Free Will Synergism vs. Free Grace Monergism

I originally posted this link back in February 2011.  In light of the recent debate about soteriology in the SBC I thought I would repost it today.

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Here is a link to a nice short summary of the difference between the synergistic view and the monergistic view of salvation.  Scripture references are included.  If you are unfamiliar with the difference between the two take five minutes and read this and you will have a better understanding when done.  It is my hope that it may even inspire you to do some more research into the subject.

God-Centered Salvation and Man-Centered Salvation Explained Briefly

Here is a brief article by Alan Kurschner explaining God-centered salvation vs. man-centered salvation.  These two concepts of salvation are diametrically opposed to each other.  I think the article makes this clear even though it is short.  Take a minute to read the article and then examine what you believe about salvation.

Which category does your belief fall into?  Is your belief consistent with what is taught in the Bible?  If not, are you motivated to do some more study and possibly change your belief?  Share your thoughts in the comments here.

A Voice of Reason Concerning the Rise of Calvinism in the SBC

Jared Moore has written a response to a short video posted by Peter Lumpkins.  Lumpkins spends a great deal of time and effort on his blog decrying the rise of Reformed Theology in the SBC.  Personally, I think his concerns are all overblown.  In the video, Lumpkins mentions that 90-95% of the SBC is not Calvinistic and he wonders why the Convention has elected so many Calvinists to positions of denominational leadership.  Moore challenges Lumpkins assertions and gives some statistics refuting them.  He concludes with this:

The truth is that Calvinism is NOT a threat to Southern Baptist life.  Contrary to what Peter is arguing, Calvinists are not taking over the SBC.  There is room for both groups.  Why can’t the gospel be our emphasis, instead of winning others to our theological systems?

I believe there is room in the SBC for Calvinists, Arminians, Biblicists, or any group who affirms the Baptist Faith and Message.  I further believe that these could exist within the same congregations.  I believe theology is important but the Gospel is what should unite us.

Watch Lumpkins’ video and read Moore’s response and tell me where you stand.

A Primer on Limited (or Definite) Atonement by Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor has posted a primer on Limited Atonement on his blog.  In it he summarizes the arguments of John Owen from The Death of Death in the Death of Christ,  Lorraine Boettner in The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, and John Piper from his Desiring God website.  If you have ever wondered about this doctrine this post will help you get a better understanding of it.

Take the time to read it and let me know what you think.

Did Jesus die for the sins of every person?

A common interpretation of the death of Jesus on the cross is that He died to pay the price for the sins of every person who ever lived.  This is known as universal atonement.  It is then said that we must accept this gift in order to receive salvation and gain entrance into Heaven. A person who does not accept the gift is not saved and will end up in Hell.

I don’t agree with this interpretation but for the sake of argument I am going to grant it and then ask a couple questions.  To be saved two things must happen.  First our sins must be paid (atoned) for.  Second, Christ’s righteousness must be applied to us.  Both must happen or we can’t enter Heaven,

Now for a couple questions.

  1. On what basis does God send a person to Hell once Jesus has paid the price for all the sins of that person?
  2. What does it say about God when you consider that He was unable to save someone who He really wanted to save?

As to question # 1, since Jesus paid the penalty for ever sin of every person who will ever live there are no sins left for anyone to pay for themselves.  Since there are no remaining sins, there is no basis for sending any non-believer to Hell.  Non-believers are no longer guilty in the eyes of God.  The dilemma is that the person can’t go to Hell because they have been justified through Christ’s death on the cross and the person can’t go to Heaven because they have not accepted God’s gift and had the righteousness of Jesus applied to their lives.  In this situation the non-believer is left in limbo.  What does God do with them?  Is this a case for Purgatory?

Some might say that Jesus died for all of the sins of a person except the sin of unbelief.  This does not help them either.  If Jesus did not die for all of the sins of a person, then that person has no way to avoid Hell because.  There is no sin, not a single one, that a person is able to make atonement for themselves.

Anyone who believes this way must be able to answer this dilemma.  It is very prevalent today.  I heard it just this past Sunday.  The problem is that most people who believe this never take the time to think it through.  I know that I didn’t when I believed this way.

Question 2 deals with God’s ability.  Is God able to accomplish His will or not?  If He is, then how can someone whom God wants to save not end up saved?  The standard answer you will here is that the person is free to reject God.  The problem is that this makes the person equal to or more powerful than God.  This is not possible.  By definition, the creator is always greater than the creation.  God is not God if His will can be undone by one, or all, of His creations.  Do we really serve a God who is sitting in Heaven waiting to see who will be saved and who won’t?  How do you respond to this description of God?

This is not a complete examination of this question.  It is just a couple quick thoughts which I hope will spur some conversation in the comments.   If you believe that Jesus died for all people then please take a few minutes to think through these questions and lets discuss what you come up with.

The Atonement: Universal or Particular (Limited)?

Also posted at Exploring Theology.

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This is one of the “hot button” issues in the debate between reformed and non-reformed believers.

Reformed (Calvinistic) brothers believe in a particular (or limited) atonement. They say Jesus died on the cross to save only the Elect.  That He accomplished His intended task which was to save the Elect.  They cite verses like Matthew 1:21 to make this point.  It says “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” [emphasis added] This position says that only the Elect will have the opportunity to be saved and that all the Elect will be saved because this was the intention from the beginning.

Non-reformed (Arminian) brothers believe in a universal atonement.  They say that Jesus died for every and all men but that the atonement is only effectual on those who knowingly and willingly accept it.  This position basically says that everybody will have an opportunity to accept the call to salvation but only some will do so.  They cite verses like John 3:16 to make this point.  It says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” [emphasis added]  This position says that people must agree to accept the gift of the atonement before it is applied to them.  Basically it says that Jesus died only to make salvation possible for all people.

This was a very brief description of the two alternatives.  Much longer posts could be written about both positions but that is not my purpose here.  I have a simple purpose:  to get you to share what your position you hold and why.  So here is the question:  DID JESUS DIE TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE OR TO MAKE SALVATION POSSIBLE FOR ALL PEOPLE?  DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNIVERSAL OR PARTICULAR ATONEMENT?  WHY?  PLEASE GIVE YOUR REASONS (WHATEVER THEY MAY BE).

Nathan Finn On The Future Of SBC Calvinism

Nathan takes this issue head on in this post.  He says:

Because the SBC was formed as a means for missionary Baptists to cooperate together in common mission endeavors, it is critical that non-cooperatives on all sides of this issue get with the program or find another place to call home. I mean no ill will; non-cooperative non-Calvinists would be more at home with Independent Baptists, and non-cooperative Calvinists would be more at home in “capital R” Reformed denominations and networks. This is because both groups are more interested in furthering their pet agenda and/or mandating their personal theological convictions rather than cooperating together to make disciples of all nations.

He goes on to say that he does not believe the issue of Calvinism will split the SBC.  I agree…provided we can continue to work together to achieve our common goals.  Read the post for yourself.  Nathan makes many good points.

Differences In How Calvinists And Arminians Interpret The Bible

Billy over at Classical Arminianism posted a great article today discussing how Calvinists and Arminians approach the interpretation of the Bible in different ways.  I agree completely with the points he makes.  Take a moment to read the post…it is worth it.

Differences Between Pelagians, semi-Pelagians, Arminians, Sub-lapsarians, and Supra-lapsarians

This article was posted over at the Society of Evangelical Arminians. The author uses an analogy to illustrate each. I am not sure if these are accurate and if they have any problems. I would be interested to see what you think of the analogies

John Calvin And Calvinism Is Responsible For Mass Poverty In Our World?

I was reading this post over at Ancient Christian Defender.  Here is the money quote:

Calvinism’s noval interpretation of Usury is one of the causes of masses poverty in the World today. Yes, the world has always had it’s poor, but Calvinism has made it even worse.

How can you make these kinds of statements?  To say I am shocked is an understatement.  Usury is wrong and I agree that should not be practiced.  I am no expert on Calvin but even if he did hold to an erroneous interpretation of one aspect or passage of the Bible you can’t blame him for what a fallen people choose to do hundreds of years later.  One man cannot be blamed for the effects of a sinful world.  All people are charged with examining the bible for themselves to find its meaning.  Statements like this are simply ridiculous and only serve one purpose….trying to manipulate people through fear.

When you read things like this please understand that there is a motive behind them.  Always consider the motive before making any decisions concerning things you read.

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