Monday, April 03, 2006

The TULIP of Calvinism In Light of History and the Baptist Faith and Message by Dr. Malcolm Yarnell

The following is a summary of the "TULIP" of classic Calvinism, set against the
backdrop of its origins and compared to the Baptist Faith and Message, with the
full recognition that Scripture is the final authority on all beliefs and
doctrinal systems.

a. It would be nice if, sometime, an actual Calvinist would get to write these articles. It’s not as if there are not any in the Convention. Why are non-Calvinists not allowed to present what they believe?

b. This is quite an ambitious title and thesis. Let’s see if Dr. Yarnell fairs any better than his previous entries into this field. Dr. Yarnell is the Head of the Department of Theological Research at SWBTS, remember.

TULIP's Origins and Emphasis

After the death of John Calvin, Theodore Beza and other Calvinist theologians reformed their doctrine around predestination in the matter of salvation and developed their various "doctrines of grace." Their major emphasis on divine sovereignty led to theological assertions that caused division in the
Reformed theological community. Jacob Arminius, a Dutch student of Beza, countered some Calvinist
teaching. In 1610, the "Arminians" crafted five articles which affirmed the election of believers but disagreed with the Calvinists' interpretation of election. In 1618, the Calvinists of the Dutch
Reformed Church convened the Synod of Dort in order to condemn the Arminians and
their five points. Dort's "five heads" of doctrine were later rearranged under the acronym

Let’s see how accurate, Dr. Yarnell’s historical research really is, shall we? Dr. Yarnell appears to be repeating the old canard, “Beza redefined Calvinism.” Is this true? Was John Calvin dead when Beza “reformed” Calvinism?

1. To begin with, it’s patently obvious Dr. Yarnell is beginning with the premise that Calvin should somehow function for the Reformed the way that Luther functions for Lutherans. This may play well with the rank and file Southern Baptist, but it doesn’t play well with folks who understand Reformed Theology.

2. Was John Calvin dead when Beza came along? No. Beza served as Calvin's ambassador to some of the most important colloquies etc from '57-63, even before Beza came to Geneva. Beza was defending Calvin against Bolsec in the mid fifties already. Beza was Calvin's most trusted advisor. He succeeded Calvin as the president of the company of pastors until 1580. Ergo, is there any evidence of tension between them? No.

3. Is there any evidence that Calvin rejected Beza's formulations? In fact, if Dr. Yarnell would bother to check his facts, he find that the "Tabula Praedestinationis - really it's the Summa tota Christianismi"- was published in ’55. Calvin did not die until nearly a decade afterward. He had plenty of time to criticize Beza before his death. Calvin was known for his poison pen. There's no evidence that Calvin disagreed.

4. Beza began his career as a humanist. He lectured on the Greek NT for 10 years before he ever got to Geneva. His doctrine of predestination, for Dr. Yarnell’s information came from Scripture itself. If he’d bother to actually study Beza, he’d know that.

I would strongly suggest that Dr. Yarnell have a chat with Dr. R. Scott Clark, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology @ Westminster Seminary California before he sets off on such a historically inaccurate presentation of the facts.

Total Depravity

Calvinists at Dort viewed man not simply as sinful, but argued that every aspect of man's being is affected by sin, including his will. Some of Calvin's later followers went so far as to say that God actually decreed humans to become sinners.

a. Would Dr. Yarnell kindly tell us how Jesus could be “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” apart from such a decree?

b. Would Dr. Yarnell actually tell us what the confessions say about this? How about this little gem from the LCBF2, 3:

God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy
counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes
to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship
with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet
is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather
in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and
faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.

c. Does Dr. Yarnell, believe that God "works all things after the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11) or not? If so, then why does he exclude the Fall?

This "all things" includes the fall of sparrows (Matthew 10:29), the rolling of dice (Proverbs 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Psalm 44:11), the decisions of kings (Proverbs 21:1), the failing of sight (Exodus 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Samuel 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Samuel 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Peter 4:19), the completion of travel plans (James 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Hebrews 12:4-7), the repentance of souls (2 Timothy 2:25), the gift of faith (Philippians 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Philippians 3:12-13), the growth of believers (Hebrews 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Samuel 2:6), and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27-28). (Piper)

d. Psalm 115:3; 135:6, "Whatsoever he pleases, the Lord does." Rev. 4:11, "By thy will they are and were created."

e. If God predestined the crucifixion (Acts 2:23, 4:28), what pray tell could Dr. Yarnell produce that would justify his insinuation that the Fall was not decreed?

f. See here for starters:

On the basis of Scripture (Romans. 3:23), Southern Baptists have consistently affirmed that all humans are sinners by nature and by choice,

a. No Calvinist disagrees, but, as we shall see, Dr. Yarnell plays fast and loose with this statement.

b. How are all humans sinners by nature if not by God’s decree? That very appeal logically entails a decree.

c..While its true that all men are sinners, extensively, the very Scripture that Dr. Yarnell quotes is speaking of those who are justified, for it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace, through the redemption which is Christ Jesus, who God publicly displayed as a propitiation in His blood, through faith....” “All” of whom? We’re justified by faith, this is true. We’re all sinners. This text, however, begins the focus on believers themselves. Dr. Yarnell should have quoted the first part of the chapter, not the last, unless he is a Lutheran who believes in objective justification that must be subjectively applied.

but have generally rejected extreme views of post-Dort Calvinists that man is incapable of moral action and that God is ultimately responsible for human sin.

a. Why is this “extreme?” This is just perjorative language. For that matter where does Dort place the moral blame for sin? God or man?

b. He’s calling the signatories of the Charter of the Convention at Augusta “extreme” Calvinists. They all hailed from churches affirming the “Philadelphia Confession.”

c. Responsibility and blame are not the same thing. Dr. Yarnell should know better.

The Baptist Faith and Message states, "By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race .... Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation."

a. The BFM is drawn on the New Hampshire Confession, which is, itself, a Calvinist document. Historians have neglected to tell their readers that it was formulated against Arminianism not as an expression of “moderate Calvinism.” It should be self-evident that a confession of that period that does not include a statement on the freedom of the will and prevenient grace is not an Arminian document. The burden would be on the two-streams advocate to explain why typical Arminian statements are not present when they could have been present, and *are* present in documents the Arminian status of which is uncontroversial.

Apparently, Dr. Yarnell is willing to look to the original intent of the writers of the Bible to determine its meaning but unwilling to accord confessions and histories the same courtesy. More on this later.

b. What is wrong with this, Dr. Yarnell?

1._____ Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. ( Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:12,13; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )

2._____ Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. ( Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12, etc; Titus 1:15; Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-19 )

3._____ They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free. ( Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Psalms 51:5; Job 14:4; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 6:20 Romans 5:12; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 )

4._____ From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. ( Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 1:14, 15; Matthew 15:19 )

5._____ The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin. ( Romans 7:18,23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:23-25; Galatians 5:17 )

c. What he’s wanting to allege, in so many words, seems clear. “God is responsible for the Fall.” First, of all, I agree. God is responsible for everything. That goes with the paygrade. However, responsibility is a necessary, but insufficient condition for moral blame. Moral blame requires a moral motive. Dr. Yarnell is conflating first and second order relations. Boettner, for example, simply says that God withheld constraining grace, which He was under no obligation to give anyway. Men freely choose to sin as a result. God decree renders a thing certain, but His motive was to manifest His glory. God put no fresh evil in their hearts. They did this freely.

Men sin, post-fall, not because of their libertarian freedom, Dr. Yarnell, but because they are enticed away “by their own evil desires.” According to Scripture, Dr. Yarnell, men are not able to submit their minds to God’s law (Romans 8:7). Even the Arminian admits to the will being affected by the Fall when he calls upon prevenient grace.

I would like to thank Dr. Yarnell for this telling statement, for Dr. Yarnell has confirmed for us what I have been saying all along. The SBC is moving toward sheer Pelagianism and Neo-Campbellism. Classic Arminians say they believe that men are unable to come to Christ without the aid of grace. For them, this is prevenient, and is given to all persons. In Calvinism, we affirm that this is not given to all men; and it is effectual grace. Once given, it cannot be ignored and it will always result in them believing. We get this from John 6:44, “No man can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” In order to maintain his doctrine the Arminian must say that one raised up is not the same one who is drawn. All are drawn, but not all are raised. The problem there should be evident. There is no such difference in the text.

This, however, is “Binitarian” because election, in the Arminian scheme is outside the chain of grace, but, because of prevenient grace, faith is not, ergo, regeneration is not outside the chain either. The Father elects, in Arminianism, based on who He knows ahead of time will believe. He has to wait on them to act. His foreknowledge depends on our “future free choices,” and is thus passive. Thus, the salvation of the man is effected by his improving on this prevenient grace in order to believe in the work of the cross and the resurrection. Only 2 persons in the Trinity are therefore involved.

In most independent Baptist and, I would argue, in Southern Baptist churches today, the doctrine of prevenient grace is completely ignored or buried so far down that even I can’t find it, and, believe me I’ve tried, and so have lots of others.

These folks deny that men are unable to come to Christ apart from effectual grace (Calvinism) or prevenient grace (Arminianism). In fact, I have heard some of them, including Dr. Jack Graham at Prestonwood Baptist in TX (a recent past SBC President no less) say that Romans 12:3 says that God grants all men a measure of faith in Christ. (This text is discussing believers and refers to the faith to live the Christian life).

Elmer Towns states on his website from Liberty University in his section on Calvinism, that God has given all men the ability to accept or reject the gospel by way of “common grace.” Common grace, according to every systematic theology I have ever read on all sides of this issue, has been defined as that grace for living life in general. It amounts to sunrise and sunset, seed and harvest, water, food, etc. This is what makes this view “Pelagian.” The use of sacramental prayers, etc. has moved the sacramental piece of Campbellite theology from baptism to prayer. Add a dash of easy believism just like Campbell and "Presto!" Instant Neo-Campbellite theology.

Unconditional Election

Followers of Calvin argued that God decreed from eternity to elect some to salvation.

Actually, Dr. Yarnell, Augustine argued this, but waffled on reprobation. Gottschalk argued this as well. We are not following Calvin, we are following Scripture.

Subsequent followers posited a more extreme view that in conjunction with God's election in eternity past of some to salvation, He also condemned others to damnation, a teaching otherwise known as "double predestination."

And which of them is not guilty of sin?

Most Southern Baptists would counter that it is God's revealed will that all people experience salvation, citing texts such as: The Lord ... is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance (emphasis added, 2 Peter 3:9) and God our Savior ... wants everyone to be saved and to
come to the knowledge of the truth (emphasis added, 1 Timothy 2:4).

a. 2 Peter 3:9 Any and All what? Angels, rocks, men, women, people? First of all, this would make the subject of this passage more about salvation than what it is. "Repentance" can have a layered meaning. In addition, it is spoken of as both a command, and as a gift, so it's not clear which is in view. To answer that, we need to determine in what way "willing" is used here. Deos Dr. Yarnell have any clue what a universal class quantifier is and how it functions? They require a referent. "Any" of who? "All" of what?

The text has a delimiter in it. "You" is that delimiter. The objects of God's patience are "you/us" in this text. "...but is patient toward you." If you then introduce a universal desire for all men extensively to come to repentance, you introduce a disjunction in the text. In that case, God's patience toward "you/us" is part of His patience toward all men, whom He desires, by way of His universal command to believe, to be saved. The problem with that, is that the reason that Peter gives for the Lord's patience is the promise of the return of the Lord, not His universal desire for all to repent and believe. Ergo, you have introduced a disjunction into the text. The focus of God's will here is not, in my opinion, His preceptive will, but the fulfillment of a particular promise, which comes from His decretive will. To introduce a universalizing principle here that grounds itself in God's commands, His preceptive will, and not His decree, which renders the promise of the 2nd Coming certain and is most clearly in view, introduces an extraneous element to the text that must come from outside its own bounds, viz. Acts and 1 John.

To do that commits semantic inflation. It takes Acts 17:21 and 1 John 3:23, which do discuss that very thing and then reads it back into 2 Peter 3:9. However, 2 Peter 3:9 points not to Luke's work or to John's work (2 different authors) but to the Olivet Discourse, where the elect are in view leading into the eschaton, which is also in view in both the Petrine and Synoptic texts. That would be, most likely, Mark, which is connected to Peter. Matthew would be the next best source, since Peter's audience is likely Jewish here, and there are strong ties between Matthew and a Jewish audience. So, to arrive at your conclusion, you have to commit semantic inflation at the conceptual level and read back a teaching from Luke and John's hand into Peter's hand. It does not follow that because Acts and 1 John discuss this that Peter does as well, any more than it follows that because James and Paul use the word "justified" they are referring to the same concept. The mere fact that James uses the words “justification” and "justified" doesn’t mean that he even has a doctrine of justification. That would depend, not on the occurrence of the word, in isolation, but on a larger argument, and, even if they do have such a doctrine, they don't necessarily discuss them in the same manner with the same emphases. Words and concepts are two different things.

Peter is discussing the false teachers in chapter 3, who are denying the Second Coming of the Lord. Verse 4, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. Verse 5, "For when they (the false teachers) maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water by water (calling on Genesis' creation narrative here), through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water (calling on Noah's flood narrative here). By his word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of godly men. (Calling on Matthew 24, and Mark 13 here).

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved (the elect), that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise (to return and judge the world), as some (the false teachers/scoffers) count slowness, but is patient toward you (Beloved/elect), not wishing for any (of what? angels? people? males, females? Answer any of you, Beloved/elect), not wish any (of what? angels? people? males? females? Answer: any of you, Beloved/elect), for for all (of what? angels? people? males? females? Answer: any of you, Beloved/elect) to come to repentance.

This passage mentions repentance in passing. There is no exegetical presumption for taking it to refer to salvation at all, until we get to v. 15, which informs of the meaning of the reference to repentance in v.9. The actual subject matter, however, is not salvation in this text. That is only a passing reference. The topic is the 2nd coming, so the topic in 2 Peter 3 is *also* and *primarily* eschatological, is it not? In the last days mockers will come questioning the validity of the Lord's promises. Peter is explaining why the 2nd coming has been delayed, when it appeared, as Mark says, that Christ was speaking of the present generation when He spoke of it. When speaking of the mockers, Peter refers to them in the third person each and every time. Everywhere else, he speaks directly to his audience as "Beloved" and "you" (or "us" in some translations). He speaks of how his audience should behave in the holy conduct of godliness as the look for the return of Christ. The assumption you are making here is that "patient toward you" is referring to salvation and to everyone. They require a delimiter for their sense. What's the nearest delimiter in 3:9? "You/us" The coming of the Lord is being delayed so the elect can be gathered into the kingdom, just as Jesus said in Mark 13, no less, when He says "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened those days." Just as the Lord shortens the end of days for the sake of the elect, so He staves off that final time for their sake in this text. Beginning at verse 12, Peter tells them to be alert and behave a certain way, encapsulating Jesus in Matt. 24: 42ff and Mark 13:33 ff, so even this element runs parallel.

What do we make of ‘the trump” and the angels in Mark 13:27? There is no exegetical presumption for taking this to refer to the trump on the last day. To get that only here, you'd have to read back 1 Thess. 5 into the Olivet Discourse. That is classic semantic inflation, particularly when we already know "angel" has a semantic range that can refer to men as messengers as well as angelic beings. Why is Paul the interpretive key for these texts, and, being prophetic discourses made in the same vein as Daniel, then why can't there be more than one way to fulfill the text? We all agree that Antiochus Epiphanes was the first fullfillment of the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 12:31, and the 2nd was in 70 ad, and some believe there is another one on the way, so this is by no means out of bounds exegetically or theologically.

A trump, in a Jewish context, signals the call to assembly or judgment. The reference here to the elect, not once, but twice, sounds like the call to salvation itself as well as the call to one final assembly, particularly when the preaching of the gospel is discussed in 13:10, rather than the pouring out of judgment, although the last trump could logically entail both the assembly of the righteous and the judgment of the wicked. I’m inclined to, as this passage is eschatological, and prophetic passages can be layered to have more than one level of fulfillment, think this refers to both. What men do as messengers of the gospel, proclaiming life to those who are being saved and the stench of death to those who are perishing, the angels do on the last day with one final trump that calls everybody to the final assembly and pronounces judgment on earth. Regardless, however, of how one thinks of these reference in Mark 13, the text of 2 Peter 3 is sufficient to itself to arrive at a restrictive sense.

b. Dr. Yarnell makes an interpretive leap in his statement. The text actually says, “all men,” but what does Paul have in mind here?

All kinds of men are in view here. God desires we pray from kings and authorities not just men like ourselves, because He desires that all kinds of men believe, not just ordinary people. If “all” is always extensive, then in 6:10 where money is the root of all evil, the text would mean money was at the root of the Fall of both Satan and men. Additionally, 2:6 is a paraphrase of Mark 10:65 which recapitulates Isaiah 53:11-12, where the Suffering Servant atones for the sins of the covenant community, not all people without exception.

In addition, the text of 1 Timothy refers to Jewish myths and endless genealogies. We must therefore, understand the content of those myths in order to understand what Paul is saying. These myths were probably from the Midrash and anti-Gentile in tenor and were specifically designed to exclude some from salvation. They would form the basis of Jewish Gnosticism, which was designed to create a special class of persons who possessed the “gnosis.” Thus, to counter this, Paul’s usage focuses on the universal offer of the gospel, not to Jews only, not to a specific class of Jews, but to all classes of men, and all ethnicies.

In response, Calvinists argue their system is part of God's "secret will," not His "revealed will." but the source of their knowledge of this "secret will" is unclear.2

a. Try Romans 8:29 – 30, Ephesians 1, John 6, John 8, John 10, Deut. 7, and 1 Peter 1 on election.

b. Arminians make these same distinctions. (Which Dr. Yarnell did in his own article when used the term "revealed will, which presupposes a secret will, unless he believes God has revealed everything in His will, a premise Scripture denies explicitly). Apparently, Dr. Yarnell is a monothelite with respect to his view of God’s will. If God has just one type of will, then, why isn’t it done? Logically, Dr. Yarnell should be an Open Theist.

c. Read Deut. 29:29: The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed belong to us and our sons forever that we may do all the words of the Law. I know God has a secret will, because He tells me He does in Scripture.

Further, Southern Baptists generally reject as unscriptural the teaching
that God arbitrarily chooses individuals to be damned before they are born.

a. So do Calvinists, Dr. Yarnell. I would say it is “most Southern Baptists” who believe God arbitrarily damns individuals before they are born, for He creates them knowing they will never believe. Unless you believe God is subject to time, Dr. Yarnell, this was decided upon by God before they were born.

b. There is a sense in which mercy is arbitrary in a way that justice is not, for mercy, by definition, is undeserved, and not, therefore, obligatory. Reformed theology does not teach there is no selection criterion at all. It is merely hidden and undisclosed. We do not tell God He is arbitrary for what not disclosing His reasons. Is a storm that God causes “arbitrary?”

To say that it is arbitrary in the above sense is not to say that it's unjust or unfair, for inequality of treatment is only unjust when it denies a party his just claims to something. But, by definition, no one has a just claim on the "mercy" of God. All are condemned as sinners and deserve death. (cf. Romans 3).

If the purpose of reprobation is to manifest the mercy of God (Romans 9), then how is that arbitrary? By attacking the doctrine of reprobation, the objection has just supplied a reason for reprobation. Something would only be arbitrary if it had no rationale, no overarching aim. What is arbitrary has no reason or criterion and therefore no purpose. Scripture declares in Ephesians 1 that we have been predestined according to the kind intention of God’s will, and Romans 8 says that part of the reason has to do with God’s intention that Christ be the firstborn of many brethren and that part of this purpose extends to us being conformed to Christ’s image. Therefore, election/predestination is in no way “arbitrary” because it is not random or purposeless.

Just because God has not revealed something to us, that is not a reason to reject truth or criticize it. If that was so, we would lose many of the doctrines of our faith, up to and including, but not limited to, the simultaneous divinity and humanity of Christ, the atonement at Calvary, the virgin birth, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, creation from nothing, and the Trinity, and all accounts of all miracles! We do not edit God, based on the limits of what is mysterious, even within the confines of Scripture, for He simply does not explain everything to us! We are, however, responsible to study and understand God’s Word properly for what He has revealed to us. This includes the sovereign righteousness and freedom of God in all matters, including individual salvation.

c. Does Dr. Yarnell, believe election comes by way of foreseen faith? I wonder. Most Southern Baptists believe this. How is this not arbitrary?

The Calvinist says that God creates the damned as a means of manifesting his attribute of justice. By contrast, Arminians can't give any reason for why God would make men knowing they would sin and fall under condemnation and never believe and be saved.

Moreover, since God is not actively foreknowing and predestinating people, in the Arminian system, we see real impersonal determinism working itself out by way of real fatalism. Thus the free will position that seeks to preserve man’s freedom of choice is, in reality, impersonal and fixed, thus being both deterministic and fatalistic. The only way to make it less fixed is the way of Open Theism, which denies the omniscience and omnipotence of God! The Calvinist position is personal, and God is active in the lives of people who make real choices with real moral boundaries. Calvinism is thus inherently personal for both God and man! We agree with Arminians that real, impersonal determinism and fatalism are repugnant to God and man and perversion of the gospel. We thank them for pointing this out. Why then, we ask, do they believe that very thing themselves?

The Baptist Faith and Message, in simple accord with Scripture, states: "Election is the gracious purpose of God" which "is consistent with the free agency of man."3 Southern Baptists affirm diverse understandings of divine election (cf. Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5-11), but most would likely reject
the view of those Calvinists who narrowly define unconditional election as double predestination.

a. This is rather interesting, since one of these understandings is one of the ones against which he argues and which he calls "extreme."

b. Dr. Yarnell, like all of his kind, leaves out the part about double predestination that says that men are passed over and left in their sin. Even those who affirm that God actively hardens their hearts believe He does it through the very display of His mercy. His mercy hardens and it redeems.

c. Is he really wanting to talk about “equal ultimacy” and failing to discuss what we believe about preterition? It is merely the logical end of election.

Calvinism affirms unconditional election, but it denies unconditional reprobation that is brought to pass in the same manner (equal ultimacy). For Calvinism says that sin is a necessary, albeit insufficient, condition of reprobation. No one deserves salvation whereas everyone deserves damnation. The reprobates are also sinners. Election is a result of direct intervention. Reprobation is passive.

Salvation as election and reprobation as preterition are unconditional, meaning they find their ground in God, not in foreseen faith or wickedness. In Romans 9, we are told, 11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls.” However, election as justification requires effectual calling (Romans 8:29-30, John 6:37-45, 65). Men are regenerated and believe (1 John 5:1) as a result, and they are justified as a result. Reprobation as condemnation requires only men sin, which they do according to their own natures. No matter whether one accepts the imputation of Adam’s sin or not, it is undeniable that men are all guilty of sin on their own. God simply passes the reprobate over, and all of them willfully sin.

If God hardens them, He is not violating their wills in the process. He is only giving men what they desire. Isn’t the Arminian doctrine of the will designed to say that God is only justified if he acts according to men’s free will decisions? Since rejection of Christ is the de facto position of all men apart from grace (John 3:18) electing and calling them, then how can the Arminian object to reprobation or hardening, since God is giving men what they already desire and honoring their “free will” decision?!

E.Y. Mullins, Herschel Hobbs, and Adrian Rogers were the three pastor-theologians who served as chairmen of the committees which created or revised the Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, 1963, and 2000. All three of these founding Confessors held views contrary to classical Calvinism. Mullins
objected to the errors of Calvinists, whose doctrines are based on a "false premise" about God's character, leading them to proceed "by a rigid logic to their false conclusions."

a. What false premise?

b. This confession is drawn from the New Hampshire Confession. Why then are E.Y. Mullins and the rest the ons to whom he appeals. Shouldn't he appeal to the authors of the parent confession?

Mullins concluded, "God elects men to respond freely."
a. Is this all men extensively or only those who hear the gospel? If the former, then the only way to justify this assertion is by way of a post-mortem encounter (Dr. Walls and Clark Pinnock) or by a second way of salvation. Dr. Yarnell must admit that God creates men knowing full well that not all of them will ever hear the gospel and thus “be elected to respond freely,” ergo, his must admit that God creates men to damn them as surely as any Calvinist.

b. Where does Scripture say that God elects men to respond freely?

Hobbs decried the "error that election relates to certain individuals, with some destined to salvation and others to damnation."

a. These same objections apply.

Rogers, a well-known opponent of "wine and cheese" theology, wrote a pamphlet aptly titled, Predestined for Hell? Absolutely Not!4

a. Wow, a pamphlet at Baptist Fire. I bet their website will get some hits because of this article. Now we know where Dr. Yarnell’s sympathies really lie. Dr. Rogers was wrong; again, even as an Arminian he must admit this.
Arminians can't give any reason for why God would make men knowing they would sin and fall under condemnation and never believe and be saved.

Notice that Dr. Yarnell does not bother to tell his readers about P.H. Mell, John L. Dagg, James Boyce, John Broadus and others? Why not? Are these men’s beliefs suddenly irrelevant?

Dr. Al Mohler sat on the 2000 BFM committee. What does Dr. Yarnell think Dr. Mohler believes on these things?

Limited Atonement

Arminians correctly concluded that Christ "died for all men." They cited scriptures such as 1 John 2:2: He Himself (Jesus) is the propitiation forour sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (emphasis added , cf. John 3:16).

Some Calvinists have countered with the assertion that Christ died only
for those who were chosen to salvation from eternity past. In this view, the
atonement is limited to the elect.

In 1 John 5:18 -19, John says that we Christians are not touched by the evil one because God keeps us. Then, in the very next sentence, he says that we know that we are of God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. We see two things. First, John himself thinks of “the whole world” inclusive of and exclusive of particular classes of people. Second, in this text, John is clearly referring to the “whole world” here as the world of unbelievers, not believers. “World” in 2:2 could refer to the class of believers only. The best place to turn for defining “world” here is John himself.

There is an exactly parallel text in John 11:51 – 52. Let’s compare them:

1 John 2:2
He Himself
is the propitiation for
our sins
and not for ours only
but also
the world

John 11:51 - 52

he prophesied that
would die for
the nation
and not for the nation only
but also
that He would gather together in one
the children of God scattered abroad

Who, then, composes “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2? Answer: “the children of God scattered abroad.” Thus “our” refers to Jewish Christians and “the whole world” to those who are Gentiles scattered abroad or, more broadly, “our” refers to “all believers alive at the time John wrote his epistle,” and “the whole world” could refer to “all believers yet to come,” e.g. “all those for whose sins Christ made propitiation in subsequent generations and places.” According to Scripture, God’s wrath was satisfied by Christ’s work (Isa. 53:11). Therefore, this cannot refer to all men without exception unless God exacts double jeopardy for sins, if unbelief is not a sin, or if unbelief is excluded from the list of sins atoned, all of which are wholly unsupported by Scripture.

The vast majority of Southern Baptists would disagree with those who claim
that Christ's death on the cross was only intended for "the elect."

I wasn’t aware that majority rule applied to theology.

Complying with the Scripture's silence in this regard, Southern Baptists did
not use the word elect in the related portion of the Baptist Faith and Message,
which simply states: "in His substitutionary death on the cross He made
provision for the redemption of men from sin."

a. Scripture is by no means silent. As I recall, the Reformed confessions come with Scripture proofs. Has Dr. Yarnell ever interacted with them?

b. On the contrary, the BFM states, (and Dr. Yarnell omitted)

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.

Irresistible Grace

Early Arminians affirmed that God begins, continues, and finishes our salvation. However, because Stephen said that unbelieving Jews "resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51), Arminians concluded that men could resist God's grace.

a. Heavens,this is truly one stop shopping. This text is really irrelevant to the issue, because Calvinists do not deny that men resist the grace of God and the external call of the gospel. In fact, they suppress common grace, not to mention special grace all the time.

b. This was the Sanhedrin. They are making the same mistake now as they had with Jesus. They are rejecting the Scriptures (inspired by the Spirit) and the evidences before their own eyes. Irresistible grace does not mean that men do not resist the gospel at all! On the contrary, this text actually disproves free will, because the text specifically denies free will. It points directly to the bondage of the will! It says that these men are always resisting the Holy Spirit. If that is the case, then how could any of them ever believe and be saved. The Arminian seeks to extend the possibility of salvation to all men extensively. However, if these men were always resisting the Holy Spirit, then what, should one of them believe in the future, is the cause of their belief? The only answer would be the grace of God effectual in regeneration! Acts 7:51 has reference, not to the internal work of the Spirit, but to the agency of the Spirit in the inspiration of the prophetic word—both in OT preaching (e.g. Num 27:14; Isa 63:10), and the charismatic gospel of the NT Apostles and evangelists (e.g. Philip; Stephen) proclamation. So this is preceptive, referring to the outward message, not the internal grace.

c. Stephen says they are repeating the sin of their fathers. He is expositng, Isaiah 66. In this very text, God says, “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery? Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb? If a man is born again through the preaching of the gospel, it is by the effectual grace of God. If they are not, it is because of their own love of evil. Men should believe the grace of God having all the knowledge of the Sanhedrin, but they do not. Why? Ergo, the only reasons that they did not believe here are because God shut the womb upon them or, alternatively, because they were so far gone, they had committed the unpardonable sin. Their own love of evil was so intense that they refused the gospel.

The Calvinists of Dort disagreed, saying that God's grace is ultimately irresistible, that divine election works unfailingly, and that the depraved and fallen human will is not exercised in conversion.

a. No, this is not what they said. What they said is that men are wholly unable to do any spiritual good accompanying their salvation. God does not believe for them, however. They do exercise their wills.

Here is Dort:

But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature, endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin which pervaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death; so this grace of regeneration also does not treat men as
senseless stocks and blocks, nor take away their will and its properties, neither does violence thereto; but spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it; that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to
reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore unless the admirable author of every good work wrought in us, man could have no hope of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse of which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin

Dr. Yarnell is equivocating over regeneration and conversion. He seems to be repeating this objection: Regeneration preceding faith is illogical because it means you are saved before you are saved.

This objection is fairly standard fare from anti-Calvinist writing and sermons. It’s pretty unsophisticated, but surprisingly frequent. This is a textbook example of equivocation: The disputant uses the same word in two (or more senses), trading on one sense in one occurrence to lend a surplus sense to the same word in another occurrence. The Arminian is accusing you of equivocating on your terms. In reality, s/he is equivocating on his/her terms.

Let’s reword this objection using biblical terminology. Regeneration precedes faith is logical, because it means you are regenerated before you are justified. The Reformed understanding of the order of salvation is:

Regeneration precedes faith. Men are dead in sin and cannot come to Christ to repent and believe apart from it. Men are not regenerated because they respond to God in faith. I John 5:1 explicitly states otherwise. The conclusion of John’s prologue in his gospel uses passive verbs to describe being born again and adds that men are born not by their own wills, but by God’s alone.

A man is not converted on account of his free will decision. He is converted because God unilaterally acts to regenerate Him. His faith and repentance are a response to God’s grace in doing this. John 6:44: No man can (has the ability) to come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. Apart from God doing this, nobody would believe. It is simply impossible for an unregenerate person to choose Christ apart from effectual calling and regeneration. They cannot submit their minds to God or understand spiritual truth or come to Christ and believe apart from it.

We understand that there is a sense in which one is saved, i.e., regenerated before one is “saved,” i.e. justified. However, the Arminian must agree that men are “saved,” i.e. justified, before they are “saved,” i.e. regenerated or glorified as well. Calvinists do not say “we are saved before we are saved.” We teach we are regenerated before we believe and are justified. We are not the ones guilty of equivocating on our terms.

When the converted human will is later exercised, it is only because God "powerfully bends" it.7

Because God gives them spiritual life. Regeneration changes the desires. Faith is the natural response. This is what makes saving faith a gift. Regeneration is to faith what birth is to crying and breathing. As a new baby cries and breathes on its own when it is born, so the man regenerated by the power of the Spirit working through the gospel believes and is justified. Dr. Yarnell wants to say this makes men robots. The problem with that is simply this: If true, an inerrant Scripture also makes men robots for the logic is the same!

One wonders if Dr. Yarnell why one person believes and not the other if not God’s grace.

Avoiding this concept of irresistible grace, the Baptist Faith and Message states that salvation is a "change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," and adds: "Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."

a. The BFM actually reads: regeneration is "a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

b. This is true, if you ignore the history of the New Hampshire Confession.

c. This portion is from the New Hampshire Confession, Dr. Yarnell.

We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or
born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy
disposition to the mind;that it is effected in a manner above
our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine
truth,3so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel;and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.

We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also
inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God;42 whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ,43 we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy;44 at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour

The NH Confession lacks a statement on the freedom of the will and on prevenient grace. It was written to contradict Arminian doctrien on these matters. These terms are thus to be read with the Calvinist ordu salutis in mind!

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 Article IV A reads:

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

This language was lifted from the 1963 Version:

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.

Some suggest that “to which” in the 2000 version refers to the conviction of sin, not regeneration itself. This can’t be correct for several reasons. First, notice the shift in the construction between the two versions. “Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace” has been moved to an new paragraph, speaking of regeneration. A synergist reading might be possible, through doubtful, for the 63 version, based on the positioning of this sentence.
Second, the original 1925 confession states otherwise clearly. Third, both the 63 and 00 versions read that “Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace, not “calling” or “conviction” or ”nature” and the 2000 version now attaches this to the paragraph on regeneration. Synergism places election and regeneration after conversion itself and thus outside the work of grace. Thus neither election nor regeneration is a link in a chain, resulting in a state of grace. Election and regeneration, therefore, falling outside the grace of God, do not create or contribute to a state of grace.

On this view, the grace of God is limited to the work of Christ. A synergist reading of IV A would mean it is up to man in a state of nature, not grace, to respond to the Gospel of Christ, therefore, a reading of the BFM 2000 must be monergistic in order for repentance and faith to be experiences of grace, even if “to which” refers to “conviction of sin,” for one cannot call something an experience “of grace” when one is not in a state of grace when one is performing these actions.

Historically, the antecedent confession, the BFM of 1925 makes its meaning clear and unambiguous:

Regeneration or the new birth is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit, whereby we become partakers of the divine nature and a holy disposition is given, leading to the love and practice of righteousness. It is a work of God’s free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ and made manifest by the fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God. We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.

What has happened within the Southern Baptist Convention that men can call monergism “illogical” and “backwards,” when clearly their confessions state otherwise? How can men who will argue against homosexual marriage and abortion by asking, “How can rights not found in the Constitution in one age be found in it in this age?” then assert that concepts found in their denomination’s confessions mean something different in this age that they did not mean in another age? At worst, the current language is vague, and they have no confessional basis (much less a biblical basis) to claim monergism is “illogical’ or “backwards” without contradicting their own theological forbears in the process, much less attacking Southern Baptist Calvinists’ theology from their pulpits.

Ironically, in the early days of the conservative reformation, there was a lot of talk about “historic Baptist principles” coming from theological liberals and “moderates” within the SBC. Conservatives invariably replied that biblical inerrancy was also a historic Baptist principle, not just soul competency and the priesthood of the believer. They were correct, but some of them apparently overlooked the rest of their heritage, in which monergism (Calvinism) was also a theological principle of their historic forebears. Now, in contradicting the BFM and compounding their error by contradicting that which they helped write and for which most of them personally voted, they have made themselves guilty of the same thing for which they indicted the moderates: teaching doctrines alien to our public confessions and the Bible.

Adrian Rogers, one of the most outspoken synergists, was the chair of the BFM 2000 Committee. In speaking of the BFM, he said, “But we will state boldly that these are convictions we affirm as revealed in God’s Word-those cherished doctrines that define the Southern Baptist Convention and its churches. In the Preamble we read, “We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.” How exactly has that which was essential and definitional to their own tradition’s past become no longer essential and definitional to that tradition today? Synergists like Dr. Graham, himself a past president of the SBC, all publicly endorsed it and all their churches’ messengers voted for it the year they adopted it. What he calls “illogical” and “backwards” the BFM, arguably the chair of the committee and, certainly, his own theological forebears call “essential” and “definitional.”

Southern Baptists also use the BFM 2000 as a test of fidelity within denominational institutions. According to Larry Cox, of the SBC’s International Mission Board, “Requiring missionaries to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message has been the board’s practice for decades, even under the administration of Keith Parks.” The SBC has fought with the Baptist General Convention of TX over this issue. Seminary faculties are required to sign the new BFM, and Dr. Paige Patterson has signed it himself at both SEBTS and SWBTS, where he is now president.

While at SEBTS, Dr. Patterson also clarified a common misconception concerning the statements of faith. “Now, of course, any one of us, if we were setting out to write this would write it a little differently. What a statement of faith like this is supposed to be is a statement of those things that are most commonly believed among us.” As an example, Patterson noted that he was premillenial in his eschatology and believes in a pretribulation rapture, neither of which made it into the BFM as adopted by the SBC in June 2000.

Apparently, Dr. Patterson does understand that eschatology is not essential or definitional to a confession, and he cites this as an example, affirming, it would seem, that those items not specifically addressed in the text of the BFM 2000 are not definitional or essential or, in his words, “commonly believed among us.” One must ask, if he believes, as he has said when discussing Calvinism, that regeneration does not precede faith, and he has further inferred that those items not in the confession itself are not commonly held among us (thus not essential or definitional to use Dr. Rogers’ words), how can he either not hold to monergistic regeneration or affirm that monergistic regeneration is not essential or definitional? Furthermore, how can synergists make an issue about Calvinism and rail against monergists in the SBC for error, when this is not an “essential” or “definitional” issue according to their view of the BFM?

Albert Mohler even said of Patterson, He has not only received it; he has taught it,” Mohler said of Patterson and the BF&M. “He has not only taught it; he has defended it.” We must ask: Which version has he taught and defended? Has Dr. Patterson taught and defended the 1963 version and the 2000 version but not the 1925 version? This is what happens when people draft fuzzy confessions and press them into service inconsistently, folks.

The issue here is not what is “essential” and “definitional” to being a Christian. The issue is what is “essential” and “definitional” to being a Southern Baptist. The founders of the SBC did not believe their soteriology was essential to be a Christian, but they did consider it essential to being a Southern Baptist as late as 1925. How has that which was definitional to being a Southern Baptist then, no longer definitional today? If monergism and synergism are not definitional or essential, then how can these men preach against it and call it, using Dr. Graham’s words, “aberrant, illogical, backwards, prideful, elitist, abusive, and slanderous” and insinuate it is unacceptable doctrine for teaching in colleges and “certain seminaries” and not be accusing their own forbears of gross sins?
Guess who else reads and remakes their confessions in such a manner. According to Vatican II and her apologists, Rome’s confessional theology “develops” the same way, for what is “essential” and “definitional” today was not “essential” or “definitional” yesterday and vice versa. Note also that Rome’s soteriology is synergistic. Have SBC leaders taken not only Rome’s side in the Reformation but also unwittingly absorbed her ideas on doctrinal development and confessional interpretation? No wonder certain individuals can repeat Tetzel’s error so offhandedly!
If one takes the position that the new BFM is simply unclear on monergism and can be read either way, not only must one ask how is that which was “essential” and “definitional” yesterday, not be so today, but one must also ask how can one sentence have such radically different meanings? Wouldn’t bifurcating the article on soteriology to accommodate both views in BFM make better sense, or do they dislike biblical soteriology so much they would never consider such a move? Of course doing so would mean they could no longer rail against Calvinism and they would be forced to accurately represent Calvinism, a task most of them have completely failed in recent months, so they may have less against which to preach if they do so.

How exactly is it that the Convention’s leaders, including Drs. Rogers and Graham and the current President, Bobby Welch who has himself made nearly identical comments can require missionaries, seminary professors, agency trustees and denominational employees in the national agencies to sign off on the BFM, when they teach doctrine contrary to it, while they get a free pass themselves with having to publicly declare they affirm it either when the Convention votes for them or while they are in office? Shouldn’t the President of the Convention and the elected officers be held to that standard as well? Is this a case of “Do as we say, not as we do?”

This would not be an issue if these men would not attack and misrepresent the doctrines of grace and their own brothers’ beliefs from their own pulpits and have the temerity to come out and have real conversations about these issues. The fact that they refuse to even discuss Calvinism accurately speaks volumes.

We would not have to draw attention to these inconsistencies if these men were true to their own teaching, since all of them say they understand Calvinism and believe Calvinists are their brothers. If that is the case, how can they perpetuate so many straw men? If we use their own yardstick and assert, as Dr. Patterson has in the past, that the SBC is a big enough tent for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists and we also say that the BFM is, perhaps, intentionally unclear on this point, then their ongoing and, very likely, organized open attacks on biblical truth and on their brethren (who also supported their conservative resurgence) from their positions of influence in the Convention compels us to ask:

If that is true, then on what basis can you do what you are now doing? How can you talk about returning to your historic Baptist roots and deny those roots? If you say “based on the Bible” then that is the point at issue, for Calvinists make the same claim. Thus doesn’t that mean you should have a serious, open, honest series of debates in the Convention instead of of rebuffing the offers of those against whom you preach? How can you say Calvinism is the death of missions and evangelism, when your own Southern Baptist forbears were Calvinists and great evangelists and missionaries and some serve in that capacity today? How can you deny these doctrines are biblical and call yourselves true to your historical roots? How can you say the tent is big enough for both views, and then organize yourselves in visible opposition to one of those views?

How can you accuse Calvinists of being divisive, when you are the ones causing the division? How can you call Calvinists and their theology “elitist,” “arrogant” and “slanderous” and refuse to respond to them when they attempt to dialogue with you? Is it not slander when you teach falsehood about others’ beliefs from your pulpits, much less contrary to Scripture itself?

How is it that what was “essential” and “definitional” yesterday (and we argue today), now “illogical” and “backwards?” How can you hire and tenure Calvinist theology professors who sign the new BFM in the seminaries if you truly believe that Article IV A is teaching synergism not monergism? Isn’t that dishonest? If you decide to make Calvinism a litmus test for service at the denominational level at any point in the future by pressing the new BFM into service and declaring ex cathedra that IV A is to be synergistically, not monergistically read, how can you then say that monergists whom you have hired and tenured for service as faculty or missionaries are, at that point, no longer adhering to the BFM when, by hiring and tenuring them today, you are agreeing that they do affirm the BFM today when they sign it in your presence?

The bottom line here is that election and predestination are biblical words and concepts. If these men wish to address the issues, they need to do so truthfully, biblically, and charitably, and openly and not hide behind their bully pulpits when challenged in response. Gamaliel wisely said that if Christianity was true, the Sanhedrin could not stand against it. He was right. Now, these men have set themselves against God, Scripture, their own brothers, and their own confessional documents (current and historical) and they are in the same position. Is there a Gamaliel among them?

What is the use of having the new BFM and requiring people to affirm and teach it if they do not do so themselves? How can one declare doctrines that you say are not essential or definitional are aberrant, illogical, and abusive and actively try to stop their spread if Southern Baptists are truly free to believe them and teach them since they are not essential and definitional? Is it not the height of arrogance, if not hypocrisy, to do such a thing? How can one do that and then act as if those against whom you are railing are the ones out of step with the Bible and your common confession of faith?

How can one do that and say that these truths, according to your uniform confession, are supposedly held by you all and held to be essential and definitional for your Baptist denomination, when you contradict them repeatedly, openly, and directly? Monergists do not hold to your synergism; your SBC forbears were monergists and at least one monergist helped draft the BFM, and more and more of you are identifying as monergists; are they not part of the “all?” How ironic for those who always proclaim “All means all!”

Is Article I of more value than Article IV? If that is so, then what exactly is the hierarchy of doctrines that one must consider “essential” within the BFM? What about the articles addressing abortion and homosexuality? How can we honestly say to a person that teaches contrary to our stated positions on these issues, “You are out of step with the BFM!’ while openly rejecting other articles of faith we have declared “essential” now or in the past? One wonders what would happen in Greensboro, NC in 2006 if SBC messengers asked if the new presidential candidate affirms all of the BFM?

Perseverance of the Saints

The Arminians equivocated with regard to the eternal security of believers. The Calvinists, however, concluded that God "preserves true believers" from apostasy. Based upon texts like John 10:28 — neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand — our Baptist confession states, "All true believers endure to
the end" and "will never fall away."10 Consequently, this may be the only doctrine from the Synod of Dort which the overwhelming majority of SouthernBaptists support.

Ah, but Dr. Yarnell, is this the same doctrine that Calvinists affirm or not? I maintain it is not, for “most Southern Baptists,” if we go by Bobby Welch, Charles Stanley, Jack Graham, Adrian Rogers, and others follow dispensationalism and men like Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin on this, especially when they quote Dave Hunt ad infinitum in their anti-Calvinist rants. On their own website the “Free Grace” group states quite plainly that there are no less than 3 views on this in their community affirms. Two of the three disaffirm that God does not preserve true believers from apostasy. The doctrine of eternal security says that man cannot lose his salvation, but not all believers will persevere to the end. In other words, one may apostatize and still, because one has “made a decision,” still be saved.

On this view, one need not persevere in faith to be saved. True believers can lose their faith. Those who lose their faith are saved, since they once believed. “The believer who loses his faith is saved.”

Perseverance of the Saints is the doctrine that genuine believers are those who persevere in their faith. Those who apostatize were not saved from the beginning. Men cannot lose their salvation, but men cannot fail to persevere to some degree.

The Dort Debate and Baptists

The Synod of Dort condemned the Arminians. Early followers of Calvin also condemned many Baptist beliefs and perversely argued for the covenantal baptism of infants.

Yes, we have to allude to Calvinism leading to Presbyterianism. No Southern Baptist critique of Calvinism is complete without a rant on this. If that’s really the end of Calvinism, though, perhaps Dr. Yarnell will explain the history of Particular Baptists, the Charleston Association, and the Philadelphia Association, as well as the founders of his own denomination.

Although Jacob Arminius tried to revise Calvinism's extreme predestinarian doctrines, he also rejected Baptist beliefs.

That’s true. Arminius was not a Neo-Campbellite, as we have discussed above.

It could be successfully argued that that the Calvinist-Arminian debate is, at root, a Presbyterian argument, not a Baptist one.

See what did I tell you...he insinuating that Reformed Baptist in the Convention want to turn Southern Baptists into Presbyterians. For all his “irenic” spirit, Dr. Yarnell is playing on the fears of Southern Baptists. This is just deceptive.

Yet early English Baptists were also divided over the debate, with General Baptists identifying more with Arminians and Particular Baptists with Calvinists. These two streams eventually merged and flowed into Southern Baptist life. Consequently, there is a fair amount of diversity on the "doctrines of
grace" among Southern Baptists.

But, of course, Dr. Yarnell’s entire article is intended to show that only his point of view should be accepted. Come on, Dr. Yarnell, we already know this is what you are really wanting.

Final Admonition

Today, few Southern Baptists would accept all five points of Calvinism's original TULIP.

The number is growing. This is why this article is appearing in SBC Life. This is yet another attack on Calvinism from the leadership of the Convention. I wonder if our brother Simon will see a little more clearly now why the folks at Founders aren't too happy with the Convention. Who is the one really wanting to battle over this issue?

In fact, the original points of TULIP have been largely redefined, redesigned, and repackaged by some Baptists.

Like whom? I agree that Ergun Caner has redefined and distorted Calvinism and Amyralidianism ("Elected because I selected indeed), and so has Jack Graham and all the other anti-Calvinists in the SBC.

It is not unusual to hear the label "modified Calvinist" embraced by some within our Southern Baptist family.

By those like Jack Graham, Danny O’Guinn, Bobby Welch, and others. Really, they should just choose another name for themselves instead of modifying ours. What’s wrong with “4 Point Arminian.” The 4 Pointers should just call themselves “Amyraldian,” and they would, if men like Ergun Caner hadn’t gone and coopted “Amyraldian” to include “elected because I selected.”

These would largely ignore the historical foundations and outright reject some of the original meanings associated with the five points.

What men are these? I agree that these “modified Calvinists” are, in point of fact, coopting historical terms for themselves. This is very post-modern of them.

It’s also very strange. Everybody wants to be a Calvinist, but nobody wants to be an Arminian. Why is this? If that’s what you believe, then you should just say so instead of hijacking another group’s name. Be proud of what you believe, don’t hide it.

What is disturbing, however, is the recent tendency to grade one another on how a person lines up with a particular presentation of TULIP and make agreement a test of fellowship. As Dr. Paige Patterson rightly observed, "There's plenty of room under the [Southern Baptist] umbrella for anyone who is anything from a one- to five-point Calvinist."

a. Paige Patterson, of course, calls himself a “modified Calvinist.”

b. Who is it that is making this a test of fellowship? Notice he names not a soul.

Finally, the greatest tragedy is when adherence to TULIP leads to division in churches and prevents them from cooperation in, and urgency for, a passion toward fulfilling the Great Commission.

a. What churches have experienced division over this matter?

b. When it has occurred, the Calvinists have left.

c. What is the giving record of the Calvinist churches?

d. What is Calvinism’s record with missions?

e. Let’s look at some words Dr. Jack Graham spewed from his pulpit just last year. He called Calvinism elitist,” “arrogant” and “slanderous” and refused to respond to Calvinists when they attempted to dialogue with him.

Here’s a sample:

Calvinism is "elitist theology...arrogant theology.

Calvinists believe God only loves the elect.
Perverted theology.
Abuse of Scripture
Perversion of God's promises.
Slanders God's character.

He never mentions that men go to hell, because of their sin. We believe that they go to hell because they have been predestined to go...but he never mentions that they do not go apart from their sins.


Mirror-reading...He says he's balanced but we're not...but he clearly isn't.
Accuses traditional Calvinists of believing in equal ultimacy.
Doesn't discuss the difference between common grace and love and redemptive grace and love.
Saving faith = making a decision.
Appeal to emotion...I can't honestly tell a child "God loves you and will save you if you ask Him."

"Blasphemy" (about 1/2way down)
John 3:16...Calvinists believe "world" = "the elect" in John 3:16
Calvinists are adding and subtracting from God's Word, a damnable error.

Aberrant theology.
Believes Calvinists teach that a man can come to Christ in repentance and faith and He will refuse him.
Calvinists are anti-missionary and evangelism. The exceptions are rare.

Calvinism kills evangelism. It is the "death sentence to missions and evangelism."

So does this fall within the definition of “causing division” or not, Dr. Yarnell? If so, then did anybody hold this man to account? He stood from his pulpit and slandered what we believe and violated the 9th commandment when he did it. To my knowledge, he refused correction. Will any of his peers say anything to him about this, or will they all pat him on the back for a job well done at his church in Greensboro?

The greatest safeguard is for Southern Baptists to remain close to the heart of Jesus whose mission was "to seek and save those who are lost" (Luke 19:10) and to draw our doctrines from inerrant Scripture — not from a man-made system.

a. I agree. I deny this is a man-made system. Does Dr. Yarnell say this to his dispensationalist buddies in the SBC? Just about any systematic theology can be reduced to a “man made system” depending on how broadly one wants to defined “man-made.”

b. I would argue that, apart from these very doctrines, Dr. Yarnell has no rational basis for affirming inerrancy. As Tom Nettles notes in Ready for Reformation (Broadman & Holman, 2005, p. 89), if effectual calling cannot be reconciled with human freedom and responsibility without making a person a mindless automaton, then, logically, God’s inspiration of Scripture cannot operate in a way that produces an infallible, inerrant text apart from a mindless kind of robotic dictation. Tell that to an inerrantist in the SBC and watch what happens. They will claim exactly the opposite, why then the double standard?

Southern Baptists are first, last, and always followers of Jesus Christ, not John Calvin.

a. Notice that earlier, Dr. Yarnell was talking about what the majority of Southern Baptists believe, so now we’re being told that these folks are close to the heart of Jesus, but Calvinists, because they supposedly follow Calvin’s man-made system, don’t do so? Is this really what Dr. Yarnell wishes to communicate?

b. Since Calvin does not function for Calvinists the way that Lutheran functions for Lutherans, this conclusion seems nothing but an insinuation that Calvinists follow Calvin.

In Lutheranism, their confessions all show Luther’s hand quite directly (or at least the portions of his hand they want them to show, but that’s another story). Calvinism’s strength is its emphasis on Scripture. Calvin is but one among many, but he’s the one to whom most historians point, because the Reformed churches sprung from Geneva. Calvinism is not John Calvin. We deny it is a “man-made system.” In fact, Dr. Yarnell also believes in a man-made system called the Baptist Faith and Message, if we follow his own logic.

Paul in 1 Corinthians speaks of division both positively and negatively. In the portion to which you allude, you’re right, he does speak of it negatively. However, look in 1 Corinthians 11:18 – 19. Here, he speaks of it favorably. The word “factions” here is the Greek word “hereses,” from which our word “heresy” comes. Basically, Paul is saying that God uses divisions of a particular nature to make us think about what we believe and cause the truth to rise to the surface. didn't quite live up to its lofty claims did it? Director of Theological Research indeed...


  1. If you want any scriptural subject fully and clearly explained, proclaimed and defended, contact my friend,

    We should read what this man writes and posts on his own TRIABLOGUE and elsewhere including the Founders Ministries blog.

    I have always believed that if we are going to talk and write, we should know what we are talking and writing about.

    Many do not! Gene Bridges is not one of them!

    Brother Bridges is one of the most thorough (and at times almost thoroughly exhausting) researchers and defenders of the scriptures we have around these days to enjoy.

    May we all have the wisdom to enjoy his ministry while
    we have the opportunity.

    This Scripture Searcher is
    grateful to God for the high
    honor of knowing this man I have never met but feel I have known many years.

    He is so helpful and always willing to help.

  2. As someone else stated recently, Gene can bring the text! Excellent post.

  3. Why are non-Calvinists not allowed to present what they believe?

    did you mean "Calvinists" rather than "non-Calvinists" in the above in point a. at the start of your post?

    I am just trying to make sure I get it correct. I want to be able to understand this issue more fully.


    These are on BPNews today:

    ‘TULIP’: Divine sovereignty, human responsibility
    Apr 4, 2006
    By Daniel L. Akin
    Baptist Press

    Assessing the ‘TULIP’ of Calvinism
    Apr 4, 2006
    By Malcolm B. Yarnell III
    Baptist Press

  4. So Dr. Patterson is a pretribulationist. Wondering if he has ever Googled "Pretrib Rapture Desperados," "Famous Rapture Watchers," or "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (all coming from the pen of the author of the bestselling book "The Rapture Plot" which Armageddon Books carries - Google "Scholars Weigh My Research" to see reactions to this book's research). Jon