November 24 2008 by Baptist Press

    WOODSTOCK, Ga. — About 1,000 attended a John 3:16 Conference Nov. 6-7 at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., an event described as a biblical assessment of five-point Calvinism.

    The conference, at the church of Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt, was sponsored by New Orleans, Southwestern and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries and Liberty and Luther Rice seminaries and by Jerry Vines Ministries.

    TULIP is an acronym for the five points of Calvinism — Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints. Speakers addressed each point.

    Vines and other speakers emphasized that the event was intended to address theological issues and provide information rather than attack Calvinists. "I've never felt that disagreeing was attacking," Vines said, adding that he has many friends with different views.

    Vines spoke on John 3:16, a verse he described as the gospel in a nutshell. The verse indicates God's love is global, sacrificial, personal and eternal, he said.

    Paige Patterson, Southwestern Seminary president, addressed the issue of total depravity from Romans, saying that depravity means no one is right with God. Any good deed done is tainted with sinfulness, and there is no fear of God or ultimate peace in a person's heart. All of mankind fell in Adam and are affected by his sin.

    "Does that mean we are born guilty before God?" Patterson asked. "I do not think that can be demonstrated from scripture. We are born with a 'sin sickness,' a disease that makes it certain that we will sin and rebel against God."

    The Bible says people are condemned for their own sins, he said.

    Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, spoke about unconditional election. Land said election is consistent with the free agency of man; the question is how election is defined.

    Commenting on 1Tim. 2:3-4, "... God our savior, who will have all men to be saved," Land said the Greek word for "will" is an earnest desire.

    Reacting to Reformed commentaries that say "all" can't really mean "all men" because if God willed something it would have to happen, Land said, "I believe in a God who is so sovereign and so omniscient that He can break out of Calvin's box ... and He can choose to limit Himself and He can convict us and He can seek to bring us to conviction ... but He will not force us."

    David Allen, dean of Southwestern Seminary's School of Theology, challenged limited atonement quoting only Calvinist authors because "the best arguments against limited atonement come from Calvinist writers."

    Allen named a long list of Calvinists, including John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, who did not hold to limited atonement. Martin Luther and the early English reformers held to universal atonement, which means Christ bore the punishment due for the sins of all humanity.

    In his concluding remarks, Allen expressed concern about the effect of five-point Calvinism on preaching and evangelism. "Anything that makes the preacher hesitant to make the bold proclamation (of the gospel) to all people is wrong," he said.

    "Calvinism is not the gospel," he said. "Should the Southern Baptist Convention move toward five-point Calvinism, such a move would be away from, and not toward, the gospel."
    Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Seminary, spoke about irresistible grace.

    "Salvation is tied in some measure to our response," he said, citing several biblical examples of what he said were people resisting God. For example, in Acts 7:51 the Jewish men who stoned Stephen were said to be "always resisting the Holy Spirit."

    Lemke said that while Calvinists don't deny people can resist the Holy Spirit in some situations, they believe the effectual call is irresistible.

    Ken Keathley, dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Seminary, covered the fifth point, perseverance of the saints. Ironically, he said, many Arminians and Calvinists arrive at basically the same answer: Assurance is based on the evidence of sanctification in one's life.

    While the Reformers taught that assurance is the essence of faith, the doctrines of the hidden will of God, limited atonement and temporary faith undermine this assurance, he said. Some argue that final justification is obtained by perseverance.

    "Doesn't this come close to a works-based salvation?" he asked.

    Keathley said the only basis for assurance is the objective work of Christ, and that saving faith perseveres or remains until the day when it gives way to sight.

    "Any model that begins with Christ but ends with man is doomed to failure," he said.

    11/24/2008 8:53:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 1 comments




Comments
Dr. James Willingham
Tis amazing to see people who serve in institutions established by so-called calvinists (they even called themselves that), having signed an abstract of principles designed to assure that teachers would teach in accordance with the doctrines of grace and nt contrary to them, and then they act like they are shocked that any one would advocate any of these principles. The bad problem is that these are supposed to be the conservatives who took over after the moderates had lost. Now it seems that like the moderates they too signed the abstract with tongue in cheek. Personally, it doesn't particularly bother me, except to see people play fast and loose with their own consciences, when the abstract came out of the most liberal engendering period in world history, i.e., the five points produced the most creative and liberal period in world history (1740-1820). The real problem is that no one seems to understand just what the teachings really did. Think folks: Two Great Awakenings, The Great Century of Missions, Religious Liberty, The Uniting of Separate & Regular Baptists, Increase in Quality & Quantity, The wherewithal to work with people with whom they differed. Some groups really stand to benefit and pick up the pieces, if this convention actually divides into Conservatives and Moderates, into Calvinists and Arminians. Hear a lesson from the 1700s and then go read Virginia Baptist History. Most all Baptists in Virginia were of the Sovereign Grace persuasion (I prefer that term to Calvinism due to the fact people were being persecuted and prosecuted in England for those views long before Calvin was born,let alone born again, and because I despise religious persecution, being a Baptist who believes in liberty. In the 1700s there was a falling out between some Baptists over preaching Christ tasted death for every man. They separated. Then came back together. Why? Because they were ashamed that they had spoken evil of those whom they had been calling brothers.Now as to the points of TULIP as wells as PREDESTINATION and REPROBATION. Each one of the doctrines is an invitation to begin one's spiritual pilgrimage, and invitation to be saved. Indeed, they are the most EXTENSIVE and INTENSIVE INVITATIONS OF ALL. Did you folks ever hear of paradoxical intervention or how a paradox can give the person control in their circumstances of helplessness? Just look at Lk.4:18-31 & Mt.15:21-28. Jesus preached all of these truths to the woman of Canaan (the Syro-phonecian woman) and most of them to His neighbors in Nazareth. He never got to the idea of depravity, reprobation, or dogs, because they tried to murder him, whereas te woman agreed with Him and turned His very word dogs into a reason from Him to receive her. 6 yrs of research in Baptist history, covering more than 250 sources, and a master's thesis in Amercan Social & Intellectual History, along with 30 years of reflection since, convinces me that the tenth (not the half) has never been told about our doctrines and the awakenings and American History and Baptist History. The intellectual depth of the Bible, te doctrines, and our own history surely reflects the omniscient God whom we worship. One of thethngsi found out was that the doctrines of the most outre kind make a believer balanced, flexible,and creative. AND WHAT WE NEED NOW IS TO BE BALANCE, FLEXIBLE, AND CREATIVE, AND WE CAN BE FROM JUST THE BACKGROUND WE HAVE. AND ALL OF YOU, BOTH CONSEVATIVE AND MODERATES, CALVINISTS AND ARMINIANS, ARE GOD'S WITNESSES TO A NEEDY WORLD. IF WE WERE ALL IN A PRISON CAMP LIKE SOLZENITSEN (?) WE MIGHT FIND THAT THE THINGS THAT UNITE US ARE GREATER THAN HE THINGS THAT DIVIDE US. JUST THINK OF I CORINTHIANS 13 AND OUR SAVIOR AS THE PERSONIFICATION OF THAT PERICOPE AND HOW HE IS WILLING FOR US TO TRY TO DO THE SAME. I HAVE A DEAR SISTER NOW IN ETERNITY WHO WAS HANDICAPPED, BORDERLINE IN INTELLIGENCE. ONE DAY SHE SAID TO MY MOTHER "YOU MUST LOVE JIM, JOY, AND SARA MORE THAN ME, BECAUSE THEY ARE SMARTER THAN ME." TO WHICH MOM REPLIED,"I DON'T KNOW BUT WHAT I DON'T LOVE YOU MORE, BECAUSE YOU TRY SO HARD." Last and ven more important. Whitefield, the Calvinist, requested that Wesley, the Arminian, preach his funeral. When asked why, when he did not expect to see Wesley in Heaven, Whitefield replied, "I didn't say, he wouldn't be there. He'll be so close to the throne and I'll be so far away, I won't be able to see him." Wesley did preach Whitefield's funeral and was asked the same question and replied in the same fashion: "I won't be able to see him, because he'll be so close to the throne, and I'll be too far away." Two yeas of research on the Greek of I Corinthians and a Doctor of Ministry Project on Christian Love and Race Relations persuades me that such is the case for all of us. A little humility in this know-it-all day might go a long way to making the situation a lot sweeter and even lead to another Great Awakening. I certainly pray so.
11/24/2008 11:42:21 PM

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