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.

Combating Theological Indifference

I remember one particular Sunday morning at a church I no longer attend.  I was asked to fill in as the teacher in a senior adult class whose teacher was not able to be there that day.  There was 12-15 people in the class and I knew them all.  Most had been faithful member of the church for many years (some as long as 30 or 40 years).  I don’t remember what the text was that day but I do remember that the subject of the passage was spiritual gifts.  About 1/2 through the lesson I noticed that the people seemed lost.  When that happens the cause is usually either that I have done a very poor job of teaching that day or it was a topic the people were not familiar with.  At one point I stopped the lesson and asked how many of them had heard of spiritual gifts or knew what they were.  The answer:  blank stares.  The response still stuns me.  I don’t say that to disparage or condemn anyone present in the class that day.  It is however an indictment of the church (in general).  Many churches are guilty of not teaching theology or worse, teaching that theology doesn’t matter.  My point here is not limited to the topic of spiritual gifts.  I think there are many theological topics which would have elicited the same response by a large portion of the church going population.  It was an indication of the theological indifference we see among believers today.

This theological indifference is a result of many complex issues all working together.  My purpose today is to offer one suggestion that will help to alleviate this problem.  My suggestion is not a quick fix or an immediate answer.  It is however very likely to work…given enough time.  So what is my suggestion?  I suggest that churches begin to teach systematic theology, in age appropriate ways, to children at the earliest possible opportunity.  There are curriculums available to help with this or the church can develop its own way of doing it.  How (method, material) it is done is less important than why it is done.  The purpose of teaching theology to kids is 1) to glorify God, 2) help them to develop a biblical worldview, and 3) help God be real to them as they learn more about Him.  A side benefit to this is that as the kids learn theology so will the adults.

So, basically I am saying that the children are our future (I could not resist that) and we should follow the biblical teaching to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  I have not suggested anything new or profound here.  I am only getting back to the biblical model.  Do you agree of disagree?  Have I left something out that you think should be added?  Leave a comment and we will discuss it.

 

 

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.

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.

WHAT IS GOD’S GLORY?

Have you ever been asked this question or have you wondered yourself?  We all talk about God’s glory but it is hard to define or explain.  No longer.  John Piper has addressed this issue.  Click here to read his explanation.  The short answer is

So God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.

It will only take a couple minutes to read his whole explanation so I would encourage you to check it out.  It is my guess that many of you will have the same reaction that I had.  After I read Piper’s explanation my thought was “Yea, that is it.  Now why didn’t I think of that myself.”  Now the next time the question comes up I will have the answer.

Do you have a different explanation to the question?  Share it with us and we will discuss it.

John Piper On “Why We Love The Doctrines Of Grace”

In this short post Piper gives us a great deal to contemplate.  If you hold to the Doctrines of Grace (Reformed Theology or Calvinism, if you prefer) then this post really helps put what we believe in perspective and does it in a succinct manner.  If you do not hold to the Doctrines of Grace, this post should give you some things to ponder or contemplate.  As you consider this, turn to the Word of God and see what it says.  I encourage you to do so.  It will be time well spent.

Book Giveaway

They are having a book giveaway over at The Lighthearted Calvinist.  The book is a commentary on Revelation.  If you are interested, click here and submit an entry.

Five Reasons We Should Study Theology

For many people the study of theology is unimportant.  They think it is boring.  They think it does not affect them.  Some think that studying theology is a task for ministers only.  You can probably think of several more reasons you have heard, or used, as to why people refuse to study theology.  These reasons are all false.  We all need to study theology.

In this short post, Nathan Bingham gives five reasons why we should study theology.  I just found this blog and don’t know anything about Bingham but the reasons he gives are clear, concise, and will make you think.  After reading his post, let me know if you agree or disagree with what he says.

Reading Jonathan Edwards

I am about to begin reading (with my theology study group) “Freedom of the Will” by Jonathan Edwards.  I have never read anything by Edwards before.  I have heard some very good things about him and have read that he is recognized as the greatest American theologian.  I have looked at the first section of the book and realize that this will be some heavy reading.  Even though it will be hard I expect it to be a profitable time.

Have you read anything by Edwards?  What is your impression?

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