Calvinism: Time to MAN UP!

Here is a solution to this Calvinist divide that is littering the landscape of the SBC and needs to be cleaned up. There seems to be a real reluctance to speak to the issues that really matter. Calvinism presents a theology that states that lost individuals are totally depraved and therefore dead and completely unable to hear God and respond to His invitation for forgiveness to be saved. According to Calvinism, man cannot and or will not respond to the gospel message because his sin nature will not allow him to do so. Sinful man cannot not sin. God must first regenerate the lost individual in order for that individual to repent and exercise faith and be saved. Understand something here. The process of regeneration for the Calvinist is more involved than the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. It is more involved than God’s revealing Himself to the lost man through His Word and His reconciliatory drawing of a man unto Himself. For the Calvinist, this regeneration is a “new heart” and a “new nature” that god gives the lost person which irresistibly results in the repentance and conversion of that lost individual. For the Calvinist, an individual is responsible for his choice to be saved; however, it is God who gives him the nature necessary to choose to be saved.

There are a lot of arguments being circulated that cloud the theological issues concerning Calvinism because I believe the Calvinist does not want to focus on the theological position itself. Read what they write. Listen to what they say. “No Calvinist believes that man is not responsible for his choices.” “No Calvinist believes that repentance and saving faith are not necessary for salvation.” Taken in the proper context these statements are all correct but they are only correct given the proper theological presuppositions. It is time to simplify all this mumbo jumbo and let’s identify what our differences are and lets find a resolution.

Here is a personal challenge. Let’s put all the non-essential jargon to rest. I will say unapologetically that I do not believe the Bible presents the ordu salutis as the Calvinist posits. I believe God reveals Himself to sinful men through the preaching/teaching/reading of His Word and the Holy Spirit works to convict men of their sin and their lost condition before God. I believe individuals are then confronted with the claims of the cross and they are confronted with the most important decision in all eternity: What am I going to do with this One who is called the Christ, who died in my place to pay the penalty for my sin and was buried in a borrowed tomb and then raised from the dead, triumphant over the tomb, victorious over the grave, free for all to see a glorious Savior risen and alive and because He lives I can by faith embrace Him and live for Him today and with Him forever.

I do not believe God has to give me a new heart to “be saved;” I believe He gives me a new heart WHEN I repent and by faith am saved. I believe I am saved or born again when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in my heart and that takes place after not before I repent. There are these confusing arguments that all these events are not linear but rather are all simultaneous. So some will try to say, I do not believe in regeneration PRIOR to repentance and faith. However, the truth is, repentance and faith are not possible unless and or until regeneration takes place so it does not matter if it is linear or simultaneous, for the Calvinist God and God alone determines who is and is not saved and His predetermined will is the only real factor in who does and does not spend eternity in heaven. Period.

Here is what I would like to see someone stand up and say on the Calvinist side. “I do not agree that the Bible presents the order of salvation as God revealing Himself to sinful men through the preaching/teaching/reading of His Word and the Holy Spirit then works to convict men of their sin and their lost condition before God and as a result of this revelatory, reconciliatory work alone, a lost person can repent of his sin and in saving faith trust Christ as his Savior without God doing a special work of grace in his heart enabling him to repent, believe and be saved.” This seems simple enough.

Let’s simplify this whole issue and lay everything out on the table where even the simplest minded person can understand the issues at hand and then we can begin to find resolution. It seems to me this whole issue has been clouded by so many Pelagian, Arminian, Supra/Infra soteriological arguments that only a few really understand what is going on and that is the way it appears some want it to remain. Enough is enough. The truth is, we may all be wrong but one thing is absolutely unarguably true; the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist cannot both be right.

It is time to MAN UP and STEP UP and STAND UP and SPEAK UP or I believe SHUT UP and let’s find some resolution before we argue ourselves into oblivion before the devil SHUTS US UP!

><>”

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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18 Responses to Calvinism: Time to MAN UP!

  1. Pastor Greg Jordan says:

    Regenration prior to repentance, yes!! However, according to comments about the Eph.2 scriptures, if men are dead, can they sin, no? We have to learn first, what are we saved from? It is not sin, it is the wrath of God that we are saved from, the penalty of sin…therefore, we have to become believers in the finished work of Christ to be saved. You must be converted to believe…believe and be baptized. Nevertheless, I think that this whole argument is over hyper-calvinism. Extreme Calvinism is as bad as any other extreme religous organization, extreme Calvinism does not kill people on behalf of it’s religion but it kills evangelism. I believe that God governs all things, I believe He governs salvation as well…we do our part, sin! He does His part, saves! Yes we must repent but repent of what, unbelief, not cursing, stealing and lying! I’m telling everyone about the Greatest story in the world, Jesus died for thier sin and they must believe on His atoning death, buriel and resurrection to be saved…and then I’m leaving it to God to finish that work in them. I cannot regenrate myself and surely not anyone else, HE MUST DO THAT!!

    • sbcissue says:

      Greg,

      I read your comment WHEN you posted it but have just re-read it again and interestingly enough commented on a similar statement to one of yours on another blog post…

      Your statement “You must be converted to believe…believe and be baptized.” is to me completely incorrect and this is the reason there is so much discussion on this subject. I do not believe ANYONE is converted to believe; ALL believe and ARE converted.”

      This position places sole responsibility of conversion on God; now make no mistake about it, I believe God and God alone has made provision for salvation and no one can be saved apart from and outside of those provisions bought and paid for by Jesus at Calvary. However, there is a MAJOR difference in saying God’s provisions are what saves and saying it is God who saves… both are accurate but the difference is in the HOW… and that it where the debate is centered. I believe Calvinism says things about the character of God the Bible does not say by charging Him with the sole responsibility of those who die without Christ (because He did not chose them and efficaciously call them to salvation) and as a result, go to hell.

      I understand the argument God does not condemn ANYONE to hell, their sin has condemned them itself. I understand that and that statement is true. However, to claim that God efficaciously calls some to BE saved… and overlooks others… places the responsibility clearly on Him and the Bible says that “God is longsuffering and not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL come to repentance. It does not say that the elect will come to repentance… the all who come to repentance are the same ones He does not want to perish.

      The point of contention has nothing to do with hyper-calvinism… unless you are willing to concede that hyper-calvinism is calvinism taken to its logical conclusions…

      I applaud your final comment: I’m telling everyone about the Greatest story in the world, Jesus died for thier sin and they must believe on His atoning death, buriel and resurrection to be saved…and then I’m leaving it to God to finish that work in them. I cannot regenrate myself and surely not anyone else, HE MUST DO THAT!!

      I believe this is your compassion and compulsion. To a large degree, I can even agree with your statement. I sin; God saves. That is a great homiletic statement and is fine in the pulpit; it is not so fine in the foundational underpinnings that determine our theology. It is not fine being taught in our seminaries with all the other stuff that is tacked on to it. It is not fine in our SS literature.

      That is MY position.

      ><>”

  2. Les Prouty says:

    Bob,

    I was confused with this you wrote, “Sinful man cannot not sin.” What do you mean there?

    Your monergistic friend,

    Les

    • sbcissue says:

      Les,

      That is one of my favorite Calvinist statements; one who is enslaved to his sinful nature “cannot not sin” meaning sin is his only choice. Surprised you have not used that phrase. Virtually every one else has!

      I actually use it in reference to an individual being away from God’s perpetual presence; anything he does is sin because he is not rightly connected to God which is our created purpose and thus every decision we make is sin because it falls short of God’s glory, so in that sense, I say man cannot not sin!

      ><>”

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, my mistake. I misread the sentence. Truly I think I must be getting older by the day.

        I read it as “Sinful man cannot sin.” And that even after copying and pasting it in.

        Of course, sinful man cannot not sin. Great phrase and great truth, though sad for mankind.

        But thanks br unto God and all praise to him that he chooses some to receive what no man deserves and snatch some from what all men deserve…eternal wrath!

        Les

  3. I’m still trying to figure out the intensity behind this discussion, as I’ve never met an Arminian, or one who emphasizes free will, who doesn’t want to give God glory for salvation or doesn’t say salvation is by grace, and I’ve never met a Calvinist, or one who emphasizes sovereignty, who says that all sinners shouldn’t repent and believe, that faith doesn’t come through hearing the preached Word, or that Christians mustn’t evangelize the lost.

    I’m really at a loss as to why this discussion (not really this blog post) is being put to the forefront of SBC life. I think Dr. Yarnell was right to call for charity and clarity, but I just didn’t know the issue had reached this tipping point for that call to even have been said.

    • sbcissue says:

      Hey Adam,

      I really do appreciate your peaceable spirit and for the record I wish this were all a nightmare and we could wake up and it be gone. For the record, I have a serious distaste for the notion that we are either Arminian or Calvinist; not that this is what you are saying but a casual reading might produce that kind of conclusion. I am NEITHER.

      Your statements about the different people here is indeed kind, given the vast amount of rhetoric that has been hurled by people of all kinds of stripes against those whose stripes differ. Calvinists have argued that those who are not calvinist have sacrificed salvation at the altar of “self-will” making the individual’s will stronger than God’s will where conversion is concerned. They have charged that men HAVE to be in charge and so their choices are more important than God’s choice, watering down the sovereignty of God. Since man must “say the sinners prayer” he is adding to God’s plan of salvation and that is works and not grace… bla bla bla.

      Your statement, “I’ve never met a Calvinist who emphasizes sovereignty” HAS to be poorly worded as I have never met a CHRISTIAN period who does not acknowledge and therefore emphasize that… and God’s sovereignty is a pillar of Calvinism. Not sure what you meant to say there.

      I will allow your statement of calvinists, “who says that all sinners shouldn’t repent and believe,” BUT it must be added and understood that those same calvinists contend that only the elect WILL believe because God and God alone efficaciously gives them the ability to believe and if He does not do so, no one CAN or WILL believe, repent and exercise faith and be saved. That is the problem I have with Calvinism.

      This is the problem “this discussion (not really this blog post) is being put to the forefront of SBC life.” There is this revival of calvinism that has now made its way into the entities of the SBC and there are those who are saying… wait a minute… we do not agree with this move and it is time to discuss and address it and that is what is now taking place and will continue to take place until some kind of resolution is established.

      This is not something the non-calvinists have initiated. It is something the non-calvinists have been forced to respond too because of what certain calvinists have already done.

      ><>”

      • I think you might have misread one of my statements, but that’s ok.

        You typed, “I’ve (Adam, that is) never met a Calvinist who emphasizes sovereignty HAS to be poorly worded.”

        I never typed that.

        It goes like this:
        I’ve never met an Arminian, or one who emphasizes free will,
        who doesn’t want to give God glory for salvation
        or doesn’t say salvation is by grace,
        and I’ve never met a Calvinist, or one who emphasizes sovereignty,
        who says that all sinners shouldn’t repent and believe,
        that faith doesn’t come through hearing the preached Word,
        or that Christians mustn’t evangelize the lost.

      • sbcissue says:

        I see that.. I did misread that part of your statement. My bad! I at least acknowledged it; I knew something was wrong!!!!!

        The part about calvinists not saying “that all sinners shouldn’t repent and believe, that faith doesn’t come through hearing the preached Word…” still must carry with them specific explanations… because even adding to my initial statement, with respect to faith coming by hearing… for them it comes directly from God… and so faith is not as much something exercised as it is something received and given by God… that is also problematic for me.

        Appreciate you brother.

        ><>

  4. Randy says:

    “But thanks be unto God and all praise to him that he chooses some to receive what no man deserves and snatch some from what all men deserve…eternal wrath!” – Les Prouty

    Ok, here is my whole big deal with this viewpoint. Just imagine with me for a minute, ok? A father has three sons. They are rebellious, violent and wicked sons. They disrespect their dad, steal his stuff, beat him up and tell everybody he is a bad father. They all move into a house together and tell their dad they never want to see him again. In fact they say, “Dad, you don’t even exist to us.” One day dad finds out the house where the boys are living is on fire. It’s a blazing inferno and his boys are trapped inside. He rushes over to the house and finds the firefighters are so overwhelmed by the ferocity of the fire none of them will dare enter it. The dad rushes in, risking his own life as he wades through a sea of flames. In the den, he finds his three sons, passed out from smoke inhalation. They are not consious of his presence, they are unable to ask for help, and unable to save themselves. Now dad is a big, strong, tough guy hyped on adrenaline at this point. He owes these boys nothing. In fact, they deserve to burn for what they have done for him. But he has the ability to save all three of them. Like I said, none of them deserve it. He decides he will only save one of the boys. Not because he is deserving or anything special. He just chooses him and drags him out of the fire. He lets the other two burn. He then openly shares the story with the firemen, the press, the police, everybody. Let me ask you this, how will the world see this man? Will they see him as a hero for the one son he saved, or as a villain for the two he let die in the fire?

    This is my big problem with how I understand Calvinism paints this picture. My God is not a villain. If I am misinterpreting something from the Calvinist end of things, I really wish somebody would point out to me in this illustration where it is wrong. I am so tired of this battle tearing us apart, but I cannot concede to what I see as a harmful theology. I’m open to being corrected, not trying to pick a fight, and really looking for a road to peace.

    Randy

    • sbcissue says:

      Randy,

      Well said. This question I hear time and time again, “the question is not why does God save some; the real question is why does God save ANY?”

      I am sorry. That portrays a God that I do not believe the Bible portrays because the Bible is a picture of God’s portrayal of Himself.” I agree with a statement made earlier this week, Calvinists make statements about the character of God that are simply not true.

      Very well said sir. Thanks for stopping in.

      ><>”

    • Les Prouty says:

      Randy, I understand that you disagree with my comment earlier. But your analogyu breaks down. God is holy and just. Perfect. Creator and ruler over all. Romans 9 tells us he has the right to do what he wants to with his created beings. In fact, here is the passage,

      “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
      (Romans 9:20-24 ESV)”

      The father in your story, good as he may be, is not creator and not holy and does not have sovereign rule over his sons.

      Further, they are already his sons. Every human created is not already a son of God. In fact, we all come into the world as children of the devil, the father of lies.

      Fact is, if God chose no one, no one could complain back to God and say he is not fair and just. Just is that we all deserve his wrath.

      Thanks

      • Randy says:

        Les,
        I appreciate your reasonable response. I’ll begin with this, i doubt that you or I will ever convince the other to change his belief concerning this issue. However, I must note that you have tossed out Romans 9 as your proof text repeatedly. Since you are not quite certain I have read that text, I want to be certain that you understand the Word of God is composed of 66 books and close to 1200 chapters. If we want to have a proof text showdown and load our guns up with our favorite verses, at the least we would come to a standoff with neither side winning. One of my biggest problems is that I am repeatedly hammered by Calvinists with the same verses over and over. I believe your stance can become untenable in the face of many scriptures and indeed in the totality of scripture.
        I am willing to openly dialogue and listen to the other side in this. I even suppose if a compelling enough argument was made, I might come over to Calvinism. I’ll be honest, I don’t think that argument exists.
        It boils down to this – with my beliefs, if the majority of the SBC was composed of Calvinists, I would probably change jerseys and find a like minded group of believers to associate with. I would rather shake hands and part ways and bless the disagreeing party (along the lines of Paul and Barnabas). The problem I continue to see is that instead of an admitting to being the minority in our convention, many (not all) Calvinists see themselves as charged with some special mission to educate the rest of us on what their theology is. When folks disagree, we start getting labeled “arminian” or “pelagian” or “semi-pelagian” or something else. I think that is what upsets us on the other side of the fence the most. It’s almost kinda crazy, a Calvinist picks a fight, calls out the other side, and then cries foul when that other side digs in their heels and stands up for their theology. I want peace, but I refuse to concede on something as critical as what defines actual salvation.

        Randy

      • Les Prouty says:

        Randy, I’m pretty sure we will not convince each other to change our minds. Now I don’t know about “tossing out” Romans 9 repeatedly. Not sure when I quoted that passage last.

        Anyway, yes I realize how many books and chapters and verses are in the bible. I’m just thankful I didn’t have to look far to find rock solid biblical evidence for God’s absolute sovereignty over all things, certainly including his prerogative to elect some to salvation and leaving the rest to their deserved punishment.

        I know it flies in the face of our human condition…wanting to think we either are in control or at least have a hand in our salvation. We humans just detest authority, as evidenced in the garden of Eden and every since.

        God bless.

        Les

    • Jeph says:

      “The father in your story, good as he may be, is not creator and not holy and does not have sovereign rule over his sons.

      Further, they are already his sons. Every human created is not already a son of God. In fact, we all come into the world as children of the devil, the father of lies.”

      Nailed it.

      What say you Randy?

      • sbcissue says:

        Jeph,

        You are correct. The father is Randy’s illustration is NOT God.

        11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13 NKJV)

        ><>”

  5. Randy says:

    Sorry Les, couldn’t figure out how to reply to your thread, so starting over here. I just want to point out the normal course this kind of discussion takes and I appreciate you providing a good example. I believe you are my brother in Christ, and I’m not calling into question your relationship with our Lord and Savior, and I ask you hear my words with a tone of civility.

    First: “I’m just thankful I didn’t have to look far to find rock solid biblical evidence for God’s absolute sovereignty over all things, certainly including his prerogative to elect some to salvation and leaving the rest to their deserved punishment.” Although you may not have considered the implications of your statement, you have strongly said I am biblically ignorant and unfamiliar with the salvific work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me say this, I do not think you are. I think you searched the Scriptures deeply and have strong convictions on what you think. I’m just tired of the backhanded slaps to the face and disingenous inferences when somebody disagrees with a strong willed Calvinist. I just want us to be able to look each other in the eye, shake hands and agree to disagree. Somehow there always seems to be either an outright or hidden insult from many in the Calvinist camp. Maybe you didn’t intend it, but that’s how I (and many others) take it.

    Second: “I know it flies in the face of our human condition…wanting to think we either are in control or at least have a hand in our salvation. We humans just detest authority, as evidenced in the garden of Eden and every since.” I don’t recall ever saying that we humans have a hand in salvation. That accusation gets thrown in the face of the non-Calvinist camp alot, but I don’t know a single SBC non-Calvinist that lays claim to that fallacy. You interpret some of our beliefs that way. I believe all of us in this discourse can agree on this: God is the sovereign ruler of all creation and is the ultimate authority and has control over all things. It’s how you get into the finer points of that where our theologies digress from each other.

    I don’t know you, but I love you because I believe we have the same heavenly Father. My point in all of this is that we need to stop making assumptions and false accusations against each other. That kind of behavior has taken us to where we are today. You may be right, I may be wrong. However, you may be wrong and I may be right. Who knows, we could both be wrong. I honestly don’t believe we can both be right.

    Randy

    • Les Prouty says:

      Randy,

      Forgive me if my wording offended you. I did not intend it that way. Not patting my self on the back, but most often I try to engage these conversations in a gracious and gentlemanly manner. Please forgive me. I can see how those words came across as offensive.

      As to your other related points, I agree. “I believe all of us in this discourse can agree on this: God is the sovereign ruler of all creation and is the ultimate authority and has control over all things. It’s how you get into the finer points of that where our theologies digress from each other.”

      Agree heartily. I assume you are a brother in Christ and you may be right. I may be right. No one of us has this all figured out.

      Grace and peace,

      Les

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