The ‘Calvinism Advisory Committee’ Issues Statement

"We should expect all leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and all entities serving our denomination to affirm, to respect, and to represent all Southern Baptists of good faith and to serve the great unity of our Convention. No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other."

TRUTH, TRUST, and TESTIMONY in a TIME of TENSION

A Statement from the Calvinism Advisory Committee

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As Southern Baptists prepare for their Annual Meeting in Houston next week, the internet is buzzing about the SBC's latest edict on the Calvinism Debate.  You may recall that tensions were high last year when Southern Baptists convened in New Orleans.  Because of that, Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, formed a group to determine how Baptists can learn to get along despite their theological differences.   

According to an article in the Christian Post entitled Calvinism Debate:  Southern Baptists Form Team to Figure Out How to Work Together:

"Only a minority of Southern Baptists are Calvinists but a LifeWay Research survey conducted this year found that more people were signing on to the theological system. Sixteen percent of Southern Baptist pastors now say they are five-point Calvinists, up from 10 percent in 2006.

A majority of Southern Baptists (61 percent), meanwhile, indicated that they are concerned about the impact of Calvinism on the SBC.

Page doesn't believe the Calvinism debate is the biggest issue the denomination is facing. But he believes it's an important one that they must deal with."

When Frank Page was president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, he outlined what he considered to be issues of importance.  Here is what he had to say about Calvinism.

"Many people ask me about this issue.  I readily affirm my belief in the doctrines of grace, but as I have stated over and over, I believe the doctrines of grace include the issue of free will.  I have written a book about this issue.  I do not hold to the traditional five points of Calvinist theology.  I believe that while salvation will not be universally accepted, it is universally offered and atoned for by our Lord Jesus Christ!  I believe that human beings can accept or reject the Holy Spirit's call for salvation. 

I have made it abundantly clear that I believe that this argument is a family argument.  In fact, almost every Calvinist with whom I have spoken has a high belief in the integrity of Scripture.  Therefore, I have stated clearly that I will open the table of participation to anyone who (1) has a sweet spirit and (2) who has an evangelistic heart, (3) has a belief in the inerrant word of God, and (4) has strong belief and support in the Cooperative Program."

In case you are wondering whom Page selected for the Calvinism Advisory Team, here are the names as published last summer in the Baptist Press:

— Daniel Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.

— Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C.

— David Dockery, president, Union University, Jackson, Tenn.

— Leo Endel, executive director, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention. 

— Ken Fentress, senior pastor, Montrose Baptist Church, Rockville, Md.

— Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala.

— Eric Hankins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss.

— Johnny Hunt, pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.

— Tammi Ledbetter, homemaker and layperson, Inglewood Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas.

— Steve Lemke, provost, director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

— Fred Luter, senior pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans; president, Southern Baptist Convention.

— R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

— Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

— Stephen Rummage, senior pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, Fla.

— Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

— Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.

According to recent reports, the committee currently consists of 19 members.  Here are the additional members (whose names are mentioned at the end of the report entitled TRUTH, TRUST, and TESTIMONY in a TIME of TENSION):

David Allen, dean, School of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

Tom Ascol, pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida

David Landrith, senior pastor, Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee

Why has Calvinism become such a hot button issue?  Perhaps this article written by Roger Olson – A report on some recent conversations on Calvinism – will help shed some light on why some Baptists consider Calvinism to be a divisive theological issue.  Olson explains:

"A seminary student told me about his home church. His parents are members there and he grew up in it. It’s a Baptist church that has never had any official position on Calvinism or Arminianism. It’s background is Pietist (as opposed to, say, fundamentalist). In other words, it has traditionally had a policy of not fighting over secondary doctrines such as predestination.

The church recently called a new pastor. He is relatively young, not long out of seminary but with some previous pastoral experience. During the search and interview process he did not reveal to the committee or then to the church’s leaders that he is a five point Calvinist. Hardly anyone in the church has been a five point Calvinist and he knew very well that it would be controversial. After he was called and accepted the call, he began pushing Calvinism in a very heavy handed way. He gives books by Wayne Grudem and Mark Driscoll to adult teachers to use in preparing their lessons. He unilaterally removed books from the church library he considered unbiblical or unorthodox from a Calvinist perspective. (This is an evangelical church and probably didn’t have many, if any, really liberal books in its library.) He began to insist on being present at all church committee meetings. A committee is not supposed to meet if he cannot be there. He is preaching and teaching Calvinism as if it were the one and only truly evangelical theology. He admits to being inspired by John Piper. The students’ parents are not very knowledgeable about theology but sense that the pastor’s behavior and teaching are a problem. The congregation is gradually being disturbed by this situation."

This kind of news gets around in the SBC, and churches, particularly those that are congregationally led, feel terribly threatened by the Young Restless and Reformed seminary graduates.  Al Mohler, for example, just celebrated his 20th anniversary as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  For over two decades, this five-point Calvinist has been producing disciples who strive to emulate him, and some of Mohler's lieutenants have been wreaking havoc in Southern Baptist churches.     

We hope you will take the time to peruse this seven-page document and provide us with your feedback.  We believe the Southern Baptist Convention is at a crossroads, and it will be interesting to see just how cooperative those on either side of the theological debate are as the SBC attempts to move forward to carry out the Great Commission.  We will definitely be watching and reporting our findings.

Lydia's Corner:  2 Samuel 23:24-24:25   Acts 3:1-26   Psalm 123:1-4   Proverbs 16:21-23

Comments

The ‘Calvinism Advisory Committee’ Issues Statement — 544 Comments

  1. Jeff S wrote:

    @ Evie:
    And just to be really clear, and I haven’t been in this point, I do appreciate your zeal to punish the wicked. Paul and Peter were not afraid to name names, and we should not be either.

    I believe these folks are wicked and have behaved wickedly. There are too many allegations for me to believe otherwise.

    Jeff, I appreciate this, thanks. I’m sure you understand that any conviction regarding what is considered sin or wickedness has to be based in God’s moral law in order for it to carry any authority. Rather than base my judgments on personal pet peeves or arbitrary taboos, I try to stick to assigning sin to those things that can be defined as scriptural violations. Sin has both an individual and a communal impact, and it’s within this arena that I’ve attempted to address the areas of sin within SGM as I’ve witnessed and experienced them. While I was in SGM, a member was allowed to address sin in their own life. Any attempt I ever made to address sin as it affected me by anyone else went nowhere. And I mean nowhere. As an individual in SGM, you are not recognized as having any spiritual authority and the leadership of the church is not there to help guide you in working out issues of sin with others, they only point you to your own. However, the leadership of SGM functions just the opposite. They assume the spiritual authority to define sin for you and they never allow themselves to be the subjects of sin. You are always the subject of sin. Even when you confront them with sin, you are in sin. They give themselves exclusive rights to judge, and that is why they routinely instructed members to go to them about everything. They were the proving ground. You weren’t allowed the right, within SGM, to judge sin. If you dared do so, that was swiftly labeled “pride.” It was always an act of arrogance for a member to question the righteousness of the leaders.

    Within this culture of submission and abuse, your righteousness was defined as being akin to your conformity to the community. You were expected to be a “joy” to pastor, which meant always going along with everything and not asking questions. But since the leaders themselves were not submitted to the laws that govern community within His Kingdom and instead were committed to some socialist ideal to create a corporate effect, they operated essentially as busy-bodies judging people on the basis of their collective taboos: gender roles, no-dating, female modesty, your position within the hierarchy, income, behavior of children, how you were educating your children, marital status or condition of your marriage, etc. You were essentially stripped of any authority that was inherent with your salvation (which is based on an individual & personal choice) and had it presumed upon by me guilt manipulators who assumed God’s authority to redefine and remodel your salvation in the name of “the Savior.” And as much as they talked about “sin” as a tool of manipulation, true sin was actually trivialize by throwing it all together in one vague lump that everyone was guilty of. Check out CJ Mahaney’s Twitter page and notice the one quote he uses to characterize and define himself publicly. He’s not responsible. It’s his heart that’s prone to wander – and we’re all guilty of that – so he would have you believe. Like he’s just one of us. His sin is no worse and all sin is the same so let’s give the man a break and in the process, don’t forget to focus on your own heart that’s prone to wander as well. The old SGM doublebind.

    So couple things as regards this thread and the issues that have impacted our interaction.

    First, I view the opinions expressed by some regarding not naming the Olivias family to fall into the category of an arbitrary taboo rather than falling under the realm of dealing with sin according to God’s moral law. My impression is that some of the ardent supporters of this viewpoint strike me as being troublemakers and busy-bodies more than being committed to rooting out sin in keeping with our duties as citizens of the Kingdom. I hope that doesn’t sound too high falluting. But I do take the issue of wickedness and sin within SGM seriously. And when I say “within” I mean exactly that. There’s sin that is specific to SGM that has been internalized. Because of its presence I identify it as a cult because of the way sin has been internalized and how it’s permeated the entire organization. It is my observation that those who have truly escaped SGM have recognized the sin and have come out from it, denouncing it in its entirety (often by degrees as each “scale” falls off). But those who remain (and I’ll use “it’s just the beginning” (or something like that) as an example) for the way in which they have responded to the content of Brents post. Rather than being governed by the rule of God’s moral law, they seem more governed by the Hanafi school of Law in Islam (as do Mahaney, Mohler, Dever & Duncan for that matter) which prescribes that one must receive a positive legal injunction that something is right before one can act. There seemed to be a lot of discussion regarding the ethics surrounding Detwiler’s revelations but very little regarding the moral law. Was it ethical for people to know more about Olivias story involving her family, and was it ethical for her siblings to be implicated? I saw a majority of people decry it on the basis of what they considered a breach in ethics. But what about the moral law of sin and working to expose it? SGM would certainly agree that the family and all siblings should have been protected from exposure. They would have also not gone to the police and made themselves subject to the laws of the God-given governing authorities. They would have avoided any legal injunctions whatsoever from trumping their own injunctions that they applied to the handling of crime although they never hesitated to consult their own lawyers in order to protect themselves, and then if the law became a useful advocate for their own defense (such as in calling in the AoR to “decide” Mahaney’s fitness for ministry, or their legal defense in the lawsuit) they stand on the principle that unless convicted in a court of law, they are innocent of all wrong doing.

    Jesus came to set us free from mere externals and what the community sees and wants. Isn’t that what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for? We’re not to abide by taboos or the arbitrary rules of leaders like those who created the monstrosity of SGM. When it comes to sin and wickedness we’re to be exposing it in an effort to root it out.(part of comment removed by editor)But God doesn’t call us to follow a family, a clan, or a country and as you say, if Peter and Paul weren’t afraid to name names, then nor should we.

  2. @ Evie: OK, one last thing (I had said I was dropping the subject, but): Evie, the outing of O. – if done without her express consent and permission – violates confidentiality.

    It’s illegal to violate confidentiality – in this situation (when a plaintiff has chosen to use a pseudonym), in doctor-patient and therapist-patient relationships and (lat but not least!) priests and the person in the confessional. it’s a HUGE breach of trust.

    Try and put yourself in the shoes of someone whose privacy has been violated in such a major way. And then tell me if you think those who are concerned about privacy and confidentiality are “busybodies” and worse.

    it is a HUGE ethical problem, in the law, in medicine, in therapy – and even in journalism. You know how journalists protect their sources? (Like Woodward and Lothrop and “Deep Throat,” the person/persons who gave them so much of the material for their Watergate scoop?)

  3. @ Evie: Also: the names will come out in due course, as the suit and criminal investigations progress.

    Sometimes we have to sit on our hands and let these processes work themselves out.

    Believe me, I’ve had to deal with some things that required that kind of hands-off approach, and while it was VERY hard for me to sit back and wait, it was all that I could do. Eventually, the process ended, and things were resolved. And even though i was dealing with government agencies, this is true of the law and legal processes as well. (You know – the whole appeals thing, appellate courts – and how cases end up being heard by the Supreme Court.)

    In other words: Rome wasn’t built in a day – and it wasn’t torn down in a day, either.

  4. Evie wrote:

    First, I view the opinions expressed by some regarding not naming the Olivias family to fall into the category of an arbitrary taboo rather than falling under the realm of dealing with sin according to God’s moral law. My impression is that some of the ardent supporters of this viewpoint strike me as being troublemakers and busy-bodies more than being committed to rooting out sin in keeping with our duties as citizens of the Kingdom.

    This is the root of our difference, I guess. You are assuming a lot about our motives. I do not know the motives of anyone else on this thread. I can guess, but I’ll stick to my own motives. My motive was, simply, concern for the welfare of the victims. Believe me, I want there to be justice and the men (and women) who are eyeball deep in this hypocracy and evil to be exposed.

    Here’s the thing. You call my desire to try to protect the victims in the process an ‘arbitrary taboo’ and dismiss it as of no importance and then claim your motive to be higher than mine and to be based on ‘moral imperative.’ Can you not see that there is also a ‘moral imperative’ to protact and defend the victims?

    This sounds like you are elevating your morals amd motives above those who disagree with you. I would submit, based only on your posts, that you do not understand the phychological dynamic that victims of child sexual abuse endure. As has been suggested by others, it feels like your zeal (not always a bad thing!) does not take into account that the law of sin exposing you have created might trample the victims underfoot. And your words (the internet is so difficult because tone and body language are absent) seem to suggest that you really think that is okay. Again, as a survivor, ‘ouch!’

  5. @ Evie:
    I understand all of what you are saying about the way sin was treated by SGM. I hear this all the time at ACFJ- where a wife is told to focus on her own sin and her own part in the abuse rather than her husband who is beating her. This attitude is horrible and the “What about YOUR sin” garbage needs to stop. It can make a victim feel like he or she must accept the effects of another persons sin unless he or she is perfect (I know, I’ve been there).

    But as far as exposing victims, I don’t care AT ALL what SGM would prefer, but I do VERY MUCH care about the victims. I hope you are not implying (I’m a bit confused by some of what you said) that revealing identities of rape victims against their will is an “arbitrary taboo”.

    It is damaging with long reaching consequences to the victim AND future cases where people might be afraid to come forward for fear of being re-victimized.

  6. Further – there is a moral imperative to protect the privacy of those plaintiffs who have chosen to use pseudonyms.

    I guess I don’t understand how this would in any way consist of a breach in “the moral law,” let alone be some kind of “arbitrary taboo.”

    These laws are in place for a reason – to protect the victims.

    I kind of hate the word “vengeance” with a passion, but I can’t help thinking of the passage that says “vengeance is Mine.” I think the author of Hebrews was very wise to cite it – and that it applies very directly to this lawsuit, to the criminal investigations, etc.

    Outside “help” – outing of plaintiffs without their express permission and consent – is no help at all. rather the contrary, as many have already pointed out. The possible ramifications (people who want to come forward getting scared off, etc. etc.) are pretty horrifying, imo.

    Nobody would want to be “taught” to swim by being thrown in the deep end of the pool – lest the person is is thrown in ends up drowning.

    Same here.

    [/done with this]

  7. @ Evie:
    Do you acknowledge that it is potentially damaging to the victims to have their identities revealed against their will?

    How much damage would Brent have to do to the victims to make it not worth it?

  8. @ Jeff S:
    In this case, the abuse was molestation in as far as has been revealed. The only penetration that occurred involved a foot. I really want to avoid rehashing the details. The only reason I’m saying this is to provide accuracy.

    Just to be clear, when you’re referring to the naming of a victim, you are referring only to Olivia, right? Her last name is included in Brents blog posting, but no other names were named.

  9. Jeff S wrote:

    @ Evie:
    Do you acknowledge that it is potentially damaging to the victims to have their identities revealed against their will?

    How much damage would Brent have to do to the victims to make it not worth it?

  10. @ Jeannette Altes:
    You are very welcome. I’m a fellow traveler who’s only a couple miles ahead, but not in all ways. As you say, it’s helpful to articulate to someone who knows.

    A benediction: If I, knowing very little about you, wish you well and happy, imagine how God feels, who had you in His/Her mind before your life began. So be patient in your intellectual knowledge and act on it with ceremonial kindness. More will come. I am sure of it.

    I hope your weekend has a spark or two of lip-smacking satisfaction :-)

  11. @ Evie:
    Jeff wrote: “I hope you are not implying…that revealing identities of rape victims against their will is an “arbitrary taboo”.”

    To which Evie replied:
    “In this case, the abuse was molestation in as far as has been revealed. The only penetration that occurred involved a foot. I really want to avoid rehashing the details. The only reason I’m saying this is to provide accuracy.”

    Ok, Evie, now you’ve exposed yourself and it ain’t pretty.

    Moral laws are for humans. They are not ends in themselves. The only reason for them is to help us live more healthily. The reason for the civil suit, and the criminal suits coming up, is to help the humans involved be able to live more healthily. This is not for revenge. It’s not to clear impurities from the church. It’s not to obey the high morals of the universe. Morals are always and ever tied to human life. That is where they have meaning.

    This is what Jesus meant when he said to the Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

    But throughout this thread and culminating in the above comment, you are on a high horse, shouting cleansing at the expense of humans. This is cold legalism, the same type held by the Pharisees, the same type that tried to make a 3-yr old forgive her abuser. The same type that parses rape to molestation and a foot.

    Well, you’ve contracted foot-in-mouth disease.

  12. Also… I’m not sure that there’s any point in my going over (and over and over) my reasons for saying what I’ve said about this whole debacle.

    So I’m going to try and keep to what I said above, about being quiet now.

  13. @ Patrice:

    Patrice I was afraid someone would react like you did, assuming I was differentiating between rape and molestation so as to trivialize the one compared to the other. In the case of repeated, ongoing, longstanding child abuse, can we agree that regardless of what allegedly happened, it was still damaging. I didn’t think I would need to explain this, but I can see now I did. Did you miss the part where I said I was clarifying molestation vs rape for the sake of accuracy?

  14. @ Evie: Now I’m afraid that you’ve given your hand a way – “Is she coy and deceptive?” (etc.).

    It’s not yours to judge how or what or why. It’s not mine, either, and for that, I’m very glad.

    She says she was repeatedly abused and I believe her. And Jeff’s point about other siblings having been outed via what Brent posted all over the place is also true.

  15. @ Evie: I think you are really trying the patience of all of the posters who were themselves molested, Evie.

    And mine, too.

  16. @ numo:

    Here’s a map with an X and a GPS programmed with the directions to Witchville. You won’t find me there but happy hunting nonetheless. :-|

  17. @ Evie:

    You want to go yet another round but it is pointless. You are on a site that focuses on exposing abuse in the church and whose comment threads are bent towards those who are sorting out the results of church abuse in their lives.

    Do you want us to approve of your thinking? Well, we don’t. We have told you so over and over, yet you keep chasing your tail, and now your words have become offensive.

    I suggest you find a place of like-minded people. It’s not here.

  18. @ Patrice:
    I wanted to add that the arbitrary taboos I’m referring to mainly had to do in a general sense to the approach people took to arguing against Detwiler’s post based primarily on what they judge as an ethical violation. Ethical violations have their place, don’t get me wrong. But when you argue against evidence that supports the violation of God’s moral law on the basis of an ethical violation, I think you end up straining out the gnats in order to swallow the camel.

  19. @ Evie: Will you not see that in this case – what we’ve all been saying – “moral” and “ethical” are the same thing?

    I give up for real; it’s pointless for me to be chasing my own tail on this one.

    Evie, please understand that I am feeling extremely frustrated by the way you seem – to my way of thinking – to be bulldozing victims (alleged) in service of what you call “the moral law.”

    From my experience of this life (and of abusive churches, and of knowing people who have been sexually abused and/or assaulted, whether as kids or as adults), it just does not work that way.

    I can’t keep parsing what’s already been spelled out, because it’s like the writing on the wall in the book of Daniel, to me, at least.

  20. Am I asking you to continue? You are doing so by your own free will. If your conscience tells you to stop, then by all means do so. I don’t want to additionally be accused of tempting you.

    You continuous misjudgments should be the reason why you walk away. I could not do that to you in good conscience. However, since you continue to insult me Im going to desist from any further discussion with you.

  21. @ Evie:

    Hmm…I don’t think protecting victims is just an ‘ethical’ law. I believe it is a moral law that runs through the entire Bible.

    I will leave you with this: The Law was made for man, not man for the Law. When we start sacrificing people on the altar of the Law, we move from mercy and grace to tyrany and abuse.

  22. Comment removed by editor. Due to some uncomfortable discussions going on over at SGM Surivivors and here, I have decided that we should avoid discussion on Olivia at this time. Olivia has been through alot and we give her our empathy.

  23. Comment removed by editor. When I work to confirm the identity of Olivia, I came to believe that she was not aware that Brent was going to out her family. Therefore, I would like to avoid discussions along this line. 

  24. @ dee: Hey, if you feel that any of my comments in these recent exchanges should be removed, please feel free to do so.

    I got angry, and it shows.

  25. Comment removed by editor. This whole event has been very difficult on me. I want to honor Olivia by using her first name. However, due to a couple fo dicussions, I believe that Brent’s expose was not expected by Olivia and possibly others. Due to my concerns, I would ask that we not speculate on the motives behind Brent’s posts or Olivia’s comments.

  26. One thing no one seems to be mentioning is that a Court of Law deemed that certain names were to be concealed. It wasn’t just O’s preference. It was a mandate of the court. The question is did Brent ignore a court ruling by revealing names? Even O, herself, may have ignored a court ruling. I think it is totally possible that Brent could have written the same article and not revealed names; waiting for the courts to give an okay.

    The other thing that strikes me is that even though names were to be concealed from the public, that in no way means that a criminal investigation didn’t begin as soon as the allegations became known. In regards to child abuse, sexual or other, prosecution can occur with or without the victims permission, while concealing the victims name.

  27. Numo

    I don’t mind anger and frustration. This situation is prone to that and it is understandable. I am trying to to cut some specualtion about Brent and Olivia.

  28. @ dee: I did a fair amount of speculating (and venting) about BD here last Thurs., after things broke.

    Part of me just cringes at using anything but the name from the court documents – Grace Goe.

  29. Yesterday, the Out of Ur blog interviewed Kevin DeYoung, one of the 7 men who stand by C.J. Mahaney, the pastor who has been accused by 11 plaintiffs of allegedly covering up child sexual abuse in his church and ministry, and allegedly discouraging the children and their parents from contacting the authorities.

    http://www.outofur.com/archives/2013/06/for_todays_entr.html#comments

    As you know, Christianity Today, the organization that owns the Out Of Ur blog, has refused to run the story of the Sovereign Grace Ministries child sexual abuse and cover-up lawsuit on their main headline news site, even though the Huffington Post, Associated Baptist Press, and the Washington Post have told the story.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/24/c-j-mahaney-scandal-evangelical-leaders-defend-pastor-accused-of-abuse-cover-up_n_3334500.html

    Out of Ur deleted one of my comments on this topic 3 weeks ago. We’ll see if the comment left by Jazmin on this article is left up.

  30. Calvinistic Baptists have more in common with Lutherans than they think.

    When it comes to the conversion of an adult non-believer, Arminians, Calvinists and Lutherans are in full agreement: salvation occurs when the sinner believes. Baptism is not a mandatory requirement to be saved. We have theological differences on how belief occurs, but we all believe that the second a sinner believes he is saved. If he dies a second later, he will go to heaven. He is a Christian.

    Our significant denominational differences arise when we talk about the salvation of the infants and toddlers of Christian parents: how are these young children saved? What happens if, God forbid, one of them should die before reaching the age where they are capable of expressing a saving faith in Christ?

    The Arminian answer is this: God saves all infants and toddlers who die, even the infants and toddlers of non-believers. They have no hard proof from Scripture to support this belief, but they believe that King David’s comments about his dead infant gives them support for their position. Infants who die are “safe” in the arms of a loving God.

    Calvinists look at their children in this manner: Their children are either the Elect or they are not. Presbyterian Calvinists will baptize their infants to bring them into the “covenant” (whatever that is!) of the Church but do not believe that baptism has any salvific value. “If my child is of the Elect he will declare himself to be a believer when he is older.”

    A Calvinistic Baptist will not baptize his infant, but looks at Election in the same way as the Presbyterian Calvinist: My child is either of the Elect or he is not. There is nothing I can do but bring him up in the Faith and leave the rest to God.

    Lutherans believe that when God told us to baptize all nations, he meant to baptize ALL those who are of the Elect. Many Arminians and Calvinists assume that Lutherans believe that anyone we run through the baptismal font will get into heaven. Not true! Only the Elect will get into heaven. We baptize our infants in the HOPE that they are the Elect. Is it possible that some of the infants of Christian parents whom we baptize are not of the Elect and therefore will not be in heaven? Yes! But that is a mystery of God that we do not attempt to explain or understand.

    However, we believe we are to do our job of “baptizing all nations” (who are of the Elect) by baptizing our infants and we then leave their Election up to God. We then follow Christ’s command to “teach” them in the Faith as they grow up, but when they are older it will be their responsibility to nurture their faith with prayer, Bible study, worship, and the Lord’s Supper. If these infant-baptized persons abandon their faith and turn their back on God, they may very well wake up one day in hell! Baptism is NOT a “Get-into-heaven-free” card! Salvation is by God’s grace alone, received in faith alone.

    No faith—>no salvation—>no eternal life!

    The Calvinist position on the salvation of infants is very confusing to me. It seems to be a process. A specific event of salvation does not seem necessary for Calvinists. Is there any example in the NT of anyone being saved by a process? As much as I deplore Arminian theology, I do like the fact that they insist on a specific “when” of salvation. They are wrong, however, to believe that the “when” of salvation is based on THEIR decision when in reality it is based on GOD’S decision.

    If Calvinists agree with Lutherans that it is God who chooses who will be saved, and it is God who chooses when to save…which approach seems more Scriptural for the salvation of our children: God saves THOSE OF OUR CHILDREN WHO ARE OF THE ELECT in a one-time event in Holy Baptism OR he saves them in a nebulous, drawn-out process over a period of years? Unless, of course, Calvinistic Baptists believe that their children who are the Elect are born saved… I certainly hope that our Calvinistic Baptist brothers and sisters do not believe that the Elect are born saved as do some hard-core Calvinists.

    In truth, Lutherans and Calvinistic Baptists have quite a bit in common on the doctrine of Justification/Salvation: we both believe that God saves whom he wants, when he wants. We both do not believe in a “free will”. Our difference is that Calvinistic Baptists cannot accept that God would choose to give the free gift of faith/belief/repentance/salvation to infants, instead of waiting until they are older. And why?

    “Because an infant cannot believe!”

    But if we both agree that it is God who chooses us, not us choosing him, why do you limit when God can give the free gift of salvation? Is it possible that you are limiting God from saving infants just because it defies your human reason and logic to believe that an infant can believe?

    Since when is the Almighty God of the Universe limited to operating in the confines of human reason and logic??

    Gary
    http://www.LutherWasNotBornAgain.com

  31. gary wrote:

    They are wrong, however, to believe that the “when” of salvation is based on THEIR decision when in reality it is based on GOD’S decision

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I found it enlightening. There are many who are not Calvinist who would say that the “when” of salvation occurs when there is a confluence of personal belief and God’s direct intervention.

    One thing I would like to suggest to Calvinists who would like to have an impact on the lives of we nonCalvinists is this. I know you believe that we are *wrong.” I also know that you believe that you are “right.” I also fully recognize that you could give me a well thought out presentation, complete with Bible verses, commentaries, etc. I know this because I have read them and did so for years, trying to force myself to believe as you do.

    I cannot and it is not for a lack of trying. I do not think it is due to an arrogance in my soul. I love the Lord and seek to follow Him, not out of compulsion but out of a sincere love for Him. I am overwhelmed by His grace which He has shown to me and others.

    When we seek to dialogue, it is sometimes semantics that block our two way communication. Trust me, I know. 5 years of blogging has made me well aware of my own inadequacies in this area.

    All this to say-could you give a shot at substituting *I disagree with them* for *They are wrong?* Trust me when I say that most of us know you think we are wrong just as Justin Lee taught me that most homosexuals know that we think they are sinners before we say a word. It is unnecessary to begin our conversations in such a manner.

    The older I get, the more I believe that we must first seek to show love in a way that opens doors and promotes dialogue instead of bringing things to a screeching halt by our style.