Published November 23, 2006
Reformed Theology, often called Calvinism, is proliferating in certain circles. A recent article in The Christian Index by Dr. Bill Harrell discouraged Baptist involvement in the movement. For such he has come under attack.
I can’t believe some who profess Calvinism know all he professed. For the initiate a popular “Confession of Faith” sums it up. “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined to everlasting life and others preordained to everlasting death.”
This clearly teaches some persons are preselected by God to go to hell.
Calvin in his “Institutes of the Christian Religion” advocates imprisonment of heretics, infant baptism, a state church, and certain persons were born to go to hell. Covenant salvation is another aberrant Calvinists’ doctrine. It is the idea a child of a “chosen one” inherits salvation from its parent.
From the perspective of an interim pastor who has followed a covert Calvinist pastor I want to appeal to any Calvinist inclined pastor to be open, honest and clearly state and interpret for a Pastor Search Team or congregation considering him what he believes.
The pastor in question did not preach Calvinism from the pulpit of his typical Southern Baptist pastorate. He met with home cell groups consisting mostly of young adult couples and mentored them. He had almost established himself and garnered enough support to go public with the teachings when the broader membership found out what he was doing. In a word, conflict erupted. The pastor resigned and a number of his disciples left the church.
I support the appeal of Dr. Harrell that if a pastor is a Calvinist he should either go to a church given to the doctrine or start his own church but not try to inject this concept into an established Baptist church.
Election is clearly taught in Scripture. It is the definition given it that confuses persons.
Most Baptists believe in election when defined as God, having the sovereign right to do so, gave man a free will to choose his or her eternal destiny depending of his or her faith in Christ. To limit it to mean God sovereignly predetermined who goes to heaven and who goes to hell has long been held by most Baptists to be untrue.
Predestination is taught in the Bible. Again, it is what is meant by the term that cases confusion. The root word, proorizo, was a surveyor’s term meaning to mark off a boundary. Before Creation God marked off a boundary, Christ, and predetermined all who are “in Christ,” the boundary, would share His destiny. Ephesians 2:8,9 along with John 3:16 and many other verses tells how one gets in the boundary.
Foreknowledge is a Biblical principle. Quantum physics has now shown that in deep outer space on the cusp of black holes there is no time. That hints at eternity. There is no time in eternity; with God everything is in the perpetual present tense. Therefore everything being in the present tense God knows it. Knowing a thing in advance does not mean you make it happen.
A graphic understood by many Baptists regarding predestination is illustrated by this. A mass of people are gathered at a bus stop marked “Planet Earth.” Along comes the Celestial Bus marked “Destination Heaven.” It pulls up and stops. The driver, who is God, opens the door, and says, “All destined for heaven get on board.” A number do. A missionary couple who with zeal have served Christ all their lives start on and God says, “Step aside. You haven’t been chosen to ride this bus.” A couple of infants start on and God tells them to step aside. Persons who from youth have loved and ministered in Christ’s name are told to step aside. As the bus is about to depart and the door is closing God says to those not on board, “Catch the next bus.” “No,” they plead, “here comes the next bus and it is driven by Satan and marked ‘Destination Hell.’”
“Sorry,” says God. “I didn’t choose to save you. Your love and commitment to Jesus doesn’t matter.”
Belief in a loving God who would deliberately create some persons for the express purpose of sending them to hell is alien to Scripture. Neither can I conceive what one of the foremost Reform Theology authors of this day has said, “Sin was God’s idea.”
Those not given to Calvinism are told they don’t understand evangelical Calvinism.
That being an oxymoron it is hard to understand. Calvinism is a dagger in the heart of evangelism. That has been my first person observation.
I find it hard to get by “whosoever … believes … has everlasting life.” That is the starting point that should be followed by a lifetime of loyalty to the Lord.
For more on this subject may I invite readers to visit my website at www.nelsonprice.com.
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