Southern Baptist Steve Lemke In Denial Of A Foundational Christian Doctrine

Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Imputed Sin – SBC Heritage.

The author highlights a portion of Boyce, but I think the wrong one. Boyce makes it clear that opposition to this doctrine is opposition to Christ.

6. This adds nothing to the penalty which must have been suffered nor to the guilt which would have accrued from natural headship; for guilt is simply just liability to punishment.

7. In each case, whether of federal, or of natural headship, the same difficulties appear. (1.) In each we are dealt with for an act with which we had no conscious connection. (2.) In each we are made sinful, and therefore sinners, by that act; for the inherent corruption is spoken of and treated by God as sin in the highest degree to be reprobated and punished. (3.) In each the consequences of sin are equally beyond escape. If it be contended that under natural headship we could not be punished until we had actually sinned, it may be replied: (1.) That this does not appear to be the fact, for at least some of the penalties, namely, corruption and natural death, and we believe all, are inflicted before actual sin. (2.) That it would show no more equity or justice in God, nor any advantage to us, but rather disadvantage, that our probation, upon which the infliction of these penalties depends, should have taken place in the weakness of infancy, and under the disadvantages of an already corrupted nature, rather than in the personal and intelligent act of the one perfect man connected with us by natural generation.

What is to be noted is that infants, children and adults, all alike die, being subject to the highest penalty, because all have sinned in the highest degree. Death is the just penalty for the guilt of sin. It is not just sinning, but the possession of the sin nature which is itself guilt worthy. Yet, no one comes by this through the natural progression of coming to an age of accountability, the false doctrine to which Lemke holds. They arrive at it through conception.

As Boyce concludes, Lemke’s denial of imputed guilt destroys the imputed righteousness of Jesus.

9. It would also appear that only through the representative headship could blessing come in the event of the fall. Had our fall been through merely natural headship we can see no way for recovery. But to the fall under the federal headship of Adam corresponds our salvation under the federal headship of Christ.

10. In support of the Scriptural theory, therefore, we can not only adduce the fact that the federal headship of Adam was just and right, because duly constituted by God, and that too in the fittest person of the whole race, but that it was an act of special mercy and grace, not only in itself, as involving the blessing of participation in the good as well as the evil, but as making a way for restoration in Christ the second Adam.

The first heresy leads inexorably to the second. How then does a denier of essential doctrine remain the Provost of a SBC seminary?

Joshua is correct in stating the historic reality. That it is true that the SBC historically is self-contradicting is one thing, that heresy is tolerated as proper and acceptable in the SBC is another. The historic combattre only begins to expose the deep seeded problems that plague the SBC.

From Lane’s Blog.

The Way Steve Lemke Interprets Scripture Makes It Mishmash Privately Stirred Not Chosen

In reading Lemke’s chapter against irresistible grace, one is struck by Lemke’s decision to ignore a host of Scriptures which undoubtedly support irresistible grace. It is obvious by now that on issues such as the gospel call and effectual call as well as the revealed will and decretive will Lemke fails to discuss passages that support such distinctions. Had he taken advantage of his opportunity to deal with these arguments, he could have strengthened his discussion greatly. We must not speculate as to why he omitted this discussion, but without dealing with passages such as John 3:3–8, 6:37, 44, 65, and 1 John 5:1, the reader should conclude that his case is far from adequate and even further from proved.

David Allen: Hypocrisy Or Incompetence? | SBC Today

“A Selective Review of Whomever He Wills – Part 1” | SBC Today.

Though each of the statements quoted above range in my estimation from moderately problematic to egregious, taken together they seem to indicate something of a mindset concerning how the authors of the introduction in WHW view those who disagree with them. We should all remember that in one sense a way of seeing is a way of not seeing. We all come to the table with a certain grid through which we filter and interpret things. We think that our interpretation is the correct one; otherwise we would not hold it. But when we express ourselves in language that identifies our view with Scripture and the other guy’s view with “attacking” a Scriptural doctrine or when we give the appearance that we could not possibly be mistaken in our view and thus have to lovingly help or monish the errant one to see the error of his ways, we have moved beyond the boundary of suasion and have foreclosed on the discussion at the outset. At issue is the correct interpretation of texts, yes; but it would be helpful if we did not speak or write in such a way that tends to place our counterparts in the discussion on the defensive by assuming or overtly claiming the biblical and hermeneutical high ground. This appears to me to be especially important in an introduction to any work since the introduction usually serves to set the tone for the discussion.

The hypocrite speaks. Did Allen even read Neither Calvinists nor Arminians but Baptists? His name is on it.

Here’s their assertion of their claim to the high ground:

… in light of our own priorities. First, we do not believe that Dortian Calvinism properly represents the gospel of Jesus Christ in its simplicity and profundity according to the Bible. We are uncomfortable with Dortian Calvinism because we believe its rigid structure is imposed upon Scripture and that it does not allow Scripture to form theology. As philosopher Steve Lemke queried about the Calvinist belief in irresistible grace, “Is Scripture being shaped to make it agree with one’s theological system, or is one’s theological system being shaped according to Scripture?” (127). Malcolm Yarnell was similarly concerned that an exemplary Reformed theologian’s methodological approaches to Scripture “reflect a thoroughgoing rationalism that is prior to and formative for his treatment of Scripture” (The Formation of Christian Doctrine, 50).

Second, we are not Calvinists because we do not believe certain Calvinist doctrines can be found in a gospel-ruled, canonical reading of Scripture. This is why the authors of Whosoever Will repeatedly refer to the plain sense of scriptural passages according to the grammatical and historical context. From the detailed expository approach to John 3:16 by Jerry Vines (Whosoever Will, ch. 1), to the commonsense contextual reading of Ephesians 2:1ff by Paige Patterson (ch. 2), to the canonical approach to defining biblical language utilized by both David Allen (78–83) and Steve Lemke (117–29), the authors repeatedly demonstrate a necessary return to Scripture. Scripture is sufficient for the substance and structure of our preaching, and though we seek to address those living in contemporary cultural contexts, we call our listeners to begin with hearing the Bible in its own context and end with contemporary personal submission to that Word. As a result, most of us are convinced, against Dortian Calvinism, that Scripture does not teach that man is totally unable to respond to the call of God to believe, or that grace does violence to the human will, or that Jesus Christ’s death failed to propitiate for the sins of “the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Third, we are not Calvinists because we are genuinely concerned about the impact of Dortian Calvinism upon evangelism. As David Allen asserted, “Christians must evangelize because God wills all men to be saved and has made atonement for all men, thus removing the legal barriers that necessitate their condemnation” (97). How could God offer salvation to all people with integrity if Jesus did not die for all (2 Corinthians 5:20)? Since the Calvinist doctrine of limited or particular atonement “provides an insufficient motive for evangelism by undercutting the well-meant gospel offer” by God to all men, as well as by us to all men, Southern Baptists should reject five-point Calvinism (107). We decry the efforts of Calvinist professors of limited atonement who argue the evangelistic altar call is unbiblical or that it somehow represents an attempt by those who deliver altar calls to “manipulate the sovereignty of God” (101). We are motivated to offer the gospel to all, and to invite all to respond, even in a public fashion, because Christ died for all.

Moreover, as the evangelistic preacher Jerry Vines argued, the crisis behind our understanding of Christ’s offer of “whosoever will” comes down to the type of God we are worshipping: “It is the design of the sovereign God to make the salvation of all people possible and to secure the salvation of all who believe. What kind of God would not make salvation possible for all?” (25). We do not ask such questions in order to score rhetorical points against our Calvinist Baptist brethren, but because we believe that the God revealed in Scripture is a God who loves all men, desires their salvation, and has made salvation possible for all by Christ’s death for all.

We say such things because we perceive grace when we hear the gospel verbally and enthusiastically offered to all men freely through personal repentance toward God and faith in Christ. With the first Baptist pastor in England, we believe that Christ died for all men. This is a “comfortable doctrine,” because “every poor soul may know that there is salvation for him by Christ and that Christ hath shed His blood for him, that believing in Him he may be saved, and that God wants not the death of him, but that he should repent and live” (Thomas Helwys, A Short and Plain Proof by the Word, 1611). This is our passion: that every sinner, without qualification, may hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, believe in Him and be saved! With regard to this God, who loves all people, we can agree with Roger Olson, who claims that Arminians “are in love with God’s goodness and unwilling to sacrifice that on the altar of divine determinism.”

I repeat Allen’s statement: But when we express ourselves in language that identifies our view with Scripture and the other guy’s view with “attacking” a Scriptural doctrine or when we give the appearance that we could not possibly be mistaken in our view and thus have to lovingly help or monish the errant one to see the error of his ways, we have moved beyond the boundary of suasion and have foreclosed on the discussion at the outset.

Here is Allen in summation. He’s convinced he is right but he is also convinced that he might be wrong. On the other hand, he condemns those who say they are right and are convinced of it and so say others are wrong. Duplicitously, Allen says that one should not make statements that rule out the other’s position peremptorily, and then makes statements that peremptorily rule out the other’s position. Further, he agrees with the White Paper that his position is the Scriptural position then condemns those who would assign their position to the Scriptural meaning. Allen would say he doesn’t identify his meanings with Scripture, but just what does it mean, then, to say that one holds a Scriptural meaning?

Allen is either absolutely blind to his prejudice blinding him to his hypocrisy, or, the man is utterly incompetent. He hates the fact that Calvinists claim that Calvinism is the Gospel. But, we must ask, what does Allen think of what he believes? That it is not the Gospel? Of course not, he believes it is. Just read the White Paper. As one of its co-authors, he said that what he believes, being convinced by Scripture, that it is what Scripture teaches as touching the Gospel. To say that he doesn’t believe his non-labeled theology is the Gospel, is a lie. To condemn others for doing what he is doing is hypocrisy.

The entire premise of those who want no labels attached to them is that their beliefs are what Scripture teaches. More than that, they believe that no other teaching should be taught for the very reason that they believe it to be destructive to the Gospel commission. In short, it is anti-Gospel to be a Calvinist. To the end, and to a man, they desire to destroy anything that contradicts them. The only alternative to such a conclusion is that Allen and his ilk are ignorant of the fact that they are wasting their time if their non-labelism is not the Gospel. If these matters are not of the utmost importance, (they think they are), if these matters are not the Gospel, but matters in dispute for which there is no doctrinal, final resolution, they are engaged in vain babble, violating the very Scripture that they claim to represent.

They do claim to represent Scripture’s Gospel, don’t they?

Or do they?

When speaking out of both sides of the mouth the obvious is not obliterated as Allen has attempted to do. Rather, it is spot-lighted. Allen paints those who disagree with him as false teachers, preaching a false Gospel, as arrogant in claiming their’s is the Gospel. Yet, he takes umbrage that others do the same. He claims that what he believes is the very teaching of Scripture as the Gospel, or he wouldn’t be in this fight. At the same time he is appalled at those who do what he does.

With people like Allen there is no real way forward. Their appeal for peace, irenicism, and unity is pretense to gain an audience. His intentional derogation of his is enemies is clear. He fools only his own.

What good is the pursuit of teaching or opposing teaching when the matters at hand cannot be proven true or false, anyway? It is a waste of time which engenders disputes and causes divisions needlessly. However, if the respective sides in the debate truly are convicted that theirs is the truth, as Allen asserts his is, they need to openly denounce the other and quit hiding behind the coy defense of feigned humility as Allen does. What Allen wants is the destruction of the Doctrines of Grace, not their acceptance as equals to his own non-labelism, no matter how much he says he is not. He wants his beliefs to dominate, no accommodate, to rule the SBC without challenge.

The other side likewise must advance their cause, not in the pursuit of unity, for that can never be where there is no doctrinal agreement, but with the affirmed conviction that error must be rooted out and truth secured for the preservation of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

Otherwise both sides are fools who plow and plant, wet and weed, never intending to harvest.

Heresy’s Just Alright By Me: William Dwight McKissic, Sr., A SBC Voice

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith” by William Dwight McKissic, Sr. | SBC Voices

Given the big-tent mentality that McKissic trumpets, accepting Christian-modalists, can we soon expect that Christian-muslims and Christian-mormons will soon find a place in the SBC?

Here’s the Dividing Line program to which McKissic alludes. One cannot for a moment forget that heretical teaching is now accepted in the SBC as orthodoxy in the form of Keathley’s Molinism, and the denial of Original Sin in Lemke. As I noted before the wide-open door and the latitudinarian ethos of the SBC was a catastrophe marking its wholesale rejection of Biblical authority in favor of an ecumenical non-credalism that despite the fact that the SBC stood for inerrancy, it, by definition of broad doctrinal inclusivism, cannot establish that it really holds to it. Without authority, there can be no inerrancy. In the SBC, soul-competency trumps authority of the Scripture and creates a popery of the pew. Because of that, the mindless drivel of the likes of McKissic permeates the SBC.

The Katakrima Rises To The Top

That preacher therefore had no adequate conception of sin who defined
it as, “The wilful transgression of a known law.” The greatest of all sin is a sin of nature. It is not dependent in obligation on our knowledge. (B.H. Carol, THE SUNDAY SCHOOL BOARD of the SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, 1935)

Furthering his Sunday School lesson:

1. An argument based on our seminal relations to the two Adams — This great doctrine is expressed thus: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (5:12). Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (5:18-19). If we combine the several thoughts into one great text we have this: By one offense of one man, condemnation came upon all men. So by one act of righteousness of one Man, justification unto eternal life comes upon all men who by one exercise of faith lay hold on him who wrought the one act of righteousness.

2. This text startlingly offends and confounds the reasonings of the carnal mind which says:

(1) One may not be justly condemned for the offense of somebody else, but only for his own; nor justified by the righteousness of somebody else, but by his own righteousness.

(2) Condemnation must come from all offenses, not just one; and justification must be based on all acts of righteousness, not just one.

(3) To base a man’s condemnation or justification on the act of another destroys personal responsibility.

(4) The doctrine of imputing one man’s guilt to a Substitute tends to demoralization, in that the real sinner will sin the more, not being personally amenable to penalty.

(5) The doctrine of pardoning a guilty man because another is righteous turns loose a criminal on society.

(6) The whole of it violates that ancient law of the Bible itself: Thou shalt justify the innocent
and condemn the guilty.

If the Gospel plan of salvation, fairly interpreted, does destroy personal responsibility, does tend to demoralize society, does encourage to sin the more, does turn criminals loose on society, does not tend to make its subjects personally better, it is then the doctrine of the devil and should be hated and resisted by all who respect justice and deprecate iniquity. But the seminal idea of condemnation and justification grows out of relations to two respective heads…

So it would seem, that in 1935, the clear Baptist, that is the SBC’s distinctive was diametrically opposed to Steve Lemke’s. It is a foregone conclusion, then, that Lemke doesn’t stand in the distinctives of the SBC, which he terms Baptist, and is therefore not Baptist. Carol not only says Lemke’s mind is carnal, and as a preacher he is not up to the task, he makes it clear that Lemke’s doctrine cuts off all who would be saved by the head. For the imputation of Christ’s righteousness doesn’t depend on the act of one man, Christ, rather, it hangs upon the innocence or acts of the individual. In short, Lemke’s doctrine is a different gospel, and one which cannot save.

What does Romans say about guilt in the offspring of Adam? It is simply this: that through one man’s trespass the judgement passed to all men because all sinned resulting in their having been condemned.

To simplify the wording, (if that were possible) krima means judgement. In a court of law that means the finding of culpability. In this case we know it was the finding of guilt because the sentence of death was executed. Now the sentence is katakrima, condemnation. Death and condemnation become word equivalents throughout this passage in as much as one does not stand without the other. What is without any doubt is that the condemnation that Adam incurred for guilt was executed, but not just upon him. It was executed upon his children. For death came to them through him because in him all sinned. The sentence that was executed was because of the judgement made. The declaration of the sentence is katakrima. Or simply, it is the determination of what punishment would be executed. Katakrima means the damnatory sentence, or condemnation and the execution of it is one and the same with it. To back track, death, which came to all mean is the execution of the damnatory sentence for the guilty finding. Far from being accountable at some age of accountability, the accounting was made before the children are ever conceived. In each case the action was accounted as completed in the past. For all die. The fact that even children in infancy die demonstrates they have received the just punishment for their sin which surely was not due to any wilful action on their part.

There can be no doubt that guilt was imputed to Adam’s offspring, for death is the prosecution of a sentence. And a sentence of condemnation is predicated upon the determination of the judge who has found the defendant guilty. All men die. That means that God reckoned all Adam’s offspring guilty. And that, not for actual sins they would commit temporally. For children often die before they can know to do good or evil. As Hodge remarks it is a punishable act, as much as but more than that which is established in their nature from their conception, through the act of one man before the children temporally existed. They are by nature children of wrath. There are no innocent children. All have inherited guilt as testified to by death spiritually in the corrupt nature, and by that which testifies to it in the temporal expressions of it. Period.

This, of course has nothing to do with the eternal disposition of all children who die before they can make any moral judgements. Scripture is silent on the matter of universal salvation of infants. And where it does speak to the issue of infants, the most that we can say is that some are saved. And that through the grace of God which provided for all things pertaining to salvation in the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord. That is, by his one act, and not ours. That is the great exchange, his innocence, for our guilt.

Infant salvation has nothing to do with the supposed Biblicism of Lemke, then, (though he makes it the strawman to burn in effigy which somehow sets his faith apart from others as alone the true faith). For since there is no clear teaching on the universal salvation of infants it is a matter of speculation. It cannot be held out as doctrine. And cannot be used to argue any case against original sin. It may distinctively be identified by some Baptists as such, but it doesn’t stand as a distinct Christian doctrine.

Lemke rejects the clear teaching of Scripture, anyway, as we have seen through Carol. True enough, he is not alone. The blind rejection of the Scripture concerning guilt imputed is nearly ubiquitous in evangelicalism today, and weaves its heretical thread through the fabric of the history of the church. But, that presents a problem for those who would claim a distinctly Baptist heritage founded upon it. For the rejection of a clear teaching of Scripture such as the imputation of condemnation could never be a Christian doctrine, let alone Baptist. It also impinges upon another claim Lemke makes. One cannot at once uphold the inerrancy and authority of Scripture and deny the clear teaching of it.

Lemke’s spilled krima cannot be cleaned up without polluting many of the dogmatic claims he makes about Baptist distinctives in general. It brings into question everything that he might say, right or wrong. As was shown in the rejoinders to his original paper, Lemke isn’t as erudite as he expresses himself to be. Nor humble enough to have it pointed out as gauged by his responses to those who have challenged his assertions. And, he is not just wrong, but wilfully fraudulent in his presentations through fragmentation, word rearrangements, and by claiming things he knows not to exist. But again, that goes to the heart of his distinctive, exclusionary slant of what it means to be Baptist. He began his paper by using the canopy of the word Baptist to substitute for the SBC. And the ruse began. Yet his intent becomes perfectly clear that the only true Christianity, according to Lemke, is Baptist, and by Baptist he means SBC and by SBC he means his own perverted, myopic version of it. For we have seen that prior to Lemke’s era, his distinctive wasn’t distinctively SBC.

His idea of soul competency, then, can only mean that he is not beholding to the inerrant teaching of Scripture. As one of the rejoiners says:

Failures of covenant may reflect that current day Baptists have been conformed to the modern mindset (think 1600-mid 1900) of this world. Modern thinking rejected the contributions and restraints of tradition and community for the autonomous reasoning of a free and independent thinker. Among the many implications of the modern era was a new way of thinking of one’s group. An older view, which recognized our indebtedness and “rootedness” in a concrete organic body, gave way. Instead individuals began to see their relationships as elective; even the groups to which we belong we now see as composed of replaceable parts. Characteristically modern leaders who ponder change simply calculate the numbers (people) lost and gained. The record sadly shows that Baptists, like other children of modernity, treat almost every covenant with the same dismissive attitude; in membership or marriage we behave like everyone else.

When he has been proven wrong repeatedly in his interpretations of Scripture, when it is shown that he directly denies it, when it can be demonstrated that he has actually deviated from the Baptist (SBC) traditions before him, chosing to go his own way instead of the way of the community before him, his soul competency becomes the modernist rubric. In Lemke, the liberty of the believer and his autonomy results in the very liberalizing of the system that Lemke hopes to maintain as conservative. It then resolves that one of his distinctives, the soul competency of the believer who is free to believe and associate as he wills, contradicts and undermines the very foundations of Lemke’s so called distinctives. Scripture and its truth becomes fluid, meaning whatever anyone wants it to mean. When that is the case, the only distinctive left is that there is none. It also means that Lemke rejects Sola Scriptura and by that inerrancy. Indeed, he embraces solo scriptura where the almighty autonomous individualism of E.Y. Mullins kicks the authority of the text out the window in favor of unity through diversity rather than obedience to the control of historic Christian orthodoxy.

The end result of distinctivising the SBC will be either that Lemke is successful in erecting what he diametrically opposes, an association that dictates what a person must believe to be Baptist, or he is unsuccessful and must bite the bullet, accepting that there is no such thing as a Southern Baptist Convention distinctive precisely because of the nature of the autonomy upon which it is currently founded. The modern paradigmatic map of the SBC, or to use Lemke’s name Baptist, is that it means nothing other than what he says it does. And if you do not like that, get out of Dodge because you’re not him, or his kind, or one of the good old boys of the Baptist Identity Movement who tell everyone else what they must be. Such self-refuting confusion is the heritage that the likes of Lemke bequeath. In the future, when it is asked what distinctives they stood for, the only answer that can honestly be made is autonomy. The have rejected the traditions of their fathers and embraced whosoever will… following their own carnal imaginations.

Denial Is A Distinctive Baptist Belief: The Heresy Of The Age Of Accountability

Baptists have not typically understood the impact of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Presbyterian way. While the Calvinistic Second London and Philadelphia confessions repeat much of the Westminster Confession language as an attestation to the profound impact of the Fall, the focus appears to be placed on actual sins rather than inherited guilt: through the “original corruption” of Adam we are “inclined to all evil,” and from this proclivity we commit “actual transgressions.”[v] More noticeably, both these Calvinistic Baptist confessions delete the affirmation of the Westminster Confession that “Every sin, both original and actual . . . [brings] “guilt upon the sinner.”[vi] All standard Baptist confessions of faith point to fallen human nature having a strong disposition or proclivity toward sin. For example, the BF&M affirms that Adam’s posterity “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”[vii]However, Baptist confessions tend not to use the term “original sin” by name, and two Baptist confessions explicitly deny it. John Smyth in his Short Confession of 1609 affirmed, “That there is no original sin (lit., no sin of origin or descent), but all sin is actual and voluntary, viz., a word, a deed, or a design against the law of God; and therefore, infants are without sin.”[viii] Likewise, the Short Confession of Faith of 1610 affirmed that none of Adam’s posterity “are guilty, sinful, or born in original sin.”[ix] The focus is on guilt from actual chosen sin, not inherited guilt. (Some Baptists say they believe in original sin, but by this they mean being born with a sin nature, not the proper and historical sense of original sin as inherited guilt).

via Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from PresbyteriansDistinctive Baptist Belief # 2—The Age or State of Accountability | SBC Today.

From the 2nd London Baptist Confession:

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.

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.

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.

From the BFM 1925:

He was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

From the WCF:

They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.

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.

This 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 all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

Anyone can see that there isn’t any difference in these confessions, so why? Why lie about what the confessions say? The natural inference is that the original corruption is in fact the punishment for condemnable sin. As the 2nd LCF notes that corruption is itself wholly opposed to righteousness and that all who are conceived are the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal. In other words, that natural corruption itself is condemnable sin as the WCF states- both itself, and all the motions thereof are sin. The 2nd LCF in stating that being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath it is clear that it is the nature and not the mere acts of it that are subjects of condemnation. So why would Lemke claim that the emphasis is on actual and not native depravity when the confessions are saying exactly the same thing?

The fact is when speaking of the subject of Original Sin, we are not at first speaking of our sin in particular. It is Adam’s sin that is spoken of, typically, as Original Sin (peccatum originans). As is fully clear and unequivocal, all three confessions make the point that it is Adam’s sin and his sin nature which are imputed, that is, both the corruption and the guilt that goes along with it. The clear and univocal agreement in the three confessions is that it was the imputation that brought condemnation, and that through conception, and not the sins which will issue out of our native corruption (peccatum originatum), but through natural generation, all are by nature children of wrath. In as much as the fruit does not produce the tree, but the tree the fruit. Note in the 1925:

inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin

Sin and nature are not separated, but are one in their imputation. But more:

(All)are under condemnation, not just inclined to fall under condemnation through some future act upon reaching an AOA, but actually, by imputation, condemned by inheritance, or as the 1689 says, by natural generation.

Perhaps Lemke can explain how it is that a person who has inherited sin, not by actual deeds later done, but because of the act of another, as imputed by God, can be under condemnation and not be guilty. Condemnation is not applied to the innocent, but those who have transgressed. In other words, the imputation of Adam’s sin, as clearly defined in Romans, brought not just a bondage to sin, but condemnation for the guilt of having such an inclination. As Jesus makes clear, it is the heart, and not the head, the nature and not the will, that determines the state of the individual. The 1925 is crystal clear about the reality. The same thing can be said of the Philadelphia and the 2nd London, even the New Hampshire. In fact, distinctly Baptist, these confessions agree with the Presbyterian’s WCF.

Quite contrary to Lemke’s assertion, Baptists also, then, have a long heritage of rejecting the heretical notion of the AOA. What is hard to figure about Lemke’s dealings with those he is trying to proselytize, is did he honestly think that no one would look it up for themselves? What is evident, in trying to disconnect a historic Baptist view from the unorthodoxy of the modern majoritarian view, Lemke has effectively expunged the teaching of Romans. So, we must ask: what else is to be distrusted in Lemke and the entire camp that is opposed to the alternative historic Baptist orthodox distinctives? He is willing to deny his own confessional history all the while speaking as if he is neutral? This is a distinction for which to be known? Distinctive, but perhaps just distinctively, not historically Baptist. For what Baptist distinction is gained from fuscation? Prestidigitation?

Lemke affirms that what is becoming the so-called middle-ground in the SBC is nothing more than the tired old fault that has plagued it, and similar mainline churches everywhere. Namely, that man is not as evil as the Scripture declares. That at least man is “soul competent” and able to save himself by the same means that he came under condemnation, his own free-will. The only thing is, if Lemke doesn’t honestly give his audience a truthful alternative, historically speaking, what free-choice is he presenting?

We might hope, though sad it would be for a seminary professor, that Lemke apparently didn’t even read the confessions concerning bondage with any clear understanding. In the very section he sites, the proclivity is not merely toward some evil, but wholly to evil. Inclined doesn’t mean unfixed, but fixed, as the 1925 notes, so each will without exception proceed to actual sins. And why is that? Because there is nothing within them which is condemnable? That does not follow. Even the SBC’s more liberal, newer confessions, (1963, 2000), do not allow for Lemke’s liberal interpretation. What does inclined toward sin and will proceed to actual sin mean if not that it is not inclined to good at all and so is wholly evil. If it is not already also inclined to good, is that not what would be considered native, that is original sin, wholly corrupted? Does he equate innocence with neutrality as opposed to “only the righteous shall inherit the kingdom of God” (Lemke seemingly follows Hobbs)?* The confessional statements clearly mean that man can do nothing to effect good in any way, just as the 2nd LBCF says, and is therefore, very much as sinful at conception as any sins he will commit. If the inclination was inherited as nature as the confessions make clear, and it was toward sin and is not free to do otherwise, then guilt must be by descent and inhere in the corruption. It is not by the decision of the individual that the inclination was imputed, is it? And inclination is the same as being guilty. As Paul makes clear, merely coveting, that is being inclined toward sin, is as much as doing it. It is not out of the mind’s will that the issues of life proceed, but out of the heart. It is nature where sin abides and guilt inheres. It is not the outside of the cup, Jesus said, which the machinations of the imagination can never make clean which is the problem. It is the inside that must be cleaned and that goes to the heart, not the head. So likewise, it is the tree, and not the fruit, which determines its kind.

While the later, more obscurantist, versions of the BFM have reversed the word order of the condemnation making it appear to be causal, and softened the bondage phrase of the 1925, by their own admission the intent of the BFM has not changed:

The 1925 Statement recommended “the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . .” Your present committee has adopted the same pattern. It has sought to build upon the structure of the 1925 Statement, keeping in mind the “certain needs” of our generation. At times it has reproduced sections of that Statement without change. In other instances it has substituted words for clarity or added sentences for emphasis. At certain points it has combined articles, with minor changes in wording, to endeavor to relate certain doctrines to each other. In still others — e.g., “God” and “Salvation” — it has sought to bring together certain truths contained throughout the 1925 Statement in order to relate them more clearly and concisely. In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement. (1963)

With minor changes in wording, then, the 1963 sought in no case to delete or add to the intentions and meanings, ostensibly. There is no doubt the Hobbsian view was estranged from and confused about the doctrines of the faith which preceded it. But Hobbsian rewording, as is seen in Hobbs’ own commentary on the 1963, superintended to overthrow the original and introduced an entirely different faith to the SBC. In other words, what was meant by Hobbs, was not the intentions and meanings of the original. Hobbs stood diametrically opposed to the clearly Calvinistic doctrines of the 1925. In that, like Lemke is doing, through sleight of hand he sought to impose his belief system on the entire SBC. So much for soul competency and the liberty of the believer. On the other hand, if we accept the wording of the last phrase we find Lemke guilty of not reading his own confessions. For the reality is that the 1925 continued the Presbyterian formulations that had preceded for centuries. And if the essence of the doctrinal account didn’t change, by the admission of the committee, then the newer versions must be read in the previous generation’s light.

The 2000 reissued the statement as: Your committee respects and celebrates the heritage of the Baptist Faith and Message, and affirms the decision of the Convention in 1925 to adopt the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, “revised at certain points and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . .” We also respect the important contributions of the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message.

And what was that formulation in the NCF?

“We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.”

The documents from which this is drawn define the “choice” as that of the federal head, Adam, who in the stead of all humanity chose: “…then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation…” That choice is made the possession of the progeny, in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, according to the NCF, by natural generation. The progeny chose in Adam originally, and will in actual time, do so. Because Adam originally sinned, they are sinners by origin and because they are of their father according to nature, condemned sinners, they will in time produce the effects of his sin.

In short, though the later versions do not follow some language or order, they do contain the allusions to it. As was noted above, the 1925 is clear, condemnation, that is the guilt of original sin, is indeed imputed through natural generation to each and every individual that has been born or will be born and that guilt inheres as inclination to sin, not merely to the actual sins which follow. In short it is native ability which is condemned, for it, even if alone, is condemnable. And as noted above, technically when speaking of Original Sin we are not at first speaking of those who came after Adam, but Adam himself (peccatum originans). Then, his progeny by natural generation have what might be called aboriginal sin (peccatum originatum), that is, what was his is theirs by inherency. [The terms natural, or native, or nature, when speaking of the corruption by which the children of Adam are by nature the children of wrath in those confessions is what is known as original sin, (peccatum originatum) but note it is the “by which corruption” all are children of wrath. That is, they are under condemnation because of guilt which inheres in the corruption.] Regardless of how it is stated, it is the nature, and not the effects of that nature, though they also are enough to condemn, which is condemnable. As the BFM’s state, that nature was inherited, and that through natural descent. Who would argue that having a nature which is sinful is not condemnable? Well, Lemke does.

*Hershel H. Hobbs believed man to be created innocent with both the inclinations to good and evil so that righteousness was attainable, unnatural, as opposed to native, or original. That too, man’s free-will afforded him the chance of either attaining to a nature of evil. Restated, Hobbs believed, God created man in God’s image, capable of both good and evil. He believed God’s righteousness was not nature but action. In that image, man was at first neutral, and innocent, having both the tendency to do good or evil resident in his nature and able to achieve one or the other. It was Hobbs who inserted that man fell from his original innocence by which he meant neutrality, for he stated that man must by choice either become good or evil in actuality. But one must ask, from where and to where did man fall? What is the condition he fell into? The opposite of innocence is what? Neutrality? Yes, at least according to Hobbs, and from Lemke’s take on it, for they both believe that man must again fall according to his own “free” choice.  But to the rest of the rational world, it is guilt into which mankind fell. And he did not fall from neutrality, but from righteousness, if indeed innocence means anything. It was HHH with his committee who changed the word order in the 1963 from its original in the 1925, placing condemnation after capability. The AOA did not enter into SBC reality as doctrine until after the tampering by Hobbs. For a century before the 1963, then, neither Hobbs’ doctrine, nor that of Lemke, was part of the Baptist distinctives of the confessions of the SBC. It was the corruption of the confession by Hobbs that brings the controversy to the fore. Before Hobbs, the BFM was squarely on the same footing as the Presbyterians and could not be interpreted otherwise. Still, as noted above, the intent of the original is intended to be upheld by HHH’s own admission. So, inconsistent as the BFM’s are, as self-refuting as Hobbs’s was, , as disingenuous as Lemke is, the corruption of man’s nature and the guilt that inheres in that corruption (peccatum originatum), or simply short-handed, original sin, is still what is meant by them.

Ipsi Dixit Must Be True

“It’s hard for Molinism to avoid making God the author of evil. But the reason, I think, is that ‘God’s decree to actualize a world plus his knowledge of what would ensue if he were to do so’ is both necessary and sufficient for evil to come to pass. It’s necessary, because the evil can’t come to pass unless God decrees to actualize the feasible world in which it would come to pass. It’s sufficient, because the decree embraces all the means to the chosen end. (In addition, deciding to actualize a feasible world, while knowing infallibly what would happen if that world gets actualized, *is* sufficient for the evil to come to pass. After all, it’s sufficient for the free choice to be actually made, and that’s sufficient for the evil itself.)”

“On the Molinism bit, I would have to say that I disagree with that particular read of Molinism. God knows that given counter factuals of creaturely freedom, a person placed in a particular set of circumstances will do X. However, such counter factuals must unfold over the course of history. In other words, God does not by an act of will set in motion a predetermined order of events that unfold in a particular way. God sets in motion a series of events that can unfold in a variety of ways given counter factuals of creaturely freedom.”

i) If God knows what a person will do in a given situation, and God creates that situation, then it will unfold accordingly.

ii) In Molinism, God is not instantiating a wide-open scenario. Rather, he’s instantiating one possible world to the exclusion of another (or other) possible alternative(s). It’s not two or more possible worlds bundled into one actual world–as if contraries are simultaneously instantiable…

“I really don’t know what you mean by concretized possibilities when God instantiates a possible world.”

Mere possibilities don’t exist in time and space. To concretize possibilities is to exemplify them in time and space (or at least in time).

“My point was that the possible world God chooses to actualize or instantiate, contains within it a set of possibilities, which are only actualized as history unfolds.”

Which doesn’t mean a set of contrary possibilities.

The abstract ensemble of possible worlds is like a garden of forking paths. An actual world instantiates one of those paths.

“So within world A, there are a number of scenarios that could unfold given creaturely decisions. This is not to confuse the possible with the actual.”

Except that it does. To say that within world A are contrary possibilities is to embed two or more possible worlds (or world-segments) within the same actualized possible world–which is incoherent.

“A number of scenarios that could unfold” represents different possible worlds for different branching possibilities–not different forking paths which occupy the same concrete reality. Different timelines are represented by different possible worlds, and vice versa.

To select one possible world from many, then realize that possible world, is to realize that possible world rather than some contrary set of possibilities.

“You seem to keep assuming that once God instantiates a possible world, then all events in that world are already determined in some Reformed way.”

No, they are determined by God’s selection of one to the exclusion of another (or others).

“That is, God’s making an actual world necessitates God’s making all possible events within that world actual.”

I didn’t discuss how God brings about all events, whether directly or indirectly. That’s not the issue.

In the comments of this post it became painfully evident that R.E. had no real interest in answering the questions raised concerning God’s exhaustive knowledge of the world he instantiated. After giving some Scriptural references R.E. didn’t respond to, “So which is it?” Does God know what his free creature will do given the circumstances of the instantiated world or not? Instead of answering, R.E. was simply dismissive, engaging in ad hominem while exempting himself from any like response. R.E. somehow believes that his calling Calvinism evil is not in any way connected to those who hold to it. And while condemning Calvinism he does not answer how his Molinism is any different when it comes to the issue at hand- does God know the future acts of his free creatures?

R.E.’s elitism is loud and clear. It is in fact the same response of Lemke. Unless I make myself aware of the literature I should remain silent. What they assume is that I have no familiarity with it at all. The fact is I dismissed the nuances of terminology within Molinist schemes because they are philosophical constructs that really have no bearing on the answer. I never admitted that LFW was isolated to Molinism, either. Would, mights, possibilities, counterfactuals do not obtain in the actual instantiated world, even though they may be admitted for sake of discussion, and therefore, I set them aside. But not because I am without any familiarity. I own enough. I merely wanted to know, does God know what he knows about this actual world he instantiates or not? It is that, the nature of God, and that as defined in Scripture that is at issue.

LFW is not possible given that God knows the end from the beginning. Every LFW scheme requires a modification of the nature of God so that God cannot always know. Such is the case in W. L. Craig, who must redefine God’s nature according to his presuppositions in order that his Molinism works. This is the fault of all such schemes. What R.E. doesn’t like is to be called to account for doing likewise. God knows all things not as contingencies outside himself that necessitate his knowing. His nature meaningfully exists so that his knowledge is contingent to himself. In other words, God’s necessary knowledge is necessitated by his nature. His nature is eternal and therefore so also his knowledge. In short, God does not come to knowledge in any temporal sense, logical or otherwise, such that he must see what he might create before he knows. Nor does he come to that knowledge by selection from possibilities (Craig assumes possible worlds or his scheme falls apart). The knowledge of all future events, even future contingencies, are native to God. Those future contingencies in the instantiated world are not counterfactuals, for counterfactuals do not exist except in the imaginary, theoretical, possible worlds framework. It is man who needs the categories of a-temporal logical sequence to explain the decree. God doesn’t need either a-temporal logical sequencing or a view of temporal sequencing to know what he is going to do. What he will do has always been what he would do. The will and would do not necessitate God as Craig would have it in his derogation of the concept of simplicity. To the contrary, knowledge of creative acts are necessary because they are necessitated by the nature of God because he is who he is and not because it fits our logical constructs in which we cannot see the separation. It is because God says so. Craig cannot comprehend this because his definition of simplicity disallows for complexity in relationships of various attributes of God, ipso facto, without regard to the Scriptures’ declaration that both are revealed. Ipso facto says Craig, ipsi dixit saith the Lord. The creation is what it is because God made it to be what it is, not because it is because it is. And logically, it cannot be that God sees any future event as contingent upon any thing in creation as that which he will instantiate, and by that causes creation to become, for that would, to Craig’s and R.E.’s chagrin, make God subservient to the creature.

In any LFW scheme the will cannot be influenced by anything outside the will, not man’s constitution, nor the conditions that constitution is placed in. What I asked of R.E. is where the choice then arises. Is it at first in man? Which is another way of saying does God know it or not. If he knows it and decrees that it will be then it will be undoubtedly. But in that case it cannot be because the choice arose from with the man’s will without any preconditions. To the contrary, all conditions the creature finds himself in, his constitution and the situations he is placed in determine his will. Otherwise he becomes a god calling into being what is not brought into being by God. Even more, man can deny all the prevailing conditions of creation set in place by God by necessity of man’s own being. (And, in some weird sense, must precede God in an imaginary eternity past.) But I digress. The only thing that is necessary in this conversation is to know whether or not God knows the future acts of his free creatures in the world he wills to be. Even if man is free in some little-god sort of sovereign way to bring into being what God has not determined, if God knows it, then by definition he has always known what he will decree, and by that knowledge decreed all that would be, would be. In actual time, that means that man cannot change his mind and choose contrary to God’s instantiation. There are no counterfactuals in time, no alternate possibilities that can be actualized. Finally, in actual time, there can be no such thing as LFW if God knows what the outcome, that is, the choice will be. And we have it from Scripture that he always does. If he instantiates this world he knows all things that will eventuate. Then the main complaint that anti-Calvinists have against Calvinism, that God is the author of evil, evaporates, for all LFW’ers, Arminians and Molinists alike, believe that God has instantiated just this one world where evil exists. And if he doesn’t know all things that will come to be, then the bigger problem looms, and that is “open theism.”

The question is not about the logical possibility of various constructs of what might or would be “if”, rather, it is, “what is what is.” Prior to the decree we are dealing with metaphysical constructs that are extra-biblical theory, used only for the exercise of academic debate and not for determining theology proper. Scripture gives us all we need to know for a proper understanding of God and his nature. It simply says God knows what he has decreed. Contrary to R.E., we do not need the wisdom of men to come to an understanding of it even though God has given us rational minds which comprehend it. The Scripture declares it, ipsi dixit, because God said it, it is so.

The above discussions, part of a long running discussion of this issue, is from Triablogue where the authors make clear the point that even though we can go back and forth on this, the anti-Calvinist cannot establish, logically, any true separation between his position and Calvinism when it comes to the actualization of the real instantiated world. And that is really the question. Their God is just as much the author of evil as any for in the final evaluation the world that God instantiates cannot be altered. And if evil is allowed, the only cause of what ever eventuates for the Arminian/Molinist God is God, for he is the source of all that has come into existence.

R.E. would like to say that he is amicable but it is evident he is hostile. As has been noted so many times before, here and elsewhere, it does no good to claim peace and then fire invective (even if only by inference). For to define something is to label it. It did no good for John Wesley to claim he was a peace-seeker and then to hurl invective at Calvinism, and it proponents constantly, as if it made him any less a hater of its proponents. George Whitefield, likewise, was clear that those who taught such blasphemy as Arminianism were blasphemers. That did not stop him from loving Wesley as a brother while at the same time refusing any communion with John. The graciousness of Whitefield is noted in having Wesley preach his funeral. What we should not do, however, as Ian Murray noted, is to assume that “fellowship” resumed on account of the charity of affording ones confession of Christ as true. It did not. They remained enemies in life only to be reunited, hopefully, in death.

I still wonder at people like R.E.. If it doesn’t matter, if this is merely an academic exercise, with no eternal significance, then why even show up to the dance? Why don the collar of an apologist? The fact is, R.E. calls Calvinism evil, and if evil then something worthy to be defeated. He is committed, and one with his cause as a holy crusade. At least one would hope that he hopes to lead others into the clear and not just murky waters of opinion. Then, how is it that those who hold to the Calvinistic view are not identified with what they believe? Do we fight against the weapons formed against us, or those who wield the weapons? Do we honestly hope to restore our brothers, even snatching them from the fire? Paul deemed the weapon and the man as one. Those who taught contrary to sound doctrine he didn’t merely call mistaken, he called them false teachers, turned them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh as heretics, gangrene spreaders. No, you cannot say a person’s doctrine is evil and exculpate the person. It is the person, and not the doctrine who stands to account for every word which does not work. It is his words which will condemn him. Paul is likewise generous in granting that even though they are to be judged worthy of condemnation for their teaching, it is to God that they are held accountable. He thus calls for their repentance and does not necessarily exclude them as brothers because of their error even though he does call for separation from them.

So ipsi dixit. Just because I have said what I have said means nothing. What does is: What does the word of God say? If even the very hairs of our head are numbered by God, and therefore we are not to worry, he has accounted for everything including every choice we will make so that we might be confident in Him. What we must decide is if we believe that or not. Even that decision will be made because he has instantiated this world and no other so that our salvation is secured. Thus we pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth… as it is in heaven.” And why? “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, eternally.” The simplicity of this should not be missed. We pray, not our will, but his be done, and not as it is founded on earth, but as it is in heaven. This is the submission to the will of God which triumphs over His enemies, and overrules any speculation that man is in control. Those who love him keep his commands, those who don’t, even they will bow the knee; for he does whatever he wills among man and no one stays his hand; for it is his kingdom and his power that works all things according to his will throughout eternity.