Jeff Noblit: Causes for Rejoicing Concerning the Rise of Calvinism

Jeff Noblit of Anchored In Truth has been releasing a series via his podcast with the above title.  It is a very good series and I would recommend that you take the time to listen to it.  You can find it here.

I have been very excited about the rise of Calvinism in the SBC.  I think it is a very good thing that we get back to theology.  Whether you agree with Calvinism or not, the cause for Christ is advanced when we return to the study of theology.  What do you think?

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Tom Ascol Says “SBC Churches Are Not Christian Enough”

Wow.  Here is the full quote:

The great problem with many churches in the Southern Baptist Convention is not that they are not Calvinistic enough, but that it is not Christian enough.

He makes this quote in an article entitled “The Other Resurgence” in the current issue of the Founders Journal.  You can read the article here.  In the article, Ascol compares the Conservative Resurgence of the 70’s to the Calvinist Resurgence occurring now within the SBC.  It is a good article and worth your time to read it.

What do you think?  Do you agree with Ascol’s assessment?  Why or Why not?

Why Your Next Pastor Should Be A Calvinist…..

The twentieth-century slide into liberalism rode on the back of a growing indifference to the doctrines of grace, because the doctrines of grace are tied vitally to more biblical doctrines than just perseverance of the saints. The recovery of a fully salubrious evangelical preaching ministry depends largely on the degree to which the doctrines of grace are recovered and become the consciously propagated foundation of all gospel truth.

If a church, therefore, gets a Calvinist preacher, she will get a good thing. Several issues will be settled forever and the church will not have to wonder about the soundness of her preacher on these items of biblical truth and their soul-nurturing power. Calvinists have stood for more than just their distinguishing doctrines, but have held steadfastly to other doctrines that are essential for the health of Baptist churches in our day. Let’s look at a few of these.

This quote comes from an article written by Tom Nettles which was published in the current issue of The Founders Journal.  Click here to read the article.  The Founders Journal is a publication of Founders Ministries.

Nettles gives several reasons in his articles as to why your next Pastor should be a calvinist.  They are:

  • A Calvinist firmly believes in the divine inspiration of Scriptures.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes in religious liberty.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes in missions and evangelism.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes in Christ-centered preaching.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes in holiness of life.
  • A Calvinist firmly believes in regenerate church membership.

It seems that Nettles is basing his arguments on theology and worldview.  Read the article and tell me what you think.

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).

Why Do Calvinists Believe In Evangelism?

A.W. Pink On Man’s Ability To Come To God

John Calvin On The Dangers Of The Use Of The Term “Free Will”

From:  Exploring Theology

How few are there who, when they hear free will attributed to man, do not immediately imagine that he is the master of his mind and will in such a sense, that he can of himself incline himself either to good or evil?  It may be said that such dangers are removed by carefully expounding the meaning to the people.  But such is the proneness of the human mind to go astray, that it will more quickly draw error from one little word, than truth from a lengthened discourse. [Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, translated by Henry Beveridge, Book Two, Chapter 2, Section 7]

Is this not true?  If you have ever discussed free will with someone who is a believer in free will you will know that most of their objections occur because they take the very position that Calvin describes in the quote.

Free will has become a “hot button” issue.  If you dare suggest that God is sovereign then the immediate response is “What about free will?”.  This objection has infiltrated every part of our culture today.  Even movies portray this false understanding.  Have you seen Bruce Almighty?  Remember the scene where God is explaining the rules of being God to Bruce.  He basically tells Bruce that he can do anything he wants except tamper with free will.

I admit that I don’t fully understand all aspects of this issue.  I plan to read some on it soon.  My theology study group is going to be reading Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards soon so I hope this will be a good place to start.

If you have any suggestions of good books to read on the subject, please share them in a comment.

Did Jesus Remove The “Legal Obstacles” To Salvation For All Men Or Just The Elect?

This question was discussed yesterday in the theology study group I have joined.  It is an interesting question.  The group is currently reading and discussing Curt Daniel’s book The History and Theology of Calvinism.  We are in chapter 57 which is titled: The Extent of the Atonement.  In a section of the chapter discussing the dual aspects of atonement the following paragraph appears on page 423:

D. His son, A.A. Hodge, followed in this vein: “Nor is there any debate as to the universal reference of some of the benefits purchased by Christ. Calvinists believe that the entire  dispensation of forbearance under which the human family rest since the fall, including for the unjust as well as the just temporal mercies and means of grace, is part of the purchase of
Christ’s blood. They admit also that Christ did in some sense die for all men, that he thereby removed all legal obstacles from the salvation of any and every man, and that his satisfaction may be applied to one man as well as to another if God so wills it” (Outlines of Theology, p. 416).

The last sentence (which I have put in bold type) is which inspired the question.  As you can guess, a vigorous discussion ensued.  Some of the people present agreed with the statement but most disagreed.  The first thing that came to mind when I thought of “removing legal obstacles” was Justification.  Is Hodge saying that Christ justified any and every man?  If so, then why are not all people saved?  Others made the point that this equates to a univeral atonement. We are going to examine this issue further and discuss again at our next meeting.  I was shocked in our discussion to learn that the author (Curt Daniel) of the book asserts that the early Calvinists all believed in a universal atonement.  He said it was not until Beza came along that Limited Atonement began to be taught.  At times like this I wish I was better read in the writings of the historical figures.  It does motivate me to focus my reading more in that area.

What do you think?  If you are an Arminian I would expect you to fully agree with the statement.  If you are a Calvinist then you are probably not in agreement.  Have you considered this issue?  How do you answer this question?

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Also posted at Exploring Theology.

Sola Scripture Briefly Explained

Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church.  The doctrine does not say that there are not other, fallible, rules of faith, or even traditions, that we can refer to and even embrace.  It does say, however, that the only infallible rule of faith is Scripture.  This means that all other rules, whether we call them traditions, confessions of faith, creeds, or anything else, are by nature inferior to and subject to correction by, the Scriptures.  The Bible is an ultimate authority, allowing no equal, nor superior, in tradition or church.  It is so because it is theopneustos, God-breathed, and hence embodies the very speaking of God, and must, of necessity therefore be of the highest authority.

Source:  Alpha Omege Ministries Article (click here to read full article)

Should We Get “Caught Up” In Different Theologies?

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer: My wife and I have been discussing reformed theology some lately. She is not reformed (yet) but she has had some questions about it. She actually told me the other day that she thought she had heard that Beth Moore was reformed. My wife likes Beth Moore and it seemed to impress her more that Beth Moore was reformed that the fact that I was (can any of you husbands relate to that). I did a little research and found out that Beth Moore is not reformed but I had not had a chance to share that with my wife. Last night she told me that she had listened to Moore teaching in Romans 9 and the she had specifically said that she did not get “caught up” in the different theologies. My wife said she went so far as to warn her listeners that they should not get “ caught up” in the different theologies.

A couple years ago I would have agreed with Moore in that we should not get caught up in worrying about which of the different theologies was correct. My thinking on that has changed. I now believe that theology matters. Our theology influences our world view.

Our theology influences how we interpret the Bible. It also influences how we live our lives. We all have a theology. Some people take bits and pieces from different theologies that they like and create their own theology. As a result, they are very inconsistent in their beliefs and practices. Let’s be clear, the Bible has a very clear, consistent theology that it sets forth. There are differences in interpretation possible in some instances but if we are consistent these differences will affect the way we interpret all of Scripture. Calvinism and Arminianism are both valid theological systems. When we fall into one of them, we will begin to interpret everything through this theological system. It will move beyond our biblical interpretations to the way we live our lives.

Consider atheism. It is a theological system and a world view. Those who hold to atheism live their lives in ways that non-atheists would not even consider. For example, since there is no God in the atheistic world view they are not bound by the laws God has given us. As a result, they are free to pursue any form of pleasure or personal self gratification that they choose. After all, there are no eternal consequences. Now, I want to state that not every person who holds to atheism is a “bad person” based on our human standards. I am only saying that if they chose to be it would not be inconsistent with their theology.

Let me conclude by saying that we MUST get “caught up” in theology. We MUST seek to find the theology taught in the Bible and to apply it to our lives. Once we do this we will have a biblical world view. This is vital to our spiritual maturity. We cannot mature as Christians if we are not examining our theology and adjusting it to what it taught in the Bible.

Agree or disagree?