Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some things never change

One of them is the tendency of some of the old guard in the Southern Baptist convention to use the spotlight to advance their vendetta against Calvinism. This year had the spectacle of Morris H. Chapman, from the SBC Executive Committee making the following comment:

The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man.

Some are given to explain away the “whosoever will” of John 3:16. How can a Christian come to such a place when Ephesians says, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8)? I do not rise to become argumentative, or to change minds already convinced of one perspective or the other. But I do rise to state the obvious. Man is often tempted to design a theological theory in light of a biblical antinomy in order to clarify what God is trying to say.

Man’s system will be inferior to God’s system now and forever. Why is it so difficult to accept from God what we cannot fully explain? After all, He didn’t begin to tell us everything He knows, but what we need to know to be redeemed and live righteously. The belief that sovereignty alone is at work in salvation is not what has emboldened our witness and elevated our concern for evangelism and missions through the ages. This is not the doctrine that Southern Baptists have embraced in their desire to reach the world for Christ.

If there is any doctrine of grace that drives men to argue and debate more than it drives them to pursue lost souls and persuade ALL MEN to be reconciled to God – then it is no doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man both are taught in the Bible. Both are necessary elements in the salvation experience. A healthy tension (an antinomy) exists in the Bible with regard to these two important biblical truths. Both are present in the salvation experience.

Egad! I haven't heard such ridiculous rhetoric and blatant caricatures since the last time Ergun Caner embarrassed himself by attacking the sovereignty of God in salvation. I love that Mr. Chapman quotes the first half of Ephesians 2:8 and not the second half. Pretty convenient, check out the whole verse with the second half in bold:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Eph 2:8)

I always get a kick out of people using verses to attack Calvinism that in reality support one or more of the five points. Even the faith you have is not found in yourself, or your righteousness, or your piety or your "decision to ask Jesus into your heart". The faith that any Christian possesses is a gift from God, sovereignly enacted through the regeneration of our stony hearts, making those who were dead in our sins (Eph 2:1) and enemies of God (Eph 2:3) reconciled to His Son. It is fun to see what happens when you actually read a verse in it's entirety and in it's context instead of plucking it out to make a point.

I like the plain spoken way Tom Ascol referred to these remarks:

It may be that the anti-Calvinist messenger was emboldened in his opposition by the foolish remarks of the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, Morris H. Chapman which were made earlier in the day during his report.
Dr. Chapman's comments were out of place and sounded more like the incendiary rhetoric of years past than the more respectful kinds of exchanges that have tended to characterize the Calvinist debates since the Building Bridges Conference in 2007.

Amen Tom! Foolishness should be called what it is.

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