Thursday, June 15, 2006

Albert Mohler on Calvinism

I was reading FIDE-O when I came across the article “Patterson, Mohler: Calvinism shouldn’t divide SBC” by the Baptist Press (BP), which is the daily national news service of Southern Baptists. Albert Mohler has made an excellent case for Calvinism’s strong impact on evangelism during the 2006 SBC Pastors' Conference, which was held on 11 and 12 June 2006. In a sense, all true believers affirm some, if not all, of the doctrines of Calvinism, whether they want to openly admit it or not.
  • "In your local church, when you send out an evangelism team, you don't say, 'Good luck,'" he said. "You pray that God will open hearts and open minds. When we listen to ourselves pray, we really do hear a strong confidence in the sovereignty of God."
  • " … The doctrine of election explains why we go with confidence to share the Gospel -- because God does call sinners to Himself, through the blood of Jesus Christ. "
  • "As the parable of the sower of the soil makes clear, we cannot read the human heart. We do not know who is the fertile heart and who is the resistant heart. … We just know there are sinners who need to hear the Gospel, and thus we preach the Gospel to all persons, knowing that God does save."
  • “Why do we go?” he asked. “We go because we honestly believe that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. … God always blesses the preaching of the Gospel. And He does so because He is not a spectator, but He is the God who saves through the means of the Gospel.”
  • “The Lord’s will –- as the initiating will -– wills the human will to will what the Father wills,” he said. "… When Dr. Patterson shares the Gospel and when I share the Gospel, we do so honestly and urgently believing that if that person to whom we shared the Gospel of Christ responds in faith, she or he will be saved.”
  • "The question is, how is the atonement limited and by whom?" he said. "… I would prefer to speak of particular redemption. I do believe before the creation of the world God determined to save sinners -- and not just in a general sense, but in an actual sense, persons who would come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."
  • "I feel no accountability to John Calvin. I feel an indebtedness to him, but I'm not accountable to him nor would I wish to wear his name, nor, I believe, would he wish anyone to wear his name,” Mohler said. “[Calvinism] is a categorization which I don't deny if you're talking about a strain of theology. But I am accountable to the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ. "
  • "It is not healthy to have a person who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism but won't even drive across the street to share the Gospel," he said.
Mohler listed the areas in which all Southern Baptists are “one form of Calvinists or another”:
  1. A belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. "It is not by accident that there are no great Arminian testimonies to the inerrancy of Scripture," Mohler said. "… We really do believe that God can work in such a way that the human will wills to do what God wills that will to do. And that is exactly why we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. We do not believe that the Apostle Paul was irresistibly against his will drawn to write the Book of Romans.”
  2. A belief in the substitutionary atonement. The logic of this doctrine fits only within “the umbrella of a Calvinist scheme.” "The entire worldview in which substitution makes sense is a worldview in which the sovereignty of God and the righteousness of God and the saving purpose of God are vindicated in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ."
  3. Affirming the "omniscience of God." "At the very least … God created this world knowing exactly who would come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," Mohler said. "Some of us believe more than that, but certainly none of us here believes less than that.... If that be so then … the precise identity of all the persons who would come to faith in Christ was known by the Father before the world was created.”
  4. A belief in the eternal security of the believer. "Once this work of salvation is accomplished in the life of a sinner, and that sinner is transformed by the grace and mercy of God, He can never fall away," he said.
Update 19 June 2006! A transcript of the exchange between Al Mohler and Paige Patterson can be found at this link.

4 Comments:

Blogger naniecheng said...

"It is not healthy to have a person who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism but won't even drive across the street to share the Gospel," he said.

This is very true. The basic commandment give by Jesus is to go and make disciples and baptise them.

Sometimes I think modern 21st century christianity has developed such "sophistication" (if i can use the word) that we get caught up with clever arguments and philosophies, forgetting that the most basic tenet of christianity is about preaching Christ. Focusing on doctrinal & denominational differences is pointless if one does not obey the basic commandment of Christ.

15/6/06 11:01 PM  
Blogger Jason E. Robertson said...

Thanks for reading our crazy blog.

22/6/06 11:44 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

I recently used some of the time for an 11 hour drive to visit my mom by listening to a series of tapes by R.C. Sproul entitled "Reformed Theology". I discovered that I am a modified Calvinist.

I don't blieve in a "limited atonement". And, rather than the "perseverance of the saints" I believe in the "perseverance of the Holy Spirit".

I disapprove of a theology that has God at the disposal of a sinner, waiting for the sinner to "make a decision" to accept Christ. The first Christians were sinners from all over the world who were "cut to the heart" after hearing the gospel preached by Peter. I am afraid that many Baptists fail to recognize the Holy Spirit's work in the conviction and calling of a sinner.

23/6/06 2:34 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I understand what you mean by “perseverance of the Holy Spirit.” This basically means that God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. It is through God’s strength, rather than our strengths, by which we are eternally saved.

Hmm… four-point Calvinist, huh?

Generally, when working out the doctrines of grace, most five-point Calvinists resolve the doctrine of limited atonement last as this doctrine appears to be the most difficult. One thing I would stress is that while the atonement is sufficient for the whole world, the atonement is efficient only for the elect.

Actually, the doctrine of limited atonement is closely linked to the doctrine of election; God foreknew and elected the people He desires to be saved. In covenant theology, the covenant of redemption states that God the Father has entered into a covenant with God the Son, where the Son does the will of the Father in order to secure the redemption of the elect.

So the question is, what happened at the cross? Did Christ die to make salvation possible for the whole world or did Christ die to secure the salvation of the elect? If it is the former, then salvation lies in the hands of men since salvation is regarded as a possibility and we are the ones who make the final choice whether or not to receive or reject salvation. This is Arminianism, which compromise the absolute sovereignty of God.

Another way of looking at this matter is if God has elected some and Christ died for all, this would mean that Christ failed to secure salvation for all. Christ’s atoning death on the cross is a failure because His blood fails to secure salvation for the reprobates. This is ineffectual atonement, the opposite of effectual atonement that is really limited atonement.

So five-point Calvinism actually points to the success of God’s election and Christ’s atoning death for His elect on the cross. Just as the Old Testament priest perform the priestly sacrifice on behalf of the people of Israel, not for the Babylonians or for the Egyptians, Christ our High Priest perform his atoning sacrifice on behalf of the covenant people of God. That is why five-point Calvinists affirm that Christ died only for His elect. For it is written, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

23/6/06 3:27 PM  

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