Tagged: Salvation

Edwards, Necessity & Certainty: Part 1

by Ken Hamrick

This will be a series of informal posts chronicling my quest to understand and engage Jonathan Edwards on the ideas of necessity and certainty, and to establish where Andrew Fuller departed from Edwards’ view. In this, I’m seeking to expand the argument made in the paper, “Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles.”

Edwards defines necessity in the following way:

Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the FULL AND FIXED CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THINGS SIGNIFIED BY THE SUBJECT AND PREDICATE OF A PROPOSITION, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connection, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition or contrary effort be supposed, or no. When the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing, either substance, quality, act, or circumstance, have a full and CERTAIN CONNECTION, then the existence or being of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical sense. [1]

He treats necessity and certainty as the same thing Continue reading

It’s Not Calvinism But Rationalism That Divides Us

by Ken Hamrick

Having debated Calvinism for many years, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of leaving to mystery that which can never really be figured out—a view espoused by many others before me. Such a position is disdained by both sides as something of a weak and anti-intellectual compromise. But arriving at this Antinomist position after thoroughly studying the issues is to arrive in strength, not in weakness. I’ve always argued from the middle anyway, previously confident in the power of reason to explain truth.  But unless the intellect is tempered by faith, it is a hindrance to real understanding; and only by faith can reason be humble enough to see its limits. Reason is just not equipped to take us beyond our finite, temporal thinking so that we can grasp the ways of the infinite, timeless God who transcends creation—that is faith’s role. Seeing that there is more to the equations involved in reality than the merely finite and temporal is also faith’s role. Accepting this, I find that I now have little interest in arguing with either side (which may be why the middle is so rarely heard from). As such, this article is intended to appeal to those who are not yet “sold out” to one side or the other, rather than to debate with those who are. The latter may strongly disagree, but I no longer feel the need to answer them beyond what is offered below. Continue reading

“To Give Knowledge of Salvation to His People: A Christmas Mandate for Christian Ministry” | AlbertMohler.com

Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler

So many moments of our lives pass with almost no sense of significance. The twenty four hours in a day fade into the memory of the seven days of the week, then the thirty-odd days of a month, and then months into years. The years pass into the mist of memory.

But certain moments, certain days stand out in vivid contrast. These are occasions of bright and lasting memory — births, deaths, family reunions, and Christmases. Add to those moments like this, a commencement ceremony. There is something even more special about this ceremony, however, for this is the graduation of those called to Christian ministry, and this ceremony comes fast upon Christmas. Continue reading →

Three Ways the Gospel Changes Our Generosity | J.D. GREEAR

J. D. GreearGenerosity is a peculiar topic. Whenever it comes up, especially in church, things get uncomfortable in a hurry. The question begins to crop up in our minds: “Am I giving enough? How do I know I’ve given enough?” And if the pastor lays it on thick—telling us all about the overwhelming number of poor unfed orphans in India while we fat, disgusting, overfed Americans waste our money on luxuries—we become pretty convinced that we aren’t giving enough. The greater the sense of the need, the greater our sense of guilt.

I’ve always found it telling that in one of Paul’s most majestic passages about generosity, 2 Corinthians 5:13–21, he doesn’t drum up donations by beating people over the head with guilt. Instead, he applies the gospel in three distinct ways: Continue reading →

Living the Gospel-Centered Life | The Gospel Centered Woman

Gospel Centered WomanOver the last decade, the term “gospel” has taken a prominent place in our theological conversations. Yet, ironically, the more we talk about the gospel, the easier it can be for us to misunderstand what Scripture actually means by that word. One common area of misunderstanding is equating the gospel with the specific doctrine of justification or the moment when we realize our need of a Savior. In that case, we understand the gospel as something that begins our Christian walk but doesn’t have much bearing after.

But when the Scripture speaks of our new life in Christ, it doesn’t limit it to a particular event or a theological principle. Instead, it uses the term “gospel” to describe a new way of living, an all-encompassing reality, a way of moving through the world. Unfortunately, when we forget this, it can manifest itself in our daily walk and keep us from living in the fullness God intends.

So how can we tell if we are not living in the fullness of the gospel? Continue reading →

Give Me the Doubly Offensive Jesus, Please | TGC | Trevin Wax

Trevin WaxThe Jesus of the Gospels is offensive because of how inclusive He is.

The Jesus of the Gospels is offensive because of how exclusive He is.

The church is offended by His inclusivity, and the world is offended by His exclusivity.

Thus we are inclined to weaken the offense, either by minimizing His inclusive call or by downplaying His exclusive claims. Unfortunately, whenever we lop off one side or the other, we wind up with a Jesus in our own image.

Instead, we should celebrate both Jesus’ inclusiveness and His exclusivity, for this is the polarity that makes Jesus so irresistibly compelling. Continue reading →

Does Faith Precede Or Result From the New Birth? A response to Ronnie Rogers [part 1]

 by Michael White

Ronnie 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. Continue reading

Does Faith Precede Or Result From the New Birth? | SBC Today

SBC TodayRonnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

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. Of course, the perennial problem with the Calvinist’s perspective is the explicit claims of Scripture to the contrary. The encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus provides an example of God’s universal salvational love and sets the context for probably the most well-known and beloved verse in the Scripture, which explicitly declares God’s universal redemptive love for all of His creation (John 3:16).[i] I intend to set the context by briefly summarizing vss. 1-13. Then I will note some observations drawn from vss. 14-15. The illustration of vss. 14-15 serves a twofold purpose; first, it provides illumination for properly understanding some of the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus in vss. 1-13; second, it serves as Jesus’s chosen introductory and illuminative illustration for vss. 16-21. Continue reading →

Why I Became “God Boy” | Woven Words and Thoughts

Dan Barnes

Dan Barnes

I had a life transforming experience during the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years, and as a result I became a sold out believer in Jesus Christ. I was already a believer at the time, but my life began to reflect it in many ways. I hung Christian posters (little ones) in my locker, wore Christian tshirts and listened to Christian music. As a result, I was teased and mocked for my faith, I was called God Boy and Church Boy. No one ever called me Jesus Freak, it would have been much cooler, but I was teased anyway. In my years of Middle School and High School, I had friends who were believers, some who weren’t believers, but no one asked me why. No one asked me why I chose to take the mocking and teasing and continue to wear my Christian shirts and listen to my Christian music. So, I want to take a minute to answer the question that no one really wanted to ask. Continue reading →

“Jesus, Continued” Releases Today! | J.D. GREEAR

J. D. GreearJesus, Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better than Jesus Beside You is officially available to order starting today!

Most books about the Holy Spirit focus on describing who the Holy Spirit is. This book is not so much about the Holy Spirit as it is for helping you understand the Spirit’s guidance in your life and how to move in his power. This book asks one, central question: Are you living by the power of the Spirit and do you know what it means to walk with him? Continue reading →

Fuller & Inability: A Rejoinder to Tom Nettles

Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller

Other Posts in This Series:      Part 1;       Part 2;       Part 3;       Whole Paper.

Recently, I published a Centrist response[1] to Dr. Tom Nettles’ series of articles on Andrew Fuller.[2] He has replied to that critique, but only in brief comments (one initial[3] and one final[4]). I had hoped he would step up to the task of a substantive engagement. Be that as it may, I will in this rejoinder address his comments and show the continuing inadequacies of his defense.

Dr. Nettles states:

I agree […] that human sin in the fallen state is certain. I also agree that Fuller resisted capitulating to any concept of mechanical, or natural, necessity or impossibility in the issue of sin or, on the other hand, of faith and repentance. I disagree with [Hamrick’s] argument that certainty in the area of moral choice is substantially different from moral necessity. He states, “The philosophical lens of Centrism is that of a determinative certainty. In other words, God determines all things by making all things certain, but not necessary.” Given the entire fabric as to how humans make decisions in light of the inflow of motivations to the understanding, and that it is impossible to demonstrate that any decision ever goes contrary to the prevailing motivation, then how to separate certainty from necessity in this moral realm I must leave to Mr. Hamrick for I cannot do it. He must argue for contra-causal choice, which I don’t suppose he will want to do; or he must say that one’s choice has no cause at all, which will immediately contradict, in both of these cases, our Lord’s description of the human heart as the fountain of all moral choice.

Contrary to Dr. Nettles, in this moral realm, necessity can be distinguished from certainty as surely as sovereignty can be distinguished from justice—as surely as might from right. Continue reading

The Beauty of the Moment | DownshoreDrift

Alan Cross

Alan Cross

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭16‬:‭11‬ ESV)

Every moment has the potential to be bathed in the presence of God where there is fullness of joy. God has a “path of life” for us that leads us beside still waters and green fields where He gives us rest and restores our soul (Psalm 23). Oh, how we need soul restoration. Continue reading →

SAVING FAITH: WHERE IT COMES FROM, PART 3 of 3

Part 1 can be found here: https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/08/23/against-fuller-and-the-idea-of-moral-inability-why-israel-missed-the-messiah-and-why-many-cant-believe/

Part 2 can be found here: https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/08/23/part-2-against-fuller-and-moral-inability-why-many-can-not-believe/

Part 1 is about how the Jewish people missed the Messiah and did not recognize Jesus as God in the flesh because their sin[s] blinded them to spiritual truth through the hardening of their hearts.  Part 2 is about how people now a days, since Pentecost, who fail to grasp the Gospel truth for the very same reason: their willful sin blinds them to spiritual truth.

Part 3 is about faith. Faith is God’s remedy to the blindness caused by sin and to the damnation that results from sin. It is the way God spreads His love to those he shares His life with, both in this world and in the one to come. Faith is the way God raises up a people for Himself. Faith is God’s instrument to do His will. True saving God honoring faith does not begin or originate in the will of a man or woman, but by the Holy Spirit in His demonstrating of The Father’s love through the sacrifice and resurrection of the Son.

The short question is: Why do we believe? Continue reading

PART 2: AGAINST FULLER AND MORAL INABILITY, Why Many Can Not Believe

THIS IS PART 2 OF 3. WHY MANY TODAY CAN NOT BELIEVE.

Part 1 [https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/08/23/against-fuller-and-the-idea-of-moral-inability-why-israel-missed-the-messiah-and-why-many-cant-believe/] was about how the Jewish people missed the Messiah.

Now of course they all did not miss the Messiah, and not all people today will reject the Gospel. But the reason most  of the Jews missed out on the Messiah was because they sinned against God and that caused their spiritual thinking to become futile and their foolish hearts to be darkened. Hard hearts toward God and blinded minds toward spiritual truth are the inevitable and certain consequences of sin. This is not just true of the Jewish people, it is also true of people today and everywhere.

Sin destroys. It ruins. It makes one unholy and unfit for fellowship with God. The answer for sin is in part 3. For now, let us look at the state of the Gentiles and why they are blind to the Gospel truth. Continue reading

Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles (Whole Paper)

Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller

An Addendum, incorporating the Rejoinder, was added, 11-25-2014.

by Ken Hamrick

[13,200 words…] The focus of the debate between Calvinists and Traditionalists returns ever more often to Andrew Fuller. His theology is ideally suited to bringing the two closer together—not merely by a spirit of cooperation, but closer in doctrinal view—the usual argument over his meaning notwithstanding. There is indeed a middle ground, and it is more Biblical than either side alone. It simply needs to be well articulated, and Fuller is as articulate as they come. It is true that Fuller thought of himself as a standard Calvinist; but his arguments go well beyond Calvinism and toward the center with a Biblical depth and penetrating clarity that has given his writings great value across the last two centuries. Of course, Calvinists want to proudly include this bright light in their number, since he defeated the Hyper-Calvinism of his day and was instrumental in founding the Baptist Missionary Society. But to do so, they must paint over those differences in which he shined the brightest.

Dr. Tom Nettles, a Calvinist and professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently posted a series of articles on Fuller, at the Founders Ministries blog. Having “taught on Fuller for three decades,”[1] Dr. Nettles seems to have been prompted to post these latest articles by the prospect, offered by Traditionalists, that Fuller’s teachings can be used as a bridge by which Calvinists can become Non-Calvinists.[2] As a Baptist Centrist (one who holds to both unconditional election and the freedom of men to “choose otherwise”), I see Fuller as a bridge by which both sides can gain a better understanding. Continue reading

Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles, Part 3 of 3

Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller

 

Other Posts in This Series:      Part 1;       Part 2;       Whole Paper.

by Ken Hamrick

In his second installment, “Fullerite: Doctrine of Inability,” Dr. Nettles’ fundamental misunderstanding of Fuller is seen in how he has taken some of Andrew Fuller’s sentences out of context, and turned them around to imply what Fuller actually was teaching against:

In answering both the hyper-Calvinists and the Arminians in The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation, Fuller pointed out that both believed that “it is absurd and cruel to require of any man what it is beyond his power to perform.” In their ardent desire to steer clear of each other, they finally concur in their attitude toward duty and grace—where there is not grace, there is no duty. “The one [hyper-Calvinists] pleads for graceless sinners being free from obligation, the other admits of obligation, but founds it on the notion of universal grace.” Fuller carefully distinguished, as he did in his earlier confession, between natural inability and moral inability, and asserted that the “inability of sinners is not such as to induce the Judge of all the earth . . . to abate in his demands. It is a fact that he does require them, and that without paying any regard to their inability, to love him, and to fear him, and to do all his commandments always.” Both hyper-Calvinists and non-Calvinist-partial-Arminians find this assertion to imply some kind of contradiction, or at [least] impose on any normal sense of fairness. In spite of all the rantings and reasonings against him and his view, however, Fuller continued to affirm both the absolute moral inability of man and the remaining duty of perfect obedience and cordial love to God and consequently a belief in the gospel.[29]

This axiom, that “it is absurd and cruel to require of any man what it is beyond his power to perform,” is not what Fuller argues against (as if only the hyper-Calvinists and Arminians held to such a thing) Continue reading

Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles, Part 2

Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller

 

 Other Posts in This Series:      Part 1;       Part 3;       Whole Paper.

by Ken Hamrick

It will be helpful, prior to addressing further differences with Dr. Nettles, to establish what Andrew Fuller means by his distinction between natural and moral inability. Speaking of himself in the third person, in the preface of Gospel Worthy, Fuller explains that he was introduced to the difference between natural and moral inability by studying Jonathan Edwards:

He had also read and considered, as well as he was able, President Edwards’s Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will, with some other performances on the difference between natural and moral inability. He found much satisfaction in this distinction; as it appeared to him to carry with it its own evidence—to be clearly and fully contained in the Scriptures—and calculated to disburden the Calvinistic system of a number of calumnies with which its enemies have loaded it, as well as to afford clear and honourable conceptions of the Divine government.[10]

Fuller’s adoption of this distinction does not establish that he adopted the theology (and philosophical baggage) of Edwards in toto. It would beg the question if one were to argue, that because the meaning of Edwards carries a certain nuance and philosophical bent, then Fuller’s meaning must carry the same. To understand Fuller, we must look to Fuller and how he understood this distinction.

The main difference between moral inability and natural inability, to Fuller, was that in natural inability, one is unable no matter how much one might be willing; whereas, moral inability consists only in one’s unwillingness due to “an evil bias of heart.” Natural inability is “the want of natural powers and advantages,” while moral inability is merely “the want of a heart to make a right use of them.”[11] Continue reading

Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles, Part 1

Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller

 

 Other Posts in This Series:      Part 2;       Part 3;       Whole Paper.

by Ken Hamrick

The focus of the debate between Calvinists and Traditionalists returns ever more often to Andrew Fuller. His theology is ideally suited to bringing the two closer together—not merely by a spirit of cooperation, but closer in doctrinal view—the usual argument over his meaning notwithstanding. There is indeed a middle ground, and it is more Biblical than either side alone. It simply needs to be well articulated, and Fuller is as articulate as they come. It is true that Fuller thought of himself as a standard Calvinist; but his arguments go well beyond Calvinism and toward the center with a Biblical depth and penetrating clarity that has given his writings great value across the last two centuries. Of course, Calvinists want to proudly include this bright light in their number, since he defeated the Hyper-Calvinism of his day and was instrumental in founding the Baptist Missionary Society. But to do so, they must paint over those differences in which he shined the brightest.

Dr. Tom Nettles, a Calvinist and professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently posted a series of articles on Fuller, at the Founders Ministries blog. Having “taught on Fuller for three decades,”[1] Dr. Nettles seems to have been prompted to post these latest articles by the prospect, offered by Traditionalists, that Fuller’s teachings can be used as a bridge by which Calvinists can become Non-Calvinists.[2] As a Baptist Centrist (one who holds to both unconditional election and the freedom of men to “choose otherwise”), I see Fuller as a bridge by which both sides can gain a better understanding. Continue reading

LORD and SAVIOR: The TRUE GOSPEL JESUS

Jesus is both the Lord of all, and the Savior of all who believe. He is not just Lord of those who believe, but he is Lord of all those who do not believe. Understanding His role as Lord as we proclaim the Gospel can help us better understand the Gospel and help make us more appreciative of our roles as His witnesses.

And His witnesses we are to be for he told His disciples that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

Now as His witnesses, we are to witness to Him as He is, both to us, and to those we are witnessing to. Taking our cue from both Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in Romans 1, we see how to do this, first Peter in Acts 2:

This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:

The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at My right hand,
35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

To the religious Jew, the Lord was Jehovah. Peter had already directly referred to God as Lord in verse 20 where he spoke of the great and glorious day of the Lord in quoting the Old Testament. Also in verse 21, where he again quoted the OT and declared that all who call upon the Lord will be saved. And then again Peter quoted from the Scriptures in the above quoted passage, where a little part of the mystery of the Trinity is revealed. The point is that Peter used the same word to describe both Jehovah and Jesus. Continue reading

What Do Southern Baptists Believe about Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility in Salvation?

by Charles L. Quarles
Former Vice President for the Integration of Faith and Learning
Former Dean of the Caskey School of Divinity
Former Carter Research Professor of New Testament and Greek
Louisiana Baptist College

Over the last several years, discussions about divine sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation have intensified in our Southern Baptist context. Labels like “Calvinist,” “Arminian,” and “semi-Pelagian” have been tossed around, often too freely, and this has brought more confusion than clarity to important doctrinal discussions in which we cannot afford to leave room for misunderstanding. I have always resisted these labels. My experience is that people define them in very different ways. My refusal to accept any of the above labels is not prompted by any desire to deceive others or to hide my views. I refuse to accept the labels simply because the issues are too important to leave room for being misunderstood by someone who is using a different “dictionary.” Continue reading