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!