Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Systems of Theology

I enjoy having responses to my articles. Even from people who do not agree with me. To answer the brother (or sister!) who responded to my last article, let me quote Spurgeon on theological systems.

"It has been my earnest endeavor ever since I have preached the Word, never to keep back a single doctrine which I believe to be taught of God. It is time that we have done with the old and rusty systems that have so long curbed the freeness of religious speech. The Arminian trembles to go an inch beyond Arminius or Wesley, and many a Calvinist refers to John Gill or John Calvin as any ultimate authority. It is time that the systems were broken up, and that there was sufficient grace in all our hearts to believe everything taught in God's Word, whether it was taught by either of these men or not . . . . If God teaches it, it is enough. If it is not in the Word, away with it! Away with it! But if it be in the Word, agreeable or disagreeable, systematic or disorderly, I believe it."

Amen - Spoken as only a Baptist could say it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Labels and Name Calling

I've noticed over the past few years 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.