Can SBC Today’s Bob Hadley Please God While Denying Baptist Faith And Message?

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration | SBC Today.

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. 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.

Bob says:

Basically, there are two primary interpretations as to the how and when one is “born again” or regenerated, and both are related to belief, repentance and faith. One posits being born again as being essential for belief, repentance and faith to take place; and the other makes belief, repentance and faith essential for being born again.

What does the BF&M say regeneration is? 1) a work of grace whereby believers become new creatures 2) a change of heart wrought (past tense and a past participle of work) through conviction. It is a work of the Holy Spirit who changes the unconvinced heart of an unbelieving sinner to a convicted heart of a believing sinner who responds in repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. Even if one wants to make conviction moving a person toward the truth and a sense of guilt of sin, the question is still who works it. The BF&M states about the work of the Holy Spirit:

Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

What does Scripture say:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Are you so foolish (anoetos)? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

It is not man who is doing any of this. It is being a fool, Paul said, to think so.

What is the order in the BF&M, then? God by grace works regeneration -a change of heart- convicting of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance and faith. He baptizes (seals them) into the body of Christ and then seals them as the guarantee of ongoing sanctification to complete maturity and salvation of the final redemption. What is Bob’s order: repentance and faith is necessary prior to one being born again. To reiterate, the BF&M places “It” (being born again; a change of heart), prior to repentance and faith. In accord with that the BFM places illumination and enablement by the Holy Spirit prior to repentance and faith. Who is working the enablement and the illumination? And where? The Holy Spirit by his presence in the Christian.

To make no mistake about what he is speaking of, Bob states:

One thing appears clear: apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or ones being “in Christ” there is no new birth or regeneration… Clearly to be born again one MUST have the Spirit living in his heart for if one does not have the Spirit in his heart that one does not belong to God. Regeneration is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

He then asks:

So the question now is this: does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the heart of the unregenerate so that he is able to believe, repent and be saved or does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the heart of an individual who has believed, repented and is then saved?

But as is seen in the BF&M the order is established- by the grace of God the Holy Spirit’s presence within changes the hearted, the believer is enabled, illumined, so as to understand. Which in turn, through conviction the sinner responds in repentance and faith. The BFM has already defined salvation broadly, and not narrowly as Bob has done. To be saved includes far more than Bob can allow, quoting the BFM:

In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

Again, note the order. Regeneration comes before justification. Scripture identifies the order of justification this way:

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Regeneration, the BF&M states, is the beginning of sanctification by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes… So we need to ask, is faith set apart for God’s purposes in the believer, nor not? Is faith part of sanctification. Which comes first, a new heart which believes, or belief from an unchanged heart?

The question that should be asked is does the Holy Spirit take up residence in an unregenerate heart at all? That is, if as Bob says the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and regeneration are inseparable realities, in which he is right, how could it ever be that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in an unregenerate heart so that it is convinced to turn on its own?

First of all, Bob presents a canard. No Calvinist believes that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the unregenerate so that he will do what is required by the commandment to repent and believe. Calvinists believe that in regeneration the Holy Spirit is resident in the newly created heart. We also need to ask, can an unbelieving heart believe? Bob believes so. The self-contradiction is obvious. For those who are, borrowing the term Jesus used, anoetos (not understanding, unwise, foolish), the answer is no! Unbelievers, by the very nature of unbelief, don’t believe. By the testimony of Scripture, an unbeliever cannot be saved, period. How does one who has not had a change of heart (the BF&M’s definition of regeneration) from an unbelieving one to a believing one, believe? Again, for the anoetos, he can’t. Or, quoting Romans 8 where Bob conveniently didn’t:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

How does a hostile, unbelieving heart, submit? Paul says, it cannot. It will not obey the commands such as repent and believe. So we ask also, can an unbeliever please God? Or, can only a believer? And who is he who can believe? The BF&M is clear, only those who have had a change of heart, who are set apart for God’s purposes can believe. Interestingly, the section on regeneration in the BF&M is supported by Philippians 2:12-13 in which it is clearly stated that God works in us the things which are pleasing to God and John 1:11-14, where we find that those who received Christ were those who were born of God. They didn’t receive him and then were born of God. The BF&M’s own quotations refute Bob’s intentions. If Bob would have further developed Romans 8 he would find that the setting apart for God’s purposes, as the BF&M’s consideration of the grace points out, is part of the whole package of election (i.e. salvation) which includes regeneration and all other means of accomplishing it. It is consistent with free agency because man in bondage to sin while unregenerate has no means of moral choice by which he can submit himself to the commandments of God. The BF&M delcares that the illumination by the Holy Spirit establishes truth in man and by that working of conviction man is set free to do what God has commanded.

Bob quotes:

Consider the following passages. At Pentecost, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’”

But this is misdirection. The manifestation of the Spirit given on Pentecost is not the indwelling. Peter and the others who were with Jesus prior to his crucifixion and after his resurrection already were indwelt by the Spirit, yet the gift Peter is speaking of is “this which was spoken by the prophet Joel… which also was given to Peter on Pentecost. So why quote it here? It is a non-sequitur. But since Bob’s motives are at best questionable, we can ask if it is sleight of hand meant to distract weak-minded anoetos.

He quotes:

“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”

But why didn’t he quote: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”

Bob quotes:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

So we ask, how can one call upon the name of the Lord and be saved except that he already has the Holy Spirit? Again, for the anoetos, he can’t. He must be regenerated, and in regeneration have the Holy Spirit before he can call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and be saved. For no one, not anyone, zero, zip, nadie sin excepciones, calls upon the Lord who does not have the Spirit.

But Bob says:

Conversion is the result of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in a person’s heart and that takes place after one believes, repents and confesses Christ.

Again, this is a canard. Calvinists speak of conversion as the outward manifestation of the inward change (a lot like the BF&M). That is, salvation is much broader than Bob seems to have any concept of and begins with regeneration through the hidden work of the Spirit as John 3 explains. It is demonstrated by the fruit it produces, or as John 3 says, we don’t see wind coming or going but we know it by its effects. Conversion, like salvation is a continuum of events some hidden, others obvious. Typically, the outward work is what is acknowledged as conversion (which fits into the category of sanctification), and regeneration is that which cannot be seen and as the BF&M and Scripture testify come before a man’s understanding is opened so that he sees the kingdom and embraces it. When John says that God has blinded the eyes of some so that they cannot see and be converted, (John 12:40; cf Isaiah 6:9-10), the Greek word, which means to turn around, as in repent, is in the passive voice. In other words, conversion, according to John, is something which is being done to those who are turning around. What else should we expect from John who wrote that Jesus said without being born again, one cannot see, that is understand, the kingdom?

To clarify language, when speaking of being saved we acknowledge the inception, the process, and the consummation:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

So one is said to be saved in the beginning and to be saved throughout and saved in the end. Bob doesn’t make the proper clarification and so, again, he presents a canard by conflating meaning to the point of utter confusion.

So Bob continues to confuse the issues:

Consider Paul’s word of instruction in Ephesians 1: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (see also 2 Co 1:20-22). Clearly the sealing of the Holy Spirit takes place after one has heard the Word of truth presented in the proclamation of the gospel message and has believed it.

Yes, let’s do. What is the sealing spoken of here? Is it the indwelling? It doesn’t say that. The Holy Spirit’s work is varied. For our comfort, according to many places, such as 1 Cor 2, we are told we have been given the Spirit so that we might know the things God has freely given us and knowing the truth we would be set free and no longer fear the wrath of God. 1 Cor 2 says that we have received the Spirit, not that we should fear, but so that we can discern the truth, understanding the things which God has freely given. It also says that the natural man does not have the Spirit and so cannot discern the truth. But, if that is the case, then how does he place his faith in what he doesn’t know to be the truth and turn around, convert, from unbelief to belief? What faith looks to darkness for light? John writes that these things were written that we might know. But, Paul says, only those who have the Spirit can know the things which were written. Jesus said only the disciples know and that all the rest have been blinded so that they would not convert (repent) and believe. So, when the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said, brings to our minds the things he has said, the Holy Spirit seals the truth to our minds. But, he only does that for those to whom it has been given, to those outside it remains a mystery. And this is our comfort, that as Paul, we know him in whom we have believed, not that we first believe and then know him. First, though, before we can know, and knowing repent and believe, we must have the Holy Spirit.

We  also speak of the sealing of the Holy Spirit in another way. We speak of it in adoption. That having been made partakers of the divine nature, we are inextricably bound to Christ by the Holy Spirit. But, what we have been made to be in this latter sense is given in regeneration, the former is given in sanctification. The latter is what would include definitive sanctification and justification though faith which is the whole of salvation given as righteousness by  union with Christ which seals us to Christ. The former is progressive sanctification which includes all the works we are active in, and justification through believing in which the believer is also active through the power of the Spirit performing those things in him which are pleasing to God. The power of the Holy Spirit acts in believers as the confirming signature by which the saints persevere to the end and inherit the promise. As there is a nuance to the terms used in Scripture, such as saved, salvation, redeemed, redemption, and the myriads of ways we use those terms in doctrinal discussion, there is a variety of ways the terms seal or sealed is used. To seal can mean to bind together, or it can mean to affix a mark as in a signature or deed of ownership.

Then again, even if there is a more nuanced way in which Ephesians 1:13 can be understood, there is a sense in which some or all the aspects of one nuance of the whole of our salvation are true of others. Notice that in Ephesians we have a future redemption. But, is it not the fact that those who are believers are redeemed now? There is a comprehensiveness expressed in Ephesians from first to last, from predestination to consummation. Beside, the phrase, “having believed, you were sealed,” is not necessarily rendered correctly. “Having believed is an aorist participle and could well be translated, believing. And “were sealed” is in the aorist indicative and could be rendered “being sealed.” Thus, it could say, you believing being sealed… So simply, it could just mean that believing is the seal of the Holy Spirit’s working. And if we go to Ephesians 1:20 we find the current condition of believers as now seated in the heavenlies which is the future state as considered in the past and present. This is ongoing work, and not simply the initiatory work. In both the believing and the sealing in Ephesians 1:13, the full sense of the aorist tense needs to be considered. The sense of all of Ephesians is forgone conclusion from predestination to consummation. That is, that it began, is ongoing and has futurity. It moves from the grounding purpose to infancy, to maturity, to standing in the end. So again, it is not necessarily right to fix a cemented sequence to the verbage, especially in view of the wide application of the tenses being used and with the full mind’s eye on all that Ephesians is about.

We can add to this Abraham’s faith. Was righteousness imputed to him because he believed, or was believing imputed to him as righteousness? When we look at Ephesians 2:8-9 we find that faith, though it may not be directly the gift referred, is nonetheless, a part of salvation given by God. And it is not a verb, it is a noun just as in Romans 4:9. Since the righteous live by faith, and Jesus concludes that man lives only by the word of God, it is not a stretch to conclude that faith is God’s grace provision as the full provision of all that is meant by the promise of salvation. That faith is righteousness is further confirmed by the fact that it is the very nature of the Son’s life, especially displayed on the cross. His entire life is that faith in which we are given Ephesians says in such a way so that we are in him by virtue of his resurrection (see Peter 1:3). And further, the proper way of believing is shaped by Jesus’s own faith in his Father to whom he entrusted his spirit. To say then that God enables faith in all men though they themselves remain not submitted to God, dishonoring the Son until they act on it, is to mingle the meaning of faith with faithlessness. It pollutes the kind of faith Jesus had. Jesus did not move from being an unbeliever to a believer, nor was he a mixture of doubts, rather, he was the firstfruit of the faith, and we are made after his image, as he said, born from above, John 3:3; John 17. If one makes faith a neutrality which can at once mean to believe or not to believe, faith simply has no meaning. It is no wonder then that Bob believes that an unbeliever can believe. That is to say, Bob believes that an unbeliever can be saved, thus making nonsense of John 3:16-18. We must first be raised from the dead, the power of God’s love in us as it was in Christ, by which, as the Son did, we sons cry Abba.

In Ephesians, it is best, probably, to understand that the Holy Spirit seals to our minds the knowledge of this comprehensive promise which is mentioned, as is clear in 1 Cor 2,through the word taught to spiritual men by the Spirit. Or, it might be said that this is the hope of glory which is in us, the Holy Spirit who, as with the disciples, was given after the disciples had already seen the risen Lord and had already believed, who brings to our minds the things Jesus said. As he said he would not leave them orphans but would send the comforter as the one who comes alongside as an aid in weakness, so also, even though by virtue of regeneration we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us as they did, Jesus further aids us by sending the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and comfort. There is no reason to conflate the meaning of what the operation of the Holy Spirit is in grounding our hope in the promise of Scripture as a seal with the initial work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration which seals us to Christ. Because again, Scripture is so nuanced as to have, often, both near reference and far. The verse in Ephesians 1:13 proves no sequence of events, necessarily, especially in view of the comprehensive nature of the near context, and of broad category of salvation as it is spoken of throughout Scripture.

Bob concludes:

there is no ambiguity in the Scriptures where the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is concerned with respect to being born again or being regenerated. Regeneration is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to those who have believed and have repented and trusted God by faith (Acts 2:38).

As I said before, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are not the indwelling. The apostles already had the indwelling when the Holy Spirit’s gift spoken of in Acts 2 was given. The ambiguity is in Bob’s head where he conflates one meaning with another. In other parts of Acts it is clear that the Holy Spirit came upon those who already believed:

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.(Acts 4:29-31)

By Bob’s formulation, Peter was born again, and born again, and born again. For when Jesus spoke to the apostles after his resurrection John writes:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  (John 20:22)

The there is this:

And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
(Luke 1:15)

And we must ask, when did John the Baptist believe? Before or after he was filled with the Holy Spirit? Surely not before. It could only be that after he was enlightened that he believed for he had to be old enough to understand. Yet, we have the testimony that he was filled before he was born.

Bob concludes his conclusion:

While some may try to make a case for a temporal or logical position for regeneration preceding repentance and the exercise of saving faith, such is not the case for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

As we have just seen, this is not the case. Bob is just confused about the indwelling.

Since regeneration is not Scripturally possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one must conclude regeneration prior to repentance and saving faith is not possible either.

There is no logical sense in which Bob draws this conclusion. The case is that we have the testimony Scripture that John was regenerated in the womb. Bob has simply failed to read the Scripture.

The lost are not regenerated so they may then repent and by faith trust Christ to be justified or saved; the unregenerate are convicted of their sin and their lost state by the work of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel and through believing and repentance, they by faith in the person and the promises of God are converted and justified and receive right standing before God when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their hearts.

Bob’s redundant assertion, I suppose, he hopes will carry his argument. Is he equating justification with being saved? But as we have seen, being saved is far more expansive than a one time event. Above it has been shown that an unbelieving heart is not convicted of anything. It hates the word of God, it cannot submit to it, it cannot please God. It, as the BF&M correctly affirms, must be changed. It is the Holy Spirit which works through conviction. But that is both the knowledge of God and of sin in truth. And Paul is clear that the man without the Spirit has no knowledge is a spiritual sense of anything pertaining to the promises of God. A man without the Spirit does not comprehend the things of God, because he cannot judge right from wrong. It is only the spiritual man who can,

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.(1 Corinthians 2:12-15 ).

If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that we must be spiritual, that is born of God having been given the Spirit, before we can understand spiritual truths interpreted to us (i.e., the Gospel, 1 Cor 2:1-5).

This is the clear position presented in Scripture.

Ronnie Rogers Wishes For A Systematician To Believe In

One Man’s Suggestions for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists, Part 2 | SBC Today.

This is hilarious. Anti-Calvinists nearly universally claim that Calvinists follow Calvin and not Jesus. Now, with no systematicians of their own, anti-Calvinist Ronnie Rogers hopes for someone they can believe in who would write a Systematic that they could stand on to reach the meaning of Scripture.

And here I thought they already exalted the Jesuit Molina to the position of patron saint.

Serving Up Servetus Rick Patrick Is In Good Company

(Follow up to comments posted here)

Why lie?

And don’t forget to listen to this: James White’s more full comment on the Barker, ahem, error.

Patrick wondered how anyone could with a clear conscience follow the teachings of Calvin after what he had done:

How does a Calvinist today so easily absolve his conscience while taking his theological cues on the nature of God’s love from a heart and mind so blind to the immorality of governmental or ecclesiastical homicide?

Patrick thinks himself such a genius, his mind capable of recognizing sin and able to condemn others, even those (Calvinists) not involved in any historical sense. Conversely, since he evidently does not view this as sin, can we not infer that perhaps there are a great many other things his brilliant mind fails to grasp as well… (these are Patrick’s own words turned on him).

Beside the caricature which is lie, Patrick perniciously  poisons the well and paints with a broad brush doubt of Christian conscience in both Calvin and all Calvinists all the while claiming to harbor no ill will towards and even friendship with Calvinists. We’ve seen him question their conscience and then this:

How Calvinists can take their cue regarding God’s love for sinners from a Sixteenth Century born non-Southern Baptist theologian who approved treating his theological opponents in such a manner is an absolute mystery to me. If a theologian can get murder wrong, it is certainly fair to question his understanding of other truths as well.

Calvin did not murder anyone. That is historically, factually a lie. Calvinists do not take their cue from Calvin, either. I am a Calvinist, I don’t. I study Calvin for insight not for infallibility. It is the old canard that Calvinists follow Calvin, a common vitriol used by frauds like Ergun Caner. I was a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist for fifteen years before I ever understood the significance of the name of Calvin. The doctrines of grace and much of the history of the reformation had been conveniently hidden from our church, which was constitutionally, and in adherence to the BFM, bound to teach the whole history of the Christian faith. Instead of practicing truth in love it chose obscurantism. It is lying caricature to say Calvinists take their cues from Calvin and does thereby impugn the character of Calvinists, and the scope of their  inquiry, as narrow and sycophantic. As I’ve personally experienced, it is anti-Calvinists who follow lock-step and like to hide the truth for fear of being exposed.

One might wonder how anyone could take their cue from those who were part of the SBC’s bigoted racist years. Think of those who sat in seats of “glory” in the SBC during those years, who, though filled with the Holy Spirit (ostensibly), continued to hate their neighbors because of the color of their skin and yet taught “biblical truth” from the pulpits. Just how many million consciences were raped by the not so subtle racist indoctrination of the SBC? Blacks weren’t even theological opponents. They were innocent people, not blasphemers and heretics. Their only crime was being considered not quite people. It is certainly fair to question, then, anyone who would take a Traditionalist’s position heralding their long and proud control of SBC politics including not just the segregationist years, but the anti-inerrancy years, is it not?

Every historic era of the SBC champions some good and some bad theology and people. Some really bad, some really good. Should fault condemn everything good? The sad thing in Patrick’s anachronistic elitism, as with all self-exalting pride, is there is no mirror, just an ivory throne from which to condemn those with whom he disagrees. Dare we say hypocrite. Does he dare call Calvin such, does he dare call Calvinists such? Then should we not be as daring as he?

He has a political agenda as can be seen in his non-Southern Baptist rift. It is as if Patrick thinks his own Traditionalist religion sprung crisp and clean from its own immaculate conception. They call themselves Traditionalists to distinguish their clan from mongrels. Their political tact is unmistakable. Poison labels, caricatures, defamation and misinformation, suppressing knowledge, anti-intellectualism, knee-jerk reaction, all very familiar territory in cultic (F)undamentalism. It is one of the bad things in the history of the SBC, not one of the good.

Why, then, would anyone listen to Patrick, a Christian, when he does what Barker the apostate/atheist did? Barker’s claim is no different than Patrick’s- it is wholesale condemnation by association. But, if hypocrisy is the reason for discounting the whole, then there is no reason to trust anything Christianity has to offer… if Patrick represents it.

Nefarious intent or ignorant ranting of a fool- Calvin can be accused of neither, Patrick, both. Calvin’s actions can be reckoned, and at the same time his wrongs recognized and not justified as acts of righteousness as White, a Baptist and former SBC’er,  expresses. How do we reckon what Patrick has done? Should we not also recognize back-door insult and character assassination as unrighteousness? Or, should we just give him a pass as he falsely claims Calvinists do with Calvin? Hundreds of years from now will some things Patrick has said that are good be rejected because so much was wrong with him? Should it be said of him that nothing he said about God’s love was to be trusted because of his halting ability to show it? Hardly.

Jesus’ love was often of this kind of kindness and gentleness: on the road to Emmaus he stealthily confronted two of his disciples and called them spiritual dullards and slow minded fools despite the fact that they were in an emotional crisis trying to reconcile the week’s events and three years of “wasted” devotion to someone they never really knew. Jesus’ self-revelation  to them through the Scripture which they had read and never understood, was a slap to the face, or as they described it, the fiery purification of their hearts. I hope Patrick wakes up to the fact that Christianity isn’t a quaint religion for the weak and thin-skinned, nor a child’s folly. If he doesn’t like the forest ablaze he should quit playing with matches.

A concise paper.

A Reply To A Reply to Jared Moore Regarding SBC’s Seminaries and the BFM | Obscurantism At SBC Today

Reply to Jared Moore Regarding Southern Seminary and the BFM, Part 1 | SBC Today.

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… The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm “certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.” Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. “Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.” BFM2k

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

…Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority. Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.
Preamble ’63

In pursuance of the instructions of the Convention, and in consideration of the general denominational situation, your committee have decided to recommend the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of present needs, for approval by the Convention, in the event a statement of the Baptist faith and message is deemed necessary at this time. Preamble ’25

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 New Hampshire Baptist Confession, 1833

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. ’25

In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. ’63

In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. BFM2K

As can be seen, even though the wording has been changed, by the BFM’s own declaration the intent has not, nothing has been deleted.

It is not Jared Moore who is wrong. It is Harwood. Harwood rejects the BFM’s formulation of its heritage. Not only can some who disagree with Harwood’s interpretation of the BFM at Southern Baptist seminaries affirm it, they are compelled by the logic of the document and their faith to do so.

I believe there was a reason for the obscurantism of the BFM’s rewording of the ’25 and the New Hampshire, but a discussion of that would be a digression. The fact is that the “and” clause does not stipulate a result, merely the condition. Reading it as such, with the view of the NCF and the ’25 in mind, nothing has changed. All mankind has inherited a nature which will lead to sin and they are under condemnation. The sentence could well read, Therefore, (they)are under condemnation, without violating any intent of what is causal, namely, that they in the federal headship of Adam transgressed and lost their innocence. Notice, that man is the parallax. Though Adam is at first in view, the focus shifts to the whole as his posterity inheriting what he had become.  It’s precisely that which allows for the orthodox Christian, anti-semi-pelagian, position of inherited guilt in the BFM.

Try as he might, Harwood cannot extricate the they from the man who fell from his original innocence into guilt. Free choice is indeed exercised, but it is concluded that each freely chose in Adam who in the BFM is called man, which is to say, as the NCF’s shift of focus concludes, mankind. It is not that we are guilty for Adam’s choice. To the contrary, the construction of the BFM concludes we all chose individually in Adam. That being the case, each is guilty prior to rational moral choice in actual time. The declarative judgement is seen in what will happen. It is not what comes after which incurs guilt, but the guilty condition which secures action.

So, the BFM concludes that mankind (each individual) fell from his original holiness and righteousness. Innocence in the ’63 and 2000 has been substituted for that. No matter how you slice it, all inherit unrighteousness and unholiness prior to capability of moral action. As the BFM heritage unequivocally states, mankind, the whole posterity, fell in Adam from that innocence inheriting a nature contrary- unholy, unrighteous- and guilty as charged, having freely chosen in Adam. Mankind is not neutral, but lacking the former state of innocence, he is guilty.

By its own admission the BFM has not deleted or change the original intent of:

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.

Update: Harwood misreads the BFM and misrepresents its intent.  One respondent accurately notes the double-speak Harwood engages in to avoid the clear teaching of the BFM and of Scripture:

I do not understand your comments above. I understand that you are saying that an infant who has never became a transgressor is not guilty and thus not under condemnation.

But then you state “I am aware of no biblical text in which God states, “You are judged guilty and condemned due to the sin of Adam.” Of course we’re all in sin, condemnation, and death due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).”

This is confusing. Are we ALL under condemnation or not? It appears to me that according to your theology that some of us are not condemned until we actually become transgressors. Or maybe we are under condemnation with no guilt. But then can you flesh out how one can be under condemnation but have no guilt?

Carl is right, Harwood is confused and so speaks with a double mind, redefining as he goes. The result is semi-pelagianism and patently against the tradition of the BFM and the orthodoxy of Christianity. Harwood is astounded in this second part that many call him what he is, a false teacher, a teacher of heresy. In the first part he took umbrage at being addressed publically for making a public statement. In the modern tongue, “Well duh!”

It is astounding that Harwood has a PhD. Condemnation is the sentencing for guilt. It is simply amazing that the SBC is being led by such fools thinking themselves wise.

Prayer and the Power of Contrary Choice – Sam Storms: The Problem With SBC Traditionalists

There is no such thing as a non-Calvinist prayer.

SBC Today Continues Attack On Calvinism | On The Other Hand Ron Hale Ought To Read All Of John Calvin On Who The Whosoever And World Are

John Calvin in his own words, Article 3: John 3:16 | SBC Today.

John Calvin wrote a lot of words. When he did he was mindful of other things that he had written. Contrary to Hale’s assertion, Calvin didn’t import his philosophy into the text instead of proper exegesis, he drew from other works of his in which he had commented where he clearly draws from Scriptures everywhere those things which attach themselves to the subject at hand. For instance, where Hale neglects Calvin’s work on John 1, Calvin writes:

This is what Paul says, that the destruction of one nation was the life of the whole world, (Romans 11:12;) for the Gospel, which might be said to have been banished from them, began to be spread far and wide throughout the whole world. They were thus deprived of the privilege which they enjoyed above others. But their impiety was no obstruction to Christ; for he erected elsewhere the throne of his kingdom, and called indiscriminately to the hope of salvation all nations which formerly appeared to have been rejected by God.

You can begin to get a taste for what Calvin means by world, then. This broad category is further refined by what he says about who the whosoever are who believe.

Commentary on John – Volume 2 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Calvin’s commentary on John 3 is not isolated from his commentary on John 12, neither is it isolated from his commentary on the other Gospels:

Similar reasoning may be applied to the passage in John, (12:38;) for he says that many believed not, because no man believes, except he to whom God reveals his arm, and immediately adds, that they could not believe, because it is again written, Blind the heart of this people. Such, too is the object which Christ has in view, when he ascribes it to the secret purpose of God, that the truth of the Gospel is not revealed indiscriminately to all, but is exhibited at a distance under obscure forms, so as to have no other effect than to overspread the minds of the people with grosser darkness. In all cases, I admit, those whom God blinds will be found to deserve this condemnation; but as the immediate cause is not always obvious in the persons of men, let it be held as a fixed principle, that God enlightens to salvation, and that by a peculiar gift, those whom He has freely chosen; and that all the reprobate are deprived of the light of life, whether God withholds his word from them, or keeps their eyes and ears closed, that they do not hear or see.

via Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke – Volume 2 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Calvin restricts the meaning of both world and whosoever. He is acutely aware that among the Jews, as well as among those in the rest of the world, there are those to whom the Lord reveals himself and those to whom he doesn’t. The first division of the category world is the elect. The second is the reprobate. Calvin fully believes that whosoever believes will be saved, and that the Gospel is promiscuously preached to the whole world (which we must recognize is not every person who has or will ever live) so that the elect are revealed as the sons of God. He also recognizes what Hale fails to see. The Gospel itself is sent so that those who will not believe are hardened in their unbelief. Calvin makes a further division in the sub-category of unbelievers which includes those who have heard or will hear the Gospel and those who never did, or never will.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:25-38 ESV)

You can see how in this one Scripture Jesus is testifying that there are his sheep and that there are those who are not. Those who are were given him, they can hear, John 12. Those who are not given to him, not being his sheep, cannot hear. Not only that, but they are hardened by the testimony that God has a chosen people and has sent a savior for them alone. Not only do they disbelieve Jesus they further that testimony in seeking to have him arrested and murdered. Jesus testifies that what he has said about the opening of eyes and the closing of them was the work of the Father. He condemns those who cannot see him and the Father who sent him. At the same time he reminds his disciples that their eyes were blessed so as to see what the outsiders, the non-sheep, cannot. The hardening effect is abundantly testified to by Calvin and he does so by Scripture, not philosophy. It is Jesus who says that the Gospel separates those who will believe from those who won’t, and it is he who fixes the cause in that it was God who blinds, and makes deaf and dulls the understanding so that some of those in the broader category of the world will never believe even though they have the Gospel preached to them.

How does God so love the world? By saving some, not all. How does he save some and not others? By opening the eyes of the blind and blinding the eyes of those who are blind though they say they see. Those who are not of the elect saw him as a blasphemer, they did not see him in the way that Jesus commended Peter for- You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Who was it that revealed that to Peter? It was not the words preached by man, not even the Son, but the Father, Jesus said. It is the Father who does this by the Spirit, John 3:3. But it is only for those who have been given to Jesus, who are from above, not below, born of the Spirit of God and not by the freewill choice, Calvin confirms, of man, John 1:13. Who is Jesus sent to so as to save the world? Whosoever believes. And they are those alone who God has graciously opened the eyes and ears of their understanding. Calvin without doubt declares that regeneration precedes faith. He does so on the account of Jesus words from John 1,3,10,12, et cetera, and also from other Scriptures which declare that it is the Spirit, which reveals the arm of the Lord, and that to only some, not others.

And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Matthew 13:11-15 ESV),

You can see that the category world includes the two sub-categories: those who are gifted and those who are not. And more, that those who are not gifted, even what they have is taken away. We cannot neglect this in Calvin’s interpretation of John 3:16, as this juxtaposition is also found in John 12. Let’s stop for a second… John 3:3 is not unconnected to John 12, either, and the synoptics declarations of the same thing. Unless one is born again he neither has the eyes, nor the ears, nor the understanding of those things to which faith must cling, e.g, the things of the kingdom of heaven. Those things and the ability to believe in them all are, as Jesus, not John Calvin, said, a gift from the Father. It is a gift, Jesus, not John Calvin, said, and is not given to all, but to save the world is it given to whosover by that gift believes.

Doublespeaker Dr. Brad Reynolds | Holding To And Teaching Heresy Doesn’t Make A Heretic | SBC Today’s Continued Assault On Calvinism

Calvinism is Heretical: A Plea for Unity? | SBC Today.

We do question sincerity when mishandling of facts makes us do so. If the anti-Calvinists cannot be honest about things under examination and must resort to distortions, why would anyone call them sincere?

Finally, an admission. There are those, quite a few actually, of The Statement kind who label Calvinists heretics, false teachers, magicians, et cetera, ad nauseam, for holding to what they think is the logical outcome of Calvinistic Biblicism. It is duplicitous to claim one doesn’t want to convert the opposition by exposing error, just as Reynolds is doing. His hypocrisy moves him no closer to sincerity.

We still have yet to find anywhere a definition of what a traditionalist is. SBC Calvinists are traditionalists. We only know that those who use the moniker Traditionalist are always opposed to Calvinism. To switch to Traditionalist doesn’t clarify, for tradition in the SBC is whatever one wants it to be, apparently. So it is best just to call all those who oppose the doctrines of grace, anti-Calvinist. Why, if one is sincere, use a non-descriptor? Why obscure if one is sincere? Honesty would seem to be necessary to maintain a claim to sincerity. To call one’s self a SBC Traditionalist is obscurantist double-speak.

The Council of Orange didn’t condemn foreordination to evil. It condemned those who said God foreordained evil by the power of God. If as Edwards said, by author it is meant that God ordains evil, that is he foreordained whatever comes to pass, then by all means he is the author. But if by it one says God does the evil in man, then of course it is rejected. The Council did not put this phrase in a Canon, by the way, instead it was in the conclusions. The Canon’s reject Brad Reynold’s take on their words:

If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

We have to ask Reynolds, just who was it that cursed Adam’s offspring? Does he agree that God did this? Does he agree with the BFM that all will eventually commit actual sin because God foreordained it through the curse? Or, is he admitting that some might not sin because God didn’t curse the offspring of Adam with a corrupt nature and environment? Where does the BFM come off in saying that all will eventually sin if it is not foreordained? Does God control the circumstances, and therefore the outcome, the nature and environment, and therefore all the means by which decisions of his free creatures are made, which leads inexorably to sins, or not? Just who creates the nature? Chance? Just who establishes the environment, that is the lot of mankind? Fate? If God has not foreordained that evil will eventually work out in all who reach the age of moral decision making, then who?

Of course, Reynolds is not above calling all Calvinists heretics by definition, if not by name, by misquoting the Canons. He has also indicted the BFM: God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. Only an open-theist believes that God doesn’t know the future at some point in eternity past, but by knowing it is concluded that he has foreordained them. The world God instantiated, even if one is a Molinist heretic, is a foreordained world. Creation cannot exist upon any other foundation other than God said, Let there be. Some of the Traditionalist claim man has been given creative powers. Some how they believe that in diminishing God and exalting man they do service to the declaration of Scripture which says that there is no other creator.

Calvinists believe that God foreordained all things that come to pass. Not only that, but God actually did execute judgement on Adam and his posterity by foreordaining that the conditions would be exactly what the BFM describes. What has changed since the fall? Does not death and sin pass to all the offspring of Adam? And why? And did not God do this? The Canons of Orange confirm that God did so. It doesn’t deny it is so. What it did deny is that it is God who is actively in man doing evil. The contrast screams at the understanding when the Canons Conclusions say that good in the regenerate is done (powered) by God, where it is not the power of God working evil in anyone, regenerate or not. Even at that, no one would deny that God upholds all things by the power of his might, would they? This doesn’t mean, and cannot mean that God is doing evil, even though it is his power that sustains all things that exist including the free decisions of his creatures. Reynolds manipulates the Canons of Orange by stupidly assigning meanings where and when he wants by manipulating a word here or there. The phrase employed by Reynolds the belief that God foreordains men to evil changes the Canons’ anathema to something never intended when it said foreordained to evil by the power of God. Contrary to Reynolds the Canons are explicit that the conditions which will inexorably lead to sin are the punishment of God. To wit, Romans 1 bears witness that God gave them over to a depraved mind to do evil. Anyone reading Romans 1 is immediately struck by its creation reference, and the fact that all that then proceeds out of man was by the curse of God such that man is given over to evil by God’s decree of punishment. Just as the Council declared. Does Reynolds not believe the fall was decreed? That it took God by surprise? Does he think that God in the decree of the fall didn’t decree the fallen nature of man, also?

Reynolds speaks of duplicity as if uncovering the truth of what is being taught is not the seeking of unity. The Traditionalist Statement is semi-Pelagian, just as Reynolds is. One of the aspects of semi-Pelagianism is the denial of imputed guilt. Another is the denial of total depravity. Both Reynolds holds, and here, and I would imagine in his classroom, as an authority he teaches so. He is no innocent layman, but Doctor.

To put a word to a definition is not divisive if the word fits the definition. What is amazing as I watch this unfold is how those who are Dr. of this and Dr. of that of the anti-Calvinist side make such absurdly, stupid mistakes. With such illogical leaps that unity cannot be sought in exposing error, (just what is the worth of the historic councils and synods, anyway) we can only conclude that Reynolds is irrationally ego-attached to his cause. By not understanding, or at least not admitting, that semi-Pelagianism is broader than he infers, he not only undermines his credentials, but is disingenuously insulting. By defining, even by contrarily defining as Reynolds does, he necessarily labels. He is as bad at name calling as any. But his pride blinds him to his duplicity.

Scripture has authority. Absolutely, and inerrancy cannot stand where it does not, Reynolds rightly says. But then he goes off the rails. How can unity in education take place when the whole of Baptist doctrinal history is not taught? The unity of education that the BFM calls for is openness in academic learning because the true pursuit of knowledge will not rule facts out of bounds. When schools and churches deny in the education of their members the whole of the history and doctrine of the Baptist traditions and of Christianity as a whole, or obscures them as Reynolds does, they bind disciples to ignorance and turn them away from the freedom the BFM alludes to in honoring and glorifying Christ by those very institutions. Reynolds, here, in not honestly examining the Councils of Orange, denies the very education that the BFM seeks to employ for its mission and engages himself in propaganda. Seeing that SBC Today is a ministry arm of a Seminary, he undermines it too. In not advocating for teaching without prejudice the doctrines of historic Southern Baptistism, he becomes an obscurantist. The BFM’s own witness infers the opposite of what Reynolds said about the doctrine of imputed guilt. Why didn’t he admit it?

It is true that the BFM2K obscures the 1925, but in its preamble it states:

We also respect the important contributions of the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message… The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm “certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.” Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. “Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.”

The 1963 states:

In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.

Speaking of original sin, the basic content of the 1925 was:

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.

And though the later BFM’s obscure this by changing word order (interesting Reynolds takes the same political tact), they don’t rule it out (and this despite the fact that Hobbs and Rogers were haters of Calvinism, as their commentaries and sermons testify). Condemnation, that is guilt, was part of the original formulation because anything less is semi-Pelagian. The later BFM’s are reworded, but I believe that for the purpose that there could be fitted under the broad statement those who now dominate the SBC, and are semi-Pelagian, without loosing favor with the historic traditionalist Southern Baptists, the Calvinists.

Original sin includes guilt, to diminish it or eliminate it as some interpret the BFM2K as saying that condemnation is result of sins committed destroys what Scripture teaches was the imputation of Adam’s transgression. Namely that one mans man’s transgression brought condemnation to all men. To destroy the imputation of condemnation in Adam destroys the imputation on no condemnation in Christ. A person who is merely corrupted but not condemned in that corruption is an oxymoron. It is corruption, that is sin which is condemned. That is to say, corruption is not merely a defect in a person, it is a sinful person. And, not merely one who sins, it is one who is condemned and in need of a savior. It is not one who is merely diminished who needs to be made a new creation, but a totally unmade man who needs to be made new. A dead man needs a resurrection, not a cripple.

One might read the last clause of the BFM’s description of the fall and the state of man, that in editing was left dangling like a half severed foot, and are under condemnation from an ahistorical view, prejudiced by the vain philosophy of freewill, to mean that condemnation is a result of sins committed rather than inherited sin, but you have to insert the word results, and you have to deny that the BFM2K reestablished the 1925, instead of nullifying it. Obscuring the history is the same as lying. Calvinists can claim the BFM2K because it doesn’t change the 1925. The 1925 traces its history through Calvinistic confessions. So the traditions that the writers of the BFM were working from assume a Calvinistic interpretation while allowing for interlopers to take a place at the table. They have proven to have very poor manners as guests, however, as they now seek to evict the hosts having consumed the great bounty they were provided.

Going on, he says that we must not sacrifice Scriptural truth for unity right after saying that certain doctrines by necessity separate. Which is it? The secondary doctrines of grace should, or shouldn’t divide? Are doctrines Scriptural truth, or not? Should Scripture divide? Many don’t think that necessary inferences of secondary doctrines of soteriology make them secondary. Some actually think that doctrine must be complimentary and not contradictory. In any case, if secondary doctrines, like baptism and ecclesiology can divide, why can’t, or shouldn’t, soteriology? If the secondary doctrines of something so important as soteriology don’t, why? Isn’t this lifting the horse’s tail to check his age instead of looking at his teeth? Unity cannot be achieved by denial of truth, as in what Reynolds did with the BFM and the Canons. But, then, why wouldn’t Reynolds bring the charge to the Convention that there is a need to divide, seeing that secondary issues are indeed a reason for it, by his own admission? Why challenge others when he should by his own admission do it? Shouldn’t the BFM be clarified to deny the 1925 rather than uphold it, if it was in error? Heresy or not, if what one side holds is by the admission of Reynolds contrary to truth, (heresy), then that contrariness stands in the way of unity, doesn’t it? It stands in the way of inerrancy because it stands opposed to authority, doesn’t it? And since when is false teaching (heresy) not a reason to divide? If Presbyterians hold to fundamentals, but it is only secondary doctrine which divides, how petty and arrogant is it for Baptists to divide from them if other secondary doctrines don’t divide? Why can’t anyone hold to secondary doctrine and still be in unity? Isn’t that the essence of the big tent of the SBC? Reynolds is simple self-contradictory. Irrational, is another way of saying the same thing. The man opposes himself and is unstable in all his ways.

I have to agree, if there is heresy, if there is any false teaching, it should have its day in court. The problem, however, is that there is no court in the SBC. Resolutions are not constitutional requirements. SBC churches are free to hold to their own confessions and reject the BFM if they so decide. Read the BFM, it allows its own rejection. So, even the stronger resolutions, such as those on marriage and inerrancy, which have been incorporated into the BFM, are not binding. Only when it becomes a constitutional article does it have binding authority. Such is the case with homosexuality. Short of that, the Constitution of the SBC is so loose as to what makes for exclusive doctrine as to be laughable. The SBC is not a denomination which by definition has a confessional basis for its constitution. The SBC is a convention which has for its basis a constitution and not a confession.

There are three parameters for membership churches in the SBC: First and foremost, money; second, a church of like faith and practice; third, anti-homosexuality.

The first is of course the almighty controlling factor for cooperation and for power. The SBC is a truly a political organization, a conventional, liberal in its self-definition, a strict, democratic congregationalism, after all. Because the second makes it possible to formulate any doctrine or any practice, it is possible anything “like.” Then, the first is the only one that “makes” one part of the club. The second also makes it possible for individual members, and therefore their churches, to hold to any form of belief, biblical or not, as long as they call it Baptist. The last, the exclusion clause, is unlike the first two. The first two are how one is included, (really, it is only the first that matters), the last, is the only one by which a member church can be excluded.

So the reality is, that it would not matter what the resolutions might say, they’ve passed tons of them, and none are binding. Only the constitution is. Not even the mighty BFM is binding by its own declaration of liberty and finds no place in the constitution as a required subscription. By its own admission, the BFM does not require that any hold to it. For each church or entity no matter how small has the right to draw up its own confession of faith and practice. Rather than subscription, the BFM encourages freedom from subscription. Absolute autonomy, not accountability forms the what is thought to be the unity of the SBC. And this is why the SBC is not a denomination, but a convention.

Were either a Calvinist or a Traditionalist to state his doctrines and/or a reviving in the beliefs of his doctrines are from God is blatantly arrogant. To say such is to imply the other side is holding views which are against a movement of God or the truths of God. This type of rhetoric has no place at the table of unity. The Traditional Baptist doctrines and the doctrines of grace are not equivalent to Scripture by any stretch of the imagination. They may be a summary of what we believe Scripture teaches but that is not the same as Scripture. May we be careful to recognize the fullness of the boundaries in the BFM2000 (affirmed by both Traditionalist Baptists and Calvinist Baptists). Further, may both sides be careful to affirm we believe our position is closest to Scripture and therefore we think God may be blessing us without crossing the line to affirm that our position is God’s position (such reveals a blindness to our own subjectivity).

This is perhaps the most confused, insane, and pride-filled statement Reynolds makes. Reynolds, himself, doesn’t hold to the fullness and boundaries of the BFM, as shown above. Why would he even teach or preach what isn’t of God, anyway? Is he saying that what he believes is not what God has revealed? Of course to hold certain beliefs can be from God. Is Jesus the Son of God? Scripture declares so. But, because Reynolds believes so it is arrogance on his part according to his own parameters? Of course by stating beliefs one is, by the very nature of what it means to believe, saying that what others believe is wrong. And that it came from God. Believing is to say that it is the faith which they have received from God. But, since Reynolds brought up the BFM, let’s see, oh yeah, it was written to state what some Baptists surely believe and to stand against what some other Baptists and non-Baptists don’t believe. The BFM calls its doctrines eternal truths. I suppose eternal truths come from God. What would that make others? The BFM by its very nature, not claiming to be Scripture from God, certainly claims its own writing as derived from God’s Holy Word. It makes no bones about holding what, as far as it knows, is from God. Who would claim otherwise, anyway? Does Reynolds understand that he is saying that his beliefs are not from God but his own imagination or elsewhere? What arrogance on his part to think that God is blessing him, though he may be wrong because he is just making things up, but not blessing others, though they may be right and simply claim their doctrine is from God. He is just a fool for thinking so.

Scripture on the other hand reveals that God hates a liar. It doesn’t allow for error, especially error taught by teachers as truth. Scripture is demanding in commanding that the faith, the one faith, be taught. It is not arrogance which says that God has revealed this or that, but it is quite arrogant to say that God reveals to each sometimes truth and sometimes error. God is not as double-minded are Reynolds and the Traditionalists. We do not hold ourselves infallible. Yet, we do not teach what can be proven to be fallible. Simply, Jesus said, everyone will be judged for every word spoken which does not work. And Paul commanded silence where truth cannot be proven. We are not to go beyond Scripture but prove all things and hold to what is good. According to Reynolds view here, nothing can be proven… except what God has blessed him with.

Now that is arrogant.

Addendum: This church is acting in violation to the clear teachings of the Bible and to the clear text of the Baptist Faith & Message. The Southern Baptist Convention needs to become a confessional fellowship in which actions like this one that are in violation of the Baptist Faith & Message constitute clear grounds for removal from the convention.

I am adding this just so the reader will know that even an advocate for the Baptist Identity Movement and a vocal opponent of Calvinism understands what few in the SBC do. Namely, that the SBC is not a denomination. It has no controlling confession of faith. The nearest it can come to that is seeking a majority vote at a convention to expel a member. Though Barber calls it a confessional fellowship, he uses the singular noun and he means denomination. Only a centralized authority could define and enforce a single interpretation of the BFM. One must understand that an autonomous church ceases to be autonomous under a confessionalist, denominational structure. That would end what is known as Baptist Identity, it would put an end to the SBC pride and joy, autonomy. As much as Barber wants it, becoming a confessionalist denomination, would end much of the cooperative Spirit of the SBC as it would vastly expand the inclusionary and exclusionary requirements of membership. It would require and entire shift away from autonomy to the establishing of local and regional courts… presbyteries in other words.

Get Stoned With Steven: Coffee With Gentle And Kind Invective

Acts 7 –

I suppose that if Steve was to serve coffee it would be a decappuccino.

And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” And Stephen said:

“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

“But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

“When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’

“This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

“Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,

“‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
Did not my hand make all these things?’

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7 ESV)

One sure way of Killing Calvinism is to kill the Scriptural portrayal of good, kind and gentle preaching. Take care. If you preach like Steven did, even though God has put his loving touch on some in the crowd like Paul, it might not be Calvinism that is killed, but you. The kind and gentle, loving patience of the Gospleler, is not coffee and dialogue, but monologue. It is a Gospel that expects that the Gospeler is given a cup for saying “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Or, that he is rejected. The focus is never the crowd, or an individual, it is the glory of God as revealed in his Son, take it or leave it.

Ever wonder what Paul thought of that Gospel sermon by Steve? Probably not what Greg Dutcher would. Perhaps you’ve never considered it a template for the Gospel presentation? I doubt that Paul would have called Steve pride-filled, arrogant, cage-stage, or what ever other derogatory label Dutcher might want attach to him. The Gospel is a proclamation that knocks one off his high horse. The Gospel accuses those who reject it as persecutors of God. It is a Gospel of the type that Spurgeon said suggested:

“Seek that gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rains soak into the ground, so pray the Lord to let His gospel soak into your soul.”

It is just so incredibly stupid to think that the picture Dutcher paints of the NT preacher and apologist is the way it really should be. There is some truth to his portrait, but it is not really on display in the NT. The Gospeler’s example was given by Jesus to the disciples- that they should go and preach and if received, to stay, and if rejected, to reject and leave. Even Jesus, when feeding the crowds, let them know that they are the ones who had to pay the cost.

Oh, and Steven called them brothers and fathers. Remember Paul’s brotherly concern for the Corinthians just before he smacked them upside the head? Doesn’t that strike anyone as odd? Was it mockery, or sincerity? How can such love and respect go together with such inflammatory vituperation? Something just stinks about Killing Calvinism. I think it is the spoiled cream in the new, softer, effeminate coffee shop Christianity.

Is Pyromaniacs’ Frank Turk Really Killing Calvinism By Promoting Dutcher?

Pyromaniacs: Killing Calvinism

But perhaps dear Mr. Dutcher may be mistaken in this point, and call that passion which is only zeal for God’s truths. You know, dear Frank, the Apostle exhorts us to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Therefore you must not condemn all that appear zealous for the doctrine of election as narrow-spirited, or persecutors, just because they think it their duty to oppose their enemies. I am sure, many love their enemies in the bowels of Jesus Christ, and they would lay down lives for their sake; but yet, some cannot help but strenuously opposing errors upon this important subject, because they think warmly of their enemies- most of them not designedly oppose the truth as it is in Jesus. May the Lord remove the scales of prejudice from off the eyes of your mind and give you a zeal according to true Christian knowledge!

I would hint further, that anti-Calvinists unjustly charge the doctrine of reprobation with blasphemy, whereas the doctrine of universal redemption, as they set it forth, is really the highest reproach upon the dignity of the Son of God, and the merit of his blood. Consider whether it be not rather blasphemy to say as they do, “Christ not only died for those that are saved, but also for those that perish.”

What amazes is how so many are quickly abandoning the strident, strenuous defense of the DoG for acceptability by exchanging that defense for a cup of coffee and endless dialogue. The above was an adaptation of Whitefield who, apparently, Dutcher has no clue about. As Dutcher quotes Whitefield one might get the impression that it was something other than doctrine to which he accredited sanctification in the Christian, or that it was doctrine which was to be the offer of the Gospel.

Whitefield was not above calling his friend an enemy, not above calling him on his heresy and blasphemy. Though Whitefield didn’t doubt Wesley’s salvation (how could he know), he did call it into question based upon what Wesley was publishing and preaching. So much for Dutcher’s book. We must lead with doctrine and it must be followed by transformation. However, without sound doctrine, Paul taught Timothy, the end is only destruction of lives not the saving of them. Paul was straight up with Timothy, silence the opposition, don’t dialogue with those telling myths, fables and old wives tales.

As I am reading it, Dutcher’s book appears as another one by a man whose backbone he has set aside for a mushy sentimentality of unity despite contradiction. Whitefield rightly recognized the destructive force of the doctrines that opposed his and vehemently attacked his opponent, just so did Calvin, did Luther, and so has every legitimate defender of the faith along the line. Whitefield’s idea of gentleness was quite different from the modern paradigm that is overtaking the championing the doctrines of grace. In his mind it wouldn’t have been nice to be nice at the expense of God’s children being systematically slaughtered by Wesley’s advancing troops while sitting down to a cup of joe with him.

Unless you missed it, this is a war. What the world needs is the peace offered by the Gospel doctrine once and for all delivered to the saints, not presented by witness to the genteel policing of insurgent infighting among the so called saints on display in Dutcher’s book. A world which struggles with defining anything is not served at all by a church which cannot define itself. And that means by its doctrine and practice (which is doctrine), will the church be defined. As Jesus said, “upon this rock” as he eschewed the shifting sands of opining. Neither can the children of God grow up into the maturity of the Son of God in full wisdom and knowledge lest they be tossed always by every wind of doctrine which come down the pike, unless there is an assurance of truth which alone can set free.

Dutcher’s plea must be considered, then, only in that most narrow band of Calvinists whose love is not for their brethren or those whom God is calling out of the world. It should not become the tome of reference used by the enemies of the faith, yes even those of the household of faith, believers or not. For all, as Whitefield says, who are defending the DoG from the same zeal for God’s household as Jesus’ did when he made whips of chords for the backs of blasphemers and turned the tables on them, is not a bad thing, but the real thing.

Greg Dutcher’s Killing Calvinism And Turning The Tables Of Southern Baptist Liberty Of Conscience

2 Timothy 2 –

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV)

Of course a teacher is to be affable. Kind in spirit in as much as it is right to be so, but when we want to know what gentleness is we must consider all that Paul is saying to Timothy without neglect to the broad parameters of what it means to be kind. We cannot forget that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, nor can we forget that it is through God’s kind judgement that repentance comes. No one repents except that they are charged with being wrong. Paul, in fact, calls holding to teaching that is false, sin. And yes, ignorance then is sin, for ignorance is the opposite of the likeness of the maturity of the Son of God who is light and not darkness. We are not to remain children tossed about by every wind of doctrine and the cunning of men, but to bring down every thought which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. What is the controversy in the SBC except being tossed about? The calm seas of truth settled as proven do not look a thing like the SBC.

Prautes- prah-oo’-tace Noun, Feminine: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.

It is one of the words used for kindness. To be kind in 2 Tim 2, is epios. Though slightly a different cast, all words along with the full range of meaning used for similar descriptors of the proclaimers of truth must be taken into consideration with all of Scripture’s depiction of those who are the great cloud of witness. Not all of it is nice.

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:5-13 ESV)

Praus- prah-ooce’ Adjective: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness; Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time.

Also to be considered is the fact that since God’s mercy is toward us, we are to be equipped with the same mind. So, humility speaks to us that we are to have reverence for God, properly understanding that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord, knowing that our enemies whether within the household of God or without, are no more the enemies of God than we were at one time.

In the first instance of the root praus, we have what many have used to rule out any harsh speech when confronting error in the church. The second is what gentleness can look like in demonstration, for Jesus, who turned over tables and called his own disciples anoetos, cannot be anything less than our true example of the meanings. Following this out, here is John’s description of the temple event:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17 ESV)

Here it is, a holiday, and what does Jesus do? Being jealous, for that is what the word zeal means, he acts meek and mild, of course, not wanting to upset the peace and propriety of the occasion and so turns over the tables and whips the sin out of the poor, doctrinally challenged money changers. This is characterized as a monstrous display if found in a teacher of the church, today.

Demonstrating Christlikeness, is also found in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”

You can see how the condescension of Christ, who was under the authority of God, fully submitted to the Father, did what was appropriate to the circumstance. He fed the crowds and called them gluttons who served their bellies. Likewise, one cannot reconcile the use of prautes to mean affable, soft, mild, in all passages even when epios is associated with it. Instead, there is an appropriation made of a range of definition. In fact, we have instruction that we are to show kindness, and the word used in Peter is chrestoskhrase-tos’, which means fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good. It can mean soft and mild, and other appropriations of common usage. But, unless one uses both definitions of both chrestos and prautes, he cannot get to the full meaning of Scripture, especially in 2 Timothy 2, which is a common place we find the error of the be nicety-nice or be rejected paradigm  defended. As the temple incident demonstrated, there is meek, and then there is MEEK.

Unfortunately, and too often, only the genteel meaning is used for those words commonly translated kindness, humble, meek, and gentle. So, any showing of harshness, as Jesus did, is deemed not in the Spirit, and operating against the principles of Christlikeness with which we are to approach error in the church. The problem is, Jesus didn’t act so foolish as to think that when whips were needed, dialogue and sweet disposition was the only appropriate response. Monologue, was his normal mode. And harsh correction was his oft used expression of the kindness of the Lord which leads to repentance, such as “Get behind me Satan.” Simply, one should not say his brother in Christ is serving the Devil in his thinking even though Jesus and Paul did.

In the SBC’s self-contradictory doctrine of “you can have your truth, we can have ours,” what is most glaringly obvious is the loss of biblical authority by the very fiat of cherry-picking the meanings of words to fit their traditions. This happens in both the anti-Calvinist and the Calvinist divisions within the SBC. Neither side can maintain neutrality, however, as each side seeks to defend it orthodoxy, which always provokes the other side to respond to invective by invective. It starts out often ostensibly innocently in saying things like “any thinking man,” or publishing a Statement. But, it quickly becomes as rough and tumble as would be expected when there really isn’t any sincere hope for peace.

A new book just out, Killing Calvinism, I prejudged. And why? Because it promtes the very error of Scriptural compromise for the sake of peace which makes John, Peter, James, Paul and Jesus and every other voice of God in Scripture, say what they never intended to say. How are brothers to approach one another? How are brothers supposed to deal with error? How are we to respond to the weak? To the world? By whom, to whom, and for what reason are necessary questions which need to be asked. How are we to deal with apostasy, heresy, divisiveness? Well in Paul’s time, it was turning such a one over to Satan so he might learn not to blaspheme. Or, “how do you want me to come to you?” Paul said:

For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

And don’t mistake it, Paul is speaking of demolition as the necessary groundwork, some of which he has already been engaged in, before building up can take place, or the context of Corinthians means nothing. How did Paul approach Peter, we should ask before condemning the affect of emotive speech. Is there a situational nuance to meek and mild manners? Is anger a proper mode of dialogue? Is being emotive and using strong language the problem, or is the control of them? Does, “Be angry and sin not,” mean anything? And just who is supposed to defend doctrine? Can the laity give an answer when asked even though not mature? Is being abused under false doctrine a legitimate enough reason to passionately express the proper doctrine even if not a teacher? Does it even matter that a confession is supposed to mean something?

Here’s my take on it, the angst, and frustration that is often found among the Young Restless and Reformed, or the new Calvinism, or whatever one wants to call it, is because those who hold office in the church, who hold the Doctrines of Grace, refuse to defend them as truth and all other doctrine as opposed to the truth. The “can’t we all just get along” paradigm leaves those depending upon leadership wondering why bother if the leaders do not in sincerity hold these doctrines to be the only teaching of Scripture. Greg Dutcher says there is a problem with those who confuse the doctrine of Sovereignty of God with God. But wait, how can God be separated from who he is? Are his attributes incidental to his nature, or his nature? Jesus is not just a person, is he? Is he not the Truth?

In today’s church, Paul could not get away with such a threatening attitudes when present. Or, even the threatening elitism of corrections he made to false doctrine in letter. Saying things like fools as Paul did, and being deriding as James was, or Peter’s calling those who oppose the teachings clouds without water, predestined to damnation, or Jesus calling his disciples slow of mind, and spiritual dunces, would not ever pass the test of today’s so called apologists and teachers in most venues of Calvinism, SBC or otherwise. The real issue is confessionalism versus doctrinal laxity. As Kevin Boling rightly assessed the issue, we don’t lead with Calvinism, Calvinism is simply the teaching of the gospel and cannot be separated from it.

For all the feel-goodism in the can’t we all just get along of both camps in the SBC, no unity has been born except the false unity of the ecumenical spirit of the big tent compromise which bred the situation today rather than resolving it. The time has come to realize, that the figure heads, Calvinist or non-Calvinist, of the SBC don’t have a choice when faced with error. They must prove, hold to what is true, and rebuke those who oppose the truth. Scripture commands that error be silenced. Nor do they have the right to leave others to their opinions for peace sake, for opinions are nothing more than ignorant arguments. Should we leave the man bruised and beaten who has been mauled by theives? How can error be silence if it is agreed that all are ignorant and that’s okay? Ignorance breeds quarrels, and the seeking of teachers that tickle the sensuous fancy because it makes one feel good to think they’re right even if they’re wrong breeds ignorance. Jesus did not say when the Spirit of opinion comes, he will lead you into all sorts of dialogue. And it is blasphemy to think that each has received what others have not so that personal opinions stand as equals to doctrine. Paul condemned that and taught, rather, that no one has anything more than anyone else and that no one should go beyond what is written. The key is you have to know what is written not just speculate about it. There is one faith, not as many as there are quick-witted teachers. Until true humility reigns, which says that whatever we have we have from God, and that with reverence of that fact we need to speak circumspectly with fear as oracles of God, for we will be judge for every word, and that means dropping the pretense that God has given the church the right to hold individual opinions equal with doctrine, the foolish arguments, as Paul calls them, will continue and grow worse and undermine the authority of Scripture, thus making the salt taste like dung and so blaspheme the Name of God before the eyes of the world.

Here is another place where epios is used. But, unless we forget, Paul is not about to leave them babes suckling the teat for long:

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2 ESV)

A couple of things to note here. The Gospel was without error or deception. These were newborns. Paul and his fellow laborers were longing to return to complete the task of discipleship that they had started. And, these were people who Paul says were elected for this, chosen by God, so that the power of God in sovereign salvation might be made known (he obviously didn’t think election to be secondary). Those who fear the Gospel try there best to stop it, but it cannot fail because God is the one doing the choosing of those who will be saved. The doctrine of sovereign election is fundamental to the gospel. Funny thing is, that he tells Timothy, also, that he was called to announce the good news to the chosen ones, to whom he was sent just as Christ was sent, for which he was confident that they would without fail be brought to the faith because God had foreordained it. Ironic that the very niceness that some use to disqualify believers because insistence on election as primary doctrine is harsh, is the very niceness that insists on it.

Being motherly midwives of the Lord’s children, and then their fathers, the role of teachers is to complete the training with full faithfulness to the complete doctrine revealed in Scripture, and not just the milk of the gospel message. Paul later says: “But we do not want you to be ignorant…”

There is more to the gospel message, strong meat the author of Hebrews calls it, than just the evangel. And it was for this purpose that Paul wanted to return to Thessalonica, so that, as with Timothy, they would be fully equipped for every good work. They were to “not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

Doctrine which was sound was to be proven, not guessed at, and without error, or as he told Timothy, so that the worker would not be shamed. Paul instructed them in following his example in speech and behavior, as he did every he went, and insisted that only sound, that is proven doctrine, be taught. Paul will go on to say in the next epistle: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” There is a body of doctrine beyond the elementary teachings of Christ which must be adhered to and in this case it was of eschatological specifics and not just the parousia in general. Of what are so erroneously called non-primary doctrines, Paul says that those who will be destroyed are those who teach them falsely. Doctrine is never adiaphoral matters of indifference. Contrary to Scripture’s insistence on teaching sound doctrine even in matters of eschatology, according to the triage advocates, unimportant doctrines, as if there were any such thing, are fair game and can be handled loosely and mangled at will.

It may be politically incorrect to say that both sides of the divide in the SBC are in error in wanting to approve of one another so as to allow each to call themselves of this or that tradition, or any other political faction. One thing is for certain, the Scripture no where allows for private interpretation and individualism in doctrine which cause such factions. It insists on a single tradition and one which can be proven. The SBC is in great apostasy by allowing such partisanism. But it is precisely a foundation of division upon which the SBC now stands, having given themselves over to the allowance of error as a badge of pride in the big tent circus.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t take a stand one way or the other on the doctrinal issues which divide the SBC. There is one issue, more than any other, that caused me to remove myself from the SBC. And that is the tolerance for making the Holy Spirit double-minded in the truth once and for all delivered to the saints. It is the undermining of the authority of Scripture by the so called right of liberty of conscience. Authority is a necessary aspect of inerrancy. There could be no more clear defining condition of liberalism as to deny that truth can be known. And no more revealing symptom of the syndrome than to say that each has a right to his own opinions as if all opinions were equal and equal to doctrine. What more warning does one need than:

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:31-37 ESV)

There is no right to private opinion, only the right to sound doctrine which all must obey. It is time to stop being so careless with the Word, it borders on the blasphemy for which no one will be forgiven. Oppositional opining makes the Holy Spirit to testify against himself as if he were a double-minded man. As Jesus said, either the tree is good or it is not, there is no other condition allowed. By their fruits they are known. The words spoken are either true or false, of the Holy Spirit, or against him. Prove all things, hold to what is good. Better to be known as a fool and remain silent than to open ones mouth and dispel all doubt. If you speak, speak as an oracle of God, or remain silent. It is as simple as that.

Here is a great article on liberty of conscience.

(The definitions and descriptions of Greek words belong to © 2001-2012 and have been reformatted from their original.)