often “go stealth” while being interviewed by a search committee so as to avoid detection, could it be that a presidential nominee may not be all that forthright about his own beliefs or agenda regarding this highly controversial issue?  If you were a Calvinist with political aspirations within a convention that overwhelmingly rejects Calvinistic soteriology would you downplay and distance yourself from those beliefs so as to be a more likeable candidate? More importantly, would Greear?

So, is JD Greear really a Calvinist or not?

The notoriously staunch 5-point Calvinistic blog, Pulpit and Pen, headed up by controversial and contentious Podcaster JD Hall, certainly affirms him as a fellow Calvinist, writing:

“Greear holds to a more solid, Calvinist position on salvation. He authored a book titled Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How To Know You Are Saved, in which he states he struggled for many years with the assurance of salvation and repeated the “Sinner’s Prayer” many times during his life. He now rejects the concept of “asking Jesus into your heart,” and holds to a biblical doctrine of salvation. He has also spent a considerable amount of time defending the historical truth of Scripture.” […]

Greear is also a part of the New Calvinist Acts 29 network, currently under Matt Chandler’s leadership. Acts 29 is a network of (supposedly) independent churches whose primary purpose is to plant more churches. Their website states that they are characterized by “Theological Clarity, Cultural Engagement, and Missional Innovation.” Sounds okay, right?

But…

Acts 29 was founded by the befallen pastor, Mark Driscoll. The network is comprised of churches that promote charismania, have a low tolerance threshold for discernment, and a general taste for popularity.” <link>

What does being apart of the Acts 29 network entail? As previously pointed out on the Soteriology 101 YouTube channel (starting at the 2:45 mark), according to the Acts 29 website one must affirm Calvinistic doctrine to be a part of this group. Here are screenshots from the Acts 29 website:

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To be a part of the Acts 29 network JD Greear must affirm confessional Calvinism, despite how he may have tried to distance himself from the unpopular TULIP doctrines for political purposes. Once elected, will he work behind the scenes to fulfill The Founders’ mission to install a Calvinistic confession? Will he appoint committee members who will nominate new Seminary Presidents and other entity heads that are supportive of “the gospel recovery” agenda. If so, those appointees will certainly increase the influence of the so-called “gospel-centered” (i.e. Calvinistic) movement. Is this what the pastors and laity in the SBC want?

Given that The Founders Ministry has actually encouraged fellow Calvinistic pastors to avoid full disclosure while interviewing so as to gain leadership positions (see here),  how can we know for certain that is not a strategy being employed to gain the national positions of leadership within the SBC? How else can you explain the blatant imbalance of Calvinistic leaders within a convention which overwhelmingly rejects Calvinistic soteriology?

Democracy is Good

pollThe growth of Calvinism in the SBC is fine if that is what the Convention actually wants, after all, it is governed as a democracy. If the majority of the Convention knowingly supports The Gospel Coalition and The Founder’s mission to adopt Calvinism as standard SBC theology; then that is the will of the Convention. So be it.

However, the democratic system of the SBC is warped if the members are not fully informed as to who they are voting for or what their goals for the Convention will be.

The President has the most influence over the direction of the SBC in his ability to make committee appointments. Here are some of the President’s powers:

The president appoints the Credentials Committee (Bylaw 8B), tellers (Bylaw 10D), the Committee on Committees (Bylaw 19), and the Committee on Resolutions (Bylaw 20). He is also a member of the Committee on Order of Business (Bylaw 21) and an ex officio member of the boards of the Executive Committee, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, and GuideStone Financial Resources (SBC Constitution, Article V).

If the majority of SBC church-goers do not hold to Calvinism (as the polls indicate), then it is their right to fully know that the presumptive front runner for the Presidency believes and teaches Calvinistic soteriology.  If a majority within the SBC trust a Calvinist to make appointments that will impact the future of the SBC’s theological education and leadership; fine, but they should go into that vote with their eyes wide open.

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73 thoughts on “Is JD Greear a Calvinist?

  1. Aren’t denominational politics fun! 😉 If I were a voting member, I would push for a statement by each nominee for the office of President to pledge that they will only appoint a proportional representation of leaders from both the reformed and non-reformed groups of SBC as reflected in the Lifeway Research Poll. That would be fun to see how the nominees respond to that suggestion and to hear the debate that would follow.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Leighton,
    Thanks for bringing this our attention.

    I have often said on this blog that it really does not change much in attitude or action if a person claims to be in the Calvinist Club.

    I am sure that So Baptists are concerned….. but I mean the overall behavior / message/ preaching are not affected. They are still live and act like what they do makes a difference. They still preach like God loves everyone and Christ died for everyone.

    As I have quoted Piper’s book “Don’t Waste Your Life” in many places….he teaches people that what they do (waste or not waste) makes a difference.

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    1. FOH, I would grant that this is true for many; but I have heard too many first and second hand reports of individuals whose faith, family and spiritual maturity have floundered upon the rocks of hopelessness and despair that litter the beachhead of Calvinistic Determinism to believe the issue is of no importance.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is true. I unknowingly attended a Calvinist church for 2 years. I did not even know what Calvinism was. I knew something was off in the sermons and attitudes toward sin. But they appeared very missional. When the pastor gave a beautiful sermon of what it means to be a christian, I fully expected an altar call to follow. Instead, he said if there is anyone here who is not a follower of God, and this sounds good to you, do nothing about it because you cant …wait and see if God brings you to life. He might be doing it now. I felt stunned. I thought, arent we supposed to persuade men or to invite them any way to come? I heard the word reformed being used so I began to investigate what this meant. I studied this for 2 years. Glad I came across Leighton Flowers.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. Sorry to hear of this experience Hope.

        To set the record straight….. I was not defending Calvinism (stopped doing that when I dropped it)!

        I misspoke if I said it doesnt make a difference in how people act—it does!!!

        What I mean is that no one lives completely like a Calvinist-determinist would. We all live like our personal choices make a difference (remember my example of telling our kids to eat less junk food and do their homework?). We all make choices and those choices impact others and ourselves. No one lives like the future is robotically set or they would not do like Piper and tell them to “watch less TV” and “don’t waste your life” (as if one could waste it if it was what God had immutably planned/ decreed, right!?).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Good testimony Hope!

        My first close-up encounter with a Calvinist pastor – was with a congregation of about 50-100 people whose pastor was retiring.
        Two men rose up within the congregation – each one claiming himself the legitimate parent of the baby (i.e. the congregation).
        They ended up cutting the baby in half.

        One fellow obtained his ordination by mail – by becoming affiliated with a Calvinist organization.
        But he didn’t dare tell his tiny congregation he was leading them into Calvinism for fear any would leave.

        They were like idealistic children looking up to him – trusting him – no idea he wasn’t being honest with them.
        I remember one of these “spell bound” brothers in this congregation – telling me how his pastor boasted they were the only church for miles that understood how to read the bible. This man pumped his tiny congregation up with religious pride.
        They had no discernment whatsoever.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. “the overall behavior / message/ preaching are not affected. They are still live and act like what they do makes a difference. They still preach like God loves everyone and Christ died for everyone.”

      With all due respect..this isn’t entirely true. Dr. Flowers has addressed this..and has received numerous letters from people who’s Christian walk was negatively affected by this doctrine. Some even walked away from their faith after having learned the logical implications of Calvinism. See here..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62sKs7HXocM&t=1702s. This doctrine is a hinderance to sharing the Gospel. The misunderstanding of scripture leads to deception and desertion in many cases. We must stand up for the Truth and support Dr. Flowers in his efforts to do so.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Linda,
        Thanks. I think if you look at my comments you will see that I am a supporter of this blog. I have actually financially supported the blog and urge others to do so.

        My point—-to be clear—- is that it would be a most frustrating life to really live like a Calvinist. I know… I did. I have testified in these pages that I ruined a pre-marriage relationship with a woman by insisting that we did not know if Christ died for her father or not. Terrible.

        It is one of the most destructive parts of Calvinism. My point is that it gets old very quickly telling people “You are a sinner and Christ may have died for you—-but I dont know. I am telling you to repent —and you can’t if you have not been granted that….and you will if you have.”

        Dr White, very aggressive Calvinist, tells people….do not tell them that God loves them (since you dont know)….just tell them the “biblical message” “repent!”

        I do not see where this helps him in any way. Since it is a fool’s errand to tell a person to repent that cannot. This is no different than telling them that God loves them (when you are almost sure that He doesnt). (((But for them it deflects away from a non-loving God….and tries to reflect on the sinfulness of unrepentant man. It does not accomplish what they want, but they think it does and it helps them sleep.)))

        Once again my point is : YES it is possible to try to live like a Calvinist (and that leads only to double-speak, frustration, and crushed relationships)…. but NO, people (fortunately) do not manage to completely live that way. The reason is that we know deep down that what we do matters and we are not deterministically-decreed-controlled robots. We make decisions (God-allowed, not God-decreed) …and they matter.

        I hope this helps. If not, please feel free to read any of the other hundreds of comments I have made in support of this site and against deterministic-fatalistic-Calvinism.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Excellent wake up call. As much as some find it hard to acknowledge, Calvinism has for decades sought to gain ground in the SBC (and other denominations) almost solely by stealth, via leaders who do not fully and clearly make known their soteriological beliefs until they and their minions are fully in positions of power and influence.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes – thanks for catching that Truthseeker

        Don’t take chances – Calvinists cannot be trusted for honesty – based upon empirical evidence.
        Calvinism is a quagmire of double-speak – word jugglery – and the promotion and defense of a elitism.

        Thanks Truthseeker!!

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    1. Btw, I will even suggest that, for many, many pastors it goes beyond being honest. They are genuinely brainwashed and caught in the web of Calvinism, and wind up nearly schizophrenic as they attempt to align what they have been taught with something that they can truly defend and offer to people they genuinely care about. In searching for a new church, I have witnessed so many obviously conflicted young men that it breaks my heart, as they attempt to defend the indefensible without being inconsistent or contradictory, and they just end up sounding confused and illogical.

      But as for the leaders who are deliberately obscuring what they believe, your statement is pretty accurate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I agree.
        Calvinism requires dishonesty and double-think.
        Without them – it would go the way of the dinosaurs – and Calvinists intuitively know it.

        There will always be products on the market that cannot survive without the efficacy of false-advertising.
        Calvinism is one of them.
        So it raises up Pied Pipers – men who can sell ice to Eskimos – and creates followings after them.

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  4. I am really confused by all this and very concerned. I continue to hear that certain pastors such as J. D. Greear, Matt Chandler, Chip Ingram, and Francis Chan are Calvinist. I have listened to all of them several times and at no time have I concluded that they believe that only the elect are saved. What I have heard is that salvation is by faith through Christ and is a gift of God by his grace and mercy. They also discuss the process of sanctification. I have in years past been under a pastor who talked about Lordship salvation. He would say salvation through faith and it is a gift of God’s grace, but then in talking about Lordship you were left feeling as if everything wasn’t totally lined up and surrendered then you weren’t saved. Jesus is Lord, but because we still have a sin nature we will never be 100% surrendered on every thing, every day of our lives. I would appreciate some input. There is one thing I do know for certain and that God is not the source of confusion. I know that I have accepted Christ as my Savior, by scripture I know that I am saved, and I know that the Holy Spirit bears witness within my heart. All this discussion sometimes seems like splitting hairs or semantics and it is not helpful to the body of Christ. However, I do know that correct interpretation of God’s word is important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lil,
      Have a look around at Leighton’s other posts and the comments. Comments are sometimes hard to follow since they are not always chronological.

      Of course you would hear that they persons are Calvinists. They theologize like Calvinist but preach like Arminians. They would agree that salvation is by the grace of God and is a gift. But they say that faith is given by God and is a gift too. Can’t have it if He doesnt give it….Have to use it if He does. (that’s the U and the I of TULIP)

      So all of the cases where the Bible lists a person by name and mentions his or her faith….he/ she had nothing to do with it. It was a gift that they had to accept and had to act on.

      All of this sounds silly, I know….but it is the natural end of what Calvinism believes. It is one thing to say you are a Calvinist (I did for years) and that gets you in the club and “honors God the most” but it is quite something else to live like it (and they dont).

      I hope this helps. Many of us here are ex-Calvinists. A couple that comment here are still Calvinists and 70% of the time they post like it…..the other 30% they rock back into non-Calvinism.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In regard to Francis Chan, this is some info I found before in trying to understand where he is coming from. Francis Chan is a graduate of Master’s College and Seminary, both founded by and presided over by John MacArthur. Chan also established a school himself called Eternity Bible College, having the goal of making Bible education affordable. The school’s statement has strong Calvinist (TULIP) doctrines subtly interwoven. His book Crazy Love advocates a teaching called Lordship Salvation. Francis Chan’s variation has been labeled extreme, primarily because Crazy Love dwells heavily on condemnation to a severe level that has not even been witnessed in the writings of other Lordship Salvation proponents, e.g., John MacArthur, John Piper, and J. I. Packer. It appears that in Chan’s thinking, only a tiny minority of professing Christians will be counted worthy to make it to heaven. Crazy Love muddies the distinction between justification and sanctification, melding them together while distorting the simple message of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. The Lordship camp says that it’s not good enough to become saved by trusting Christ for salvation; one must also promise a lifetime of commitment to Christ, then follow through with that commitment or else be in danger of not making it to heaven one day. In Crazy Love, Chan tells of many people from his congregation asking him questions like, “If I divorce my wife can I still go to heaven?” “Do I have to be baptized to be saved?” “If I commit suicide, can I still go to heaven?” (86). It seems that Chan’s application of Lordship Salvation teaching to his own church has created such questioning doubts among his people. Chan tells people that 100% devotion to Christ is required to be a Christian:

        My conclusion? Jesus’ call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd (85).

        Chan makes it clear that he believes perseverance (TULIP’s P) in obedience is required to make it to heaven:

        Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15). And our question quickly becomes even more unthinkable: Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus? I don’t see anywhere in Scripture how the answer to that question could be yes (86).

        According to Chan, heaven is only for those who persevere in committed discipleship:

        Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into all the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that He commanded? You’ll notice that He didn’t add, “But hey, if that’s too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians—you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything” [emphasis Chan’s] (p. 87).

        Chan amalgamates the gospel message of salvation by faith in Christ alone with issues of discipleship and commitment, which creates a complicated mess, placing unreasonable demands upon the unsaved.

        Online magazine Today’s Christian explains the genesis of Chan’s radical beliefs:

        In 2002, a trip to Uganda changed Chan forever. There he saw real poverty, and it became personal. Little girls the age of his daughters rooted through dumpsters for food. Chan began to ask himself, What does it look like to love my neighbor as myself?

        His answer was to move his family of four out of their 2,000-square-foot house into one half that size so they could give more to missions. “I couldn’t reconcile how I could live in such a nice house while others were starving,” Chan says. But while he was beginning to respond to God’s difficult calls in his personal life, Chan wasn’t sure he could do whatever God demanded of him as the leader of his church. So in May 2006, he announced his plans to resign as Cornerstone’s pastor. He wasn’t sure he’d ever return.

        Francis Chan returned to Cornerstone on October 8, 2006, preaching a sermon entitled, Lukewarm and Loving It (available on YouTube). In it, he expressed that he had experienced doubts of his own salvation when he left the church.18 Much of Crazy Love appears to emanate from that sermon. The sermon is an excoriating condemnation of Chan’s congregation and of evangelical Christianity today. Combining his interpretations of the rich, young ruler in Luke 18 with the spitting out of the lukewarm Laodicean church of Revelation 3 (more on this later) he says, “We are so weird. We are so filthy, filthy, filthy rich. And yet, most of you think you’re not.”19 Continuing, “It’s not gonna be easy; it’s not gonna be probable; but, by the power of God, some of you could go to heaven. I have this haunting fear that some of you here at Cornerstone Church, possibly many, many of you are going to hell. It keeps me up at night.”20 Cornerstone’s reaction a week later: Chan preached a follow-up sermon Slavery Can Be Fun (also available on YouTube).21 In it he said, “People keep asking our pastors, ‘What should I do?’ You know, I had people say, ‘It was like you stuck a dagger in my gut’ and I was like ‘aw you’re absolutely right’; that is, the more I heard it, I said, Wow, this is so cool. This is exactly the way the church is supposed to respond.”22 Chan shares more responses, “‘I will do anything!’ People are just going, ‘Whatever, whatever, whatever!’”23 It is pretty sad to see Christians living in such bondage and insecurity!

        In chapter 5, he states: “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven” (84).

        The above info came from book reviews than can be found on faithalonedot org.
        Also, George Bryson, the author of The Dark Side of Calvinism wrote this article examining Francis Chan:
        http://www.calvarychapeltheology.com/Articles/francis_cha

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thank you so much for the time you took to answer me. I am getting a lot of responses, and I have to say all they have done for me is confirm that what I believe is correct. I said previously that I sat under Lordship Salvation preaching for several years, and it just about drove me crazy. You take someone with perfectionism tendencies and put them in that and they become an emotional mess. According to what they believe about themselves they will never be perfect enough. I had heard things about Crazy Love and I backed away. I know people who read the book and just based on what they said I decided that it was not sound. It sounds like salvation based on works to me. I hate to tell Mr. Chan but what he is basically saying is that every single minute, every single day you have to be in total surrender to Christ’s Lordship. I don’t think anyone that claims that is being honest with themselves. The Bible is clear that believers will struggle with the flesh, and there are many occasions that disciples addressed the church and addressed sin that was among them. I would much rather a Christian say to me that they really had to fight being nasty to someone when they were cut off in traffic than someone that pretends that nothing ever makes them wrongfully angry. Thanks again.

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    2. Thanks for the comment Lil Carpenter.

      It is truly one of the most confusing things when preachers preach in a way that seems to contradict their stated theology. Matt Chandler, for instance, preaches like a free will Arminian. I agree with every sermon I have heard him give. Yet he also affirms confessional Calvinism and that is very confusing.

      These theological discussions can quite easily get into the weeds and seem like splitting hairs. Personally, I try to stick with the two topics that I think are most crucial; the holiness of God and the authority of Scripture over a system of theology. There is a balancing act between blessed assurance, which I believe we can have, and making our election sure through our production of good works (2 Peter 1:10). One of the problems I see on Calvinism, is that one can never be sure they are saved. That is because, on Calvinism, the choice to save is solely on God. In this life, a Christian cannot be sure whether or not God has made this decision on their behalf. However, under the view of libertarian free will, a Christian can be sure they made the decision to repent and love Jesus, even if they can also point to areas of rebellion that still linger.

      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What Eric say about Chandler I have said about Piper and his book Dont Waste Your Life.

        I have quoted free-will Arminian-esque quotes from that book at length in these comments.

        Confessionally they theologize like Calvinist (they feel it honors God the most), but they preach like Wesley himself!

        One real problem with that is that most of them (some try to break the habit) still says “God loves you” and “Christ died for you,” to people….. when of course, according to their philosophy that cant really know that…..and in fact are likely wrong, since so few are actually saved. So they break themselves of the (terrible!) habit of telling people “Christ died for you” (cuz 98% of the time according to them it is likely that He didn’t!).

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      2. Thanks so much for your comments. I have been a Christian for a long time, but it has just been in the last few years that I have really had joy. I battled clinical depression for a long, long time, but that has been helped tremendously with meds and therapy. I think the drugs have stopped me from depending on feelings so much. Much of my joy has come because I have truly trusted the Holy Spirit to explain the scriptures to me. Also, my perception of God the Father was skewed because of my relationship with my earthly father. He was a great father in many ways, but lacking somewhat on the nurturing side. Also, I was not discipled very much. I think the works discussion is best understood by we do works because of our loving and intimate relationship with God through Christ.We want to please and glorify Him. Works then come from I want to and not have to or should perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Lil wrote:

      “I have listened to all of them several times and at no time have I concluded that they believe that only the elect are saved. What I have heard is that salvation is by faith through Christ and is a gift of God by his grace and mercy.”

      Lil, it is this tendency of many Calvinists to not be completely upfront about what they really mean that concerns many of the former Calvinists who comment here. When a Calvinist says that salvation is by faith in Christ, and it is a gift of God by his grace and mercy, they conveniently omit a few important caveats demanded by their theology. Under Calvinism, faith is not the response of man believing trustingly in God’s promised salvation though Jesus. Rather, Calvinism asserts that God determined before men were ever created who would be saved, and determined to ‘give’ them faith, as in irresistibly compelling them to believe, although they would prefer to not word it like that. They most definitely believe that only the elect will be given faith – and cannot resist the receipt of this ‘gift’ – and only those given this unsought for ‘gift’ of faith are made able to believe, because they were chosen as one of the elect long ago.

      The fact is, most believers refuse to believe in the reprehensible concept of God choosing only a select few and condemning all others to hell with no hope of salvation, so modern Calvinists choose to obscure this untidy fact as best they can by euphemistic wording and being less than totally frank about what they mean by many words or phrases. Most of us here have had long and multiple experiences with Calvinist teachers who use the language of scripture with which most believers are comfortable with, but do not acknowledge that they have a somewhat different, secretive meaning when they recite verses that non-Calvinist take for granted as meaning something else.

      It is confusing, and that is why we attempt to warn of less than upfront teaching and point out the logical necessities of Calvinism, so that people are not confused or misled.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you for your comments. Very helpful. Sometimes I wonder if the “elect” or “chosen” concept is more of a pride issue. I believe in John 3:16 which says “and whosoever believes in him will have eternal life”.

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      2. Actually from my perspective Lil, there is a historical evolution to Calvin’s doctrine of the “elect”.
        Calvin was almost obsessively reliant up the writings of Augustine.
        Augustine, as all historical scholars know synchronized Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism into the Catholic doctrine of his day.

        The teaching a special “elect” or “select” status of believers was integral to the Gnostic doctrines of Augustine’s day.

        The Gnostics may enunciate that men are born into different “fields”. Some are borne into the “field” of salvation, while others into a “field” of corruption, and therefore utterly lost from birth. We see this concept paralleled within the Calvinist terminology of two “domains” of providence.

        Catholicism has historically been massively syncretistic doctrinally and Augustine is noted as being the premier conduit for synchronizing NeoPlatonism into Christianity.

        English historian, Theodore Maynard, in The story of American Catholicism writes: “It has often be charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast. The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

        Traces of the assimilation of paganism are visible everywhere at Catholic sites. Catholics adoringly touch statues of Pan, Jupiter and the goddess Isis with child, being told they are David, Peter, and Mary with Jesus.

        Sparks Notes:
        -quote:
        “Augustine’s lasting influence lies largely in his success in combining the Neoplatonic worldview with the Christian one. In Augustine’s hybrid system, the idea that all creation is good in as much as it exists, means that all creation, no matter how nasty or ugly, has its existence only in God.”

        The Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism of Augustine’s days both conceived the concept of moral-dualism – where good and evil are co-equal in status. The doctrine of “yin-yang” is in fact a derivative of this. That’s why we see “yin-yang” (i.e, good-evil dualism) within Calvinism.

        Every tree brings forth fruit after its kind.

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      3. thanks. We just got finished with a Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, Breathe, and in it we discussed Gnosticism. I can see how this all ties together.

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      4. Yes – understood. Here is Calvinist Jonathon Edwards enunciating the Gnostic concept of the divine status of sin and evil

        -quote
        “The shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without THEM [sin and evil]……; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

        And also – here is the same exact enunciation on a new-age web-site called : “Unconventional Spirituality”
        The article here is titled “No Yin without Yang”

        -quote:
        Good relies upon evil in order to be good. And evil relies upon good in order to be evil. One cannot be without the other.”

        https://unconventionalspirituality.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/no-yin-without-yang/

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  5. The SBC presidency has been used in the past to reorient the entire SBC toward a theological stance (Biblically conservative). So we know this is not only possible, but has happened. And we have SBC Seminaries today that require their professors to sign a Calvinistic document instead of the Baptist Faith and Message. Would a Calvinist President tend to appoint more that representative number of Calvinistic leaders and board members? Yes, probably so. It has been much more than a trend already.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brother Andy, As a non-Calvinist, baptistic fundamental evangelical, I can rejoice that the conservatives regained control of the SBC decades ago… but it is somewhat disappointing that Calvinism snuck in under the guise of Conservatism back then. A “conservative” hermeneutic using normal rules of grammar and context will never yield dogmatic Calvinism from Scriptures, especially for the false points of limited atonement, irresistible grace, and eternal immutable individual election.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Can I ask a question that you guys just chew on? I have read places where the traditionalist camp persecutes calvinists because they don’t value evangelism. Then you run into good calvinists like Greear, Piper, Chandler, Mohler, and you praise them for preaching evangelistically and preaching the gospel. So since you can’t then attack their evangelistic stance you turn it into them being inconsistent with their stated theology? Does this not seem like grasping at straws to you guys? Have you even considered that evangelism and gospel preaching is VERY consistent with proper reformed theology? I’m not talking about the “hyper-nutso don’t share Christ” type. I mean proper confessional reformed theology. If you would maybe close your mouths long enough to listen to your brothers, you would discover that they aren’t much different than you and funny enough, based on the language in the BFM there is room for traditionalists and reformed brothers and sisters to coexist without arguing at every turn. I don’t know how long Flowers and Kamp spent writing and researching for this article, but I can think of a few ways to have better used their time. I wonder how many muslims they could have engaged with the gospel in the hours they spent on this. Just some food for thought.

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    1. Chad:
      You said this…..I wonder how many muslims they could have engaged with the gospel in the hours they spent on this. Just some food for thought.

      If you are a determinist then that is a moot point, right?

      Like

    2. Hi Chad. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. But I have found that the premise of divine determinism certainly does effect evangelism and persistent prayer, for the only motive that can be mustered by a determinist in evangelism is obedience. There can not be a compassionate desire for every soul to be saved since they believe (for certain) that God does not have that kind of compassionate desire for everyone. They cannot look at every non-believer in the eyes with confident compassion and say – “God loved you so much He paid for your sins and desires that you be saved.”

      Once fulfilling your obligation of preaching the gospel, if one should respond negatively to what you believe was truly God speaking the truth of Christ through you, then it is easy to give up the effort in their life, concluding they must not be one of the elect, for if they had heard, they would have responded. And motivation to keep praying for them begins to wane as an evaluation of their so-called reprobate status cements into your thinking each time they reject the gospel again.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Dr. Flowers and Eric Kemp,

    As you have cited Jared Wilson, I thought might be interested in a few quotes of his and regarding him:

    “The warp speed sanctification of gospel wakefulness…The experience of gospel wakefulness is often confused for new birth because it usually entails so many of the visions and emotions…What I experienced was not new birth but a Spiritual quantum leap in my sanctification…”-Jared Wilson

    “This is gospel wakefulness…the wording owes a lot to things I’ve read by the likes of Jonathan Edwards” – Jared Wilson

    “By writing this forward [Jared Wilson’s], I’m saying I’ll get in line for that awakening. I hope you’ll join me there. We will not be alone. A gospel renaissance is renewing many in our time. We see streams of new blessing flowing together – The Gospel Coalition…Acts 29 Network…and many others. They are all centered in gospel rediscovery. God is wonderfully at work, creating new spiritual conditions for tomorrow. I wonder if he plans to take us all the way into a revival of historic magnitude.” – “When God Comes to a Church” Author and Acts 29 Pastor, Ray Ortlund

    “You cannot ‘behold!’ it if you aren’t looking. As my friend Ray Ortlund has been known to say, ‘Stare at the glory of God until you see it.’” Jared Wilson

    In addition, the gospel of all the Scriptures has a cosmic scope that posits God’s glory itself as the sum of the good news. In this wide-angle view of the gospel, the good news is that the peace that was broken at the fall will be restored in everything from God’s reconciliation with sinners to his establishing of the new heavens and the new earth. A cosmic gospel means the restoration of all things. – Jared Wilson

    “The warp speed sanctification of gospel wakefulness…The experience of gospel wakefulness is often confused for new birth because it usually entails so many of the visions and emotions…What I experienced was not new birth but a Spiritual quantum leap in my sanctification…”-Jared Wilson

    “This is gospel wakefulness…the wording owes a lot to things I’ve read by the likes of Jonathan Edwards…and heard in the sermons of some like John Piper and Tim Keller.” – Jared Wilson

    What is this fascination with Jonathan Edwards for the New Calvinists? Perhaps this will explain a little:

    “In the 1700s, Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards invested Calvinism with a rapturous near mysticism.” -“Calvinism is the Gospel”

    “From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing of men, according to his sovereign pleasure…I walked abroad alone, in a solitary place in my father’s pasture, for contemplation… After this my sense of divine things gradually increased, and became more and more lively…The appearance of everything was altered… there seemed to be, as it were, a calm sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost everything. God’s excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in everything; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds, and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, trees; in the water, and all nature; which used greatly to fix my mind… While thus engaged, it always seemed natural to me to sing, or chant for my mediations… The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to SWALLOW UP ALL THOUGHT AND CONCEPTION … which continued as near as I can judge, ABOUT AN HOUR…I have many times had a sense of the glory of the third person in the Trinity, in his office of Sanctifier; in his holy operations, communicating divine light and life to the soul.” –Jonathon Edwards

    Your thought?

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    1. Wow. Edwards sounds like the two lady missionaries of a certain cultish sect who came to my door one day. They knew everything their founder and his additional “scriptures” taught were true because they had meditated long until there was a “burning in the bosom” to validate it. Once one hardens the heart and God’s loving character, leaving the clear teaching of Scripture, it becomes easier to embrace a lie about Him.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I see a few of the language and concepts in those Calvinist writings – parallel the language and concepts of Plotinus who re-shaped the doctrines of Plato into a religious form of mysticism. Plotinus’ called his deity the “ONE”. The disciple was to contemplate the “ONE” and come to a higher revelation of the “ONE” with the promise of returning to the “ONE”. This required a practice of contemplation.

      One would expect Plotinus to say “You cannot ‘behold!’ it if you aren’t looking” or ‘Stare at the glory of the “ONE” until you see it.’”

      In Plotinus’ cosmology – all things including good and evil have their source in the “ONE” and therefore good and evil are equally beautiful.

      Joshua Packwood – Plotinus and the One: A Mystical Union
      -quote:
      Plotinus also alludes to the possibility of the soul achieving a mystical union with the One.

      If Plotinus had a ministry today it would not be called “Desiring God’ – it would be called “Desiring the “ONE”.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. And this is their favorite ‘homeboy’. As long as thinking about God condemning countless millions irrevocably to eternal suffering makes the sky bluer for Jonathan Edwards while he strolls through the pasture, then it must be fine. This is supposed to pass for ‘right thinking’ about God? Maybe he should get his head out of the clouds and read his bible – the one which declares unambiguously how much God loves mankind and desires that all turn from wickedness so that none need perish. The rest of the cabal needs to throw out their wicked Institutes and go back to the bible as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Now we have the incomparable Piper to tell us how grand it was for God to predestine most people for hell:

        “The minor evangelical adjustments to the world’s way of making people happy on the way to hell are not radical enough for me.”

        – John Piper

        It is obvious that Piper prefers that people be properly miserable as they face the unavoidable ‘hell’ he believes his ‘God’ designed them to suffer. Like Edwards, he wants to invoke the cruel, angry ‘God’ whose right it is to dangle helpless men over the eternal flames for his own amusement. Heaven forbid the poor unchosen masses steal any of the ‘glory’ of being one of ‘God’s’ elect, like him. They cannot look to a happy, glorious future as he so confidently does, because ‘God’ predestined them to suffer forever – because some believe this makes him look ‘glorious’. So let’s make sure they are all miserably aware of what God has in store for them. It appears tha Piper believes in a different gospel than the one that declares ‘Good news of a great joy, which will come to all the people’. He thinks it all about him and his cronies.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. TS00,

        Yes there is something very wrong when the Calvinists rub the noses of the “unrepentant” in it. A certain kind of shaming people for not repenting on the one hand, while on the other hand writing whole books stating over and over that is it God who does not grant them repentance.

        The worst part is not that it is so visibly schizophrenic but that they insist this idea comes from a God “who is love.” Not just “a loving God” … a God who IS love.

        And even harder to understand is that we are commanded to love our enemies as ourselves with the above as our example. Truly unbelievable!!!

        That God commands and enables us to love our enemies while on the other hand purposely creating 98% of humanity with the intention of denying repentance to them “for His glory” should be hard to understand by anyone.

        No doubt I will now receive disparaging comments about being a universalist because I allegedly say that love requires God to make all come in. Not what I am saying.

        Certainly it is not difficult to see that love would at least allow all to come in. But the Calvinist “God is love” does not make them come in (universalist), and does not allow them to come in (free-will traditionalist), rather that “God is love” creates 98% with the before-time intention of denying repentance to them.

        The Bible does not support such a definition of love.

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      3. Calvinism deliberately clouds the fact that there are more than two possibilities for interpreting God’s revelation to offer salvation to mankind, stubbornly pretending that only two options exist, both asserting Divine Determinism. In all three cases, God alone is capable of providing the necessary atonement and grace, with no part being attributable to man or his efforts; so in that respect, salvation is most definitely divinely determined and provided.

        Calvinism (Determinism): Some chosen for salvation, the rest chosen for hell – Irresistibly determined by God
        Universalism: All chosen for salvation, and irresistibly – Irresistibly determined by God
        Biblical Gospel: All are offered salvation, only those who ‘believe’ and ‘receive’ it are saved – Individually accepted or rejected

        Calvinism presents a hideous, monstrous God who most definitely does not meet his own standards of love and justice. Universalism seems to be weak on justice, allowing no arena for non-compelled repentance and submission to God. The Biblical Gospel alone presents a God of unimpeachable love and justice, who genuinely offers atonement, grace and eternal bliss to all who will believe in and come to the light of God’s love manifested in and through Jesus’ life, teaching and sacrifice. The true Gospel teaches of sin, atonement, faith, repentance and grace – as recorded throughout the entirety of scripture. Calvinism, unfortunately distorts and perverts the entire salvation message, leading to an arbitrary, limited ‘salvation’ of the chosen few – exactly what Paul so vehemently condemned the determinists of his day for asserting, thereby limiting God’s love and grace to ‘the chosen race’ of Israel.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I find it interesting that John Piper details how he doesn’t have any assurance his biological sons are elected for heaven or hell.
        But he doesn’t enunciate that question concerning his own eternal destiny – even though that fact is only known to Calvin’s god.
        How nice for him. 😀

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  8. Wow! What a smear campaign! We are talking about pastors right, like I didn’t stumble into a political thread did I? Brothers! Satan is winning the battle (not the war, Jesus Wins!) when we are divided like this. If you want to know about J.D. Greear go read his books or listen to his sermons. Listening to another man’s interpretation is all we are doing with this article. Let’s trust God and not opinion pieces written to divide .

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    1. Let’s trust God and not opinion pieces written to divide

      Well that would exclude all Calvinist written pieces! 😀
      Its not difficult to agree with that – but of-course we won’t find Calvinists following that rule now will we.
      Suddenly we’ve become “brothers” and not heretics.

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  9. Sorry for typo; should read: “Universalism: All chosen for salvation, which is irresistibly granted – Irresistibly determined by God”

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  10. I just wrote this morning about God’s love and allow or denying repentance. A couple hours later in my inbox was a great blog post by Roger Olson on the very thing. He mentions Piper’s inconsistencies of “God allows” vs “God designs” (which is easy to find in Piper’s material). Have a look here…..

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2018/02/conversations-calvinists-rarely-productive/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Evangelical&utm_content=259

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    1. Wonderful FOH!!!

      Piper’s argument 1: “They deserve hell”
      This is designed as an exculpatory argument – by presenting a deceptive mask.
      The clear obfuscation of the fact that in Calvinism all person’s are destined by design for a given end before they are born.
      The argument presents the lie that the person did something apart from Calvin’s god – which results in them deserving some destiny.
      In Calvinism a persons fate is determined by **NOTHING** having to do with the person’s attributes – good or bad.
      At the foundation of the world, millennia before they were born, they couldn’t possibly have anything to do with determining their destiny.
      Calvin’s god -quote “solely within himself according to his good pleasure” determines the fate of every man.

      Conclusion:
      This argument seeks to hide the “DARK-SIDE” of Calvinism by hiding Calvin’s god’s as playing the one and only determinative role of one’s destiny behind a mask of contradiction – and serves as a good example of Calvinist double-talk.

      Piper’s argument 2: Calvin’s god’s attributes of wrath must be manifest because “good and evil” must manifest equally.
      This doctrine has its source in Christian Gnosticism/NeoPlatonism cosmology – in which good and evil stand as co-equal contrary yet complementary forces. This is an excellent example of the principle of “yin/yang” found in Calvinism.

      This is why we perennially see the strategy of false-advertising language in Calvinist apologetics.
      In Calvinism “God allows” functions as a mask – painted on the dark face of “God designs”

      Its no wonder Dr. Olson would resolve his conversations with Calvinists are rarely productive.
      He hasn’t been raised on the cool aid of Calvin’s double-think.

      Great post FOH!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So True! Brd & FOH.

        Irenaeus (born around 125AD) wrote “Refutation of Heresies” (a defense of orthodox Christianity against its Gnostic rivals). Respected Historian James E Keifer after studying Irenaeus’ work writes- “Gnostics claimed to be Christians, but Christians with a difference. They said that Jesus had had two doctrines: one a doctrine fit for the common man, and preached to everyone, and the other an advanced teaching, kept secret from the multitudes, fit only for the chosen few, the spiritually elite. They, the Gnostics, were the spiritually elite, and although the doctrines taught in the churches were not exactly wrong, and were in fact as close to the truth as the common man could hope to come, it was to the Gnostics that one must turn for the real truth. They remind me very much of the Rosicrucians. When I mention this, I often get blank stares, but not many years ago many popular science magazines carried their advertisements, with assertions that Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Plato, Archimedes, and so on had all been members of a secret society called the Rosicrucians, and owed their achievements largely to this fact. Was there any evidence of this aside from the traditions of the group itself? Of course not! They were a secret society. Why were they secret? “Because our wisdom would be misunderstood by the common man, and so must be reserved for the tiny handful of mankind in every generation who are spiritually advanced enough to appreciate it.” James E Keifer
        I am not endorsing all the writings or beliefs of Irenaeus or James E Keifer, but it does give us an understanding and summary of Gnostic teaching and thought that infiltrated the church within the first two centuries, and the similarity to Calvinism in my opinion is striking.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you Damon! This was a wonderful post!

        From lectures I heard years ago on the practices of the ancient art of Egyptian priest-craft, I believe we might see the embryo of secret societies. A group of people who are above the general milieu of the ignorant masses. A derivative of this Egyptian priest-craft are the ancient Magi who, following the practice of the Egyptian priests, charted the stars. Years ago I remember hearing that archeologists have discovered Egyptian statues of different deities having a hinged lower jaw – and a hole through which a wooden rod can move up from below the statue to move the jaw – and a sound portal drilled up through the statue allowing a person below the statue to speak, through it much like a megaphone. The priests were able to trick the superstitious masses into believing the god was speaking to them through its statue. I believe it is quite possible this is where the author of the “wizard of oz” got his idea.

        Yes, I agree with you – we humans can be tempted into a sense of elitism. I think it very legitimate to question whether Calvin internally perceived himself as being given a special “Gnosis” that allowed him to scoff at anyone who disagreed with him. And I think viewing Calvinist behavior – often revealing indicators of religious elitism – in that vein also has legitimacy.

        I’m reviewing the book “Understanding the Whole Bible” by Jonathan Welton – who writes about how prevalent Gnostic and Pagan religious beliefs influenced the church – especially prior to the creation of the Christian bible.

        He writes:
        • The New Testament was not canonized until nearly AD 400; meaning the early Christians for several centuries only had access to the Old Testament.

        • The Bible was not translated into the common languages until the late 1300s; prior to that. Scripture was only written and read in Latin, meaning most people did not understand it or have access to it.

        • The Bible existed only in, handwritten copies and was, therefore, very rare until the 1500s, when the Gutenberg Press was Invented, enabling the printing and distributing of Bibles in multiple languages.

        • In the 1500s, Martin Luther also brought back the basic understanding of salvation by grace through faith to the Church, Prior to that, in large part, it had been lost for hundreds of years.

        Great post – thanks Damon! :-]

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      3. br.d, Damon, TS00 and maybe others,

        I myself do not give any credence to conspiracy theories that there is some kind of hidden, concerted, conspiracy going on.

        If you look at the average 20-something bearded, YRR in cage-phase Calvinism you see a zealous youth on fire about his new find (ever met someone who just learned how to speak in tongues!!??). Anyway they are trying to honor God and think they have just learned the truth that can change the world (ironically it can’t change anything in a deterministic world…but not my point here!)

        As for the idea of a cabal controlling all this and working a conspiracy…. nah. That’s going nowhere boys.

        It’s just sincere guys like Piper, Sproul, MacArthur —-who I remind you do NOT agree on many other points—- navel-gazing and misinterpreting a few verses that the whole error is scaffolded on. The whole thing is built on 40-50 verses and presuppositions.

        They —–and all reformers—- come to the table with presupposition (1) what sovereign has to mean (2) what omniscience has to mean (3) what God must be like (4) what “elect” “chosen” “predestined” must mean.

        If you start with their presuppositions and sprinkle in 40-50 hair-raising (reformed-sounding) verses that must be seen their way, you can easily get what they get. That allows you to convince yourself to ignore the other 99.6% of the Bible that says “I want all men” “whosoever” “Why did you not…?” “If you will do this…. I will do this…” “Jerusalem Jerusalem ….. I would have … but you would not” “When I am lifted up, I will call all men…” “sin is crouching at your door and you must dominate over it” “my son was dead and came to me (Luke 15)” etc —and on and on.

        Clearly both sides of the argument interpret their “problem” verses through the lens of their preference.

        I did that….. but then decided that the tenor and weight of the Scripture is by far on the free-will side and explaining 40-50 verses is a lot easier and more biblical than trying to ignore the other 99.6% of the Bible.

        I believe we will not find answers in looking for Egyptian conspiracy theories but rather simply reading the Bible.

        Should we point out that Mary-worshiping, saint-praying Augustine was part of the founding of reformed philosophy and Calvinism? Sure! Should we show that Calvinism is just a neo-Platonic philosophy? Sure.

        But a human conspiracy —-that those who are in it are aware of—- not so much.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Sorry if I inferred some kind of conspiracy in my last post or others.
        I don’t believe that is the case with Calvinism.

        However if one researches socialization experiments such as the Solomon Asch experiment, the Milgram experiment, and the Stanford prison experiment, one understands how we humans can be influenced. I watched a video where survivors of the David Koresh group – now many years after the fact still insist he was a prophet of God. Steven Hassan – expert on Sun Myung Moon and other groups is constantly asked are there certain profiles or people-types who join these groups. He says they come from all walks of life and some have doctorates and PHDs. So its not just simple minded people or people of low IQ who make up the statistical sample of believers in various religious groups. Socialization practices do influence people – and there is such a thing as group-think.

        I think people get drawn into Calvinism many times, the same way anyone would be drawn into a religious social group. It provides a sense of belonging and family etc. However I believe Calvinism, sociologically, differs from other protestant belief systems in the emphasis it places on doctrine. There is a sense of sacredness placed upon Calvin’s doctrines that you don’t see in other groups. I believe also, there is a model of a social hierarchy of respected persons in Calvinism that one doesn’t see in other groups. Those persons who have been standard bearers for Calvin’s doctrines and who have drawn disciples after themselves – like Jonathon Edwards. These persons are heroes within Calvinism – in much the same way that Calvin and Augustine are held up in a form of hero worship.

        So Calvinism, from my perspective at this point in time, is primarily a phenomenon of socialization influences.
        Those who leave it seem to enunciate having a sense of “breaking free” from it.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Br.d. writes:

        “Sorry if I inferred some kind of conspiracy in my last post or others.
        I don’t believe that is the case with Calvinism.”

        Personally, I would allow for both. 🙂 There is most certainly a ‘conspiracy’ of Satan to mislead, confuse and deceive people, particularly believers. Scripture is replete with references to such deception. Having looked into ‘conspiracy’ a few years back, I was left acknowledging that I would most likely never be able to know for sure if or by whom conspiracies may or may not be perpetrated. It doesn’t much matter to me at this point – I believe that sincerely deceived people are just as or even more ‘dangerous’ than wolves in sheep’s clothing, as they are motivated by a genuine belief in the deceptions they defend. What I would suggest is that those who so loudly scoff at all things conspiracy have probably not deeply researched the many acknowledged conspiracies that have been uncovered throughout history which, obviously, suggests there are most likely others that have not been revealed.

        Who is to say if such as Calvin or Augustine were deliberate deceivers pushing known lies or merely dreadfully deceived? Certainly it is possible, however unlikely one considers it to be, as is so with any christian teacher or leader exposed of great sin and hypocrisy. The best deceivers are those who can best deceive, as obvious as that sounds. I am unwilling to insist that all ‘conspiracies’ are tinfoil-hat absurdities – unless posited by government officials. 🙂 It seems to me that yesterday’s ‘heretics’ are often today’s ‘conspiracy theorists’, those who doubt the motives of many in power and insist upon the right of the individual to think, investigate and believe as his conscience – and/or Holy Spirit – leads him.

        Must we allow public scorn to frighten us from acknowledging that Satan is very real, very clever and uses talented and clever men to do his dirty work? The true agenda, motivation and deeds of those in power – religious as well as political – can frequently be far different from what is stated and perceived as reality.

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    2. I agree FOH & Brd, I don’t think that Calvinism is an organised club where the members are fully aware of their intentions so to speak. I do however believe they have been hoodwinked by Calvin’s “secret counsel” decree. Calvin mentions the “secret counsel” many times in his writings, in which I think all the contradiction, double speak, and confusion comes from. I don’t believe there is a “secret counsel” of God in regards to salvation at all or “two truths” as they like to put it.
      What amazes me is that the phrase “secret counsel” is only mentioned once in the whole bible – Psalm 64:2 “Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity”
      And yet this is one of Calvins favourite catch phrases all throughout his writings.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Damon
        Great.
        I think we are agreed that far too much credibility has been given to Calvin (and the confessions, creeds, and catechisms for that matter), who gives far too much credibility to Augustine, who was influenced far too much by Greek philosophy.
        It has been too easy for them to devise man-made ideas about God and then blame them on the “secret counsel”. We are agreed on that for sure.
        As you may know from seeing other comments of mine on other pages, I have been an overseas missionary for over 30 years announcing the gospel in some of the most simple and remote places. I say simple because the gospel is very simple and people who have never had the background can understand it upon hearing it.

        The Creator God made a way for Redemption through his Son who is God incarnate and all you have to do is believe that and act in faith. That’s pretty simple. There’s nothing very hidden about that.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Very astute observation – those with nothing to hide do not operate under ‘secret’ councils, but openly declare their characters, agendas and works. The wicked, the workers of iniquity, are those who operate with secret councils. God has revealed openly who he is, what he desires, what he offers and what he requires in response.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. To be clear, a council is a group of people….. and they may have had secrets ones of those too!

        but the “secret counsel” referred to here is that mysterious element of God and His own counsel —– calling it secret and blaming all kinds of things on it. On it (His own counsel) not them (a secret council).

        Liked by 2 people

      4. What’s the possibility Calvin’s so called “secret counsel” is all about hiding behind a mask of un-falsifiability.

        When one has *REAL* facts that support one’s doctrine, one should have no problem defending that doctrine with those facts.
        However when one has *NO REAL* facts that support one’s doctrine, one can easily resort to moral platitudes.
        Or one can defend doctrines with grandiose claims that are entirely unfalsifiable.

        How does one disprove something that is defended by the -quote “secret counsel of god”?
        Its a secret! No man can know the “secrets” of god so no man can prove it false.

        The obvious question is – if something is in fact god’s “secret” then how in god’s name does Calvin know about it?

        Liked by 2 people

      5. br.d. writes: “What’s the possibility Calvin’s so called “secret counsel” is all about hiding behind a mask of un-falsifiability.”

        Exactly. All of Calvinism’s false claims rest upon the secret counsel of God, and secret decrees never proclaimed in scripture. Funny, most Calvinists would scoff at such claims by others they view as ‘cults’ but never seem to realize what they themselves are in the midst of. That’s how cults work. I recall the story of one family who left our former church along with a founding elder and many others who were former ‘besties’ with the pastor, and the story of them shouting at the him as he left their home ‘You are part of a cult!’ I was shocked and appalled . . . at the time.

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      6. Good post!
        Calvinism does exhibit a high degree of group-think. :-]
        Their minds have been “re-formed” into Calvin’s double-think.

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  11. I am a former Calvinist. The problem I ran into was that most Calvinist are not consistent. When I started in my Calvinist journey I read A.W. Pink. I quickly found that most who professed Calvinism would tell me I didn’t understand it when I was simply repeating what Pink had to say on the subject. One day I began to study why people were against Calvinism and found out that I was wrong to have followed such a doctrine. I have watched many of Dr. Flowers videos and while I can appreciate his kindness towards Calvinists, I struggle with wondering how someone can be a true Christian and make the claims about God in regards to things like reprobation that Calvinists do. Is Calvinism not another gospel? I know Calvinism and my interaction with many Calvinist almost caused me to not want to have anything to do with God at all. It really shook my foundations. Thankfully, I did not allow them to drive me to that point. Calvinism is a dangerous thing. Too many are trying to be Calvinist light as to not reveal the dark side of Calvinism. Calvinism needs to be exposed. I am thankful that Dr. Flowers is willing to step up and address the errors of Calvinism boldly and unashamedly.

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    1. THERUGGEDHISTORIAN, I believe that many who comment here share your perspective. It is my opinion that many, if not most, who have been drawn into Calvinism have been seduced by high-sounding claims, without deeply examining the ramifications of the doctrines. It sounds so holy and humble to seek only to exalt God and his ‘Sovereignty’ – until that dark night when you realize this means that God deliberately, without offer of redemption, damns countless millions to hell – just for his ‘good pleasure’. When you truly face the God of Calvinism, it is usually only loyalty to the club and well-practiced submission to authority that keeps you from racing back to the arms of the loving, merciful God of scripture who desires that all turn from wickedness and live.

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  12. That’s so true Brd. I’ve found that whenever a Calvinist is backed into the corner of their contradiction they always pull out their trump card, which is just Calvins “secret counsel” which doesn’t even exist in the bible, and as you’ve pointed out cannot even be known being a “secret”. It is in fact nothing but a smoke screen of contradiction with no basis at all but a philosophy imposed on certain texts of the bible. In other words they have to believe the “secret decree” to make the verses say what they want them to say.

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  13. That’s the crazy claim of Calvinism – God’s second truth to salvation is a “secret counsel”. To them the reavealed second truth to salvation is that – it is secret! Doesn’t make sense at all.

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  14. Sorry ‘revealed’ I meant to say. It’s hard to make a case that the revealed secret is……..that it is a secret.
    Ok I’m done, my heads starting to spin.😩

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