Dr. Paige Patterson Responds To Calvinist Tension

Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has re-issued a statement regarding the most recent tension created by the strained relationship that obviously exists between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC. Dr. Patterson is in fact encouraged by the opportunity for dialogue; he writes, “the dialogue is helping to strengthen our theological understanding and shared commitment to reach the 7 billion people on the face of the globe with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Many in the SBC certainly pray that Dr. Patterson is correct in his optimism. He goes on to point out some of the significant differences and similarities that Baptists have shared with the Reformers of old. His references are fair and ought to be equally acceptable to those on both sides of this issue. Dr. Patterson’s comments can be seen in the Baptist Press article by CLICKING HERE.

Southern Baptists are indeed blessed because of the tireless efforts Dr. Patterson has invested and continues to invest in SBC life.

Dr. Patterson goes on to reference some common arguments that each needs to end in reference to criticisms of “the other side.” He correctly notes the non-Calvinists need to drop this charge that Calvinists are not evangelistic. He is correct. While it is true, Calvinism itself taken in its full theological implications, pictures a God who effectually calls people to conversion, but even that does not preclude the Calvinist’s participation in the evangelistic process. Most believe they preach the gospel and God saves who He wills to save; non’s basically believe the same thing in that those who repent and believe by faith are THEN born again. The primary difference in the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist position is the relationship of regeneration as it relates to God’s effectual calling one to conversion. Either way, neither knows WHO is going to be saved so we all preach the gospel and leave the results up to God.

There is another statement that needs to be made with respect to this evangelism issue; the non-Calvinists are crying that Calvinists are not evangelistic; well the statistics paint another important picture. If the majority of churches in the SBC are non-Calvinist then there are a lot of non-Calvinist churches that are not being evangelistic themselves and it does not matter if it is a theological issue or another kind of issue; a lack of evangelism is problematic no matter what the reason! It is simply not prudent to be critical of Calvinists who are preaching evangelistically and seeing people saved while their theology is criticized by those who are evangelistic in their theology but not evangelist in their practice. This problem needs to change. We all need to be Great Commission Baptists.

Dr. Patterson’s reference to the General and Particular Baptists in Europe is an equally interesting analogy. Basically he acknowledges that the General Baptists become so general they had everyone going to heaven and the Particular Baptists got so particular, no one was qualified to belong; so on both accounts, the church simply collapsed. His conclusion was they both needed each other. He goes on to mention the integrity issue in bringing out theological differences an individual knowingly has before going on a church or school’s payroll. His statement is absolutely true: “Anything less than full disclosure to the church or to an institution by which I shall be employed is a failure of integrity. This lack of integrity and full disclosure is that which disrupts churches and institutions and causes trouble that has the tendency to spill over into every aspect of denominational life.” He is undeniably correct.

There is one area Dr. Patterson did not address. Equally offensive to the charge that the Calvinists are not evangelistic is the charge that the non-Calvinists are Semi-Pelagian. This charge has been thrown out by more than a few folks and then when Roger Olson, an odd bed-fellow for the Calvinists said the Traditional Statement on Salvation had some semi-Pelagian similarities, the Calvinists all of a sudden became instant Olson fans. The truth is, Arminians and Calvinists are on the same page where Total Depravity and Inability are concerned and in their minds, anything outside that postulate is by necessity, Pelagian; that simply is not true and everyone is really aware of that fact.

The Pelagian position posits man’s innate ability in and of himself to approach God and earn a right standing before Him. God’s grace then follows. There is absolutely nothing in the Baptist platform, Calvinist, Arminian or not, that even remotely comes close to resembling this heresy. So to continue to promote such a statement is simply ignorantly or intentionally misleading.

Significant Changes in the SBC Landscape

While Dr. Patterson’s remarks are certainly historically true given the path Calvinists and non-Calvinists have been on in the past, things have changed significantly in recent years with respect to the Calvinist debate. The issue is no longer an issue of co-existence and co-operation. The issue is now much different today than it has been in the last 75 years or longer. Today there is a Calvinist agenda that has sought to make its presence known in every aspect of denominational life that has any significant impact at all. This level of Calvinist influence is now well established in many of the Baptist colleges; it is present in the seminaries especially Southern and Southeastern and according to Lifeway statistics, Golden Gate. There is now a pronounced Calvinist presence ensconced in NAMB’s leadership that has been cause for concern as some continue to point to its recent focus on church planting as a move to utilize NAMB funds to plant reformed churches. There is a definite move in Lifeway’s literature to promote the reformed platform and reformed writers and reformed books in the information being sent out to churches on a regular basis. Now, each issue separated is not really cause for concern by itself nor is it anything all that new. What has changed is the realization that all of these things taken in concert with one another is major cause for concern.

The Calvinist influence does not stop with the entities of the SBC. Committee appointments have always provided important elements of influence in the SBC. The President’s Committee on Committee appointments has continuously been crucial and it is well known that those appointees are instrumental in selecting trustee appointments to serve 3 year terms at the various institutions and convention entities. There is another committee that is vitally important and that is the Committee on Resolutions, which is also appointed by the convention’s President in conference with the convention’s 2 Vice-Presidents. This committee has the responsibility of bringing resolutions submitted to it to the convention floor as well as the ability to re-write resolutions as it chooses to be presented to the convention as well. Calvinist and non-Calvinist sympathetic individuals serving on this committee have the ability to word and reword resolutions to their own theological persuasion and it must be understood that the resolution as presented by this committee carries a lot of weight when it comes time to voting on the adoption of these resolutions. The committee carries with it a tremendous amount of responsibility in the presentation of resolutions to the convention to be adopted. Appointments to this committee are crucial.

It can even be argued, the convention hall itself is suspect to manipulation as the seating of messengers comes into play. In New Orleans for example, when the resolutions were presented there were roughly 3000 or so messengers voting. If a 1000 messengers are there representing a particular theological bias, there is a definite advantage on the floor of the convention. Now, if those individuals are seated at the front of the convention hall, things can get interesting very fast. If one-third of the messengers are seated at the front of the hall and they do not vote on an issue, those seated behind them are very likely to be reluctant to vote for a particular motion, when those seated in front of them do not vote. Then on the same note, when the first third of the voting messengers raise their ballots, those behind them are more likely to do the same. This is an underestimated realty that can most certainly favor a particular theological position if those plans are employed. This comment is not intended to infer any unethical engagement; it is simply intended to emphasize the importance of leveling the playing field and driving home the significance of everyone participating in the process to insure an equitable outcome.

The Influence of Social Media

If one adds to this the dynamic of social media today and the ability to influence a vote, one is immediately confronted with the reality of just how easy it is to increase one side’s chances for favorable outcomes on certain votes. Not only that, the ability to make a mountain out of a molehill is easier to do today than it has ever been before because of the internet and the power of blogging to create a firestorm in a matter of days. What used to take months and even years to gain momentum can be accomplished today in a matter of days and even hours. Not only can blogging move information at the speed of light, words on the computer screen can be typed by some of the brightest minds in our convention and then others can be typed by some of the least experienced. There are times when it is difficult to distinguish between the two and even then, the relevance of their respective positions may be surprising! Blogging has introduced a whole new dynamic to politics in general and the SBC is no exception to that phenomenon.

Given these dynamics and some others that are a present reality today, what is the plight of the divide that is unquestionably growing deeper by the minute? This is the question of the hour. If the discussion continues to focus on the theological divide, the Calvinist revival will continue. Let this cry for unity prevail and the Calvinist revival will continue. This is exactly what the Calvinists want. Their definition of unity is, “let’s all continue to get along” while they continue to do what they are doing. The various parties can sit down at the table and they can continue to dialogue as the convention heads to Houston in 2013. No doubt the battle cry heading into Houston will be “Unity at All Cost” and any significant move to do otherwise will be tabled to 2015 when the convention is scheduled to convene in Baltimore. 2015 is set up to be the most critical annual meeting in the history of the SBC for several reasons.

Baltimore or Bust

First, Baltimore is outside the SBC infrastructure. The Traditional Southern Baptist is highly likely to skip a trip to Baltimore. For some Southern Baptists, going north of the Mason Dixon Line almost requires a passport. A second major consideration is Baltimore’s geographical location relative to the Calvinist’s stronghold. Baltimore is in the back yard of both Southern and Southeastern Seminaries and then there is the Dever contingency in Washington DC. Factor in the convention dynamics of young reformed messengers in this area, all of whom will show up to vote as opposed to congregating in the exhibition halls, the restaurants or wherever; their influence alone has the potential to be significant. Now, there is nothing wrong with this effort. Every church has the right to send its messengers, reformed and non-reformed alike. Non-Calvinists need to understand the importance of this dynamic and plan accordingly. To fail to do so may prove to be disastrous.

It is time for the grassroots to stand up and be heard and counted. It is time for accountability and responsibility. The trustee system is a good system but today it heavily favors the Calvinist movement. This is a fact. The choice is simple. Churches and pastors can keep doing what they have been doing and the SBC will continue its transformation or reformation and in as little as a couple years, it could be radically changed forever. It is possible to put the brakes to this situation but it MUST be done NOW. Things are continuing to change even as the words of this piece are being read. The question is, who is going to control that change in the immediate future.

The Calvinists are doing a superb job; they really are. The question that needs to be answered is: “Do Southern Baptists want a Reformed SBC?” If the answer is “no” then they had better stand up, speak out, show up and vote in Houston and most certainly in Baltimore. The future of the SBC unquestionably hangs in the balance.

May God bless the future of the SBC and its current leadership for His glory and the benefit of a world that desperately needs Jesus!


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28 Responses to Dr. Paige Patterson Responds To Calvinist Tension

  1. weskenney says:

    Dr. Patterson originally wrote that article at my request in 2007. When we established SBC Today, I wanted it to be clear that our concern was matters of ecclesiology that were being minimized across the convention, and that we wouldn’t spend our time fighting about Calvinism. Dr. Patterson’s article was one of our earliest guest posts seeking to establish that priority.

    • sbcissues says:


      Thanks for your response. In looking at the introduction to the article posted by Baptist Press on June 20, 2012, Dr. Patterson did indicate that the article was written in 2007 but went on to say, “The following article was the result and I repost it today as it represents my thoughts and hopes on the matter.” Dr. Patterson’s perspective is certainly to be respected and his contribution to SBC life is unquestionably unique. As I read his comments I began to reflect on the events of the past couple of months and the culmination of events at the annual meeting in New Orleans, I wrote this article.

      I guess in some respect, I am seeking to argue a similar position; while I do not agree theologically with the Calvinist tenets, my immediate concern is with the level of influence in the entities of the SBC which is at least remotely related to the ecclesiological arguments.

      You, Tim Rogers, and Robin Foster are to be commended for the job you guys did in starting SBC Today.

      May God continue to use us all in the days that are ahead!


  2. reyjacobs says:

    Calvinism denies that Jesus died for everyone — therefore it denies the gospel and is a doctrine of anti-christ.

    Calvinism only exists to make Christians despair of their salvation by making them doubt that they are “elect” and to prevent non-Christians from converting by presenting God as the author of evil.

    Any truce with Calvinism is a truce with Satan himself.

    • sbcissues says:


      I will agree with your first statement that calvinism denies that Jesus died for everyone… and I will agree that is denies the gospel being available for every man, woman boy and girl who believes; of course the calvinist will say they believe that statement; it is clarified by the statement that everyone who believes does so because God gives them the irresistible ability to believe.

      I will not agree with the rest of your statement and here is why; even though I do not believe calvinism is the best presentation of the gospel I do believe that God can still save someone under the preaching of calvinists… most calvinists I know do preach the gospel and many do not let their calvinistic leanings affect their preaching. These guys do love the Lord and preach their convictions. The do preach Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected; they preach sin and its effects and man’s need for a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

      Your extended conclusions are actually worse than the extended conclusions of the calvinists you criticize.


      • reyjacobs says:

        “Your extended conclusions are actually worse than the extended conclusions of the calvinists you criticize.”

        Really? Well, look, if the Calvinists were contained in one denomination rather than always trying to take over every other denomination, then perhaps your conclusions would be justifiable. They could be just another mistaken denomination. But they are a plague, a cancer, seeking to engulf and destroy all of Christianity, and they prove this by descending on every denomination like a plague of locusts and eating it bear. Anyone who sides with them and defends them will be judges severely by God for enabling the destroyer.

  3. SAGordon says:


    Wow. Just wow. It is untenable to you that one should preach his convictions within a theologically orthodox framework? The history of Christianity shows Calvinists, Amyraldians, Biblicists, and Arminians to all be within the framework of orthodoxy.

    We can contend all day about the rightness or wrongness of the perceived take over conspiracy or infiltration subtrifuge, BUT I cannot believe ANYONE who takes time to think about the matter will come to the conclusions you have expressed here and at Wes’ blog regarding the orthodoxy of those who would identify as Calvinists.


    Thank you for your statement to ReyJ. We might not agree on a number of things, but I am always thankful for those who stand up against unbridled ignorance.


    • reyjacobs says:

      If orthodoxy to you means nothing but parroting that you believe in the Trinity then I guess Calvinists are ‘orthodox’. But if orthodoxy means teaching the gospel, they are the worst of heretics for they deny that Jesus died for all men. And all Calvinists will go to hell.

  4. SAGordon says:


    Thank you for you exemplary demeanor.

    Though I risk going down a road which I’m almost certain is regrettable, could you please define for me why limiting the atonement, which is something all orthodox systems of biblical theology do, would constitute heresy?

  5. D.R. Randle says:

    Ok, Bob. Let’s have a serious and open discussion here. Answer honestly and as descriptively as possible these questions:

    1) What is an acceptable level of influence for Calvinists to have in the SBC entities (answer percentage wise on all these please)?

    2) How many of our Seminaries can have Calvinists running them?

    3) How many Calvinists are acceptable at LifeWay, or at NAMB, or at the IMB?

    4) How many church plants can be planted by NAMB which are Reformed in nature?

    5) How many Int’l missionaries can we appoint who are Calvinists?

    6) How many books or SS materials can LifeWay produce that are written by Calvinists?

    7) How many trustees can be appointed each year who are Calvinists?

    8) Should a Calvinist be an SBC president, or 1st VP or 2nd VP?

    Any other descriptive percentages of acceptable level of influence for Calvinists beyond these questions would be helpful. And yes, Bob, I am serious and I think you should lay your cards on the table by answering these questions honestly. Thanks.

  6. sbcissues says:


    Obviously there is no appropriate answer to your questions and I will not attempt to do so. I do have two comments with respect to them. First, the point in my post was issues in the entities individually is not really an issue in and of itself, beyond the fact that I do not agree with the Reformed theological position. I will answer your question by saying the influence of Calvinism in EVERY entity and every event in the SBC of any significance is appalling as I see it.

    Now to your suggestion of percentages of calvinists in the entities and your implication that the calvinists get 2 of the 6 seminaries and we divide everything up according to some formula, was as I understand it one of the chief arguments in the early 80’s with respect to the liberal’s infiltration of the SBC entities and how to handle it. Isn’t that an interesting observation.

    My point is not to divide anything. My point is to state things as I see them and let people draw their own conclusions. I do not like what I am seeing and the more I look the more I dislike. Unfortunately that is the point to my post. My prayer is that the SBC wakes up sooner than later.


    • D.R. Randle says:


      I don’t understand why there is no appropriate answer to my questions. Please explain why this is so in your mind.

      In regard to your statement: “the influence of Calvinism in EVERY entity and every event in the SBC of any significance is appalling as I see it” – do you mean that some entities should have no significant influence of Calvinism within them (thus some could or should), or do you mean that any significant influence of Calvinism within any entity, as you see it is appalling and should not be there at all?

      As for your statement about my “suggestion”, first I would say that I am not suggesting dividing anything – I am merely asking what percentage of influence is acceptable. Is 40% of Calvinistic influence in the Seminaries acceptable to you? 30%? 20%? 10%? 5%? or is it that no Calvinistic influence (0%) in the Seminaries or other entities acceptable to you?

      You say, “I do not like what I am seeing and the more I look the more I dislike…My prayer is that the SBC wakes up sooner than later.”

      OK, fine, so be honest and tell us what the SBC should look like in terms of Calvinistic influence. That’s why I asked those questions above and I do think there are answers in your head, I just would like you to be honest and actually put them in writing. If you say that you don’t believe there should be any significant influence of Calvinism (0%) in any SBC entity, then say it. But if you think that because there are significant numbers of Calvinists in the SBC, we should allow for a sharing of influence throughout the convention based on the percentages, then say that.

      I just don’t think it’s that hard – I just think you ought to lay your cards on the table and explain to your readers to what extent is the influence of Calvinism in the SBC acceptable to you. I think answering in percentages is a legitimate form of measurement. If you can come up with a better one, then by all means use that measurement. In either case, I would very much like to hear your answer. I think it would be quite helpful in understanding where you think we ought to be in the SBC.

  7. sbcissues says:


    Since this is MY BLOG I am not obligated to answer your questions. My answer to your last statement is clear enough: I do not think the SBC needs to be going in the direction it is going with respect to this current stream of calvinistic influence in the SBC entities. I do not know what the alternative answer is and that is not my responsibility even if I did have one.

    Today my plan is simple. Share my concerns and convictions and that is the extent of my intentions at this point. I have had the opportunity to share those concerns with a number of people privately and I am grateful for that. I will continue to do so for anyone interested.


  8. Ralph Green says:

    Just for the record and as hard as it is to believe, Baltimore is actually below the Mason Dixon Line which is in Pennsylvania 50-75 miles north.

  9. Zach says:

    I know this is an old blog, but I am just now upon it. It is obvious that nobody desires division in the SBC, and my prayers are out for any one that would want that. However, I do have a few thought provoking questions and I hope not to seem to be advocating either side.

    1. It seems that this generation of Southern Baptist are highly unaware of SBC history. Do we not know that the SBC was founded by Reformed theologians, specifically out of the Particular Baptist heritage? The SBC’s roots are reformed, but our people today are highly unaware, and therefore this resurgence of calvinism is of great shock and worry to them.

    2. If there is a correlation between church planters and cross culture missionaries with reformed theology why complain about it? I can promise that NAMB is not going to turn down a non-calvinist to plant a church, nor is IMB going to reject a missionary on such basis. The people who are complaining about this have an argument that goes like such.

    – There are billions of people in the world that are lost and head toward eternal damnation.
    – We need as many faithful laborers for the harvest as possible for the causes of the Gospel among the Nations.
    – But, if your preaching the Gospel as a calvinist then we would rather you not go.

    The problem is NOT calvinism. The problem is that there are billions of people that are headed toward eternal damnation. One might say, “Well calvinist are not preaching the same Gospel.” Have you heard a calvinist share the Gospel? The fact is that most calvinist sharing the gospel sound really arminian in the way that they share it. The only thing separating the SBC “traditionalist” and the SBC “calvinist” is the “how” not the “means.” They both preach faith and repentance, but one has a conviction that God is sovereign over that response.

    If you were to look at the scores of missionaries and church planters running out of Southern and Southeastern we would not label them as hyper-calvinist worried about their theological agenda, but equipped ministers of the Gospel on an urgent mission.

    At the end of the day both sides need to be critiqued and held accountable, but we also need to realize that whether one is predestined into eternity or that he freely chooses his salvation, it relies on the hearing of the Gospel, and for someone to hear the Gospel there is a need for somebody to preach the Gospel. (Rom. 10).



  10. sbcissues says:


    I appreciate your comment and am glad you stopped by…

    First of all, there are some perhaps many who are unaware of the Calvinist roots in the SBC. I am not one of those. I do not believe those Reformed roots are as pronounced as many today will assert but nonetheless, they are there. I believe the more Calvinistic roots were more contained in the academic arena than in the pew but since neither of us were there in the 1800’s then that would be a difficult task for either of us to argue! If you look at church history… I do not find much at all concerning any Calvinist agendas in SBC church life… it is in the histories of the seminaries and some of the writings of pastors of churches but I really believe the rank and file person in the pew has never been that calvinistic… that is why I believe calvinism in the SBC is enjoying its greatest days today and not yesterday.

    Actually I agree with your statement concerning church plants. I do believe a lost world is much more important than a Calvinist church plant… I am kind of humored at the statement that “The fact is that most calvinist sharing the gospel sound really arminian in the way that they share it.” I am grateful that God is the One who saves and He can use any gospel presentation to save anyone He chooses or anyone who chooses Him! So while the how and the why may be really immaterial where the sharing of the gospel is concerned, it is paramount in our theology as a convention and as far as the direction the entities are headed and that is my major point of concern.

    Again, thank you for your comment and your visit.


  11. Brent Lewis says:

    Hey Bob,

    Thank you brother for your website and creating an atmosphere where we can discuss these very important issues. It’s a privilege to be able to comment here. I was hoping you would clarify your last assertion that the rank and file pew member from the 1800s was not calvinistic in their beliefs. If the seminaries were calvinistic and you read that pastors of churches in the SBC were calvinistic, does it not follow that the believers in the pew would believe the same? Or is it your assertion that church members in the 1800s didn’t believe what their pastors and seminaries taught? I guess my real question is on what basis you hold that the rank and file pew member was not calvinistic? Is it not plausible and more probable to believe that the members in the pew held to the same beliefs, but didn’t have the social media and communication we have today to voice those doctrines of grace that they held tightly too?

    Thank you again, brother! I do believe that this is an in-house issue.

    Grace and Peace!


    • sbcissues says:

      Hey Brent,

      Great to have you visit and comment. Welcome.

      My point is somewhat subjective. Obviously I was not there. My real point is that calvinism is more popular today than it has ever been and I do believe social media today shares a part of this revival of Reformed Theology. A part of my statement has more to do with what I see even today that people in the pew are not as calvinistic as the theology being promoted on the web… I do not believe people in the 1800’s understood the issues of total depravity and inability and the ramifications of regeneration prior to repentance and saving faith; I just don’t believe people in the pew then or even now… really understand calvinism beyond a surface position; I do not believe most pastors then were calvinist… they probably understood total depravity but I do not believe they preached inability; they preached about God’s Amazing Grace and how He saves… but I doubt the majority of them preached that God Himself chose those who would be saved… I just don’t believe that was the case from the pulpit and not held in the pew to a large degree.

      Most of what I read in that time is about Landmarkism not calvinism. Just my personal position.

      Thanks for the question.

      • Brent Lewis says:

        Thank you, brother! I agree that social media has played a great role in this revival. I myself owe a lot of my own understanding of reformed theology to places like challies.com, Ligonier, and Grace to You. I have heard somewhere that what the printing press did for the reformation, the Internet has done for today’s revival. Thank you helping me understand your views. I don’t pretend to know what the good ole average southern baptist believed back in the day with regard to reformed theology. Surely the resources that calvinists have today were not readily available to them in breeding the excitement, camaraderie, and assurance of reformed theology. That said, I personally find the greatest arguments for reformed theology are not in the institutes, or confessions, but in the very word of God. (Romans 8&9, Eph 1-2:10, John 6:35-70, and 1 Cor 1:18-2:14 to name a few) Many brothers that I know (from the Baptist variety) believe these things because they have wrestled with passages of scripture like these.

        Grace and Peace,


      • sbcissues says:

        As I said… the real emphasis of my comment I believe is that calvinism is more popular today than it has ever been in the SBC. Of course some come back to argue the popularity in the 1800’s…

        I have studied the Scriptures most of my life and I cannot for the life of me even come close to understanding how anyone can read the same Scriptures I am reading and believe that God is the One who decides who does and does not get saved and who does and does not go to heaven.

        I simply cannot see it; I do not accept even a single point of the 5 of calvinism.

      • Brent Lewis says:

        Hey Bob,
        At least you are consistent in not holding to any of the 5 points. I believe they all work together and that they began to fall apart when some poinrs are taken and others are not. I’m curious if you would humor me . . . What are your thoughts in reference to perseverance (or preservation if you like) of the saints? I know many in the SBC who would hold to at least that. But again, how to get to that 5th point is what is so disagreed about.
        Thank you, brother!


      • sbcissues says:


        I believe wholeheartedly in the Preservation of the Saints or eternal security of the believer. I understand that most today equate the 5th point with ES… but the truth is, perseverance of the saints basically as I see it is nothing more than an extension of the Catholic concept of penance… basically my problem with the concept is that it says “though one will fall into sin and may even fall grievously, he will ULTIMATELY repent.”

        I do not believe that to be the necessary case. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a person’s heart, that person is born again and has the guarantee of the prized possession which is heaven.

        If I am monergistic at all, it is concerning eternal security.

      • Brent Lewis says:

        Thank you bob for responding. Sorry I haven’t had time to get back to you until now. i was wondering, how do you come to this understanding of the perseverance of the saints by relating it to the Roman Catholic dogma of penance. Surely you know that Roman Catholicism intermingles justification and sanctification which puts penance into the realm of good works rather than repentance being the gift of God wrougt by the holy spirit in the believers life. Can you tell me what you have read from the reformers that likens the two? I don’t see penance mentioned anywhere in the canons of Dort for perseverance of the saints. So needless to say, to me it sounds like a gross misrepresentation of the 5th doctrine of grace. Also, could you clarify what you dont believe about what you quoted? do you believe that a true born again believer can fall into grievous sin and never repent? I’m confused how you hold to ES but don’t believe what you quoted.
        Thanks, brother!


      • sbcissues says:

        The point was that for PS repentance is essential BEFORE one passes from this life… that is where I have a problem. If the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a person’s heart that person belongs to God from that moment on no matter what he does or does not do… now that is not a license to sin but the Holy Spirit becomes the guarantee of the promised possession not ultimate repentance. That is my point.

      • sbcissues says:

        The comment related to penance was simply an observation not a major statement; I am not that familiar with Catholic doctrines anyway…

      • Brent Lewis says:

        Bob, I think you are making PS a work instead of a doctrine of grace. This is never what the reformers meant it to mean . . . unless you can point me to some reading that stated believers must repent of some greivous sin prior to their exit from earthly life. That said, the doctrine does talk about repentance . . . but not in the form of a work unto salvation as you read it . . . and certainly not in the form of penance in Roman Catholicism. Listen to the God centeredness of repentance in this doctrine from Article 7 of the 5th point from the Canons of Dort: “in these falls He preserves in them the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing or being totally lost; and again, by His Word and Spirit He certainly and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor of a reconciled God, through faith adore His mercies, and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” This doctrine recognizes repentance as a gift from God and not as a work necessary for salvation. Besides that, believers are called to a life of repentance. It’s not in keeping with Christian conviction for a believer to not repent of sins, especially known grievous ones. Do you hold to a view that the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict believers of sin and lead them to continual repentance? Is not the Holy Spirit more than just a seal for eternal salvation?

        Grace and Peace,


      • Drew Mery says:

        I think you’re reading too much into PS. The simple point of PS is that a truly born again person will not continue in sin; that is, they will not live a life of sin; but when they do sin, there will be conviction and ultimately (i.e. eventually) repentance. Keep in mind that the confession/creed is speaking generally, not trying to respond to every life scenerio. A Christian can die in the act of sin, and therefore not have the opportunity to repent of that sin.

        In regards to your comments about PS seeming to be similar to Roman Catholic penance, if you really don’t know much about Catholicism, and you’re really not sure if PS actually relates to penance, then why suggest such a thing? This only muddies the water. It’s better to simply take the word of the Reformed heritage that holds to PS (and the other doctrines) than guess at what it might hint at.


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