Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflecting on the recent SBC Statement of May 31, 2012

Statement on Calvinism misses the mark

It is days like this that my heart grieves both for God and for his people. I know that God is truly able to take care of Himself and certainly is not dependent upon me to defend Him, His eternal purposes, and His character. Reading the “traditional Southern Baptist” statement on Calvinism grieves me terribly.

This is seemingly a response to what these SBC leaders regard as “New Calvinism.” I am not sure that I really know what “new Calvinism” is unless it is some guys who like to wear holey jeans, listen to grunge music, drink beer, and preach the doctrine of grace. I still think there is a large misunderstanding of what true reformed theology is and what the doctrine of grace is. The doctrine of grace is not a reformed theology although most reformed theologians subscribe to the doctrine of grace. For the record, I am neither a Calvinist nor do I hold to reformed theology. However, I am a committed believer in the biblical doctrine of grace, or the free grace of God.

Satan has been very clever making this argument develop to a divisive tool hinging upon the terms “Calvinism or traditional” soteriology. This statement, from May 31, 2012,, shows how divisive this argument really is. Sadly, these men are both deceived and misled in regards to this monumental topic.

Jon Akin, pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN made this statement, “The SBC is big enough to include Calvinists and non-Calvinists…We agree on far more than we disagree on, so let’s unite and fight a common enemy.”

Akin’s statement and the SBC statement are froth with at least five (5) dangerous consequences: 
  • They reduce the argument to “Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism” rather than biblical truth 
  • They perpetuate the misunderstanding of several biblical doctrines 
  • They force an unbiblical change in the understanding and presentation of the gospel 
  • They perpetuate a high percentage of tares or false professions in the church 
  • They rob God of the absolute glory in salvation giving men opportunity to boast 
It is important to get the doctrine of soteriology correct! God’s glory is at stake and man’s eternal soul is at stake. Thank God, He left nothing to us exclusively or no one would be saved. What one must understand is really at the very root of this question is first, the absolute glory of our majestic God and God head, but secondly, what you believe about salvation will determine how you will present the gospel. What you believe about the gospel will also determine how you “live out” your understanding of the gospel in daily life.

Why do you think the church is so weak and anemic today? Why do you think there is so little impact on our communities by the local church? Why do you think the church is either so worldly or “dead?” Why are so many churches today so similar to the church at Sardis? We still deny the doctrine of grace.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I suppose time changes ways of life, when I was a child mum and I always went to church on a Sunday, nowaday it's virtually unheard of.

Enjoy your week-end. Gregg.


Scott said...

This saddens me as well. I've been contemplating posting a response, but honestly can't hardly compose my thoughts in response to such a document. It is mean-spirited, biblically inaccurate, historically inaccurate, and divisive. What can you say to that? Thanks for your comments and posting Akins' as well. Pray for us, brother.

Lynn Proctor said...

i read about this on a post a pastor friend of mine linked the other day--i found some of it confusing--but i think i am in agreement with you--for if we do not preach Christ crucified and risen from the dead and by his shed blood and His garment of salvation of grace then where is our Good News!

Gregg said...

@ Lynn - The real argument is how dead is a sinner in his trespass and sins, who initiates salvation and how, and who gets the glory? This statement says that man is not really dead in his sin, that man can initiate salvation by expressing faith and his "so called free will" and therefore can join in boasting and glory because he was smart enough, wise enough, etc. to in fact exercise that free will and choose God by expressing his faith.


Is man so dead in his depravity and his sins, and that he hates the light and loves the darkness and therefore refuses to come to God at God's insistence being totally content in his sin, that God must unconditionally elect him to be the recipient of salvation, that God must provide a means of reconciling this dead sinner to Himself through the efficacious death of His Son, that God must send the Holy Spirit to apply that finished work of atonement to the soul of this dead and depraved sinner who loves darkness and hates the light and refused to repent at God's command, that God must open the heart of this sinner, and give to this sinner the very faith that cries out in despair over his sin crying for mercy and forgiveness, that God must then keep this sinner by His grace and power, daily changing him into the image of His dear Son, reserving him unto the very end of the age and beyond.

That is what this is really about - it is called the Order of Salvation, or ordis salutis. Does faith proceed regeneration or does regeneration proceed faith?

I believe that God regenerates the sinner-gives the sinner new life, the sinner is born from above, the KJV mistranslates it as born again and that God gives the faith to believe and ability to repent at the time he regenerates the sinner.

Those who signed this blasphemous statement believe that all men carry around with them some spark of faith (in fairness they do believe that God gave this "spark" of faith by grace as a gift) and that a man can decide to use that faith or refuse to use that faith by his so called "free will." If a man chooses to exercise or express this faith, then and only then, can God respond and give life, or regenerate the sinner.

Leslie Wolf said...

My views on the Bible and theology are quite liberal in some respects, but in other respects they are quite conservative. In particular, I am firmly committed to the doctrine of justification by faith alone through grace alone, and I am also committed to (a strong version of) the doctrine of predestination. (By the way, I believe that the latter doctrine follows pretty straightforwardly from the former doctrine). Unfortunately, I often meet Christians who reject these doctrines. Many even regard them as offensive. When I ask these Christians why they reject these doctrines, they usually cite two reasons. First, they assert that these doctrines are not found anywhere in Scripture. Second, they assert that these doctrines are unjust and rob men of free will. I think that it is important to respond to the first assertion by pointing out that the doctrines are clearly taught in many parts of Scripture, including (but not restricted to) John's gospel and Romans. And, I think that it is important to respond to the second assertion by pointing out the problems of Arminianism and other departures from the Biblical teachings on grace. Most people who reject the Biblical doctrines of grace don't understand the many problems that confront their own positions. And, I would add that they are mistaken about the supposed problems with the doctrines they reject, i.e., the truly biblical doctrines. Let me be clear - I understand that many orthodox Christians may want to be content with just citing the Bible. And I respect that. But I think that it is also possible and desirable to show the skeptics that the problems they allege against the Reformed (Augustinian, Lutheran) doctrines of grace are mistaken, and that it is their own understanding of grace that is problematic. I think that it is a worthwhile exercise to pursue these issues in great detail. Anyway, thanks for the post.