Friday, March 31, 2006

Ironic Unity Revisited

After reading Evan's latest article, I want to address this issue, since I happen to be Southern Baptist myself and I also participate at the Founders blog. For ease, I’ll simply quote the same portions that Evan quoted and respond.

…In short, this is a group of people who want to see all Southern Baptists become Calvinists. That is what is meant by the “Doctrines of Grace” and the “Historic Baptist Principle”.

This is the actual statement:

The purpose of Founders Ministries is the recovery of the gospel of the Lord
Jesus Christ in the reformation of local churches. We believe intrinsic to this
recovery is the promotion of the Doctrines of Grace in their experiential
application to the local church particularly in the areas of worship and
witness. This is to be accomplished through a variety of means focusing on
conferences and including publication, education, pastoral training and other
opportunities consistent with the purpose. Each of the ministries will be
developed with special attention to achieve a healthy integration of doctrine
and devotion.

Our abiding concerns:

We desire to be orthodox without being obnoxious.
We want to be confessional, yet contemporary.
We are Southern Baptist, though not sectarian.
Our goal is to be doctrinally and devotionally balanced.
Simon writes as if he is a Moderate Southern Baptist claiming that the Conservative Southern Baptists want to turn all Southern Baptists into inerrantists and are somehow seeking to redefine the definition of a "Southern Baptist." For Southern Baptists, however, the Doctrines of Grace are very certainly historic principles, since each and every signatory of the Charter of 1845 came from churches that affirmed the Philadelphia Confession, which is, with a few adjustments, a recapitulation of the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689.

Need also I remind Simon that we have just come from a time when “historic Baptist principles” meant “soul competency” and “religious liberty” with respect to intra-church and inter-church relations and biblical interpretation, not just civil government? Such thinking is a classic category error, for “religious liberty” applies to the Baptist view of church-state relations, not inter-church relations.

I wonder, Simon, do you also find this offensive:

The following circular letter was presented to the Stone Mountain Baptist Association on September 10-13, 1853, during the fifteenth annual session that was held at the Macedonia Baptist Church in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia. It was secured from the minutes of the Stone Mountain Baptist Association by Pastor Bill Haynes of the Indian Creek Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

I. That our churches ought to feel a deeper interest in, and higher observance
of, the fundamental doctrines of the Bible.

1. We argue the necessity of impressing these doctrines upon the mind from the fact that
they promote good religion.

"Make the tree good, and his fruit will be good." To obtain the purest water, we must repair the fountain. To attain an eminent degree of piety, ''drink of the fountain of the water of life freely." "In that day, there shall be a fountain opened in the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin, and for uncleanness." The atonement of Christ, with special regard to the redemption of His people, is
first, last, and midst, in the great and glorious economy of Grace. Like the circle of the sun, it comprehends all the attributes of God's gifts to His children. The death of Jesus Christ, for us His enemies, embraces the most unmistakable proof of God's electing love; His preordination of obedient, true believers, to "eternal life." "As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed." The assurance of an "eternal weight of glory," to all that love God and keep His commandments, is uttered and continued by the Lord Jesus, when He, in His unspeakable agony and awful death, exclaims, "It is finished." "The
ceremonial law is finished; the rigorous, fearful, civil polity of the Jews is finished; the requisition of the moral code is finished; my suffering life is finished; my shameful, agonizing death is accomplished; Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us. If while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the
death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."

2. As the atonement of Christ is identified with the entire system of salvation, and as it corresponds with all those primary doctrines which it is our interest and duty to believe and practice, it is therefore necessary that these doctrines be preached and advocated, both in the pulpit and elsewhere, without fear of contradiction, and with unwavering confidence that God will sanctify them to His chosen people. Is the covenant of redemption true to the redemption of all that believe? Is election God's choice
from eternity of all that obey Him? Is predestination to holiness of heart and life a Bible doctrine? Is salvation by grace through the blood of Christ the heritage of God's elect? Shall they persevere in pious living through the faithfulness of God? Do "all things work together for good to them that love God; to them who are the called according to His purpose?" Cannot Baptists answer these questions affirmatively? Surely. Then why neglect their propagation? Does the proclamation of truth injure the people of God ? Certainly not. When a man speaks a deliberate falsehood or is angry at the declaration of
truth, or when he conceals a truth by using misleading language in any matter whatever, avoid him. Arminianism and Campbellism are subtly intending our dismemberment. Let us arise in the energy of the Holy Ghost, and "declare all the counsel of God, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints."

3. The sovereignty of God is perpetuated and confessed in "the churches of the saints." "God sitteth on the throne of His holiness. The Lord Omnipotent, reigneth. He shall reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." His sovereign, immutable decree produces all that is good for His church; and His permissive will tolerates moral evil. He "worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." In supreme power, and "dreadful majesty" He punishes the wicked. Executing the penalty of death upon the finally impenitent; He makes subservient to our benefit all the ills of life. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain? The penitent thief He brings to Paradise, but the dying persecuted robber He commits to eternal wrath.
"Righteousness, Justice, and Judgment are the habitation of His throne." It belongs to His absolute will, it is the prerogative of the Great Supreme to welcome the saints to glory, and consign the wicked to unquenchable fire. "Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world; Depart, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." His law of benevolence prepared Heaven for the righteous before they were born, from the foundation of the world. His penal law prepared Hell for the devil and his angels. "In my Father's house are many
mansions. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am. Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." Thus, we give glory to God in the highest, thus God extends peace on earth, good will toward men. Alleluia! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Let the earth rejoice. Let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.

4. In penetrating the mysteries of Divine Providence and Grace, we must recollect that to learn these doctrines, faith, prayer, and patience are indispensably necessary. Faith must receive the
word of God as it is; prayer will unfold the oracles of truth to the humble inquirer;--and patience will tarry in the temple until the interpretation is audibly spoken by the Holy Spirit: "Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may inherit the promise. He shall take the things which are mine, and shall shew them unto you."

Christians are not to learn the doctrines of grace in a day, or a year, "As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." What an immense blessing is it thus to have all the gifts of the immortal mind in exercise! It is stated that "an ancient mathematician, who had been working a
problem for many weeks, when he had found the solution, ran out of his study, and through the streets of Athens crying--"I have found it--I have found it!" And the disciples of the Lord Jesus, who is ever working out the vast problem of man's redemption, will find an answer to his devout inquiries, "with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Therefore, "exercise thyself rather unto godliness." Beloved brethren, descend "into the unsearchable riches of Christ." Be exercised in exploring the infinite mind of God. Make new discoveries of the Divine perfections. "But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord."

II. These doctrines are the safeguard of the Body of Christ. "He is made all things to the Church that in
all things He might have the preeminence. No other foundation can any man lay, than that is laid: which is Christ Jesus. Salvation will God appoint, for walls and bulwarks. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her. Yea, and all the promises of God, in Him are yea, and
in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us."

To preserve the church of Christ from wicked encroachment, the citadel must be well defended
and secured: "His place of defense shall be the munition of rocks." Inherent strength is comprised and promoted within these enclosures. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth, even forever." The sun in his orbit, burns and shines without hazard
from any of his attendant planets. So be the Church of the adorable Redeemer. Let her "be as a city set on a hill which cannot be hid." Let her be "the light of the world." Illuminated by the Son of Righteousness, she is in her celestial training and towering majesty, the peerless queen of her Lord and King; subservient to no earthly pollution, or defilement from without, but guarded and honored by the power and intelligence of her Almighty and All-Wise Redeemer, she stands replete in the love of God, and beauty of salvation. "Upon His right hand did stand the Queen, in gold of Ophir."

III. The visibility of the Church of Christ, by the inculcation and exhibition of these doctrines is better understood. "Ye are not of the world." If the Church can be distinguished apart from the world in her principles taken from the Bible, and impressed by the spirit of God, she will evince, first, by her vitality, and secondly, in her sober, sincere and godly intercourse, that she alone is "the heavenly Jerusalem," that in her alone are the dawn and light and glory of the precious Saviour's image on earth. Grace "without money and without price" is free grace; it is unmerited, therefore it must be and will be illustrated in Christian character, and exemplified in Christian conduct.

IV. To do these things, the power is given us. "All power in heaven and earth is mine, and to whomsoever I will, I give it," says our Immanuel, "which name, being interpreted, is God with

1. In the government of the Church, the distinctiveness of these doctrines must be quietly and affectionately advocated and enforced. We require a good moral character of every applicant for church membership. But we need no reference to a man's previous life. If God has converted, has shed abroad His love in his heart, this contains all the elements of moral character. Ananias might not object to the baptism of Saul. His previous persecutions of God's children were no barrier to his immersion, "in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Caution, however, in the reception of applicants for immersion should be persistently and intelligently observed. And in the admission by letter of Baptists from a distance, there should be the most scrupulous adherence of moral character. A
church letter, written sometimes in full fellowship, is but a transcript of hypocrisy and base imposition. Never admit to church membership any person on the merit expressed in his letter, unless his commendation is borne out in Christian conduct. Object to him and reject at once his letter of
recommendation, if he is not in action what his letter signifies.

Reclaim, as speedily as possible, backsliding Christians. Excommunicate incorrigible members. Never mind their great age. The hoary-headed sinner is the most ingenious contriver of mischief. Have no
lenience for the opulent hypocrite. "Wealth maketh many (mischievous) friends." "Holiness becometh God's house."

2. In the good character of Jesus Christ's preacher, and deacons, these truths must be sanctioned and

Aaron and the Levites (deputy priests) were irreproachable. Paul exercised himself "daily, to have a good conscience void of offense toward God and toward men." He addressed the deacons of Philippi with
profound regard and unwavering confidence; and placed them second in the scale of pious distinction and manifest utility, in the Philippian church. From the deaconship of Stephen, he rose to the ministration of the Gospel, and was crowned with the earliest honors of the martyrdom of the New Testament. "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord."

3. The ordinances of God's house will be diligently and devoutly attended to. "Faith without works is dead." Where there are no Christian works, there is no Christian faith. Christian faith is lively, animating, productive. "I will show thee my faith by my works." Strong faith has strong and powerful evidence in the love of God. "God is love. We love Him, because He first loved us." Here is the
motive power of heavenly ordinances. This is the great interpreter of Christian action and patient suffering. "The love of Christ constraineth us." In the ordinances of preaching, baptism and the Lord's Supper, prayer, exhortation and praise, "the King is held in the galleries."

4. In the secular support of Gospel Ministers, the fundamental teachings of the Scriptures are patronized and appreciated. Nor is it sufficient that brethren endorse these truths with their lips, whilst their hearts are far from them. Brethren in the Lord, do not censure us for our candor. Suffer this truth. Never, never were the people of God more in opposition to their own welfare; never, never did they
reproach the Gospel of Christ, the doctrines of the Cross, more bitterly and cruelly than in withholding the support that is due to the Ministers of the Lord Jesus. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." The love of Christ is intercepted by the cheerless withholder of the Minister's dues. "It is more blessed to give
than to receive." The Minister and his widowed wife, and orphanized children are blessed in receiving the laborer's hire. But the church is more abundantly blessed in imparting cheerfully what the minister is entitled

'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts; if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." "The grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ be with you."

-David Cook, Moderator
Simon, each and every one of the concerns that are listed in the Founders own statement of purpose is listed in this article. It is from 1853. Tell us, Simon, do you find it offensive as well? This letter addresses the very issues being raised now in Southern Baptist life with regard to the doctrinal laxity and insipid commitment among the members of the Convention.

Where is your ire for Jack Graham, Danny O'Guinn, Johnny Hunt, Ergun and Emir Caner, Bobby Welch, and the preachers at the Evangelism Conferences in this Convention for their slurs against Calvinists and Calvinism? Calvinism did not liberalize the SBC seminaries in the last century. Calvinism did not fill the pews of the revivalistic fundamentalist churches with unregenerate members and bloat the membership rolls to say we are 16.4 million strong, while on 6 to 8 million or so show up to church on any given Sunday morning.

Let me be clear here. What would you think of a Southern Baptist church that had the following profile over a 4 year period?
3506 members
203 baptisms 2
53 other additions
2200 primary worship attendance

3812 members
296 baptisms
190 other additions
2100 primary worship

4011 members
209 baptisms
137 other additions
2031 primary worship attendance

4163 members
237 baptisms
204 other additions
1874 primary worship

Would this church meet anyone’s criteria for "declining?" It went from a counted Sunday morning worship attendance of 2200 in 2001 to 1874 in 2004. If my math is correct, that is a 15% decline.Granted, they have baptized 945 people during that 4 year period and they have added 784 people by other means. But the church membership only grew by 657. It took 1729 new members for the church to grow by 657 members. In addition those 1729 new members resulted in 326 fewer worshipers! If the church continues to grow at this rate then by the time it adds around 10,000 new members the preacher will be preaching to an empty auditorium at his "primary worship" service.

Why does the pastor of this church get to ask Southern Baptists to “baptize a million,” as the Convention President while a missionary candidate who was converted and baptized in First Free Will Baptist Church, Anytown USA told to be rebaptized? Why is the Founders Ministry chastised when this man is portraying himself as a grower of churches while this goes on in his own church. Why, Simon, does he get to post against Calvinists in his church newsletter while the folks at Founders are taken to task by you? This kind of material has been appearing with great frequency in the Convention. Have you been to a Bailey Smith Evangelism Conference lately? Have you been to a State Evangelism Conference lately? Calvinists are fast becoming the new whipping boys in the Convention.

Calvinism didn’t move us to withdraw from the BWA. That was Arminian fundamentalism. Calvinism did not give rise to an IMB Board that is seeking to unbiblically redefine the practice of baptism for missionary candidates. That was Landmarkists. Maybe, just maybe, Simon, the reason that some of the folks on the blogs are a tad angry is because they are fed up with this situation in the Convention and in their own churches. Maybe, just maybe, they are a little bit tired of giving the same answers and nobody paying attention. Have you been to the Baptist Board recently? They closed the Calvinism/Arminianism forum. Why? Because the Arminians kept posting the same attacks and paying no attention to the answers given and nobody ever got anywhere. It's not the Calvinists who aren't listening. On the contrary, have you picked up some of the newer Arminian commentaries lately? Take a look. If Arminians would pay attention to their own commentators, they would find that on many things, including the most famous "pantos" passages which are discussed ad infinitum by Arminians in their prooftexting, Arminian commentators agree with Calvinists these days.

If you’re really concerned about Calvinists in the SBC as it relates to church unity, then you need to contact all the anti-Calvinists in the SBC who behave in this way. We would not feel the need to write at length on our blogs about these issues if they didn’t go out of their way to accuse us of being anti-missions, anti-evangelism, anti-denominational, etc. Most of the time, our posts are indexed to their responses.

If you’re really, really concerned, then post about BaptistFire. As Tom Ascol has asked, “Who are these people, and why do they hide?” Where are the posts about Baptistfire?

They react to Arminianism and Molinism today as if it were the Catholic Church of Luther’s and Calvin’s day.
From the perspective of the Reformed and Lutheran churches, Arminianism was Catholicism without the sacraments. Simon, if you'd bother to check your history, you'd find that Molina was, low and behold, a Catholic.

Arminianism in the SBC denies total inability. Classic Arminianism does not do this. Consequently, it includes a doctrine of prevenient grace. Both Rome and the Arminians in and out of the SBC are as one on election, atonement, and the nature of the resistability of grace. They are divided over the security of the believer. In the SBC, not all of them believe all believers persevere to the end. Many believe they can apostatize and still be considered elect. If you don’t think Arminianism doesn’t strongly resemble Catholicism in a more stripped down and “Protestantized” form, then what is it?

The SBC, if this continues and grows, will become functionally Neo-Campbellite. Campbellites affirm baptismal regeneration. The SBC denies this, but many churches, especially the large, highly influential churches of the fundamentalist camp, practice the invitation system and sacramental prayers ("the sinner's prayer) in conjuction with decisional regeneration. This is de facto baptismal regeneration. They have merely pushed the sacrament back to a prayer or a response card or an '"decision." If you add easy believism to this, with its Sandemanian definition of saving faith, "Presto!" you get Campbellite theology. If you deny the authority and applicability of the Old Testament by way of classic dispensationalism, you affirm one of Alexander Campbell's own errors. It isn't, therefore, without very good cause that this group thinks of itself as calling for more reformation in the SBC.

Simon has also conveniently have left out the situation at the IMB. If it’s true that there are those in the SBC who believe that the Arminians / Molinists are the modern day equivalent to the Catholic Church, then why pray tell are each and every one of the Calvinist pastors who have spoken out on the new IMB baptism policy calling it unbiblical. Why was I personally contacted by a group of dissenters to write a booklet for them in which I defend Arminianism and the validity baptisms from their churches? The IMB, under the leadership of trustees, many of whom profess to be Landmarkists, have created a new policy on baptism that says that any missionary candidate who was baptized in a Free Will Baptist Church of any stripe, because that church is Arminian and believes a person can lose his salvation, he must be rebaptized. The Calvinists in this Convention overwhelmingly find this deplorable and unbiblical. It’s the Arminians in this Convention, not the Calvinists, for the most part, who have come out in support of this policy, when it has been supported in writing. If we really believed the Arminians were on the same level as Roman Catholics, we’d hardly be defending the validity of baptisms administered by Arminians in Free Will Baptist and other communions like the Assemblies of God, would we? Tom Ascol has also written on this on the Founders blog, so it’s not as if, in your search for material, you couldn’t have found that information. If you’re going to report on the material there, then you could at least make an attempt to portray the full scope of what is said.

The Founders Minsitry website is more than the official site of a “teaching” ministry.

The Founders Ministry publishes a Journal. Have you read it? They teach classes. Have you taken any? They write Sunday School lessons based on our denomination's literature. What of these qualifies as "teaching" and not teaching without the quotes, Simon?

It’s also a gathering place where the faithful Calvinists who are online gather to pound their chests at anything that the blogwriter says.

Yes, and the Roman Catholic blogs are often places where the faithful Catholics do the same. Ditto for the Free Grace blogs. Ditto for the Atheist blogs. Ditto for many, many blogs, including many Arminian blogs. Where are your blog entries on them?

Tom Ascol, the founder of the Founders Ministry, announced his upcoming debate with the brothers Caner. Joining him will be Dr. James White, who has repeatedly issued challenges to one Caner to debate about Calvinism. Dr. Caner is blessed by James’ taunting and belittling on account of speaking publically about his belief that Calvinism is false.
Actually, Tom is the Director, not the "founder." There is no single founder of the Ministry. Did you even bother to read the history of the organization in the FAQ?

In the thread on the Founders site, where all this began, Simon, Dr. Ergun Caner and his brother Emir came into a thread that eventually grew to over 300 posts. They posted in tandem over not one, but two or three days. They very clearly came there looking for a fight, and , yes, that is exactly the word for it. In fact, at one point, they posted so close in time to each other it became evident that they had either emailed or called each other on the phone and pre-planned the whole session rather like a couple of adolescent boys who decided to call each other up and post in an internet chatroom for the sole purpose of trolling a discussion.

In that thread, they (a) misrepresented SBC history; (b) misrepresented Amyraldianism (Amyraldians do not affirm "Elected because I selected," and (c) openly misrepresented Dr. John Piper's church and Dr. Piper. They erected just about every straw man about Calvinism in the thread. Their behavior was so infantile and their errors so great, there was some discussion that it may not really be them. We were wrong. I also know that, later on, some of their peers at their respective teaching institutions confronted them personally about this. What they did affected a great many people. It was not the Calvinists who prompted the call for debate with them; they brought that on themselves, and there was plenty of belittling of Founders, the posters, John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, (neither of which was represented on the blog until I chimed in myself to correct their errors) and even James White in that thread to go around, all from the keyboard of the Caner brothers. Where, Simon, is your anger at them? If you are so very concerned about unity, then why not chastise them as well? They went out of their way to do what they did.

“We have won the debate without there being a debate.” heh .. Some people think that life is about winning debates. Those same people think that winning a debate means that they’re correct about the debate topic. And some of those people think that they don’t even actually have to be in a debate to have won it. Beautiful.

Simon quotes Alan Kurshner. Believe me, Alan can defend himself, but here's what Alan actually said:


I realize that details are forthcoming and I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I need to voice a great concern.

From what I understand the debate will be only three hours. Debating Southern Baptist
History and Calvinism in three hours is impossible.

I would like to see a debate on the thesis of predestination with extensive cross-examination, or no debate at all. If Caner rejects this, so be it; then we have won the debate without there being a debate.

If Caner is not cross-examined in the debate, I can see it now: "I debated James White and I won." Let's not concede anything to their side just because we are eager to debate these folks. Further, I believe that a watered down debate will dishonor God's Word and disrespect those in attendance.

I would suggest two three-hour debates: One with Southern Baptist History (Ascol)---with a specific
thesis; and a debate on the thesis of election (White) with plenty of cross-examination.
Why did Alan say this? Hmm, well, let's see, Simon, in the thread at Founders that prompted this debate, and in subsequent emails between Drs. White and Caner, Ergun repeatedly spoke of Norman Geisler in the very same win/lose terms when discussing the errors in his book and Dr. White’s responses. Each and every time when asked, Dr. Caner failed to interact with the simple request to explain how Dr. Geisler had refuted him and won the discussion. Alan was calling for cross-examination because, without it, Ergun and Emir would, just as they did in writing, likely proceed to tell the world that they "won" the debate. He already does this when discussing his work debating Muslims. Alan is saying that Calvinists will have "won" the debate without there being a debate, because a presentation of the two positions is not a true debate, and the purpose of the debate is for both positions to present and defend their position and interact with each other. Not to cross examine is to water down the debate, and I agree with Alan, it does disrespect the Word of God and those in attendance.

Simon wants unity. Well, Simon, disunity is good sometimes. Gasp! Yes, I said it. Read through 1 Corinthians sometime. Disunity for its own sake is a wrong. However, disunity on account of the truth is good and right.
There is nothing wrong with division per se. The Bible speaks about division in the church in positive and negative light.

· 1 Cor. 11:18-19, "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you."

· 1 Cor. 1:10, "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment."

1 Cor. 11:19 uses the Greek word "haireses" for "factions". We get the English word heresy from this Greek word. If we see that the Scriptures declare something clearly (orthodoxy), and if someone teaches contrary to that clear teaching, then he or she is teaching heresy and we should speak out. The Scriptures teach that there is a place for division and that is when opposing teachings that are contrary to sound doctrine. But division can only occur when the truth is known and those who abide with the truth should correct those who do not.

Does Arminianism constitute “heresy?” That’s a good question. Rather than impugning the character of the folks at Founders, the Calvinist Gadfly, and elsewhere, Simon would do well to answer this question carefully. He should also answer it with respect to Calvinism.

Does Arminianism teach the gospel? From our perspective as Calvinists, the answer is often “Yes and No.” Why?

A. Calvinism, from our perspective, is the gospel by way of dogmatic usage, in that, as a comprehenisve, systematic soteriology it identifies the source of salvation, the condition of men, the nature of the atonement, the necessity of grace, and the assurance of salvation for all who will believe far more accurately than Arminianism. This is what Spurgeon meant. It is also a worldiview that shapes much of the way we view the world.

B. Arminianism is a mixture of truth and error as a system and a worldview. How can anybody look at historical theology and not see this? Arminianism is inherently Unitarian at a functional level. It puts, in its more Pelagian forms (like the easy believism of Dave Hunt) both election and regeneration outside a chain effected by grace; only the cross is in view. Ergo, this is functional Unitarianism. In classic Arminianism, the kind with a real doctrine of prevenient grace (in the former this is explicitly equated with common grace, cf. Elmer Towns), a person is enabled to believe from a state of equipoise effected by grace, so, while regeneration is outside the chain of grace directly, indirectly it resides inside of it, because faith would not result in it apart from this grace. The Father, however, because He bases election on foreseen faith, is still outside the chain of grace. Ergo, this is "Bi-Nitarian." It's not without reason that Arminianism has historically flirted with Socinianism as a result of this. Let's not forget the General Baptists and early Arminians in general turned to Socinianism relatively quickly, and it was only via the New Connection that they survived among Baptists. The crossroads of theological liberalism also tends to lie near or in Arminianism. Moreover, Arminianism tends toward neo-sacramentalism in Baptist churches where it takes hold, contrary to our eccelsiology. We do not affirm baptismal regeneration, yet so much emphasis is put on aisle walking and hand raising and sacramental prayers (decisional regeneration) that we end up creating neo-Campbellite sacraments of our own when we do this.

C. Apropos B, not all Arminians are of a stripe.

D. If you define "gospel" in exegetical terms, both Arminianism and Calvinism affirm the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the necessity of Sola Fide and personal conversion.

E. Apropos D, when "gospel" is defined in this manner, closer to exegetical usage, the essential issue addressed by the Gospel is that man is a sinner, under the condemnation of God. The Gospel never calls upon the unregenerate to believe that they are unable to believe. Rather, it calls upon us to recognize our guilt before God, and to see Christ's sacrificial death as the sole remedy for our guilt and condemnation. The Gospel message is about guilt, condemnation and forgiveness. It is not about "Who chose whom?", or "Where does faith come from?" Gospel-faith is trust in the person of Christ, having the confidence that He, by means of His Substitutionary death, has borne our sin and is fully able to forgive everyone who calls upon Him for salvation. Gospel-faith recognizes that Christ saves only those who trust in Him. It does not necessarily recognize the truth that this trust is God-given. One need not know or believe that God is the one behind your repentance and faith to experience repentance and faith. One need not understand the nature of justification before he experiences it. One need not believe in eternal security in order to be eternally secure; one need not believe it is impossible to fall away and fail to persevere in the faith in order not to fall away and persevere in the faith. Ergo, in this sense, both Calvinism and Arminianism can be said to encapsulate the gospel.


  1. Bro. Gene,

    Just thought I would mention that while the Calvinists in this Convention today may overwhelmingly find the new IMB policy on baptism deplorable and unbiblical, I don't believe the founders of the SBC would. As a matter of fact three of the four founders of the Southern Baptist Seminary (Boyce, Broadus, and Manly Jr.) all rejected alien immersion, as did most, (howbeit not all) of the other founders of the SBC. The ecclesiology of the founders was much closer to the Landmark position than most Southern Baptists today would like to admit.

  2. Dear Ben,

    I'd like to read up on what you just wrote. Where can I find the original source material? Thanks.

    Dear Gene,

    You continue to amaze me. I wish I could just hook a USB up to your brain and hit "send all."

    Love in Christ,