Live-blogging and Notes from John 3:16 Conference

Tim Brister —  November 9, 2008 — 120 Comments

In an attempt to be brief and succinct, I will try to give a cliff note version the recent John 3:16 Conference as I understand it from those who attended and the blogs I have read.  First the live-blogging posts:

Andrew Lindsey (Challies.com) and John Mark (Sweet Tea & Theology)

1.  John 3:16 Conference (Lindsey)
2.  Registration, Schedule, and Books (Lindsey)
3.  Johnny Hunt Opening Message (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
4.  Jerry Vines on John 3:16 (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
5.  Paige Patterson on Total Depravity (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
6.  Attendance and Mood (Lindsey)
7.  Richard Land on Unconditional Election (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
8.  David Allen on Limited Atonement (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
9.  Steve Lemke on Irresistible Grace (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
10. Ken Keathley on Perseverance of the Saints (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
11. Charles Stanley on John 3:16 (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
12. Question and Answer Session (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)

10 Noteworthy Items from the Conference

1.  Both messages by Hunt and Vines were previously delivered at Southern Seminary’s chapel (here for Vines, here for Hunt).  Hunt’s tone and demeanor is very different from years past (in a good way).

2.  Paige Patterson affirmed original sin but denied original guilt.  As I understand it, this view was popularized by W.T. Conner.  I’m intrigued to know how many Southern Baptists would hold to this and what are the benefits of such a theological position.

3. David Allen called Robert Reymond and James White hyper-Calvinists according to Phil Johnson.  Both James White and Phil Johnson have responded.

4. David Allen concluded that a move toward “five point” Calvinism was “a move away from the gospel.”  The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

5. David Allen’s handout which he mentions in his message can be downloaded here (PDF).

6. Steve Lemke holds that repentance and faith precede regeneration.

7. Steve Lemke defines a “hyper-Calvinist” as someone who is “more Calvinistic than you are.”

8. Ken Keathley asserted that Tom Schreiner and A.B. Caneday teach salvation by works, according to the Council of Trent (Roman Catholicism).

9. Richard Land argued that Romans 9-11 have nothing to do with eternal salvation.

10. Keathley, a classical Molinist (and indeterminist), presented the case that determinism is to a bad theological position to hold.

10 Observations from a Distance

1.  The speakers apparently have real theological differences among each other.  One might expect this when having a conference when you are united around what you are against rather than what you are for.

2.  While most of the seminaries were represented as vendors, Southern Seminary was not.

3.  Earlier in May, I had requested for Founders Ministries to be a vendor.  The request was rejected without justification.

4.  The purpose of this conference was intended to be a “majoritarian response to the ‘Building Bridges’ and ‘Together for the Gospel’ conferences” (according to Lemke).

5.  If there ever was a place and time that Southern Baptists would have discovered a counter-resurgence of non-Calvinists among younger Southern Baptists, this conference would have been it.  However, live-blogging revealed that it was more comparable to the SBC Annual Meeting than Together for the Gospel.  In other words, Vines and Co. are without generational succession.

6.  Conference audio is $50 and video is $60 $69.  These incredibly steep prices for resources will discourage many from purchasing them.  This philosophy of marketing is quite contrary to the free resources provided at Reformed conferences.

7.  The closed door approach to the conference was also quite interesting.  In the day of live-blogging, live-streaming, immediate file-sharing (whether audio or PDF), this conference did not seem to adopt the whosoever will spirit of John 3:16.

8.  I am encouraged by the approach and disposition of now president Johnny Hunt regarding his Calvinist brethren.  However, he will have a lot on his hands when his fellow non-Calvinists are lobbing grenades and fostering a fight rather than seeking gospel consensus (after all, “five point” Calvinism is a move away from the gospel [Allen] and contrary to the Great Commission [Lemke]).

9.  Commentary from non-Southern Baptists, such as Justin Taylor, James Grant, Michael Spencer, and dozens of others commenting on the blogs, reveal that the John 3:16 conference is a disappointing if not embarrassing attempt to debunk the doctrines of grace and one-up the Building Bridges Conference.

10.  One has to wonder when Southern Seminary and the astute scholarship represented among the faculty will finally chime in.  Schreiner, Ware, Mohler, Nettles, and others are being thrown under the bus with no response from Lexington Road.  The absence of SBTS from Baptist life and issues is curious to say the least.

I guess that’s a wrap.  Any other notable observations or commentary?  Feel free to comment below.

Share Button
Print Friendly
  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ drewdixon

    Timmy,

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I am going to link your article here, this is a great summary and you have given a lot of great links–James White’s response was classic (that is my flesh speaking)!

    The standing ovation to “a move toward Calvinism is a move toward the gospel” is more disconcerting to me than that Allen said it! That is the sort of thing that Hunt, Vines or someone should have openly rebuked him for saying, but it got a standing ovation so hey, I guess you can’t argue with that.

    That sort of action is evidence that this conference turned into exactly what they said it wouldn’t–“a let’s bash the Calvinists conference.”

    I really want to hear the sessions in their entirety, but I am not going to put down the $50 necessary to do so.

    Anyway, I think your observations are spot-on. I am really hoping Schriener answers his supposed Roman Catholic view of assurance. Dr. Schriener is one of the most gracious people I have ever met in my life, maybe he can teach us a lesson in theology and in manners with his response . . . here is to hoping he will!

  • Pingback: A Great Summary of the John 3:16 Conference and Tons of Links on the Conference « Elect Exiles

  • http://www.joethorn.net Joe Thorn

    I would love for there to be some serious, public, theological debate on this issue. I think in the context of a denomination this would be particularly helpful. I am doubtful the other side has the courage to let it happen in a neutral setting.

  • http://www.thecaleblog.blogspot.com Caleb

    I simply don’t get it. I feel like everything that needs to be said by Reformed SBCers has been said over and over again. Yet the non-reformed folks keep repeating the same old arguments and they refuse to address most of the clearest biblical texts at any kind of scholarly level. Is anyone holding these guys personally accountable for their poor understandings of Calvinism and for repeating horrible arguments?

    I’m all about unity in the SBC and I will be (and am) unified with many non-Calvinists in my own SBC church. But these particular SBC leaders need to be held accountable for their mischaracterizations and name calling. Who will do that? Will they listen? Will they ever retract some of their worst statements? I’m not holding my breath.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Drew,

    Yeah, I thought the same thing about the standing ovation. So much for the irenic attempt to “not bash Calvinists.” At least these guys are consistent in their speaking as they are in their writing. I am kind of curious as to the $50 amount for CD’s. Why $50 and not $100?

    Joe,

    I believe you are correct. I think the closest thing we are going to see of a neutral setting was the Building Bridges conference. I honestly do not think the non-Calvinists have a consensus among themselves what they believe outside their distaste for the doctrines of grace. I would argue that there are enough differences among non-Calvinists to debate amongst themselves (the Anabaptists versus the Molinists; semi-Pelagians versus Arminians, Calminians versus the Christmas Calvinists (no “L”, I mean Noel, etc.). The time and attention given to Calvinism has, I believe, assumed that non-Calvinists are united in what they believe. When your agenda is via negativa, your credenda is left with a huge question mark.

  • http://www.ligonier.org Chris Larson

    Timmy,

    At Ligonier Ministries, we also inquired about exhibiting some months back. When we identified ourselves on the phone, the answerer hung up on us.

  • http://www.themattrix.com Matt Privett

    I’m sure I’m not the first one to suggest this, but I think SBTS’s noticeable silence is a top-down decision for purely political reasons. There may be a fear that an official entity stirring the Calvinist pot would create give the loud non-Calvinists the opportunity they needed to really go after the Seminary.

    I, for one, would love to see Southern adopt a “Here I stand, I can do no other” attitude when guys like Allen are lobbing bombs like Calvinism is “a move away from the gospel.” Unfortunately, I do not see this change happening any time soon (if ever)… at least not before all of the 150th anniversary celebrations are over.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Caleb,

    You asked,

    Is anyone holding these guys personally accountable for their poor understandings of Calvinism and for repeating horrible arguments?

    I have attempted to for the past four years, latest being a 27 page response to Lemke’s very disappointing article in the NOBTS journal.

    Furthermore, I have an ever-growing PDF compilation where I have attempted to chronicle these mischaracterizations, caricatures, name-callings, etc. I do not think they will retract their statements or listen to exegetical arguments from Scripture. They know to diffuse the Reformed Resurgence, it will require an adrenal response, which includes inflammatory language, unchecked rhetoric, and a consistent barrage of new labels to attach (extreme, hyper, aggressive, etc.).

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Chris,

    I am not sure if I am in a place to apologize to you on behalf of Southern Baptists, but I regret that happened to you guys. When I requested, all they wanted to know is whether I was the Timmy Brister who said that Jerry Vines should not be allowed to speak in chapel (which I never said). After that, they simply blew us off. Apparently, they did not want a hint of objectivity (or at least balance) to their conference. Too bad the politicization of the gospel has come to this.

  • Pingback: Five Points of Interest (10-11-08) | Cal.vini.st

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Matt,

    I think you may be right. I don’t want to speculate on behalf of SBTS, but I think it is fair to say that they have been glaringly absent from Southern Baptist discussion on important issues and the future of the SBC. I think the non-Calvinists have their bullets and canons directed to Louisville, too, so Mohler knows that if gives a hint of defense, the guns will come blazin’. I just hope the short-term avoidance of crucial issues in SBC life will not ultimately thwart the long-term reformation Mohler is seeking to advance (one example would be the decreasing percentage of SBTS grads taking pastorates in SBC churches).

  • http://barrywallace.wordpress.com/ Barry Wallace

    Thanks for the summary. I don’t think you could pay me $50 to listen to these addresses. I’ve already heard more than I really cared to, for free.

  • http://freegracepreacjer@blogsot.com PAUL WAYNE FOLTZ DD

    You, and Dr. Mohler will not bring the convention back to its original Doctrinal status. We need a Sovereign Grace Baptist fellowship started now composed of Baptists who hold to the Doctrines of Grace, TOTALLY OUT OF THE CONVENTION.

  • http://stephennewell.wordpress.com Stephen Newell

    Can we even be sure Mohler & Co. are even worried about this? You and I, and likely anyone even familiar in passing with our profs, know that attempting to take on people like Mohler, Moore, Ware, Schreiner, etc. on this issue would be like a 4-year old trying to pick a fight to the death with Jet Li. It would be comical. I’m convinced it would look like the way Vader took Luke apart in Empire Strikes Back. Painful to watch and inevitable.

    I think a more likely explanation is that Mohler & Co. really are the gracious people we know them to be and are abstaining from this in order not to offend our “weaker brothers.”

    Yes, I really did just say that. ;-)

  • Pingback: More Anti-Calvinism Rhetoric: John 3:16 Conference « T h e o • p h i l o g u e

  • http://www.irruption.wordpress.com Bret

    I appreciate the summaries. The “Observations from a Distance” are right on target.

  • http://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/ Thomas Twitchell

    Did you know that Yarnell accused Tom Ascol of attempting to drag the SBC toward Presbyterianism? Of advancing ecumenism?

    http://www.swbts.edu/dashboard.cfm?audioToPlay=chapel/chapel103108_fd1.mp3&fdi=_fd1

    Yarnell sounds like one angry dude. In the above sermon, the man just gets wacky. He seems to have no clue as to how someone is born-again, or at least, his presentation is convoluted to the point of incoherence. You’ll hear his call to war against the Calvinist insurgence restated more than once in the sermon. Of course he is a Biblicist, the rest of us haters of truth. He points Matthew 7:21 at TA (all reformed Baptists) and empties his scatter gun.

    At the beginning of the tape you will here the anger born out of hate for these doctrines. What is obvious is that Yarnell extends his hate to those who hold them. Believe it or not. To him, like Allen has said, like Page said, you are the messenger of the devil. Yarnell says that you have reversed his order and by doing so it proves that you are not in relationship to Christ. Though Yarnell is clearly an instrumentalist, he calls you that.

    John 3:16 was a rally, a troop muster. The next few years is going to get really ugly. The fact that Ergun Caner was announced, that he was given any credence, if it is not recognized for what it is, a call to war against Calvinism with the end being to purge the heresy from the ranks of the SBC, it will spell doom for the recovery of the historic SBC doctrine.

    There are words that fit Yarnell. I will leave you to define them for us.

    Oh, Timmy, take the earplugs out. The guns are already blaring.

  • http://www.covenantword.org Steve C

    Timmy and others,

    Do you guys think that these men (John 3:16 speakers) have stated positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Baptist Faith and Message?

    If so, do pastors, trustees, and other SBC denominational leaders not a have biblical responsibility to God and the churches of the convention to publically correct these errors?

    If these erring brothers do not repent should they be removed from their denominational positions (examples: Land, Patterson, and Lemke)?

    Thanks,
    Steve

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Steve,

    The question about BF&M accountability is a good one. I recall one time reading a blog of a non-Calvinist SEBTS professor who said that he could sign the Abstract of Principles so long as he could define the articles himself. I imagine a similar postmodern approach.

    For instance, the BF&M states that

    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

    It is clear that (1) regeneration is the work of God brought about by the Holy Spirit that (2) leads one to repentance and faith in Jesus. Therefore, (3) repentance and faith are grace gifts, not an inherent ability within man.

    Lemke and those who say that regeneration follows faith and repentance would be out of line with the BF&M.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thomas,

    I am well aware of Yarnell’s message. Yarnell’s name-calling and attack job from a chapel pulpit is very disappointing, but I have come to have very low expectations from SWBTS and NOBTS. Yarnell and the Baptist Identity crowd are a landmarkist movement with the influence of a snow cone on a sunny day. They are asking for attention with their actions, but I hope Baptists and potential seminary students ignore them. I have many emails and comments to prove that this indeed is the case.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Stephen,

    I really need to get up on your Star Wars terminology! But I do think I understand what you are saying. That’s an interesting rationale, but I would find it to be one that I am not convinced.

    Bret,

    Thanks man.

  • http://chadwickivester.wordpress.com chadwick

    Timmy,

    Here is the key-word for those who desire to re-define SBC History: ANABAPTISTS!!! :eek:

    From the information that I have evaluated from the ANTI-CALVINISTS non-Calvinists, I have determined that these ‘hucksters’ are trying to re-write the SBC history books! Nay, they are trying to undermine the entire Protestant Reformation via ANABAPTIST HISTORY ROOTS! Just read the sign over Patterson’s History Department. :roll:

    Ask Patterson’s Anabaptist foot soldiers which HISTORICAL movement spawned the SBC; ask Butch? Yarnell? Lemke? Every one of Patterson’s footsoldiers have answered: ANABAPTISTS! :idea:

    Don’t be surprised if these ‘hucksters’ attempt to change the name of the SBC to SAC (Southern Anabaptist Convention)! :lol:

    chadwick

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ drewdixon

    I some of the comments in this meta are a little too alarmist. Am I concerned about the ripple effect that this conference will have? Yes I am, because your average Southern Baptist knows little of theology and could perhaps be scared into taking up arms against it in the convention. That said, I think the doctrines of unconditional election and effectual calling are crystal clear in the Bible–I think the reason that there is such an uproar against these two doctrines is because the flesh rebels against the truth and because we have allowed theological ignorance to pervade the convention.

    There is no doubt in my mind that reformed SBCers have a thoroughly biblical basis for their theology and that theology is consistent (though more clear at many points) with the BF&M.

    It is my feeling that this conference will not have a wide ranging influence in the SBC–I mean you have to drop $50 just to listen to the sessions–that keeps reformed bloggers from ripping them but it also keeps you average layman and small church pastor from ever hearing them!

    I think the divisive-heart of this conference is coming out in the slander that Lemke and Allen laid down–it is my hope that people see that and that Reformed SBCers will have the common courtesy not to stoop to that level.

    I think the church history of Patterson’s crowd is suspect, but who cares? Are not unconditional election and effectual calling are thoroughly Biblical doctrines? Church history is important, but unless the SBC wants to forsake serious exegesis and Biblical theology–they will not be able to run us out of the convention. If they forsake those two things, then I will gladly serve in an Baptist church outside the convention. Let’s not freak out and sound the alarms just yet, we are not to that point yet. When we sound alarmist, we start sounding a little too much like the naysayers.

    My best advice to reformed SBCers is to continue to address these issues biblically and continue to preach the gospel and as some have said recently, “let the chips fall where they may!”

  • Steve C.

    Timmy,

    What are your thoughts on my other questions contained in my previous post?

    Thanks,
    Steve C.

  • Aaron Campbell

    As I react to the John 3:16 Conference and much of the misinformation presented there I feel my own anger well up and a desire to prove them wrong. For that reason, I applaud those who were attacked for not responding in kind. In all matters concerning God and theology it is most important to be right, not prove to everyone else that we are. So, we continue to love the doctrines of grace and to be humbly thankful to our kind and gracious God for saving us, and to pray for those who attack us.

    Aaron Campbell

    PS Commenting on the attitude of Dr. Yarnell- I had him for Systematic Theology II at SWBTS the semester Piper came to speak in chapel. One student began asking a question of Dr. Yarnell in class regarding some aspect of Piper’s theology. Yarnell cut him off with this response, “John Piper’s theological views are childish.” He does have a tendency to come down hard on students who disagree with him.

  • http://hereiblog.com/ johnMark

    Timmy,

    I appreciate your thoughts. It’s almost as if as a sum the presentations weren’t put together in a cohesive manner.

    The way some (many?) of the arguments were made against Calvinism by attempting to find disagreements amongst Calvinists. In this line of thought, we have Land referring Ironside to understand Romans 9. Now, would it be a valid tactic to compare ALL of Land’s positions with Irondside’s? Then, conclude that Land cannot use Ironside on Romans 9 because of their disagreements?

    This seemed to be the MO of the conference presenters.

    Mark

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Chadwick,
    You are a man of many emoticons. :) While I think your rhetoric is a little over the top, I think you are right about the Anabaptist push from Fort Worth.

    Drew,

    I agree my friend. I do not think we should be too alarmist nor do we have the license to return the favor with unhelpful rhetoric or mean-spirited speech. We should be gracious yet firm, committed to speaking the truth in love. Thanks for the reminder.

    Steve,

    Regarding your other questions, I do not think the seminaries or Baptist institutions will hold them accountable. There’s only one time in my memory where that happened, and that was when Mohler confronted the faculty of SBTS on the Abstract of Principles. The sad fact is that the SBC really isn’t confessional, at least not in practice. We have a confession, but I don’t think it is used for the stated purposes which you questioned. Many of these men have gotten a free pass because the denominational bureaucracy has been against Calvinism for years. I don’t expect things to change any time soon.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Aaron,

    You said:

    In all matters concerning God and theology it is most important to be right, not prove to everyone else that we are. So, we continue to love the doctrines of grace and to be humbly thankful to our kind and gracious God for saving us, and to pray for those who attack us.

    Very well put. We cannot allow ourselves to be held to the same standards the non-Calvinists in the SBC. Scripture requires more and Christ deserves more. Thanks for commenting.

    johnMark,

    So if I understand you correctly, the presenters were trying to argue that Calvinists are confused and disagree with each other; ergo, we should not pay attention to what they are saying. That would be really interesting, especially coming from this eclectic lineup of speakers. I would like to hear Charles Stanley’s version of eternal security up against Keathley’s Molinism up against the Baptist Faith and Message on perseverance. And that is on just one point!

    On a different note, I just saw that the price for DVD’s just went up from $60 to $69. Not sure if that is going to affect any potential buyers, but I thought I’d update you guys. ;)

  • K.J. Pugh

    Tim,
    You put the ‘provocative’ in provocations. Thanks for keeping me informed. Love you, brother.

  • steveva

    Timmy and others,

    Do you really want to be in a church that is a member of a denomination that is not confessional?

    What about the biblical responsibility of the churches or leading men in the convention holding these conference speakers accountable?

    Your brother in Christ,
    Steve C.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ drewdixon

    Timmy,

    BTW – My warning about being too alarmist was not directed at you. I think you post here and your comments are fair. Keep standing up for the truth brother.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    K.J.,

    Great to hear from you brother. Man we miss you guys. Hope all is well in Tuscaloosa. Let’s catch up! BTW, we are reading Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor for the PP of the month. You’ve got to join in!

    Steve,

    As Southern Baptists, the local church may have affiliation but no obligation to the convention. However, it is the obligation and desire of some to bring reformation to this denomination from a local church level. I’ve got friends in the bureaucracy working hard to reform the beast, and I am not sure if their efforts are an exercise in futility (they want me to believe that it isn’t). Many of the best and brightest have left or are currently leaving the SBC. There is work being done and vision being cast that I cannot speak publicly about, but I am hopeful (though not naive) about the future. Regarding these men, with each passing day, they are becoming more and more irrelevant. Though I should not expect the passing of time to be their only accounting, I do find it more profitable to exercise my energy in encouraging pastors, planting churches, and focusing on gospel-centered renewal.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Steve,

    Let me add that there are churches in the SBC that are functionally confessional, and many of them do not hold to the Baptist Faith and Message but rather the 1833NHC, 1689LBC, or Abstract of Principles. There are several better written documents than the BF&M; nevertheless, I am hoping for a Baptist confession for the 21st century to be written. I’ve been kicking this around with scholars and friends a little bit of late.

    I am not sure what the biblical responsibility of the churches are to holding these men accountable. Certainly, I believe their local churches should, and I also believe the seminary institutions should. I think a good way of churches holding them accountable is not sending their people to these seminaries. I believe this is happening, though I expect it to increase in the years to come.

  • steveva

    >>I am not sure what the biblical responsibility of the churches are to holding these >men accountable.

    If SBC denominational leaders are servants of the churches (entity positions, seminary presidents and professors, etc), then they should be held accountable to the churches of the convention. – right?

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Steve,

    Yes, all those in seminaries or other SBC institutions are “denominational servants.” They should be held accountable. But here’s the rub. The SBC has become balkanized and divided in a number of “streams”. The fundamentalists are against the emerging church/missional planters; the Anabaptists are against the Calvinists; the Baptist Identity (Landmarkers) are against the Great Commission Resurgence alliance, and so on. The SBC is, whether stated explicitly or not, is in a cold war of sorts. The climate and conditions for accountability are not very favorable to say the least. I am inclined to believe that a greater divide is pragmatism over a theology-driven ecclesiology. The push for numbers, whether SS enrollment, baptisms, or attendance has fostered a church growth euphoria that has dismissed confessionalism and Baptist distinctives (sch as regenerate church membership). The one thing that seems to hold the SBC together is the Cooperative Program. But then if you follow the money, you find another can of worms. On top of that, you have denominational movers and shakers who wield a big stick of influence and have had liberty to do so because of their legacy with the Conservative Resurgence.

    So that is a little bit of the context here. I try to stay out of all this, as you can imagine how depressing it can be. :(

  • http://hereiblog.com johnMark

    Timmy,

    This seemed to be the tactic used with David Allen the most. Whether intentional or not, I don’t know. What Allen did was say that most historic Calvinists have been four pointers including Calvin. While those following John Owen were the five pointers which was contrary to Dordt and Westminster. I could be wrong, but it seemed like a divide and conquer strategy. Just look at what was put forth to divide James White, Tom Ascol an Phil Johnson, for example.

    I’m not sure everyone coordinated their messages either. The conference being called “John 3:16″ and how Vines emphasized “whosoever” and “world” yet someone, maybe Allen, read Calvin on John 3:16 to show even Calvin agreed to about the “whosoever” and “world.”

    We have the “problem” of some baptists coming together with presbyterians. Yet, Healthly had no trouble from anyone with his molinism which is a Roman Catholic invention.

    One non-Calvinist questioner, who may have been an ant-Calvinist, needed clarification on the view of saving faith which Yarnell answered. I supposed it sounded too Calvinistic, I don’t know.

    Etc….

    Mark

  • http://undergodshands.blogspot.com Brian Mann

    The non-calvinist group here who oftentimes has claimed in unkindness and unlovingness among calvinists has continued to show themselves as being the one’s really looking for a fight. The term building bridges is often used as well, but I see that they are really tearing the bridges down. Yes, indeed grateful for Hunt’s attitude toward the whole thing, but in large this conference is a horrid picture of divisiveness at large (That is whether the participants had knowledge of that or not).

  • K.J. Pugh

    Tim,
    I just put down the Reformed Pastor. Our pastoral staff is reading through it together. Do you know of any church that “takes heed to all the flock” the way Baxter recommends? I would love to see a post on Baxter’s concept of Pastoral Care vs. modern ministries. I think that I remember Dr. Wright quoting Mark Dever as saying Baxter’s model is unreasonable. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Pingback: John 3:16 Conference (All Kinds of Disappointment) « The Crimson Window

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    FYI: Team Tom in the Box reports that the John 3:16 Conference Finally Proves That Calvinism is Unbiblical . . .

    http://tominthebox.blogspot.com/2008/11/john-316-conference-finally-proves-that.html

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    K.J.,

    I think it is great that your pastoral staff is reading The Reformed Pastor together! I wonder how many other staffs read stuff like this together? I fear you guys are odd balls. :)

    Unreasonable, eh? Well, I have to take another look at Baxter’s pastoral care. I will likely be blogging on this later this month.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Brian,

    The way it works is,

    (1) the non-Calvinist camp attacks the doctrines of grace or the sovereignty of God in salvation
    (2) Calvinists biblically and exegetically defend their beliefs in open and public discourse, exposing the errors, tactics, and caricatures of the non-Calvinists
    (3) the non-Calvinists accuse the Calvinists caring too much about Calvinism and are “aggressive” in really believing and defending the doctrines revealed in Scripture
    (4) Calvinists take the high road and try to forge a gospel consensus by focusing on what we agree upon for the good of the convention
    (5) the non-Calvinists take the low road and try to foster division by focusing on what we disagree upon, further ripping the tear in the tattered garments that clothe the SBC

  • thomastwitchell

    That’s pretty much the MO.

    One of the things that we need to keep in mind that there are families and not just men involved. Recently Mrs. Allen appeared at a blog offended. It is unfortunate and in reality what needs to be said, needs to be said. Still, that doesn’t shield the hurt that some of us have had penetrate our families. This then also be in our prayers.

  • http://www.kplunk.net Kenan

    So “Romans 9-11 have nothing to do with eternal salvation”?
    How can anyone who has read this passage say that it has nothing to do with eternal salvation? :roll:

    From what I read here, it certainly seems that the conference had little, if any, to do with scriptural exegesis and everything to do with name-calling and why-I-don’t-like-Calvinism-and-neither-should-you” rhetoric.

    Thanks for the informative summary, Tim.

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Caleb ask “Is anyone holding these guys personally accountable”

    Caleb, I will do so…

    From this day forward I will not attend any event or conference where a single one of these men are speaking… and yes I really mean this… I am done with these men!

    In addition to this, I will actively promote a full Boycott of NOBTS and SWBTS… and yes I really mean this… I am done with these Seminaries!

    I may not have the influence of Johnny Hunt, but you can rest assured I will do my best to warn the next generation of young men about these Anti-Calvinist men and these Anti-Calvinist Seminaries. I plan to be active in the ministry for perhaps another 40 years, and I will not forget the John 3:16 Conference, even when I am an old man!

    (Rom.16:17)

    Grace Always,

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Timmy,

    You said:

    4. David Allen concluded that a move toward Calvinism was “a move away from the gospel.” The crowd responded with a standing ovation.”

    Then, in point #8, you repeated the same thing and said:

    “…after all, Calvinism is a move away from the gospel [Allen]…”

    In contrast, Andrew Lindsey wrote:

    Conclusion: “Should the Southern Baptist Convention move toward 5-point Calvinism, such a move would be away from, and not toward, the gospel.”

    JohnMark wrote:

    “Closing with “Five point Calvinism is a move away from the Gospel and not towards it.”

    These last two men accurately reported Dr. Allen’s statements. You, Timmy, have not. Whether or not one agrees with Dr. Allen’s statement is beside the point of this post. We are to accurately report what has been said. He said “five point Calvinism,” and not “Calvinism,” would move the SBC away from the gospel, not towards it. Since his lecture was on “limited atonement,” and given how he spells out his definition of “five point Calvinism” in his definitions page, it is important that you change the wording of your post to accurately reflect the facts.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Tony,

    Fair enough. Oversight on my part, and the qualification is inserted.

    I am not sure how “five-point Calvinism” is any different from “Calvinism” unless, of course, you believe that “five point Calvinism” is “hyper-Calvinism” (as has been argued by non-Calvinists in the past). In any case, I do not see how the qualification makes the charge of Allen any less significant.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    JohnMark, in a comment above, suggested that Dr. Allen was saying:

    “While those following John Owen were the five pointers which was contrary to Dordt and Westminster.”

    This is also not factual, to say the least. Dr. Allen knows very well that the language of Dort and Westminster is ambiguous enough on the point to allow for both moderate and high Calvinists to sign it. This is why he referenced Dr. Richard Muller on the definitions page. Look again at the sources and check them out. Or, if you would like, Muller’s statements can be read online HERE and HERE. My own observations from these Muller references can be seen HERE, HERE, and HERE.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Tony,

    I will leave you and johnMark to debate the historiography regarding Dort and Mueller (or Gene Bridges who, like you, has read extensively on this subject). The thrust of the statement does not change regarding Allen as five-point Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism but within evangelical orthodoxy.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Hi Timmy,

    Thanks for making the correction. That shows Christian integrity.

    You mention that:

    “I am not sure how “five-point Calvinism” is any different from “Calvinism”

    I understand, but I think you would say that because you think “5 point Calvinism” [i.e. Calvinism with a limited imputation of sin to Christ view] is consistent Calvinism. However, as for Dr. Allen, he is distinguishing between kinds of Calvinism [which is evident in my chart and his definitions], and only making an accusation about the sort that includes strict particularism. It would be rash to say that he thinks all kinds of Calvinism entail a movement away from the gospel, for he hasn’t made any such assertion.

    You also said:

    “…unless, of course, you believe that “five point Calvinism” is “hyper-Calvinism” (as has been argued by non-Calvinists in the past).”

    Here’s what I would say and what I believe Dr. Allen would say: All hyper-Calvinists are “five point Calvinists,” but not all “five point Calvinists” are hyper-Calvinists. If there are some non-Calvinistss who have said ALL “five point Calvinists” are hyper-Calvinists, then they are ignorant, to say the least. If, however, some non-Calvinists have said that all hyper-Calvinists are “five point Calvinists,” then they have said something true. It’s just the case that hyper-Calvinism is a distorted view of the TULIP, and therefore argues that God has 1) no love for the non-elect, 2) no willingness to save the non-elect, 3) no gracious disposition toward the non-elect, 4) no well-meant offer for the non-elect and 5) the non-elect are not duty-bound to evangelically believe the gospel call. These components are spelled out in the chart I made for Dr. Allen. It is apparent in that chart that Dr. Allen [a non-Calvinist] and I [a Calvinist] do not think “five point Calvinism” is the same as or equivalent to hyper-Calvinism.

    You said:

    “In any case, I do not see how the qualification makes the charge of Allen any less significant.”

    Dr. Allen asserted that C [Calvinism] *WITH* a SLA [a strictly limited atonement] is a movement away from G [the gospel]. That is not the same as saying that C *WITHOUT* a SLA is a movement away from G. He’s asserting the former because he thinks 1) SLA logically entails a denial of the basis for God’s revealed willingness to save all men and therefore also to a denial of the basis for God to give well-meaning offers to all indiscriminately through gospel preachers. In other words, according to Dr. Allen, C *WITH* SLA tends to a denial of a USW [Universal Saving Will] and WMO [Well-Meant Offers]. Dr. Allen, from what I can tell, does *NOT* think that moderate Calvinism tends to a denial of a USW and WMO, since it does *NOT* have the component of a SLA. Here are the distinct arguments:

    His actual argument:

    1) C *WITH* a SLA is a movement away from G, because C with SLA tends to undermine a USW and WMO’s.

    *NOT* his argument:

    2) C *WITHOUT* SLA is a movement away from G, because C *WITHOUT* SLA tends to undermine USW and WMO’s.

    A) If we say that Allen is arguing #2, then we’re committing a straw man fallacy.

    B) If, however, we recognize him as actually arguing #1, then one [a high Calvinist] must deal with his attempt at a reductio ad absurdum, and thus demonstrate how one can hold to a strictly limited atonement view while believing that God wills to save all men and is giving well-meant offers to all men. For, if it is in fact the case [and this is what is in dispute here] that a SLA undermines the basis for a USW in God and WMO, then C with SLA is a movement away from the gospel. Since Dr. Allen thinks that C with SLA undermines a USW and WMO, he argues that it is a movement away from G.

    The difference between A and B is between one committing a straw man fallacy [imputing argument #2 to him], or dealing with his attempt at a reductio ad absurdum argument. The differences are between saying that high Calvinism is a movement away from G and moderate Calvinism is a momement away from G. By arguing the former, he has you, Tom Ascol, and others to contend with. If he’s ALSO arguing the latter, then he would be doomed. For he would have me to contend with as well :-) hahaha jk

    I hope that helps,
    Tony

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Timmy said:

    “The thrust of the statement does not change regarding Allen as five-point Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism but within evangelical orthodoxy.”

    Me now:

    Timmy, the thrust of his statement does change, for he has never asserted that “five point Calvinism” is outside the bounds of evangelical orthdoxy. As I said above, he is NOT equating Owenic “five point Calvinism” with hyper-Calvinistic “five point Calvinism.” Can you see the difference? I will try to clarify this a bit further:

    Dr. Allen’s actual argument:

    1) Owenic “five point Calvinism” is NOT hyper-Calvinism, but does seem to logically entail hyper-Calvinism [i.e. if a denial of a God’s universal saving will and well-meant offers follows a strictly limited atonement]. It therefore represents a movement away from the gospel.

    *NOT* his argument:

    2) Owenic “five point Calvinism” is equivalent to and/or the same thing as hyper-Calvinism. It therefore represents a movement away from the gospel.

    Does that help?
    Tony

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    This would have been a better way to put his argument:

    1) Owenic “five point Calvinism” is NOT hyper-Calvinism, but does seem to logically entail hyper-Calvinism, because a) it entails a denial of a God’s universal saving will and b) well-meant offers. It therefore represents a movement away from the gospel.

  • http://hereiblog.com/ johnMark

    Tony,

    Dr. Allen continued to put forth that the Calvinists in the past were really four-pointers not five-pointers with the L being the point of contention. I wish he would have been more careful and explained the ambiguous language when it comes to the L. If I recall correctly, he even quoted Calvin on John 3:16 and left out the part where Calvin said only the elect will believe. And he didn’t quote Calvin’s last line for v.16, for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.

    I will listen again soon. I don’t need to read Muller’s statement to try and remember what Allen said.

    MArk

  • http://alindsey4.blogspot.com Andrew Lindsey

    YnottonY,

    As the “five-points” define what is popularly meant by “Calvinism,” and are embraced by most people who refer to themselves as “Calvinistic,” I think you’re splitting hairs to say that Timmy misquoted Allen.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    JohnMark,

    I wish Dr. Allen would avoid the “four-point” Calvinist label and the “five point” Calvinist label, but he had his reasons for using that shorthand terminology. However, he did try to explain himself in the course of the lecture, so that people could understand his terminology. That’s one of the reasons for the definitions paper. As for me, I try hard to avoid those labels because they engender confusion.

    What Dr. Allen was arguing about some Reformers and Puritans in the past is that they did not hold to the strict view of Christ’s satisfaction. Those details are also spelled out in the chart I created for the conference. With respect to Calvin, he knows that Calvin has a designed limitation in the application of Christ’s death to the believing elect. However, he also sought to argue that Calvin held the view that the guilt for the sins of all humanity were imputed to Christ when he died, and not merely the guilt for the sins of the elect alone. He, I believe rightly, contends that Calvin held to an Augustinian form of universal redemption, which can also be found in Wolfgang Musculus, Zacharias Ursinus and Heinrich Bullinger. He has Richard Muller to back up his claims on these three men, and Muller even throws in Jerome Zanchi as a non-Amyraldian “hypothetical universalist. This non-Amyraldian trajectory can be found in later thinkers as well, such as in James Ussher, John Davenant, Edward Polhill, Stephen Charnock and John Howe.

    It is erroneous to say these men are either Amyraldians or strict particularists. It’s also unfortunate that the label “four point Calvinist” is being used for those who hold to Calvinistic forms of universal redemption, for they did admit that there was in Christ a special will [but not to the exclusion of a general saving will] to save the elect alone and a limitation in Holy Spirit’s application of his death to the elect alone through the grant of faith.

    Incidentally, I don’t see how Calvin’s line that “…in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation” defeats Allen’s claim. How are you understanding that line in Calvin?

    Also, I wasn’t saying that you should read Muller to try to remember what Allen said. All I was saying is that it would be good to read Muller to see the credibility for some of the things Allen said. Whoever denies that Musculus, Ursinus, Bullinger and Zanchi taught forms of “hypothetical universalism” [Muller’s language for Calvinistic universal redemptionism] will have Muller’s claims to deal with as well. Moreover, whoever denies that both Amyraldism and non-Amyraldian advocates of universal redemption are outside the boundaries of Reformed confessional orthodoxy will also have Muller to deal with. The totally anonymous Turretinfan [aka Tur8infan] tried to argue that way, so I answered some of his false accusations here:

    Turretinfan and Richard Muller: Two Views in Opposition

    He’s never replied to that post, and understandably so :)

    Muller is necessary to cite because of the vast amount of historical ignorance that is floating around the internet. One of the reasons why my own blog is loaded with primary source quotations is to help remedy the situation. Ad fontes, I say! Dr. Allen encourages the same.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Andrew said:

    As the “five-points” define what is popularly meant by “Calvinism,” and are embraced by most people who refer to themselves as “Calvinistic,” I think you’re splitting hairs to say that Timmy misquoted Allen.

    There’s a difference between saying that 1) strict particularist Calvinism would move the SBC away from the gospel and 2) an embracing of all versions of Calvinism would move the SBC away from the gospel. Timmy initially wrote without careful qualification, as if Dr. Allen said:

    4. David Allen concluded that a move toward Calvinism was “a move away from the gospel.”

    One could easily, and falsely, conclude from the above that Dr. Allen meant that #1 and #2 represent movements away from the gospel, when in fact he only asserted that #1 represents a movement away from the gospel. It’s not a matter of splitting hairs, unless one thinks the difference between Christ satisfying for the sins of all and Christ satisfying for the sins of only the elect is a mere hair-splitting matter. I doubt you think that ;)

    Tony

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Tony,

    I really don’t want to kill this thread with theological discourse that most people are not familiar with, which leads me to ask. Do you think that the audience at the John 3:16 Conference understood the various delineations Allen made regarding consistent Calvinists and hyper-Calvinists? When he argued for five-point Calvinism, do you not see how that is understood to be hyper-Calvinism? Why could he not have simply said that hyper-Calvinism is a move away from the gospel? In the end, I would be surprised to learn that the standing ovation was a response based on a clear understanding of Allen’s nuanced articulation of various theological positions on the atonement and the non-elect. With non-Calvinists, there are numerous definitions and classifications that are not accurate–one of them being that five-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. Again, I was not there, and if Allen made a clear demarcation between the two, then great. I guess I’d have to listen to the audio myself; unfortunately, I am not going to pay $50 to do that. It would be interesting to have asked the attenders after the message that if they believed Calvinism was a move away from the gospel. My hunch is that the overwhelming majority would agree with what I had written (based on what they are being told from this conference and elsewhere). The bottom line is that the polemics of Allen, Yarnell, Lemke, et al., is inaccurate, divisive, and agenda-driven. Many non-Calvinists do not embrace this agenda, and I hope more see it for what it is.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Dr. Allen was simply concurring with what J. C. Ryle said here:

    “I will give place to no one in maintaining that Jesus loves all mankind, came into the world for all, died for all, provided redemption sufficient for all, calls on all, invites all, commands all to repent and believe; and ought to be offered to all—freely, fully, unreservedly, directly, unconditionally—without money and without price. If I did not hold this, I dare not get into a pulpit, and I should not understand how to preach the Gospel.”

    J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1880), 3:186.

    Now, while you guys can affirm much of what Ryle says above, you cannot affirm what he means when he says Jesus came to die for all in the sense of providing a sufficient redemption price for all. Dr. Allen and J. C. Ryle agree that if this were not the case with respect to Christ’s satisfaction, then they “should not understand how to preach the gospel” with biblical and/or theological consistency.

    If Dr. Allen is wrong, then so is J. C. Ryle.

    Tony

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Tony,

    One last thing about Allen’s nomenclature for the sake of context. If there is one group of Baptists who have argued for a recovery and focus on the gospel, it is the Calvinists in the SBC. Just listen, for example, to the most recent message by Tom Ascol at SEBTS. Then listen to Malcolm Yarnell’s message on the same day at SWBTS. These two messages reveal two visions and two foci which are altogether different. Ascol calls for the sufficiency of the gospel; Yarnell calls for Baptist isolationism. Ironically, he takes a pot shot at Ascol saying that he is trying to take Baptists back to Dort.

    Ascol’s message:
    http://www.sebts.edu/chmessages/resource_2365/10-30-08_Dr_Tom_Ascol.mp3

    Yarnell’s message:
    http://www.swbts.edu/events/filedownload.cfm?chapelfilename=chapel103108_fd1.mp3

    The charge that five-point Calvinism is a move away from the gospel is theologically and evidentially false.

  • steveva

    >Yes, all those in seminaries or other SBC institutions are “denominational servants.” They should be >held accountable. But here’s the rub.

    Timmy,

    Even though the convention is in a pathetic condition, is there not a biblical responsibility for the churches and leaders to correct these men publically and call them to repentance?

    Men like Al Mohler have plenty of time to blog about the presidential election, gay marriage, etc. but they are silent concerning more important issues like this. What’s up with that?

    Your brother in Christ,
    Steve C.

  • http://hereiblog.com johnMark

    Tony,

    First, and I say this as kindly as possible. One of the reasons I was hesitant to respond is because of the length of your above response. I’m always afraid of getting 10 links to refer to within a 1,000 word response.

    Now, in as much as my memory doesn’t fail me until I can listen to Dr. Allen again, I will try to be concise in making my point.

    My contention with Dr. Allen is not necessarily the content of his presentation as much as how he presented it. So, I really didn’t need your above breakdown. I also think Roger Nichol and Paul Helm would disagree with you in some aspects of the above. Allen flooded the audience with quotes and such and continued to try and separate the five-pointers from the four-pointers. In a sense ,he seemed to really be calling today’s Calvinist to be four-pointers against the Owenian position while not really working through any nuances of particularism in the atonement.

    As I understand it, these men who were “four-pointers” all signed the same or similar confessions and held that the doctrines of the Remonstrance were heretical. This would include Amyraut. So, there were a small-percentage of Calvinists historically who held to a more limited view of the atonement as well as those who held a less strict view yet all were Calvinists. This is so today and I’d say most Calvinists accept this which is why I said the tactic was divide and conquer.

    If Allen wanted to concentrate mostly on the historical rather than the exegetical it would have been more helpful to explain the nuances of the stricter and softer Calvinistic atonement positions against the Arminian positions. Then, we would have had a much clearer picture of what he’s fighting against. He could then explain where he stands in relation to the historical positions and where he thinks the SBC should stand. There is probably an extent to which he did this, but he could have been clearer by, again, not focusing so much on the four vs. five points.

    I’m not saying Calvin’s last line defeats Allen. What I said about this line was on the context of me saying, I wish he would have been more careful and explained the ambiguous language when it comes to the L.

    Mark

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Timmy asks:

    Do you think that the audience at the John 3:16 Conference understood the various delineations Allen made regarding consistent Calvinists and hyper-Calvinists?

    I have no idea what the members in the audience understood or did not understand. All I can say is that Dr. Allen made sufficient delineations between classical/moderate Calvinism, high Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. So long as he makes those distinctions available in his message and in the handout, then he is not responsible for any of the remaining ignorance that may reside in the pews.

    Timmy asks:

    When he argued for five-point Calvinism, do you not see how that is understood to be hyper-Calvinism?

    I am not sure I understand this question. I will suppose you are asking this, “When he argued against five-point Calvinism, do you not see how that is understood to be hyper-Calvinism?”

    I can see how some might misunderstand it that way, but he has no where suggested that high or “five-point” Calvinism of that sort is the same as hyper-Calvinism. As I said above, all hyper-Calvinists are “five-point” Calvinists, but not all “five-point” Calvinists are hyper. High Calvinists are five-pointers, and yet not hyper. Dr. Allen has read the doctoral dissertation of Dr. Curt Daniel in addition to his work on The History and Theology of Calvinism. He has not made the mistake of confusing high Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism. He’s not equating P [high Calvinism] with Q [hyper-Calvinism], but arguing that P [high Calvinism] entails Q [hyper-Calvinism]. If some misunderstand the point he sought to make clear, then that is their fault, not his.

    Timmy asks:

    Why could he not have simply said that hyper-Calvinism is a move away from the gospel?

    There’s nothing controversial about that point. Everybody should know that, even his high Calvinstic opponents. Instead of a standing ovation, he might have heard a resounding “DUH!” :-) However, even if he had said that, there might be some [probably the Caner’s], even high Calvinists, who would misunderstand the above statement as if it suggested that his high Calvinistic opponents are really hyper-Calvinists.

    His point, on the other hand, was to make a statement about the kind of Calvinism that is necessarily associated with strict particularism. Any theological system that is associated with that will lead to an undermining of the true nature of the gospel.

    Timmy said:

    In the end, I would be surprised to learn that the standing ovation was a response based on a clear understanding of Allen’s nuanced articulation of various theological positions on the atonement and the non-elect. With non-Calvinists, there are numerous definitions and classifications that are not accurate–one of them being that five-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists.

    I would also be surprised to learn that the standing ovation was a response to a clear understanding of Allen’s “nuanced articulation of various theological positions on the atonement and the non-elect.” It’s obviously going to take people time to study the issues, if they ever do, to arrive at an understanding of Dr. Allen’s historical, biblical, and theological arguments. All that he can do is strive to teach them carefully and then point him to the sources.

    I also know of the sad situation among non-Calvinists, such that they confuse all varieties of Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism. A friend of mine, who is a moderate Calvinist like myself, was treated very viciously by a woman in a local baptist church in Georgia who was influenced by Adrian Rogers messages. I cannot tell you how much that disgusts me. I am also well aware of the astonishing buffoonery and pseudo-scholarship that is coming from the mouth of Ergun Caner. He’s without excuse and deserves the harshest of rebukes from all parties. From what I can tell, I think Dr. Danny Akin sought to gently but firmly rebuke the Caners [on the Calvinists worse than Muslims thing], either before or after the Building Bridges Conference. I can’t recall exactly. The bottom line is that I know what you’re saying. Many are writing and speaking who are only confusing the issues. The least they can do is strive to reprensent their opponents accurately. You can take my word for it that Dr. Allen is honestly and humbly trying to do just that, even though he’s willing to make very firm statements that will bother many of his opponents.

    Timmy said:

    Again, I was not there, and if Allen made a clear demarcation between the two, then great.

    Not only did he do it in the lecture, but my chart thoroughly made the demarcation between high and hyper-Calvinism as well.

    Timmy said:
    It would be interesting to have asked the attenders after the message that if they believed Calvinism was a move away from the gospel. My hunch is that the overwhelming majority would agree with what I had written (based on what they are being told from this conference and elsewhere).

    My hunch would be the same as yours, but they would be in error if they thought that Dr. Allen had just said that all versions of Calvinism represent a move away from the gospel. However, the high probability of their misunderstanding doesn’t warrant your inaccurate reporting of the facts of Dr. Allen’s statements. I trust that you agree with that.

    Timmy said:

    The bottom line is that the polemics of Allen, Yarnell, Lemke, et al., is inaccurate, divisive, and agenda-driven. Many non-Calvinists do not embrace this agenda, and I hope more see it for what it is.

    I cannot speak for Yarnell and Lemke. Since I am friends with Dr. Allen and functioned as a kind of research assistant for his John 3:16 lecture, I can speak somewhat for him. With that said, what exactly in Dr. Allen’s polemic is “inaccurate, divisive and agenda-driven”?

    Tony

  • http://www.sojournmusic.com Bobby Gilles

    Great points in your post, as well as many of the comments. The only thing I have to add is just — wow. That much $ for the audio and video. In 2008.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    JohnMark,

    Ok. I understand. Well, let’s all just wait and see what Dr. Allen determines to put in writing. Apparently the lecture will eventually appear in written form, and that should be a more thorough and carefully stated presentation of his views on all three areas: historical, biblical and theological.

    To Timmy,

    I make no claims about Yarnell’s statements. He will have to defend himself.

    You said:

    If there is one group of Baptists who have argued for a recovery and focus on the gospel, it is the Calvinists in the SBC.

    I think Dr. Allen, with his strong emphasis on expository preaching has fought for a recovery of the gospel as well. I think many of his associates have done the same. I think Allen would agree that Calvinists have effectively fought for a recovery of the focus on the gospel. It’s just the case that many of them have also done so with a strictly limited view of Christ’s death, which continutes to besmirch their noble efforts.

    The charge that five-point Calvinism is a move away from the gospel is theologically and evidentially false.

    I would be interested sometime, when you have the time, to see how you would argue against the notion that strict particularism undermines God’s universal saving will and the basis for well-meant offers.

    It’s one thing to make an assertion that strict Calvinism does not move away from the gospel, and quite another thing to defend that assertion from a reductio ad absurdum, such that strict particularism entails hyperism.

    Tony

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Tony,

    Your attempt to justify what you guys did at this conference is just Pathetic…

    You are wasting your time here… History has already recorded your actions and both man and God will now judge if they be works of righteousness or not.

    Grace Always,

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Tony,

    I am glad that you also had the integrity to reveal that you functioned as a research assistant for Dr. Allen and his John 3:16 paper on limited atonement. It makes sense then that you have now written 10 comments on this subject. In other words, it seems that you are not only coming to Allen’s defense but your own defense. ;) Were you also involved in the white paper which you argued was written with “theological clarity, objectivity and overall competence”?

    I am not sure if you felt justified in your commentary and adequate attention given to your questions and concerns, but I am not in a position to spend any more time discussing this with you. After all, I’ve got a gospel to preach and sinners to reach for the glory of Jesus and the advance of His kingdom. :)

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Hi Greg,

    Was I a speaker at the conference? What exactly did I do there? I made a chart for Dr. Allen. Is there something wrong with the contents of that chart? If you see anything wrong with my claims or documentation, please point it out to me a brother in Christ should.

    Also, what exactly did Dr. Allen do there that was wrong?

    Also, from what I can tell, Timmy, Mark and I are having good Christian conversation, even if there is disagreement. I hope that I have said some things that will prompt them to study further, even as I will strive to carefully study to understand their theological and historical concerns as expressed here.

    Tony

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Hi Timmy,

    It’s unfortunate for the topic of the conversation has now become focused on me and personal character issues, rather than the substance of Dr. Allen’s presentation. But to answer your question, yes. I was interacting with him when he wrote the book review. Now, since all of this is beside the point of the theology of Dr. Allen’s presentation, that’s all that needs to be said about that.

    You said that, “I’ve got a gospel to preach and sinners to reach for the glory of Jesus and the advance of His kingdom.” I just hope that you’re engaging in that activity because, at the very least, it is God’s will that all be saved ;-) One also wonders if you are actually offering anything saving in Christ’s satisfaction to all [including the non-elect] that hear your gospel call, if in fact Christ did not suffer in their stead. As you go out witnessing in obedience to God’s commands, please consider these things.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Tony

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Tony,

    Do pray for me, that God will use me to represent Jesus well and faithfully proclaim and live out the gospel. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And out of that group, Christ has, in love, predestined, called, justified, and glorified a people for Himself. I have great confidence in the power of the gospel, the power of God’s Spirit (the greatest evangelist), and the power of God’s Word to convict, draw, and bring sinners to Jesus. And while I have breath, I want to use whatever means to call men everywhere to repentance. Were God not sovereign in salvation, and if God’s love was not particular, redeeming, and efficacious, then I would give up. But the gospel of sovereign grace, free mercy, and unconditional love for guilty, hell-bound sinners is not only the message which I preach but the means by which I live. Grace and peace.

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Tony,

    What did Dr. Allen and those who participated in this conference do wrong?

    In principal everything…

    Tony, in debate (theological or political) there are just two positions one may take. 1st is the positive approach where one lays out his position/beliefs and attempts as best he is capable to defend them. 2nd is the negative approach where one lays out the position/beliefs of his opponent (often inaccurately) and attacks these positions/beliefs in an effort to discredit them.

    Those who hosted, planned, and spoke at this conference chose to use this opportunity to attack the faith of other Baptist within the SBC… They are guilty of deliberately causing division within the convention.

    Tony, you tell me why they chose to go negative? Why even bring Calvinism up at all? Why not just teach what you believe and leave it at that?

    Grace Always,

  • jbignacio

    Timmy and others,
    A gentleman in my comments box stated that there was no statement prohibiting audio recording so he actually has the audio available if anyone is interested. He said he is willing to email it out. I myself am not interested for fear of undermining Jerry Vines’ ministry even though I think the prices are a little ridiculous.

    Also, for anyone interested on his take he has been taking the time to respond to each talk on his blog if you want another perspective.

    His name is Todd Burus and you can check his blog out at http://toddongod.com/
    -Jonathan

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Tony,

    When you pray for someone to get saved (and I am sure you are doing so as you faithfully share the gospel with lost sinners)… what exactly are you asking God to do?

    Grace Always,

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Steve,

    I don’t know what’s up with that. I had a friend who recently worked with politicians in D.C. as a consultant and writer, and he told me that the politics in the D.C. are no where near as bad as they are in the SBC. There are others who may publicly write and say something the denominational power brokers do not like and try to have them fired. And I think that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I think that’s why the younger generation will not be found in convention meetings or ever desire to serve as a “denominational servant.” They want to plant churches, pastor and preach the Word, and network outside denominational channels where the grip is so controlling and so tight.

  • http://physicsdoc.blogspot.com Bill Nettles

    YnottonY said: This would have been a better way to put his argument:

    1) Owenic “five point Calvinism” is NOT hyper-Calvinism, but does seem to logically entail hyper-Calvinism, because a) it entails a denial of a God’s universal saving will and b) well-meant offers. It therefore represents a movement away from the gospel.

    This phrase “seems to logically entail” is the big point of weakness in Dr. Allen’s argument and in Tony’s. Tony tries to defend the possibility of “moderated” Calvinism while Dr. Allen is trying to link “5-point” to “hyper” while simultaneously denying the equivalence. You can’t have it both ways! Logically entails is debate speech for “might as well be the same.” Tony may wish it to be something different, but it isn’t to the listeners or the readers. If you don’t want them linked, don’t link them

    Secondly, the argument of “well-meaning offers” would also take out the I. In Tony’s arguments of Dr. Allen’s position, the WMO is an assignment that Dr. Allen makes to the Gospel, but he (either one of them) doesn’t argue the Scriptural basis of such an assignment. I’d be interested in seeing that. Anyway…any well meaning offer must include the ability to refuse the offer. With irresistable grace, the well-meaning offer becomes a well-defined conclusion. On the other hand, if the well-meaning offer is received before grace being given, then salvation comes without irresistable grace, but then salvation is received by the person’s act and not by an unconditional election.

    What are we left with when U, L and I are gone?

  • http://physicsdoc.blogspot.com Bill Nettles

    Oh….where did that blasted “end italics” tag go???

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Bill,

    I’ve got you covered. :) I think I fixed it.

  • http://physicsdoc.blogspot.com Bill Nettles

    jbignacio,
    Thanks for the link to Todd Burus. Especially enlightening was Todd’s continuation of the Jonathan Edwards quote that Dr. Allen stated, trying to assert that Edwards was not a particularist. That really gives a strong impression of Dr. Allen’s hermeneutic and thoroughness.

  • steveva

    Timmy,

    Would that friend happen to be Doug?

    ; )

    Steve C.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Steve,

    My sources have spoken “on condition of anonymity.” :shock:

  • steveva

    hehehehe

    wonderful blog, keep up the good work.

    Steve C.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Greg asks:

    When you pray for someone to get saved what exactly are you asking God to do?

    I suppose the same thing you ask. I express to the Father a desire that accords with His revealed will, that He would have mercy upon them as He had mercy upon me. That he would bring them within the hearing of the gospel [if He has not done so already through me or another Christian] and draw them effectually to His all-sufficient Son by means of his word and Spirit. I pray that He might destroy the deception and power by which the evil one keeps them and/or bring them to the knowledge of the truth.

    If you’re going in the direction of J. I. Packer in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, to the effect that I pray as a Calvinist, it is true. I pray as a Calvinist because I am a Calvinist ;) And, for the record, I am a Synodist in my soteriology like John Davenant and Martinius. If I was alive at the time of the Westminster Assembly, I would have agreed with Calamy, Vines, and Scudder. I would have listened carefully to James Ussher. If I lived in the days of the Puritans, I would have been of the school of John Howe instead of John Owen.

    But, then again, I would probably be put to death back then because I am also a Baptist hahaha

    I hope that helps,
    Tony

  • Stephen

    Your number 5 comment on the list from a distance is so true. It is also very heartening. Also, I believe, if Calvinist will display humility, the next generation of non-Calvinist will not be as anti-Calvinist even if they themselves do not embrace a Calvinistic understanding.
    What I do not understand is why do they treat Calvinism like such a threat and then say things like Dr. Allen that they do not want to get rid of Calvinist? If Calvinism is such a threat why not get rid of it?

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Tony,

    Yes Tony, you as a non-Calvinist pray like a Calvinist… and I as a Calvinist evangelize like a non-Calvinist. You are not going to stop praying and I am not going to stop evangelizing… so remind me again why are we arguing?

    If we lived back during the Reformation… we would both be in real danger of our lives. That very truth alone should remind us not to go to far in our disagreements over these issues (at least it has reminded me of that fact)

    Blessings Brother Tony,

  • http://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/ Thomas Twitchell

    And Vedar was a Jedi… 8:

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Greg,

    Why are you calling me a non-Calvinist? Is that a typo? Or did you really mean to say, “Yes Tony, you as a non-Calvinist pray like a Calvinist…”?

  • http://www.triablogue.blogspot.com Gene M. Bridges

    Personally, I think Turretinfan has done the best job of dealing with Tony’s argumentation, so I’ll leave it at that.

    I think the worst part of this conference was the part where Dr. Schriener was accused of affirming Trent…TRENT!?!! That’s a serious charge to make of a Calvinist. From what I can tell, this stems from the standard conflation of terms from these folks…usually the equate regeneration and salvation, this time it’s justification and salvation. If Dr. Schriener believed justification qua justification is contingent on perseverance, that’d be Trent…but to say salvation entails persevering to the end is another matter altogether. That’s not Trent, that’s just the difference between faith that is living and faith that is dead. Calvinists aren’t antinomians.

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Tony,

    Sorry about that brother… I repent in sack cloth and ashes! That’s what I get for trying to write a computer program while bloging… (yes, I am a computer nerd in my other life) I get distracted and well… the next thing I know I have egg on my face.

    Blessings Brother,

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Thanks, Greg. No problem. I think it’s happened to all of us, so that’s why I asked ;)

    GTY,
    Tony

  • Pingback: Linkathon 11/12 at Phoenix Preacher

  • Pingback: Counter-attacks against Historic Christianity: Old errors die hard | The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies

  • Keith Walters

    For a thorough recap and critique of the messages given I would recommend toddongod.com his critique is the most thorough I have seen on the web

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03569660529270085289 Darrin

    Regarding whether Calvin really believed L, I fail to see how statements of his such as
    “For I stop not to notice those fanatics, who pretend that grace is offered equally and promiscuously to all” would not place him with the 5-points. Would he believe that Christ shed His blood for all, but extended His grace to a few? If He does not explicitly state limited atonement in his works (and he may have), I believe it can yet be drawn from his prevailing counsel.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Hi Darrin,

    I would encourage you to work through this very comprehensive list of quotations that can be used to show that Christ satisfied for the sins of all mankind without exception. Dr. Allen knows about it, and you should as well.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

    “We must make every effort to draw everybody to the knowledge of the gospel. For when we see people going to hell who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that must indeed stir us to do our duty and instruct them and treat them with all gentleness and kindness as we try to bear fruit this way.”

    John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 41, Acts 7:51, p., 587-588.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    I should have said:

    “…that can be used to show that Calvin believed that Christ satisfied for the sins of all mankind without exception.” ;-)

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Conclusion from a seminary student who attended the conference:

    “If anything, this conference has helped to stabilize my views of reformed theology, because the arguments were not coherent nor were they drawn from a systemic view of scripture, and the arguments were poorly made.

    On a side note, I also think it speaks volumes that the conference costs $50 for audio and $70 for Video while Together 4 the Gospel, Desiring God, IX Marks and other Reformed outlets make their audio available for free. It almost appears that the reason behind the conference is not because Reformed Theology is destroying the convention, but that it is destroying the revenue generated during revivals.”

    Source: http://hereiblog.com/2008/11/13/seminary-students-thoughts-john-316-conference/

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Note: “It almost appears that the reason behind the conference is not because Reformed Theology is destroying the convention, but that it is destroying the revenue generated during revivals.”

    Proof: http://timmybrister.com/2008/01/11/evangelism-calvinism-and-the-sbc/

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    A couple of old articles from Founders Journal by Tom Nettles about name-calling of Calvinists that might be helpful:

    Are Calvinists Hyper?
    http://founders.org/journal/fj30/article1.html

    A Calvinist by Any Other Name
    http://founders.org/journal/fj69/editorial.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03569660529270085289 Darrin

    I don’t know, Tony. I’m still working through Institutes, but what I’ve seen so far would be hard to reconcile with universal atonement.

    It seems that the website you referenced, though extensive and porbably requiring weeks of my time to get through, was primarily quoting his commentaries – but Calvin even indicated that the Institutes were intended to be the initial groundwork for serious students, who would then go on to use his commentaries with that foundation understood. So if something in a commentary seems contradictory, perhaps it’s being misunderstood. I realize Institutes is referenced on the site, but the citations I saw of that were not very convincing to me.

    I did have some feedback from a friend who I believe is rather knowledgeable on this. His words are a bit stronger than mine – please don’t take offense – I’m just including them for the points he’s making:

    “I think that the person who posted the comment about Calvin not believing in Limited Atonement is severely off base and probably needs to reread the Institutes, particularly in volumes 2&3, where Calvin deals with the nature of Christ’s work and atoning death.

    By the very virtue of discussing election unto reprobation (volume 3, chapter 21), one must logically assume that Christ’s death was never meant to be effective for all–one logically follows the other regardless of how one strings together isolated quotations. The author of the website accuses Calvinists of jumping to conclusions without reading the entirety of a man’s work. And while it is dangerous to do, what the author is really saying is that every major scholar for the past 500 years has misunderstood Calvin. I don’t know about you, but I think that is an awfully arrogant statement to make. It also states that the entire Council of Dordt, where some of the finest scholars from Scotland, England, Switzerland, Germany, and France joined the Dutch to refute Arminius’ disciples by formulating a summary of Calvinistic Soteriological Doctrine, that all of these men grossly misunderstood Calvin.”

    I’m not suggesting that I’ve yet reached a thorough conclusion about Calvin on limited atonement – I will continue to learn as I read. But I do think there are some important considerations that make me hesitant to agree with your viewpoint. And, personally, even if I were to find that Calvin was a 4-pointer :) , I’d probably simply differ with him on that. That’s OK – I’m not a paedobaptist either. :)

    Christ’s peace to you,
    Darrin

  • http://hereiblog.com johnMark

    Tony,

    Do you believe in a universal atonement the same way the arminians do? What’s the difference? This is what I didn’t hear at the J316C. I didn’t hear a very articulate explanation of exactly *what* the presenters believed. Dr. Allen didn’t explain the differences and what he believed as far as I remember.

    The strict particularism of the atonement aside, can the Gospel offer be considered to be “sincere” considering predestination and unconditional election? I ask because this seems to be the main point of contention.

    Mark

  • http://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/ Thomas Twitchell

    “what I’ve seen so far would be hard to reconcile with universal atonement.”

    You’re right Calvin would think Tony an idiot. He did indeed refer readers of his commentaries back to the Institutes as the grounding for them , even though a fair reading, something Tony never seems to do, of his commentaries, reveal that he thought Tony’s interpretation heresy.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    JohnMark asked:

    Do you believe in a universal atonement the same way the arminians do? What’s the difference?

    No. That should be quite apparently by carefully observing the chart I made. This question should not even be necessary after one makes a mere cursory glance at it. The difference is in the will of Christ and the ultimate cause of the application. Arminians think that 1) God and Christ are equally willing for all to be saved. They also think that 2) there is an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ on the cross. Then, because of their notions of the freedom of the will, they think 3) the ultimate decisive cause of the application is in the believing sinner. All Calvinists have to disagree with points #1 and #2, but they need not disagree with #2. Many Calvinists, including Stephen Charnock and John Howe, believed that Christ suffered for the sins of the whole human race without exception (#2), but not with a view to saving all equally. They also see the application of the benefit of Christ’s death ultimately being determined by the efficacious call of the Spirit. Therefore, there is a limitation in the will of Christ and in the application, but not in the satisfaction. It is truly sufficient for all men, and not a mere hypothetical sufficiency, contra Owen.

    Observe the Puritan Edward Polhill’s way of stating the difference:

    “Christ in his Coming and satisfactory Sufferings had a respect to all Men, so far as to procure for them Salvation on Gospel-terms, but he had not an equal respect to all; it being utterly unimaginable that he should have as great a respect to those in the Pagan World, who have no Christ, no atoning Sacrifice, no Promise of Life and Salvation revealed to them, as he hath to those in the Church, who have all these glorious Objects evidently set forth before them: Greater Donations argue greater degrees of Love; or else, which is very hard to believe, God loves all Creatures alike, notwithstanding that he measures out his Goodness to them in a very various and different manner, to some more, and to others less.”

    Edward Polhill, An Answer to the Discourse of Mr. William Sherlock Touching the Knowledge of Christ and our Union and Communion with Him (London: Printed for Ben. Foster, 1675), 104-105.

    Polhill’s arguments are quite good. See more HERE.

    JohnMark asked:

    This is what I didn’t hear at the J316C. I didn’t hear a very articulate explanation of exactly *what* the presenters believed. Dr. Allen didn’t explain the differences and what he believed as far as I remember.

    That’s a legitimate criticism. However, Dr. Allen’s explained goal was 1) to describe the alternatives historically and theologically, and then 2) to offer defeaters to the strict view, i.e. the High Calvinist position that sees a limitation even in the imputation of sin to Christ. It was not his goal to defeat dualistic conceptions of Christ’s death, even though he seems to disagree with it. If you want to drive Dr. Allen to make a decision, ask him the unity in the Godhead question. I’ve stated that question to him myself, and it is one he will have to deal with at one point or another. If you ask me the question, as a moderate Calvinist, I would reply as Dr. Curt Daniel does:

    “Then there is the argument from the Trinity. It is argued that if Christ died for all men equally, then there would be conflict within the Trinity. The Father chose only some and the Spirit regenerates only some, so how could the Son die for all men in general? Actually, this argument needs refinement. There are general and particular aspects about the work of each member of the Trinity. The Father loves all men as creatures, but gives special love only to the elect. The Spirit calls all men, but efficaciously calls only the elect. Similarly, the Son died for all men, but died in a special manner for the elect. We must keep the balance with each of these. If, on the one hand, we believe only in a strictly Limited Atonement, then we can easily back into a strictly particular work of the Father and the Spirit. The result is Hyper-Calvinism, rejecting both Common Grace and the universal Free Offer of the Gospel. On the other hand, if the atonement is strictly universal, then there would be disparity. The tendency would be towards Arminianism – the result would be to reject election and the special calling of the Spirit.”

    Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Good Books, 2003), p. 371.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    JohnMark asked:

    The strict particularism of the atonement aside, can the Gospel offer be considered to be “sincere” considering predestination and unconditional election?

    The problems arising between 1) a limited imputation of sin to Christ (limited sufficiency) and the gospel offer do not parallel the issues involving 2) unconditional election and the gospel offer. In the former (#1) there are physical or natural barriers to the salvation of some men, but the latter (#2) merely involves God’s determination to graciously overcome the moral barriers of some, and to pass over the rest with this grace. Your question, which I have seen before (from one I suspect may be reading this as well), fails to distinguish between natural barriers and moral barriers.

    In the case of a strictly limited atonement, you have natural barriers standing in the way of the gospel-rejecting sinner, and not merely their own moral antipathy. Not only do they perish because of their own unbelief, but they also perish because they never had a sacrifice that removed all legal barriers that necessitates their damnation.

    Wardlaw seeks to drive home this point [my comments are in brackets]:

    3. The hypothesis [of the strict view] renders the salvation of any besides the elect a natural impossibility. We are accustomed to say, and we say truly and scripturally, to sinners of mankind, that if they are not saved, the fault is entirely their own, lying solely in their own unwillingness to have the salvation offered them, or to accept it on the terms on which it is presented. But on the supposition of limitation in the atonement [i.e. limited imputation], this is not the case. There is, indeed, indisposition on their part [moral barriers]; and it is their sin. But if the atonement be limited in its sufficiency [because of a limited imputation of sin to Christ], it is, in the nature of the thing, absurd and contradictory so much as to imagine any, beyond the number to the amount of whose sins it is restricted, deriving any benefit from it. To call on any others to believe in Christ for salvation, is to call them, in as far as they are concerned, to believe in a non-entity. There would be nothing in the Saviour for them. They are excluded by the limitation of the remedy. For them to seek salvation would be to seek an impossibility. Were they ever so desirous of it, they could not obtain it; for the impossibility would, in this case, arise, not from their own impotence, – (their moral impotence, which is the same thing as their proud and unholy aversion, and constitutes their guilt,) – but from the very nature and constitution of the plan of redemption. If the atonement made has been equivalent to only a limited amount of sin, and if atonement be necessary to forgiveness, – then beyond the limited amount, no sin can possibly be forgiven. There is no provision for it.
    See Ralph Wardlaw, Two Essays (Glasgow, 1830), p. 191-197.

    Unconditional election, on the other hand, speaks to God’s determination to remove the moral barriers residing in the unbelieving and sin-craving hearts of the elect, and his willful permission to leave the rest in their own state of moral hostility. Non-election does not cause physical barriers to stand in the way of the salvation of sinners, otherwise they could not solely be blamed for their damnation (which the Calvinistic confessions say is the case). Consider the doctrine of God’s gift of faith to the elect. He doesn’t add faculties to us in regeneration that were not already present in us by virtue of our being in his image. Rather, he quickes us and renews our affections so that we freely use those already present faculties rightly so as to trust in Christ. In other words, he removes moral barriers through the efficacious call that issues from his election.

    It’s not as though there are ontological barriers in the way of the salvation the non-elect because of preterition, or ontological barriers removed in the case of the elect because of unconditional election. Election and non-election do not cause limitations to be built into creation itself or even into Christ’s satisfaction. His death removes the legal barriers that necessitate the destruction of all men, thus rendering all men saveable and and the gospel sincerely offerable.

    Consider also the parable of the wedding feast. All things are prepared (no physical barriers stand in the way), so all are, on that basis, called to come. The abundant meal is truly there already. What is lacking is their willingness to come (moral barriers merely stand in the way) to what is objectively and really sufficient for them. If they go away hungry, so as to not benefit by the King’s bounty, it’s not because there was no food prepared for them, or that the door was not open, or that they lacked a well-meant summons. They have only themselves to blame. The King doesn’t insincerely invite them to come and eat what amounts to a hollow of a donut, but to enjoy prepared food sufficient to feed them.

    It’s also significant to observe that we never find the limited terms regarding election in scripture also being used of Christ’s satisfaction. As Wardlaw observes:

    The force of the following questions ought, I think, to be acknowledged. It will be by every candid mind.—”If, after all, it be true, that by such expressions as these,—’the world,’ ‘the whole world,’ ‘all men,’ ‘every man,’—God means only the elect, how comes it to pass that equally extensive terms” (that is, with those used respecting atonement) “are not employed in speaking of election and justification? If these two and the atonement be really co-extensive, how do we never read that God elected ‘the world,’ and ‘the whole world,’ and ‘all men,’ and ‘every man,’—and justified ‘the world,’ and ‘the whole world,’ and ‘all men,’ and ‘every man?’ Limitarians allow that the one might be said as well as the other:—and how comes it to pass, then, that it is never said?—Not only must this be accounted for, but on the face of the case there appears so plain and palpable a difference between the extent of atonement and the extent of election and justification, and the sudden identification of these is so preposterous, that, unless a solid and decisive demonstration be given of their co-extensiveness, the system of limitation falls to the ground, and the universal atonement comes to be received as a matter of course. There is so vast a difference between the language that describes atonement, and that which describes election and justification, in point of extent; and the general easy unstrained meaning of Scripture teaches so plainly the unlimited propitiation by Christ’s blood, that it can never be displaced except by solid and irrefragable proof of direct limitation.”*—I confess myself unable to see any possibility of satisfactorily answering such questions as are thus put, on the ground of atonement and justification being necessarily co-extensive.—But by admitting the universality of the atonement, and the sovereign restriction of justification to them who believe, and who are the objects of God’s gracious choice,—the difference in the language on the one subject and on the other is at once accounted for.
    Ralph Wardlaw, Discourses on the Nature and Extent of the Atonement (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1843), 221-224.

    I hope that helps,
    Tony

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Thomas,

    If I am an “idiot” for interpreting Calvin as teaching an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ, so that he may properly be said to suffer for the sins of all mankind, then Augustine Malorate, Andrew Willet, John Davenant, Isaac Watts, Edward Williams, Edward Griffin, James Richards, Owen Thomas and Curt Daniel are also idiots for interpreting him the same way. Also, since Dr. David Allen also interprets Calvin the same way I do, you might also call him an idiot. So, you may want to contact Dr. Greg Welty and tell him that his boss [Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary] is an idiot. I trust that Welty would also rebuke your demeaning comments, which is your habitual way of speaking to others online, even to fellow believers in Christ.

    There’s nothing in the Institutes that negate what he says in his Sermons and Commentaries. The double standard is also revealing. To argue against those who read Calvin in a universal say, some appeal to his Tract to Heshusius and his Commentary on 1 John 2:2, rather than go to the Institutes. But, they demand that their opponents only stick to the Institutes to sustain their case that Calvin taught a form of universal redemption.

    It’s also quite foolish to call my view “heresy.” After all, Dr. Richard Muller (2) says that Davenant and even Amyraut’s atonement views are legitimate forms of Reformed teaching, and within Confessional boundaries. If my view is a heresy, then so would be the views of Musculus, Ursinus, Bullinger, Zanchi, Ussher and Davenant, for Dr. Muller considers them all to be non-Amyraldian universalists!

    And now there is another reason we must extend this teaching a bit further. It is, as I have already said, that, seeing that men are created in the image of God and that their souls have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we must try in every way available to us to draw them to the knowledge of the gospel.
    John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 41, Acts 7:51, p., 593.

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Darrin said:

    I don’t know, Tony. I’m still working through Institutes, but what I’ve seen so far would be hard to reconcile with universal atonement.

    Keep in mind that we’re only arguing that Calvin taught an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ. He, as an Augustinian, certainly thought there was a limitation in the special/decretal will of Christ and in the effectual application resulting therefrom. However, he did not espouse a limitation in Christ’s satisfaction itself, and freely speaks of him redeeming all men without exception, even the Turks. So, while there are some statements of particularity, there are also statements of universal redemption that must be honestly reckoned with.

    It seems that the website you referenced, though extensive and porbably requiring weeks of my time to get through, was primarily quoting his commentaries – but Calvin even indicated that the Institutes were intended to be the initial groundwork for serious students, who would then go on to use his commentaries with that foundation understood. So if something in a commentary seems contradictory, perhaps it’s being misunderstood. I realize Institutes is referenced on the site, but the citations I saw of that were not very convincing to me.

    We do not think that his statements in his Commentaries or in his Sermons contradict the statements in the Institutes. They may appear to be contradictory to some who cannot see how statements of universality can comport with statements of particularity. Few people today understand the trajectory that Dr. Richard Muller calls “nonspeculative hypothetical universalism.” Muller sees forms of universalism in Musculus, Ursinus, Bullinger and Zanchi, among others. We contend that these same forms of expressions, and far more, can also be found in Calvin.

    If you think there are some statements in Calvin’s Institutes that contradict our readings of his statements in the Commentaries and Sermons, then give us the references by email or otherwise. While it would make sense for Calvin to point men to his Institutes as an adequate summary of his theology, it would not make sense for him to tell others to avoid his statements in his Sermons and Commentaries, particularly with respect to something as important as Christ’s death. I see validation in his Institutes for our reading, and no defeaters at all in it against our universal interpretations of him.

    You quoted your friend as saying:

    I think that the person who posted the comment about Calvin not believing in Limited Atonement is severely off base and probably needs to reread the Institutes, particularly in volumes 2&3, where Calvin deals with the nature of Christ’s work and atoning death.

    What in those sections defeats or contradicts our reading? Certainly Calvin teaches a limitation in the application of Christ’s death to the believing elect alone, but there is no limitation in the sin bearing of Christ. He is explicitly said to suffer for the sins of all “mankind.” I trust you’ve seen the sources, so I won’t quote them here as well.

    By the very virtue of discussing election unto reprobation (volume 3, chapter 21), one must logically assume that Christ’s death was never meant to be effective for all–one logically follows the other regardless of how one strings together isolated quotations.

    We’re not arguing that Christ’s death was “meant to be effective for all,” as if Christ purposed to apply his death to all men. Calvin knew that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but only efficaciously for the elect. The effectual will of Christ expresses itself in the application of his death to the elect by means of the Holy Spirit.

    Your friend also said:

    …what the author is really saying is that every major scholar for the past 500 years has misunderstood Calvin.

    This falsely assumes that there are no “major scholars” who read Calvin in a universal way. Has your friend not seen the citations of Calvin in John Davenant’s The Dissertation on the Death of Christ?! The man was one of the most eminent divines at the Synod of Dort, and appealed to Calvin (and other early Reformers) as an advocate of universal redemption. Muller has at least acknowledged Davenant’s competent historiography when it comes to the teaching of Musculus, Ursinus, Bullinger and Zanchi, among others. David (aka Flynn) at Calvin and Calvinism is just echoing Davenant in the case of Calvin as well. David has also documented Augustine Malorate, Andrew Willet, Isaac Watts, Edward Williams, Edward Griffin, James Richards, Owen Thomas and Curt Daniel as scholars who read Calvin in a universal way. It is not the case that Calvin has been monolithically interpreted by “major scholars” in the past 500 years.

    And this:

    It also states that the entire Council of Dordt, where some of the finest scholars from Scotland, England, Switzerland, Germany, and France joined the Dutch to refute Arminius’ disciples by formulating a summary of Calvinistic Soteriological Doctrine, that all of these men grossly misunderstood Calvin.

    This is patently false. We contend that Davenant rightly understood Calvin, and he was one of the most influential at Dort. Incidentally, where are the other Synodists who appealed to Calvin as an advocate for their strictly limited views?

    Though we do not have evidence of this, I think it is reasonable to suppose that the other moderate delegates from England and Bremen agreed with Davenant’s historiography. After all, Martinius, Alsted and Crocius were themselves universalists, like Davenant.

    Grace to you Darrin,
    Tony

  • Pingback: John 3:16 Conference « The Domain for Truth

  • http://www.theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com YnottonY

    Darrin said:

    And, personally, even if I were to find that Calvin was a 4-pointer, I’d probably simply differ with him on that. That’s OK – I’m not a paedobaptist either.

    I think that’s the way I would think as well, if I were still a strict particularist on the atonement. As with you, I have no vested interest in reading Calvin any particular way. I am glad to see what I believe are clear universalist statements in Calvin now that I believe the same thing, but I wouldn’t much care if he taught something akin to Owen’s view.

    Not only am I not a paedobaptist, I am not even Reformed! lol However, I am Calvinistic. More importantly, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and therefore I am required to be strictly honest with any and all historical sources, not merely the bible. It is with this in mind that I study and teach others, knowing that I will have to give an answer to the one who is eternally honest and exhaustively omniscient.

    Tony

  • http://hereiblog.com/ johnMark

    Tony,

    Your input is noted.

    I hope that helps,

    Mark

  • Pingback: Voddie Baucham « Interstitial

  • Pingback: kata Drew » Blog Archive » Shared Items - 11/18/2008

  • Hughuenot

    When will SBC Calvinists separate from teachers of falsehood?

    C.H. Spurgeon wrote: “And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.”

    Apparently the SBC Calvinista do not agree. They are happy to continue in cooperation with false teachers such as Vines, Stanley, Lemke, & Co.

  • Douglas

    John Calvin’s view of Limited Atonement by Dr. Roger Nicole
    “Does Calvin believe in limited Atonement or not? Many say that Calvin did not believe it. Dr. Nicole proves them quite wrong, but not without careful efforts.”

  • Douglas

    Sorry for any confusion, the heading of the article by Dr. Nicole is this:

    John Calvin’s View of the Extent of the Atonement
    by Dr. Roger Nicole

  • Pingback: David Allen, Hyper-Calvinism, and James White: The Rundown « Provocations & Pantings

  • Laura

    I’m a pastor’s wife in a small southern county. We’ve already seen one pastor fired and one in the process of being fired for Calvinism. In both cases, the lay people doing the firing referenced the John 3:16 conference as a motivation/ source of information. It’s the saddest thing.

  • Pingback: Casualties of Anti-Calvinism « Provocations & Pantings

  • Pingback: Top 10 SBC Stories Of 2008 | Southern Baptist Blogs - SBC Voices

  • Dr. James Willingham

    You all worry about too much. Here we are on the verge of the Third Great Awakening, the one that takes the whole earth in one generation (after all many have prayed for such a thing and that for centuries), and you all are having conniption kitties over folks who might get there eyes opened no telling how soon. Naw, they ain’t going to run us out of the SBC, if we don’t want to go. And if we went out, where would we be? Would we find out like those who did go out across the past 100 years that we have to contend with egotism and bossism just as we do now. And we will be able to do less. Look at what Whitefield the Episcopalian evangelist did for Southern Baptists. Do you know there is a Southern Baptist Preacher whose ancestor was converted under Whitefield? Did you know 255 congregational churches became Baptist during the time of the Awakenings? Did you know John Gano preached from the same platform with Whitefield? Did you know they persuaded General Bapists to adopt particular redemption and 46 years later those same Baptists experienced the Second Great Awakening? Did you know they united Separate & Regular Baptists? I pastored a church in MO that was birthed a United Baptist Church out of that union. Did you know that some of the most liberal people of their day were the old Sovereign Grace Baptist ministers from 1700-1820? Did you know they were the people that secured religious liberty for us? Did you know that Sandy Creek church had women preachers? Is there more to biblical orthodoxy than you ever dreamed? Did you know John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims, said, “Who knows what knew light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word?” There is more, much more, but I desist.

  • thebuzz

    Hi,
    Its quite funny john 3:16 entered the Google chart of most popular searches. At new years day there was a carjacking and shooting and the man in question who did thisdrove a Ford Windstar and on the windshield of the car you could read “JOHN 3:16.”

  • Pingback: Was The John 3:16 Conference Dividing Or Simply A Critique of Calvinism? « Ministry of Reconciliation

  • J W MAJORS

    Proving again that the Unconditional Sovereignty of God irritates sinners no end.