by Michael WhiteRonnie Rogers’ paper was published on Friday, 07 November 2014 04:30 at SBC Today.
To be a consistent Calvinist, a person must believe that the Bible teaches God limits His redemptive love toward His creation and that limited love is more reflective of God being the sum of perfect love than God extending His salvational love to all of His creation.
That statement is Brother Rogers’ opening remark. Of course it is just as true that to be a consistent Arminian or a consistent Traditionalist or basically a consistent anything evangelical Christian, one affirms that God does not save everyone.
But herein lies the difference: I, as one who holds to all 5 point of Calvinism, believes that it is the love of God that saves. God’s love is not just an inefficient force that makes it possible for men to save themselves, but is what draws people to God and delivers people from their sinfulness.
God saves sinners who are at the time, enemies of God, lovers of the world, followers of the Evil one, and blind and ignorant to the veracity of the truths of the Gospel. He, and the love He has for them fills their heart, enlightens their understanding, humbles their proud and haughty mind and carries them to life eternal.
Further, I affirm that there is no shred of wisdom or understanding that I have apart from the saving work of God in me that leads me to embrace Him wholly and willfully. That it is God alone who saved me, and that when he does the same for others as He has done for me, they too will embrace Him wholly and willfully.
It is a sad thing when a group of brothers, whether they be called Arminians or Traditionalists, promote their OWN wisdom and/or humility as the deciding factor in their own salvation. For our choice to serve God is either one of two things: it is wholly of God whereas He deserves the all the honor and glory for delivering us from darkness, or it is not wholly of God wherefore God does not deserve all the glory for our deliverance. Furthermore to assert that when we are saved it is wholly of God but if we choose not to be saved, it is on the unbeliever, is a cop out. For in the same breath they declare that each man has the choice and they put the onus on man to choose one way or the other.
Additionally, this point is buttressed by Dr. Rogers’ own words. Where he seeks to show a contrast with Calvinism and himself by saying that: “God [is] extending His salvational love to all of His creation.” Consider that Mr. Rogers, speaking for Traditionalists, sees the salvational love of God not actually saving all humanity but simply reaching out to them. So then, how does anyone then get saved, but by making their own self and their own choice the deciding factor in their own salvation. So we might ask, “Why are you saved?” And the answer would be, “Because I chose to embrace God.”
The testimony is man centered, not God centered. The testimony gives the person the credit, not God the glory. Not “Because God…”, but, “Because I…”! Do Arminians and Traditionalists deny that God is a part of their salvation? No they do not. They do seek to give God the greater credit. They seek to get around giving themselves credit by appealing to unBiblical ideas such as prevenient grace. It is unBiblical if one extends it, like brother Rogers does God’s salvational love, to ALL of humanity. By that extension, they negate their own idea that God gets ALL the credit for saving them, since His grace is extended to all, why do some choose for Him, while others choose against Him? And they are brought right back to the place where they respond: “Because I…”.
The question is not, does God have a role in saving man, or even, does God have the greater role in saving man, but, does man have a role in his own salvation? And his answer, like all Traditionalists and Arminianists is, YES. And whether they like it or not, if man has a deciding role that he must properly act on that decides his destiny, then the person deserves part of the credit for their own salvation, and per force God does not get all the credit.
Brother Rogers continued a bit later with this:
The same is true with the heavenly birth, which is a work of God’s creative power with observable effects. Consequently, the message to Nicodemus seems to be a summons to trust Jesus’ words that human birth, even if it included such recognitions as Pharisaical standing or Jewish descent, is insufficient to make one right with God. Even recognizing Christ as a teacher from God is inadequate. For any person to experience the kingdom, salvation, God must create a new life. There must be a heavenly birth subsequent to the earthly birth in order to partake of God’s kingdom, i.e. be saved. This requirement confused Nicodemus for obvious reasons, but most importantly because it left him having to face the glaring inadequacy of what he was, all he had done, and with nothing he could do to rectify his lacking. This truth left him with faith and faith alone. Trusting God to do what Nicodemus could not do.
Consider his words about faith and nothing he could do to rectify his lacking. Is not trusting God something Nicodemus could do? Therefore Nicodemus was not left with “nothing he could do to rectify his lacking.”
I point this out to bring attention to the confusion inherent in Arminian/Traditionalist doctrine. If the choice of the person is needed to be the deciding factor in whether a person gets saved or not, then there is something Nicodemus and by contrast, every person can do to rectify their lacking.
But if personal choice is the deciding factor in this rectification, then their faith is based or founded on their choice, or on themselves, and therefore not on God. For they could just as easily choose against God, could they not? The choice is theirs and their destiny hangs in the balance. Their eternity rests on the choice they make. “Because I…”!
Their faith has as its foundation the reason they chose to believe.
If we have an either/or moral choice, we should make that choice based on our judgment of what is right and wrong, and, do we wish to act right or not? Thus the scheme I am arguing against sets each person up a judge to rule on their own destiny when presented with the Gospel. If they rule God’s way, they reap eternal life. If they rule against God, they reap eternal death. Their faith has as its foundation the reason they chose to believe.
Or to put it in another vernacular, we could ask why they chose to accept Jesus as their Lord. There is nothing wrong with the question. Every Christian chooses to accept Jesus as their Lord. But the answer is not because “I chose to believe”, but because “I believe.”
Choice follows faith. If faith follows choice then their faith has as its foundation the reason they chose to believe.
What then is the foundation of faith? Is it my choice and thus my reason[s] in making that choice become the foundation for my faith, or is the foundation of faith to be found outside of my own person with my personal reasons and choice?