Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Labels and Name Calling

I've noticed over the past few months that many folks want to put a 'label' on me theologically. They want to know if I'm conservative (I am), if I am an inerrantist (I am), if I am an expositor (definitely), or if I am a Calvinist. The first three are easy. Each represents a specific theological position that is understood by most people. But it seems everybody has their own definition of Calvinist. What the person asking the question means may be different than what I mean when I answer. So, I always ask "What do you mean by Calvinist?

If you are asking if I hold to the five points of Calvinism, then the answer is no. I am not a five-point Calvinist. If you are asking if I believe that God is absolutely sovereign and rules over the affairs of this universe, then my answer is yes. I believe that. Do I believe that God arbitrarily picked some to save and damned others to hell, then no I don't believe that. If you are asking if I believe that humanity is hopelessly lost in sin, needing a savior, and that God must draw them to Christ before they can be saved, then yes I believe that. Do I believe that the atonement is so limited that Christ's death was solely for the sake of the elect, no I do not believe that. Do I believe that Christ died for the sins of the world, that his atonement was sufficient for all, but only effectual to those who received him by faith, yes I believe that. Do I believe that election simply means that God knew in advance who would be saved, no I do not believe that. Do I believe that election is God's sovereign display of His glory whereby he regenerates, justifies, and sanctified, and glorifies sinners, but is in no way inconsistent with the free agency of man, O yes I believe that.
Do I believe that all true believers endure to the end? You bet I do.

Some people have claimed that my theology is a hodge-podge. I disagree. I believe it is Biblical. I preach and hold to the truth that God is sovereign, not man. Yet, the Bible is clear that our choice about salvation matters. I like what Macarthur stated about election and human responsibility. They are like twin tracks on a railroad. They run side by side throughout eternity.

Finally, I am not a big "systems" man. My goal is to have a Biblical theology. That, friend, is why I do label myself a Baptist, not a Calvinist or a covenant theological or a dispensationalist - I am Baptist. To me that simply means "Biblical.



Billy said...

Sounds like you are a Bible Believing Baptist. Nothing complicated here. Others might say you are a "confused Calvinist" and if they only had a little time with you - they could reason with you and you would come to a fuller knowledge of the truth. Some Baptists (a few) who have a small view of God would call you a Calvinist. Some Calvinists would say you have a small view of God.

Some would say you have left the heritage of being a Baptist. You are bordering on heresy, in their view. You surely have lost your way and the wrath of God is looming upon the sons of disobedience. They are God's appointed agents to bring you to task. The majority of these people (that i have met) who hold to this position act like they have been sucking on a lemon all day. They are sour and spoiling for a fight.

You probaly will get a few critical comments from the "Five Pointers." Let me give them one point - How come so many Five Pointers spend so much time on the five points and so little time on personal tranformation. I.E. Allowing the Holy Spirit to build in them the graces of Christ. Yet, many hide behind apologetic "we are defending the truth," which they believe gives them the right to be mean, harsh, critical, and condesending. Nothing gives a "Christian" the right to get in the flesh and act as he wills and say whatever he wants.

Where is the fruit of the Spirit? Where is the abiding life? Are they abiding in a doctrine and not Deity? Unless they are not HIS? God forbid, but Paul commanded "Test yourselves to see whether you are in the faith." Just because you were baptized in the church, jumped through the doctrinal hoops, and believes the doctrinal positions that you are saved.... That is Not in the Bible... Why would Paul say to "examine yourself"? Jesus said, "You MUST be born again." (of course the Baptist will bring up that born again stuff.... why? Because... YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN!)

You and I would agree on the vast majority of doctrinal issues. But I lean more toward the lost person's will being in bondage and needing to be freed up to be able to choose Christ. When and how does that happen reveals a person's label as well.

Again, sounds like good yard dog (Baptist) theology. Yard dog sounds better than hodge-podge.

The term Baptist does not denote an ordinance as much as it does a body of belief.

How about this for a topic? Can a Five Point Calvinst not be saved?
Restated, Can a Five Point Calvinist split the gates of hell wide open?
One more time... Is it possible for a Five Point Calvinist to go to hell for eternity?


Anonymous said...

My question on how you label people or their "Calvinism" would be more on a practical side. Suppose one came to your church and said, I do not over push my theology, but it will come out. I am a convinced 5-pointer, try to follow the 1689 confession, and would considered myself following covenant theology and not dispensational, and am not a pre-trib/pre-milienial. Would this person, after being a part and not moving from his position ever be able to become part of the church and teach Sunday School in your church.