Friday, May 30, 2008

"Calvinism" not the issue


The Baptist Press for May 30, 2008 has published articles in which the "Presidential nominees respond to BP questionnaire."

One of the questions is, "Calvinism: Do you see any reason for non-Calvinist Southern Baptists to be concerned about a renewed emphasis on Calvinism in some Southern Baptist churches and seminaries?"

The responding candidates were Frank Cox, Wiley Drake, Johnny Hunt, Les Puryear, Bill Wagner, and Avery Willis.

Unfortunately, not a one of the candidates cited the "born again before faith heresy" which is probably the most fundamental element which pervades the so-called "Calvinism" which prevails among some SBC pastors and churches.

Johnny Hunt did come close to the point when he said "I am not overwhelmingly concerned about Calvinism. I am concerned about hyper-Calvinism . . ."

I do not know what Hunt includes in the term "Hyper Calvinism," but if he includes the "born again before faith" heresy, then his comment is appropriate. I do not prefer that term for it covers too much theological ground; therefore, I prefer the term "Hybrid Calvinism" or "Reformed Calvinism."

Hyper Calvinists, of course, do hold to Hybrid Calvinism, but many who hold Hybrid Calvinism would repudiate other elements of Hyper Calvinism, so they say, "We are not Hyper Calvinists."

OK -- but are you Hybrid Calvinists? Do you teach "born again before faith"? All you have to do to get the answer to that is go to the Flounders' website.

"Calvinism" -- that is, Creedal Calvinism as found in the Confessions of Faith -- whether one agrees with it or not, is not really the "issue" in the SBC in regard to modern "Calvinists," for the modern variety are NOT Creedal Calvinists. They hold the views of the Reformed Pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinism.

If the current "Calvinists" were Baptist Calvinists like Spurgeon and his Calvinism, there would probably be no need for much concern. The fact that many of them try to identify with Spurgeon is either due to ignorance or hypocrisy. We have demonstrated on this blog that Spurgeon would not be welcome in the Reformed Hybrid Calvinist circles. He very likely would be stigmatized as "Arminian."

For example, Spurgeon says:

"I believe, most firmly, in the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, and I hold them to be very fraught with comfort to God's people; but if any man shall say that the preaching of these is the whole of the preaching of the gospel, I am at issue with him.

"Brethren, you may preach those doctrines as long as you like, and yet fail to preach the gospel; and I will go further, and affirm that some who have even denied those truths, to our great grief, have nevertheless been gospel preachers for all that, and God has saved souls by their ministry.

"The fact is, that while the doctrines of election, final perseverance, and so on, go to make up a complete ministry, and are invaluable in their place, yet the soul and marrow of the gospel is not there, but is to be found in the great fact that "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit," and so on.

"Preach Christ, young man, if you want to win souls. Preach all the doctrines, too, for the building up of believers, but still the main business is to preach Jesus who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. The apostle tells us in the Corinthians that first of all he delivered unto us as soul saving truth, "how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures." Facts about Christ Jesus, and the promise of life through him, these are the faith of the gospel. . . .

"You will, doubtless, have observed that this summary of the gospel is very simple. Whenever you meet with teaching which is cloudy and complicated, you may generally conclude that it is not the gospel of your salvation, for the truth of Christ is so plain that he who runs may read, and the wayfaring man though a fool need not err therein. Perhaps some of you have been thinking that conversion and salvation are dark and mysterious things, and that you have to pass through many singular operations and feelings in order to be saved. Now, beloved, the whole of our faith lies in a nutshell. He that believeth in Jesus Christ the incarnate God, is saved. These few truths if grasped by the mind, received and trusted in by the heart, will save you. It is at the cross that salvation must be found. . . .

"This simple truth, that "Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which is lost," and that "whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life," must be your jewel, your treasure, your life. [Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 13, Year 1867, #786, excerpts from pages 706-708].

That kind of "Calvinism" is indeed the Gospel, and non-Calvinists such as Johnny Hunt and Frank Cox would probably have no objection to it.

But that is not the variety which is represented by the "Reformed" and Flounders of this generation. They represent a Hybrid variety, which alleges that one must be "regenerated" before he believes the Gospel.

This variety tends to downplay aggressive methods of evangelism, public invitations to accept Christ as Savior, evangelism designed to convert children, and anything else they classify as "Arminianism" and "synergism."

They promote the Iain Murray/Banner of Truth Reformed Pedobaptist variety of Calvinism, which is best presented, according to BT, by Pedobaptist Louis Berkhof, and is promoted by R. C. Sproul, J. I. Packer, John Frame, Tom Nettles, and others who teach "born again before faith."

That type of "Calvinism" is actually in conflict with the Baptist Faith and Message, and it would probably be appropriate to draft an SBC Resolution repudiating it.


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