John 3:16 Conference Richard Land-Unconditional Election

Dr. Vines starts the morning explaining that disagreeing is not a bad thing. He has many Calvinist friends with whom he disagrees. He claims man can still make a choice and that though depraved not so much to as to say our capacity to chose is ruined. He does not mention God’s grace and how He acts in our “choice” in salvation.  (He mentions that Ergun Caner might be here.)

Dr. Land
Congruent Election: Understanding Salvation from An Eternal Now Perspective

We believe in an infallible word of God that does not contradict itself. We must seek knowledge and insight to resolve the difficulties of Scripture. We must seek to be as congruent as we can. This is so we can preach ALL of God’s word. Just as Paul sought to preach the WHOLE counsel of God.

In the SBC, we have ongoing debates. He believes in the perseverance of the Saviour just as Spurgeon did. He doesn’t believe the Bible teaches limited atonement. If God were fair we’d all deserve hell. He believes in all of P, non of L and fractions of the others. He holds to prevenient grace.

The debate we in the SBC are having is not like the rest of Christianity might have. We have more in common than in disagreement.  He illustrates this by telling of a time he was on a panel of other Christian theologians.  He was the only one who believed that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

We are dealing with a disagreement among brethren.  He wishes we’d act more like brethren than in-laws.  He doesn’t mind being told he’s wrong as he believes Calvinists are wrong.

History

John Leland – a product of the Great Awakening who personally baptised over 20,000 people.  As he was leaving VA to go back to Mass., Land goes on to give a quote by Leland.

These two propositions can be tolerably well reconciled together, but the modern misfortune is, that men often spend too much time in explaining away one or the other, or in fixing the lock-link to join the others together; and by such means, have but little time in a sermon to insist on those two great things which God blesses. I do not plead for implicit faith ; let each man believe, speak, and act for himself; but when it is confessed that nine tenths of the scripture is best explained without descending to those cutting points, a man must appear contracted who spends all his time in disputing about them ; and more malevolent when he finds it tends, not to promote love and union, but rather a rancorous spirit. Let us then follow after the things that make for peace, and the things whereby one maw another, and strive who shall be the most humble, greatest affronts.

He says this well defines the SBC position today.  He goes on to provide historical quotes by Lutheran Sidney Ahistrom and baptist(?) Robert Baker about the historical state of baptists.

He states there was a clear SBC soterieology 70 years before the SBC that was described by Leland as the preaching of the sovereign grace of God.  This provides for God’s sovereignty and man’s free agency.  He references the book What Baptists Believe that sold thousands.  This book described baptist doctrine in the South.

It’s important that we understand our people.  We must understand that our people may not have followed the theology of the confessions.

He suggests Calvinsts got their doctine of election off kilter because they got their soteriology off kilter.  He mentions prebysterians and the mixing the the church and Israel.  If we fail in this distinction we start to go off course.  He believes in Abrahamic election and salvific election.

Three major differences – Abrahamic election and salvific election

  1. Abrahamic is corporate while salvific is personal.
  2. Abrahamic is covenantal to the 12 tribes and we are not one of the lost tribes.
  3. In the Abrahamic election is not connected to anything specific other than the chosen being His people.  In the NT salvific election is individual and connected to foreknowledge.  He touches on Romans 8 and 1 Peter.  You never have the word foreknowledge connected with Abrahamic election, but you do with salvific election.

He reads Romans 8 and the Golden Chain of redemption.  He just can’t sit well on either side with Calvin nor Arminius.  He doesn’t even agree with Normal Geisler and says that man’s faith is not a condition of salvation.  He saved by his God completed faith.  God gave him saving faith and has promised to keep him.

1 Timothy – Paul says God will have all men saved.  Knowledge here is a full and advanced knowledge of the truth.  God gave Himself as a randsom for all.  He mentions the reformed that “all men” mean “some men,” but the text “doesn’t say that.”  He believes in a God so sovereign that He can chose to limit Himself.

How do we bring these together?

He read CS Lewis on God, time and our free acts.  From the book Miracles, appendix B.  God lives in the eternal now.  God never learns anything.  He’s often disappointed.  He quotes the BF&M commentary pp. 31-37 by Kelley, Land and Mohler.  Quotes Hershel Hobbs about God’s foreknowledge that God knows all things simultaneously.  Quotes Hobbs, What Baptists Believe, p. 24 and that God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is a mystery.

Quotes the BF&M section “God the Father.”  God does not create people with the purpose of sending people to hell.  God’s character is perfectly consistent and caring.  Back to quoting Kelley, LAnd and Mohler.

BF&M on salvation & statement on grace.  And now the BF&M commentary pp. 77 – 80.  He refers us to Harry Ironside on Romans 9-11 to answer the Cavlinist on individual election claiming it’s Abrahamic or national.

There is a chart on the overhead showing God and linear time and salvation.  He says the elect “will” be saved as opposed to “must” be saved.  There is a difference between “must” and “will.”  General call vs. sufficient call.  This the same chart he used with students at Criswell College.

He really starts preaching about individual salvation.  The last chart is vertial (the others horizontal) to illustrate the punticular.  That it’s all one punticular moment for God.  Degrees are logical not chronological since everything is at the same time with God.  God has revealed Himself in Scripture as dealing with the elect than the non-elect.  He says the elect will be saved and the non-elect will be saved.  Again, with a difference between “will” and “must” be saved.  If God saves the way Cavlinists say it’s still fine, but he believes his approach is more congruent with Scripture.

He ends with the Gospel.

Mark

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tagged as , , , , , in Arminianism,Baptist,calvinism,Church Issues,Gospel,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 M Burke November 7, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Wow dispensationalism as a reason to deny Calvinism… funny. What does this guy do with the verses all throughout the NT wherein the Abrahamic covenant is tied to Christ, the true Seed of Abraham and thereby the Gentile believers whom were promised to Abraham as being the descendants as numerous as the stars?

It’s too bad not one of these guys has yet to actually deal with anything any Calvinist has written. Seems that the only way around the truth is to obscure what has been said.

2 ABClay November 7, 2008 at 4:22 pm

If I am correct, The apostle Paul said something about a true Jew being not one who is outwardly circumcised, and not everyone who is Israel who is from Abraham. Humm…

Surely someone in that building who is not a Calvinist had to look past their disdain for those pesky Calvinists and see the biblical problems with what was espoused here. Surely…..

So now, we have three ways of salvation? Babies are saved through their own righteousness, Pre NT Israel is saved through national election, and NT people are saved through individual election. WOW!! Please tell me I have misunderstood.

ABClay

3 a helmet November 8, 2008 at 2:26 pm

—He does not mention God’s grace and how He acts in our “choice” in salvation.—

Concerning the first part of this, namely mentioning God’s grace, note that Jesus doesn’t mention it either. Jesus never used the word “grace” (except in the quotation of a Psalm: “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner”, but even here it is the word “merciful” rather than “grace”).
So Jesus did not talk about God’s grace at all, he didn’t need that word.

However, concerningn the second part, on “how God acts”, note the Reformed believers never explain this. What exactly is the “effectual call”, what is “preemptive regeneration”, or “inward call”?
What is going on when God “draws” someone (John 6:44) ?

What is the revelation that leads to conversion in John 6:45? What’s its content? Can it be expressed?

What is the “drawing by the Father” anyway? What’s going on there, how is it experienced?

So Calvinists talk a lot about grace in the sense of using the word, but never explain HOW God act’s in grace. So there is much talk about grace but little about its content.

Kehrhelm “a helmet” Kröger

4 Darrin November 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm

a helmet,
You make some statements that are disturbing – perhaps I’m misunderstanding them:
“So Jesus did not talk about God’s grace at all, he didn’t need that word.”
Are you suggesting that God’s grace is not necessary, let alone sufficient? Or that it doesn’t need to be mentioned in a discussion of salvation?
Regarding Calvinists, you say “So there is much talk about grace but little about its content.”
Have you read any Puritan and Reformed writings? I’ll believe you’ll find the subjects you touch on routinely addressed. Or what exactly are you looking for in regards to grace? If you are suggesting that Reformed believers throw the term around but they don’t know or care what it means or bother to describe it, you are misrepresenting them.

5 genembridges November 12, 2008 at 8:50 pm

On how God acts, the Reformed confessions tell us that the Holy Spirit works in concert with the preached,read,spoken Word of God. He acts with the mystery of raising the dead to life. The fact that we don’t delve into the metaphysical minutae doesn’t mean that we don’t talk about it. Are you suggesting we have to provide a complete metaphysical models and diagrams to talk about this.

As to John 6, actually Reformed exegesis of John 6 is quite thorough. Try a commentary.

6 a helmet November 13, 2008 at 7:35 am

Hello Darrin & genembridges,

I was referring to John 6:44-45 as an instance. It says that nobody can come to Christ unless the father draws him and that all who come have learned from the father and have so been taught by God.

Now, this “drawing” (v.44) and the “learning” (v.45) refer to the same event. It is the event that causes a person’s conversion.
Now my comment maybe becomes clear: what is this teaching according to v. 45? Note, it is the teaching here, that is the drawing factor.

So what is the content of grace here, how is grace experienced? Obviously by the drawing, that is the teaching from God. And here we go, you should reveal this teaching that leads to conversion. The content of grace is the revelation one receives from God.

Now concerning mysteries and “metaphysical models”. There is no mysterious element here. The question was: “what is the drawing action, what is going on when a person is drawn”. The answer is: the person hears and learns from the father. This results in conversion. But there is absolutely no mysterious element involved here. Why? Note, all revelation and all truth originating from God is transferred via the LOGOS. The logos is the word of God, it means also reason (and is the origin of the word logics and the ending -logics / -logy). It means comprehension, it is knowability and clarity. The logos communicates all truth in an EXPRESSIBLE way, all truth must thus be communicable. Now note, the logos is God’s only revelation channel, no truth by-passes the logos. And finally the logos is Christ, if you are a christian then Christ is in you and hence, the logos is in you.

Now, I return to the word “grace” again, and ask again, what is the content thereof, what does it comprise, what is the grace about? So if you are christians then you have been enlightened by the logos who is reason and clarity and are able to communicate, to express what the drawing actually IS. (It is the teaching in v. 45, and all teaching from God is through the logos).

The focal point to grasp here is, that there is no inscrutable teaching! There can be no inscrutable, unknowable element in the “drawing mechanism”. Note, drawing is the work of the Father. Yet the father’s power is the logos (John 1:1), is Christ. So if you have been drawn (v. 44) and taught (v.45) by God, you can likewise draw other people (Christ in you). You can share the knowledge you have reaped. And here again, the content of grace must be communicable. This is why I said, Calvinists speak much about grace, but not about its content. The “inward call” IS the content of grace in this context.

If you have Christ in you, you can do some work of Christ, the logos, and draw others as you were drawn. You can give them the same key to conversion, that you received.

So the word grace is important, but only if it is filled with content. The same holds true for the word “love”. There is much talk about it, but if love is just a word, what does it profit?

And if you tell others, “Pray to God, that He might draw you towards Himself” or something like that, but you don’t give them the key to conversion, what does it profit?

Greetings
Kehrhelm “a helmet” Kröger

7 Darrin November 13, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Greetings Kehrhelm,
I may not thoroughly understand where we might differ, but let me say that I believe all the things you have mentioned, the drawing, the teaching, the calling inwardly and outwardly, are all acts of God’s grace. Reformed writers often speak of the “means” of salvation – though the effectual inward call is necessary, God has chosen to use the outward call (perhaps teaching) of the gospel message. While He saves by sending forth His word (which is also gracious), the word will not bear fruit if it falls on deaf ears, blind eyes, stony heart, dead spirit. This is our natural or fleshly condition according to scripture. So He must first give us ears to hear, a heart of flesh, etc. – this is why we say regeneration precedes faith. Forgive me if I’ve stated the obvious – I don’t fully know your position, and am not trying to sound superior, as if I were smarter. 🙂

8 johnMark November 13, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Kehrhelm,

I’m not exactly sure of what perspective you coming. It sounds as if you’ve taken away the personhood of Christ and reduced Him to logic/knowledge.

You said

Note, drawing is the work of the Father.

Then

If you have Christ in you, you can do some work of Christ, the logos, and draw others as you were drawn.

How can we draw someone via Christ if it is the Father who draws?

Speaking of content, how about context? What concerns is Jesus addressing in John 6:44-45?

I don’t see that in v. 45 “learning” is the drawing factor. When those are able to come once drawn what do you think they learn?

Mark

9 a helmet November 15, 2008 at 12:54 pm

johnMark,

“How can we draw someone via Christ if it is the Father who draws?

Jesus said (all in John) “The father works in me”
and
“The father is in me”
and
“The works that I do testify that the father is in me”

and similar statements.

The Father was and is in Christ. If you are a christian then Christ is in you. And therefore, the father is in you as well.

Now, to your question. How does the father work? He works through His power. His power is the logos. Note, God wrought everything by His word. All creation was made by the word. The word is therefore God’s POWER. It is God’s power to creation an also to judgment. So God’s power lies in His word. He speaks — and it is.
Now, Christ is the word. Hence, he is the power of God. The father has given all power to Christ (see end of Matthew’ gospel, Colossians, among many others). God does not operate in this world except via the logos who is Christ.

“What concerns is Jesus addressing in John 6:44-45?”

I’ll quote:
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. Then I will raise him up on the last day.45 “It is written in the Prophets, ‘God will teach all of them.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

Well, drawing is necessary in order to come. All who listen and learn (v. 45) come to Christ. The source of learning (the teaching) is in the Father. The drawing is also the father’s work.
All who thus learn from the father come to Christ.

All who learn COME.
Only those who are drawn can COME.

This is why learning is (at least!) the drawing factor. Drawing is a necessary condition, learning is a sufficient condition. Only if someone is drawn, he comes to Christ. And if someone learns, he comes to Christ.

“When those are able to come once drawn, what do you think they learn?”

I dont’ understand. That was actually my critic, that the “learning”, the teaching here, IS THE CONTENT OF GRACE. And shall be revealed to others, that is, shared, when received.

Sharing this teaching is drawing other people, it is doing the works of the father!

Greetings
a helmet

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