A Dialogue With Florida Pastor Chris Roberts

Ben Simpson wrote an article in response to one I wrote last week titled, Calvinism in the SBC: A Point of No Return where he took me to task arguing that I ought to leave the SBC. Fine. I normally would not publish this kind of post and the focus of my post has nothing to do with Simpson’s. The purpose of the post is a response to the comments of Chris Roberts who is one of the original authors or owners of SBC Focus.

In the comment section of the article, Chris Roberts a pastor here in Florida (on the gulf side) made some very disturbing statements. It is THIS kind of thinking that is actually the foundation for my conclusions in writing the original article in the first place. If anyone wants to think this revival of reformed theology is no big deal, I have some prime land in south Florida I would like to sell you… just send me a check and we will do the paperwork later.

Here is a portion of some of Robert’s comments.

That would be a universal work to all individuals to call people to salvation, but it doesn’t save anyone nor does it actually begin the work of salvation. If an individual has a peculiar sickness and he sees a commercial on the television for a doctor who can treat his sickness, that commercial hasn’t made the first step to the individual receiving his healing. The process of his healing hasn’t begun until he goes to see the doctor.

In the same way, the Trad statement portrays God as giving the world a commercial about himself: drawing, pleading, wooing, arguing – showing himself to the world the way a business might show themselves through a commercial. But nothing actually starts the work of salvation in an individual’s heart until that individual seeks it out.

This is actually a step removed from Arminianism. Theologically speaking, Arminians are in better shape than the Trad statement. Arminians agree with Calvinists about total depravity and they see the work of salvation beginning with God first changing the human heart – not wooing, not drawing, not calling, not convincing, but actually changing it – in order to enable us to come. Arminians agree that no human is capable of choosing Christ unless God first makes a very real change on his heart. The Traditionalist statement expressly denies this necessity.

I don’t anywhere deny that the person is responding to God, but it is in the same sense that a person picks up the phone to respond to a tv commercial.;God does not initiate the person’s response, the person initiates his own response.

God has offered salvation to all people. Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike agree with this statement. But just offering something is not the same as its application, its power and work on the individual. The Traditionalist statement affirms the offer, but nothing more. For an individual to be saved, he must take the initiative to reach out to God. God does not take hold of his hand, he must take hold of God’s. The offer is out there, but the offer of salvation is not salvation.

The Trad statement is semi-Pelagian. You already know I believe this. I have been quite open about it and have explained it over and over again. Semi-Pelagianism is a step removed from Arminianism. None of this is new.

Identifying disagreements does not destroy unity.

If those kinds of statements, that my theology as expressed to a large degree by the Traditional Statement on Salvation is semi-pelagian and actually worse than Armininism, (that part is fine!) it is the next statement that is disparaging; “Arminians are in better shape than the Trad statement.” Roberts has a disdain for Arminianism so there is no doubt as to his thoughts on the Trad theology. Why on earth would HE want to express theological unity with anyone like that? This is the guy that introduced the resolution for unity in the SBC. This is astounding!

Below are a couple comments I made in response to some of his:

For the record. Your outright ignorance in attributing semi-pelagianism to the traditional statement on salvation is an example of the exaggerated arrogance in the young, restless and reformed group that has been fostered by the influence of calvinism in the SBC over the last 15 years or so…

AND it is symptomatic of the reason I wrote the original article I wrote titled, Calvinism in the SBC: A Point of No Return.

Your response reminds me of Colonel Jessup’s answer in A Few Good Men.

I do not care to have unity with someone that considers my theology heretical and that is exactly what a semi-pelagian charge does.

I do not believe for a nano-second that you do either. Ought to be open about that too.

The SBC is in deep, deep trouble. Let me say this one more time. We may BOTH be wrong but one thing is absolutely crystal clear; we cannot both be right. As Southern Baptists we MUST choose what God we are going to serve; the God that efficaciously calls a select few dead, unregenerate men to life and gives them the faith He requires to become His children or the God who sent His Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for the sin of anyone who would believe that He is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do and repents of his sin and asks God for forgiveness and knows that God will hear their prayer, He will forgive their sin and make them part of His forever family.

I believe the latter is the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the God of the Bible. He is the God I will continue to serve. This is the theological position I believe needs to be restored to the entities of the SBC before it is too late. We are in the bottom of the 9th inning, two batters are out; the third batter is at the plate and the count is 2 strikes and 2 balls and the score is 3-2 in favor of the calvinists. The game is not over but it is about to be.

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Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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19 Responses to A Dialogue With Florida Pastor Chris Roberts

  1. Pastor Troy Mueller says:

    Bob,

    You are right on in all your concerns. Unity must be based on a common consent to biblical truth — there is no way the calvinists and the trads can be unified unless one or the other does not believe what they believe passionately!

    Pastor Troy Mueller East End Baptist Church Roanoke Virginia.

    • sbcissues says:

      Troy,

      Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate Virginians; my wife is one from Culpeper. You have captured the essence of my argument. If either is not passionate about their convictions, then they do not belong in the entities either. We are past the point of no return or maybe a better would would be retreat. The calvinists are not going to back out of the entities willingly and since just the mention of that is causing so much stir, imagine any move to accomplish that.

      Oh wait… we have already seen elements of that too… I almost forgot… look at the barrage of complaints at Louisiana College and Campbellsville University. How dare they not recontract calvinist professors. Look at hte backlash of criticism and some ofthose comments even close to being slanderous.

      The SBC had better wake up; NOW.

  2. Jim Dixon says:

    Here I am again, reading a commentary, and not knowing the author. Is it too much to ask the author to put a name to it? I am befuddled at anonymity.

  3. Randy says:

    “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)
    These are great and wise words of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. I worry that they describe the SBC. The funny thing is, Bob, people like you get pointed at as being the ones causing the division. Indeed, any that are not on the side of the Calvinist Cabal get accused of causing strife and division. Trust me, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I spent the 32 years of my life before Christ as a staunch atheist and I still have a healthy dose of skepticism in my views. However, I see and hear things that concern me. Perhaps one of the biggest worries I have is that the overwhelming majority of SBC people who are sitting in our pews are totally unaware of the vast mechanization going on behind the scenes especially with certain leadership positions. All of those involved seem to say, “Move along, nothing to see here” but the dots are becoming disturbingly easier to connect. When I saw the post bearing your name in the title yesterday, I was definitely a bit surprised. It just all seems so sad and disturbing at the same time.

    • sbcissues says:

      WOW…

      There surely is a full moon tonight; two favorable comments on one day. God sure is GREAT.

      Again… you GET IT along with Troy! maybe all this work is finally beginning to pay off.

      You are absolutely correct: Perhaps one of the biggest worries I have is that the overwhelming majority of SBC people who are sitting in our pews are totally unaware of the vast mechanization going on behind the scenes especially with certain leadership positions. All of those involved seem to say, “Move along, nothing to see here” but the dots are becoming disturbingly easier to connect.

      As to the next statement: “I spent the 32 years of my life before Christ as a staunch atheist and I still have a healthy dose of skepticism in my views.”

      Praise God those 32 years are behind you! If I can ever be a voice of encouragement with the skepticism, do not hesitate to get in touch! This tirade is just a small part of what I do.

      Thanks again for the visit and the comment. This afternoon has been an encouraging one indeed!

  4. Clay G says:

    Brother, let me encourage you with a 3rd favorable comment. I have been reading sbctoday and sbcvoices daily and with great interest for nearly a year, lately sbctomorrow as well, and now your blog. I find you to be one of the strong voices for many of us who can’t believe where this issue has taken the SBC. I have been SBC for my 50 years, a youth pastor for approx. 20, and now a pastor for 7… and I have watched this really heat up. May God strengthen and confirm us for the days ahead.

  5. ron4him says:

    Bob,
    May I be the 4th blogger to share a favorable comment concerning your work and exposing the words of Mr. Peace Resoultion Roberts.

    Blessings!

  6. sbcissues says:

    I may have a Pentecostal fit!

  7. Christian says:

    Keep up the good work! The people in the pews need to decide this, not the elite officers of the SBC. SBC pastors need to inform their churches of what Calvinism has done to the fellowship. I am ready for a separation. Two can’t walk together unless they agree. And believe me I am not the only SBC church member who feels this way.

  8. Matt says:

    Would it be too much to take Roger Olson, an Arminian baptist historian and theologian, serious on this issue? Even he has his suspicions. He knows more about Arminianism than just about anyone. And here’s what he says about the Traditionalist statement:

    “A classical Arminian would never deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will.”

    “…perhaps this is the point of the statement’s mention of “the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” But that, too, can be interpreted in a semi-Pelagian way.”

    “The problem with this Southern Baptist statement is its neglect of emphasis on the necessity of the prevenience of supernatural grace for the exercise of a good will toward God (including acceptance of the gospel by faith). If the authors believe in that cardinal biblical truth, they need to spell it out more clearly. And they need to delete the sentence that denies the incapacitation of free will due to Adam’s sin.”

    “Leaving the statement as it stands, without a clear affirmation of the bondage of the will to sin apart from supernatural grace, inevitably hands the Calvinists ammunition to use against non-Calvinist Baptists.”

    “For a long time I’ve been stating that most American Christians, including most Baptists, are semi-Pelagian, not Arminian and not merely non-Calvinist.”

    “Calvinists and Arminians stand together, with Scripture, against semi-Pelagianism. (Romans 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 4:7 to name just two passages.)”

    Now, you can go after an average pastor in the SBC, but what’s your response to Dr Olson?

    If you haven’t read his article, you can, here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/06/thoughts-about-%E2%80%9Ca-statement-of-the-traditional-southern-baptist-understanding-of-gods-plan-of-salvation-%E2%80%9D/

  9. sbcissues says:

    Matt,

    When Olson says, “A classical Arminian would never deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will.” the rest of what he says is of no concern for me. Any theological position that beings with total depravity and inability is in my estimation on the wrong foundation and the truth is that alone causes most to consider one’s theological position as semi-pelagian.

    No need to take up that argument. I do not believe prevenient grace, either resistible or irresistible is essential in the conversion of lost individuals.

  10. Matt says:

    You state, “I do not believe prevenient grace, either resistible or irresistible is essential in the conversion of lost individuals.” That statement alone gives Arminians and Calvinists concerns, and yet “Traditionalists” like yourself don’t get it. Unbelievable.

    • sbcissues says:

      What amazes me at responses like YOURS is how astute you are in knowing WHAT I believe based on a sentence. That is what is unbelievable. Next to that is the idea that if one does not bit on the total depravity/inability apple THEN your theological position has to be somehow flawed; which is what I believe about those who begin with that particular theological foundation.

      But… hey it is what it is, I guess it is at least good that we can amaze one another.

      Oh… you are right about one thing; That statement alone gives Arminians and Calvinists concerns, and yet “Traditionalists” like yourself don’t get it.

      Sorry but that statement most certainly does not concern me in the least.

      • Matt says:

        Any theology which doesn’t have prevenient or preceding grace has a faulty anthropology.

  11. sbcissues says:

    I say any theology that begins with total depravity/inability has a faulty anthropology and even worse; impugns God’s character and His Word. Jesus Himself said, For God SO LOVED THE WORLD… not the elect… but all men everywhere so much that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER would believe on Him would NOT PERISH BUT have everlasting life.

    I happen to believe that Jesus is a better authority on language that we are and I am more than confident that had He meant the elect there He would have said the elect; I am even MORE confident He did not need calvinists to come along and properly interpret His Words.

    Jesus said what He meant and He meant what He said… He said the WORLD. Those who receive the provisions paid for on the cross are not the elect but those who believe; once again here is a tough one… not those that HE gives the ability to believe.

    That is like telling someone the only way you can get into heaven is if you have the pass key and oh by the way the only keys are in my pocket.

    Sorry brother. I cannot even begin to fathom a calvinist gospel from the Scriptures that I read.

  12. Matt says:

    Is the meaning of “world,” as you see it, meaning every single individual ever who’s walked the planet, the same in John 3:17 as it is John 3:16? The word “world” is used 61 times in the Gospel of John.

    I don’t interpret “world” as elect in John 3:16. There are Calvinist commentators who don’t. No need to do so to maintain my Calvinism. If you read modern exegetes, you’d know that John Owen’s exegesis is overplayed. It’s meaning in context to Nicodemus are Gentiles and Jews in distinction to Jews only. That’s a radical understanding of salvation that Nicodemus should have realized from the Old Testament but didn’t get.

  13. Matt says:

    Any response of how to exegete the various meanings of “world” in the Gospel of John that don’t conform to Owen’s exegesis?

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