To Moderators of Public Forums: Power & Rights are NOT Synonymous

Moderators of public forums, take note: rights do not come from having power but from being in the right. While you may have the power to delete all comments that threaten your position, you do not have the right to do so. Deception is immoral; and maintaining the false image that your forum allows dissenting opinion and discussion (as long as the comments remain friendly and decent), while deleting posts merely because they oppose your position—underhandedly, or without publicly posting your actions—puts you in the wrong. If you want to have biased discussions where toleration of dissent is limited or nonexistent, then declare that plainly in your rules. Take a look around the SBC Open Forum, and you will find that all deleting of comments and banning of participants has been accompanied by a public posting of the reasons—and no comment or poster has ever been deleted for merely having a position that opposed mine.

Ken Hamrick, 2014

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14 comments

  1. Ken Hamrick

    Here are the comments that SBC Today does not want you to read. I submitted them to the “Savability” discussion, but evidently they will not tolerate such a position….

    In reply to Johnathan Pritchett, I wrote:

    You are right that saying “many” is not saying “most.” However, it is also true that saying, “While Calvinism and Arminianism have dominated the discussion within Protestantism, neither system has prevailed in Southern Baptist life,” is not necessarily saying that what was held instead of either system was only the libertarian position now called Traditionalism. Dr. Hankins often characterizes the Traditionalist view as the centrist view, citing the reluctance of Southern Baptists to identify with either Calvinism or Arminianism—as if all who share such reluctance were of the Traditionalist mind set. The polarized lens through which Calvinists and Traditionalists argue would leave us to believe that there is no middle ground—were it not for the fact that so many Southern Baptists are of neither side.  A large, stable middle has—for a very long time—gotten along well with either end of the SBC spectrum, but is much less vocal and often overlooked. I’m speaking of those who are “non-Calvinists” but still hold that God ultimately determines the destinies of men—but He does so without impinging the “freedom to choose otherwise.”  You can call them compatibilistsantinomistscentrists or middlers.  In short, they are those who have found a place of theological reconciliation. They have no anaphylactic reaction to the claim that “men have the freedom to choose otherwise, and must of their own free will surrender in repentant faith in order to then be savingly regenerated and born again,” because they find that principle to be clearly affirmed in Scripture; and neither do they have an anaphylactic reaction to the claim that “God is the ultimate determiner of the destinies of men, having unconditionally chosen His elect in eternity past,” because they also find that principle clearly affirmed in Scripture. The centrality of the middle position is not due to a desire for compromise, but due to an unwillingness to compromise: neither principle of Biblical truth should be emphasized at the expense of the other.

    When Dr. Hankins says, “…we believe very simply but very deeply that anyone can be saved and, once saved, is secure forever,” he’s not saying anything that a compatibilist/centrist/antinomist would not say right along with him—and yet these middlers to whom I refer also affirm that (in the words of A.W. Tozer) “God has the master choice” and is the ultimate determiner of the destinies of men. To quote Dr. Hankins (“Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism”), “Another typical strategy of Baptists, at this point, is to appeal to ‘mystery’ or ‘paradox:’ We don’t know how God chooses individuals, and, at the same time, individuals choose God. But, like other complex doctrines such as the Trinity or the hypostatic union, it is still true.” Every time that Traditionalists speak as if they hold all the ground between Calvinism and Arminianism, they err in portraying the size of their movement to be larger than it is. And further, they completely underestimate the size of those who disagree with them on their most adamantly held point, since it is not only Calvinists but also the large group of “non-Calvinists, non-Arminians—non-Traditionalists” who hold that God unconditionally elected us in eternity past. You might say, “Well, then they’re Calvinists;” but you would be mistaken. They do not hold to original guilt, they do not hold to irresistible grace, they do not hold to regeneration prior to faith, they do not hold to a limited atonement, and they do hold to the “savability” of any sinner. Rejecting Calvinism is not necessarily an “all or nothing” proposition, and it does not require one to embrace the kind of Libertarianism that you call Traditional. Obviously, many Southern Baptists have rejected Calvinism and affirmed Traditionalism—but many have also rejected both Calvinism and Traditionalism, and have done so without denying that God has the “master choice.”

    In response to Ron F. Hale, who said (among other things), “…today we have some Southern Baptists with hearts that want to declare the “savability” of everyone, but with heads that believe in double predestination etc. etc.” I submitted the following comment, which was at first posted and then later removed:

    Ron Hale,

    Many Southern Baptists see no dichotomy between head and heart as you’ve described it. Since Scripture affirms the principle of the savability of everyone, then believing that is as much a matter of the head as of the heart; and likewise, since Scripture affirms the principle that it is God who is the ultimate determiner of the destinies of men, then believing that is as much a matter of the heart as of the head.

    Be blessed!

    Why either one of these irenic comments were found to be unworthy of posting is beyond me. Their moderator has ignored my polite request for an explanation of what could be wrong here. One can only guess what keeps him from at least giving an answer for his actions in an above-board way.

  2. Les Prouty

    Ken,

    Your comments are always very good and pertinent to the discussion and always polite. I was eventually banned at SBC Today simply because the moderator didn’t like my comments. Moderator is not the correct word for his position.

  3. Ken Hamrick

    Thanks, Les. You’re an example for all of us to follow when it comes to politeness and competence. It’s too bad that politeness is prized and intellectual honesty no longer seems to have much value.

  4. Doug Sayers

    Ken, You sound like someone who has been to seminary or done a lot of reading!

    in your experience, have you found this moderator bias/censorship on both sides of the debate?

    I have appreciated your comments about the “middlers” in the SBC. As a Gideon, I get around to a variety of churches in our area. I know the SBC churches in our area don’t seem very engaged in the Calvinism issue at all. They seem to wish it would just go away.

    Also, I am not sure how you are using the word “savability”. When I was a Calvinist, I never viewed every person as savable. That was the whole point of unconditional election and irresistible reprobation. There would be no good faith plan of salvation for the reprobate in the historical Reformed view.

    I don’t know if you have any interest in hearing from a layman / former Calvinist on the issue of irresistible salvation, but there is a book available through Lifeway (Amazon,etc) online called Chosen or Not? It sounds like we may agree on quite a bit.

    Sorry, if you don’t allow shameless book plugs and need to censor this post… I understand! I can re-send the post without it.

    Looking for that Blessed Hope..

  5. Ken Hamrick

    Doug,

    I’ve studied theology on my own. No formal education to speak of. Yes, I’ve found censorship on both sides of the debate.

    The “savability” of the cross makes all men savable. The nonelect are lost because they do not come to Christ, not because He would not save them if they did come.

    Plugs are no problem. Maybe I’ll take a look at your book sometime.

    Meanwhile, if you have anything you would like to post, just send it by email to sbc.open.forum@hotmail.com

  6. Doug Sayers

    Ken, gotcha. Thanks. For what it’s worth, I was asked to write a short essay on my journey in and out of Calvinism by SBC Today. They posted it today.

    Looking for that Blessed Hope…

  7. Ken Hamrick

    I enjoyed reading your article today on SBC Today. I posted the following comment, which is currently in moderation. I wonder if they will post it?

    Doug,

    I’m glad that you see the error in inherited condemnation. God judges individuals only for their own individual sins. I fully agree with your statement, “I think God does not appreciate preachers telling people that He would send them to hell even if they never actually sinned; it doesn’t reflect very well on His holy character…”

    However, often when something is taken too far, it is sent in that direction for a good reason. In other words, it’s often not the direction that’s wrong but the extreme to which it is taken. I think this is one of those issues. The Augustinian idea that men are born already condemned for Adam’s sin is based on the earlier idea that the moral nature of all men was located in Adam, sinned in Adam when Adam sinned, and was propagated to all men in such a way as to still bear a kind of corporate responsibility for the moral failure that occurred while that moral nature was still in Adam. One question drove the early Western Church to such an idea: How is it just for God to inflict the descendants of Adam with the penalties that fell upon him for his sin, such as spiritual death & depravity, toil, pain, sickness, death, etc.? This was long before Federal Headship and the redefining of God’s justice to be anything He so chooses to do. God’s justice was assumed. So they looked for the expected ground of that justice within substantial reality, and came up with the idea, supported in various places in Scripture, that every man has some kind of existence “within the loins of” his fathers prior to being conceived as an individual.

    How do you answer that question, Doug? How is it just for God to inflict the penalties for Adam’s sin onto us, even if he reserves condemnation for our individual sins?

    Thanks, and be blessed!

  8. Ken Hamrick

    Well, it appears that my comment to you has once again been deleted. Is there no room for any acknowledgement of a middle position? It is interesting that the nearly identical comments that I made on the Founders Blog were permitted, while on SBC Today, they were not. Maybe the centrist position is more threatening to the Trads than to the Cals?

  9. Doug Sayers

    I’m sorry your response was not posted. I think you raise a fair and common question/objection. I do prefer more give and take than is generally allowed. I left a 2nd response on the Founders Blog on the 24th that has not been posted.

    I have often said that if it took the encroachment of Calvinism to get rid of the liberals in the SBC then it was worth it. Like you, I have learned a lot more good solid teaching from Calvinists than non Calvinists. Perhaps, the non Calvinists in the SBC were asleep at the wheel and now they are losing the upper hand. They will have to get back to the Bible if they want to win back control. As a Gideon, I visit a variety of churches. My observation/conviction is that too many churches have traded the routine Lord’s Supper for the routine altar call and it has been a bad trade. Too much emphasis on getting people to “make decisions” and an unhealthy obsession with eschatology has really hurt the Baptist/Evangelical churches in my lifetime.

    As to your question, I am content to note the difference between consequences and culpability. They are not the same. The “condemnation” / “penalties” we each endure as the result of God’s curse on Adam’s race (natural corruption, sickness, and physical death) is not punitive for us. It is simply how we are made after the fall. Here, Here is where I would apply the principles of Romans 9 (the Potter’s rights over the clay) and Jesus’ teaching that unto much is given much is required. No one will suffer eternal separation from God because they were born in sin. I would apply Jesus’ answer to the question about the man born blind. The man was not guilty nor were his parents. He was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. Likewise, we are born in sin so that the works of God can be made known/displayed in us. John 9 God is under no obligation to make us in the same upright condition that He made Adam in order to judge each one of us fairly. in addition, I would insist that if Adam could sin without a sinful nature inclining him to make the bad choice then it stands to reason that He can give us the power of contrary choice in receiving/rejecting the gospel.

    No one will go to hell for being born sinners. We will go to hell for ultimately suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. We are made for eternity. Anyone who expects perfect justice in this life only will die disappointed.

    As to a middle ground/centrist position…good luck…. I really don’t think that one exists. The essence of the debate is a truly antithetical question. Either salvation is irresistible for some and impossible for others… or its not.

    Sorry, a little long. What do you think? How is it just for God to inflict the penalties for Adam’s sin onto us, even if he reserves condemnation for our individual sins?

  10. Ken Hamrick

    Doug,

    I have very little time today, but I will return as time allows tomorrow. Feel free to post your censored comment here. I think that God inflicted the temporal penalties of Adam’s sin onto us because of our ownership of that sin, in that the nature of all men was in Adam and chose to sin when he chose to sin. It is very much like the Augustinian doctrine, except that I do not find God to eternally condemn us for a sin that we did not commit as individuals. Nevertheless, I find a strong Biblical balance in that while we are not personally or individually guilty, neither do we as a race escape the responsibility for our own sinfulness, mortality, etc.

    You can find a full explanation of my view in my reply to Adam Harwood: http://sbcopenforum.com/2013/07/09/who-is-guilty-of-adams-sin-a-centrist-response-to-adam-harwood-part-1/

    Be blessed!

  11. Ken Hamrick

    Doug,

    There is a reason why Calvinists have produced so many systematic theology texts, while the libertarians have produced so few. The plain fact is that the libertarian theologies do not bear up well under the burden of the kind of scrutiny, reasoning, and analysis that is entailed in systematic theology. In my opinion, that’s also why it has long been complained that students who arrive at seminary as Arminians/Trads graduate as Calvinists. Keep in mind that I agree with Calvinists only on unconditional election. But I cannot miss the fact that Calvinism is heavily based on reason, while the libertarian varieties are heavily based on intuition and subjective experience. The Calvinists seem to celebrate having to embrace what is actually repugnant to their intuition, and once embraced, it gives them some moral high ground from which to criticize those who still hold to their “fallen sensibilities” and refuse to embrace what is naturally repugnant. The libertarians (Trad/Armin), however, do not hold human reasoning in such high regard as their Calvinist brothers, refusing to bow to a superior argument when their intuition and personal experience warn them of severe error. No matter whether they can answer the Calvinist from reason and Scripture with an argument that is equally strong or not, the libertarian sees no validity in embracing a logical and reasonable argument that is repugnant to what their intuition tells them is true of God and salvation. Thus, we have an immense amount of rigorous argumentation and theological treatises, both old and contemporary, from the Calvinists; while the Traditonalists seem content with producing one light-weight essay after another.

    But there have been many in the middle who have embraced the proposition that God is the One who chooses unconditionally in eternity past, while simultaneously holding that sinners do have free will and must freely choose God to be saved and regenerated. When the two are held together, the former is not repugnant to the intuition of most. It is only the erroneous extremes of standard Calvinism that give it its repugnance, such as regeneration before faith, irresistible grace, total corpse-like inability, etc. While many of these middlers do not get into theology enough to develop or adhere to a strong, well-reasoned, systematic structure, there are still some who have (such as I have attempted). I believe that the Scriptural truth is actually in the middle between Calvinism and libertarianism, and that there is potential for the middle to produce a system of theology that is stronger than either end of the spectrum—able to answer the reasonings of the Calvinists as well as the intuition of the Trads.

    Be blessed!

  12. parsonsmike

    Dear Ken,
    Many times intuition can be attributed to the Spirit within. But it also can be due to the old man within, or the old way of thinking. The question is not of course what any one of us thinks is right, but what is actually true. Maybe there are some answers that can not be found at this time, in this age, but may be found out when the church ‘matures’, or maybe not found out until we all reach Glory Land.

    The key then is not seek to supply answers that are based even somewhat on own intuition, or reasoning. or a combination, but not based wholly on the Word of God. So many forms of systematic theology go too far as they reason things out. And many objections to plain truths are voiced because they don’t seem right. And to combine one’s reasoning and intuition to come up with a closer-to-the-truth answer is just as wrong.

    Now what I have just said can be seen as true because we have two methods of communication from God, His Word and His Spirit. The communication from these Two are filtered through our fallen perspectives and understandings. Thus we give too much weight to the written or too much weight to the unwritten, and thus too much weight to reason/logic or too much weight to intuition.

    Along that same thought line, we can say that we are a people of the Book and a people of faith. But we are a fallen people who by our own understanding distort many truths, as we always have. So we must depend on the Spirit to guide us by the Book. And that leads us to some observations. i was going to say conclusions but I realized that overstates and is a function of my less intuitive perspective and more of a reasoned perspective. They are not conclusions, nor should they be because it is a false thing to make conclusions with only some truth. Certainly a judge has to, a jury has to, but we do not have to. We do not have to because there is no reason to make conclusions since we are a people who live by faith and trust in God in the ongoing saga of history.

    So then we can make these observations, knowing that they are incomplete and un-complete-able at this time:

    1] We can assume that we are right, that I am right and you are wrong because I am a Christian and you are not.
    We do this with Mormons and Muslims and etc. But should we do this within the church? We do need to draw lines in the church because the wolves have entered in and seek to fleece the sheep. But we need to exercise caution so we do not bite and devour our own.

    2.] We can assume that those within the fold that disagree with us on certain matters are still sheep. And by assuming that we can also assume that the Mighty Awesome All-Knowing Holy Spirit is leading us corporately into a better understanding of truth… down the road. We now do not need to reconcile all we think is true systematically. Though the Book is sealed as to its content and length, it is still open as to its proper interpretation. If anyone disagrees with that, explain the last book for me, and who is that arrogant?

    3.] We can assume that the Spirit is moving in us to bring us together in truth, even though we seem at odds now. The problem we have is a limited perspective, Think of us or you or me as a chess piece moved to a certain spot on the board. Not only can we not see the board like the Great Grandmaster but we really have no idea of how He is working everything out so that in the end, voila’, perfection! But the white Knight fights with the white Bishop. Instead, the knight should seek to remain faithful in whatever task is set before him, as should the Bishop. Does that mean they should not discuss their different perspectives and in doing so help each other find the proper path of service? of course not! We can disagree, but always in trust in the Lord, for He is the ultimate bringer of truth to the wayward.

    Peace,
    -mike

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