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
by Dr. James Willingham
The ground work or foundation for awakening prayer as well as for the visitation that we call an awakening is to be found in the theology we find linked to the First and Second Great Awakenings and the Launching of the Great Century of Missions as the late historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette called it or the Modern Missionary Movement as it is called today. That theology with few exceptions must be described as Sovereign Grace or Calvinism. The latter term actually diverts attention from the reality that Sovereign Grace is taught in Holy Scripture, and the very term is predicated on the use of the word, “reign,” used in Romans 5:21: “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Reign or rule, of course, suggests the very idea of sovereignty, the authority and power to demand that things be done with a certainty. Sin abounds. Grace superabounds. The enemy comes in like a flood, and God raises up a standard against him, a counter flood, a greater flood. Like Noah’s flood of old which covered the whole earth, the deluge of grace shall fill the whole earth with His knowledge and glory. The stone becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth.
Interestingly enough, all of this is to be accomplished not by force but by persuasion Which brings us to the statement from a work which began my journey toward this understanding of God’s design. In his Introduction to his translation of William Ames’ Marrow of Divinity (the first textbook in theology used at Harvard, so I understand), Dr. John Eusden stated; “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage,….” That statement was like a light turned on in my mind and heart. Continue reading
The title for this post is drawn from a famous statement by the Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). The full statement reads: “There is not a square inch in a whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” Where did Kuyper get this idea? I suspect, at least in part, from the Great Commission text of Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What Jesus has authority over belongs to Him. What belongs to Him He rightly claims as “Mine!” All of creation is Christ’s. As we advance the gospel across North America and to the nations we reclaim souls and territory that belong to King Jesus. This world belongs to the Son of God, not Satan. Continue reading →
God promises grace to battle sin and to overcome sin. We believe that God gives that kind of grace to his people. This is not something we deserve; it is not something he owes us, but he gives it anyway. It is undeserved, the overflow of his love for us.
And we long for that grace—the grace to put sin to death, the grace to bring righteousness to life, the grace to be who and what God calls us to be. Continue reading →
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Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.
While Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made very important contributions to our history and theology, the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism. Even the minority of Southern Baptists who have identified themselves as Calvinists generally modify its teachings in order to mitigate certain unacceptable conclusions (e.g., anti-missionism, hyper-Calvinism, double predestination, limited atonement, etc.). The very fact that there is a plurality of views on Calvinism designed to deal with these weaknesses (variously described as “3-point,” “4-point,” “moderate,” etc.) would seem to call for circumspection and humility with respect to the system and to those who disagree with it. Continue reading →
D. A. Carson points out that if you really want to embarrass the average Christian, just ask them to tell you about their private prayer life. Many Christians can bluff it when it comes to Bible knowledge, church attendance, even sharing their faith. But ask about prayer, and you’re likely to get a shuffling of the feet and some awkward stares.
Most Christians struggle to make their prayer times meaningful. (I count myself among them.) We think it’s supposed to be a sweet, mystical communion with Jesus . . . but when we start to pray we inevitably find ourselves working on grocery lists in our head or reliving last night’s episode of Blacklist. At other times, if we’re honest, we just aren’t sure how much good prayer actually accomplishes. Continue reading →
Ronnie 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 →
There is much talk in this modern age of medicine about what to do with terminally ill patients. If you know you are going to die and it’s not going to be a pleasant death, is it ok to take your own life so you can “die with dignity”? I wanted to talk about this concept of having dignity, is it something we should even strive for? What is the deal with dignity?
When you and I came into the world, we did so without a shred of dignity. If you have ever been part or even an observer to the birthing process, you know there are lots of things, but dignity isn’t among them. There is a great deal of nakedness, noise, mess and sometimes some confusion depending on how quickly things go. My kids were are c-section, so it was as dignified as it gets, but all of my kids came into the world the same way. Messy, naked and crying. There is no dignity to the way we enter this world. We have to be cleaned up, clothed and cared for, and the beauty is that as an infant, we don’t care. Continue reading →
What does experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit feel like?
A friend once told me about a Christian singer he knew who rented a recording studio. After an extensive setup and sound check, she began performing her first song. The sound technician thought it sounded great, but about hallway through the first verse, she stopped abruptly, threw up her hands, and said, “It’s no use. Turn it off! He’s not here.”
The sound tech said through the studio mic, “Uh…Who’s not here?”
“Him,” she said, “the Holy Spirit. His presence—it’s missing.” She called a few friends into the studio, and they commenced to laying their hands on various pieces of equipment, praying for God’s presence and dabbing the equipment with oil. Continue reading →
Israel wasn’t supposed to want a king, but they asked anyway. So God gave them what they wanted—an impressive human king, just like the other nations had. His name was Saul, and he didn’t last long. He disobeyed the divine command, infuriating the prophet-judge Samuel and upsetting the Lord God.
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” (1 Samuel 15:10-11)