A Highly Interesting Article

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JohnDB, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. JohnDB

    JohnDB
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    As I watch yet another Baptist forum have an ongoing debate about Calvinism vx Armenianism I wonder if the two sides will ever actuall know what Jesus really said about this very subject. (He said neither was right)
    (that debate has been going on longer than 2000 years)

    This letter here shows part of the problem...a real lack of hermeneutics on both sides...and coming from the place where the absolute best used to come from...it is a real shame too. I personally think that when God wishes to punish a group He denies the leaders of wisdom...you know...they have a whole bunch of knowledge but have no ability to apply it.

    Clarification of Intent


    Morris H. Chapman
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    SBC Executive Committee

    In my 2009 report to the Southern Baptist Convention, I made the following comment: “The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man. Some are given to explain away the ‘whosoever will’ of John 3:16. How can a Christian come to such a place when Ephesians says, ‘For by grace are you saved through faith’ (Eph. 2:8)?”

    In the days that have followed, my comments have been questioned by a number of individuals who post on the Internet. I have been accused of creating a caricature or a “straw-man” of Calvinism with the phrase, “without a faith response on the part of man.” It has been said that no Calvinist in the Southern Baptist Convention would affirm the idea as I stated it.
    The background of my comments comes from a lifetime of ministry among Southern Baptists. Most Southern Baptists with whom I have had contact have embraced the following model of salvation – God initiates conversion through the convincing/convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Through this conviction of sin, the human heart responds in repentance and faith. A lost individual becomes a child of God by faith and is adopted into God’s family as a redeemed saint.
    More recently, I have heard and read with increasing frequency of the belief that passages such as Ephesians 2:8 teach that “faith” itself is a gift of God – hence, even the response of faith is given by God and is not the free response of the human heart to the saving initiative of God.
    Had I spoken with greater technical precision in my report, my words may be expanded this way, “The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation in which even the faith response on the part of man is not a response of free human agency, but is a sovereign act of God. Some are given to explain away the ‘whosoever will’ of John 3:16. How can a Christian come to such a place when Ephesians says, ‘For by grace are you saved through faith’ (Eph. 2:8)?”
    As David Dockery rightly noted in his recent book Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal, “[t]he grace by which we are saved through faith is entirely a gift of God” (p. 83). It is not merely one element or the other in this phrase that is the “gift of God”; it is the totality of God’s saving grace expressed through faith that is the gift.
    Greek grammarian Daniel Wallace made a similar observation that the “faith” of Ephesians 2 is not the “gift.” At issue is this: what does “that” refer to in Ephesians 2:8 – “and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (KJV). Wallace identified the “that” of Ephesians 2:8 as an example of a “conceptual antecedent,” although he did note it is a “debatable example.” Nevertheless, he opted to view it this way – as a conceptual antecedent. He identified four ways the demonstrative pronoun may be used in this passage of Scripture. The four options Wallace named are (1) “grace” is the antecedent of “that”; (2) “faith” is the antecedent of “that”; (3) the concept of a grace-by-faith salvation is the antecedent for “that”; and (4) the word “that” has an adverbial force with no antecedent and carries the idea of “and especially.” (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 333-334).
    Wallace observed that both “grace” and “faith” are feminine gender nouns while the pronoun “that” is in the neuter gender. He stated, “On a grammatical level, then, it is doubtful that either ‘faith” or ‘grace’ is the antecedent of touto [‘that’]” (p. 335).
    Wallace concluded, “More plausible is the third view, viz., that touto refers to the concept of grace-by-faith salvation. As we have seen, touto regularly takes a conceptual antecedent.” (p. 335) In a footnote, he cited his agreement with A.T Lincoln, “in Paul’s thinking faith can never be viewed as a meritorious work because in connection with justification he always contrasts faith with works of the law” (cited in footnote 53, Lincoln, Ephesians [WBC] 111). Wallace concluded, “If faith is not meritorious, but is instead the reception of the gift of salvation, then it is not a gift per se. Such a view does not preclude the notion that for faith to save, the Spirit of God must initiate the conversion process” (emphasis in the original, footnote 53, p. 335).
    Iain Murray, in his small volume Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, noted that many of the Calvinists in Spurgeon’s day viewed Spurgeon’s ministry as a “second-hand ministry, deeply tainted with an Arminian spirit.” Murray identified four points of departure between Spurgeon’s ministry and the ministry of the “older” Calvinists: (1) Spurgeon believed Gospel invitations are universal and so he did not restrict his invitations; (2) Spurgeon believed that the words and promises of God are a sufficient warrant for faith; (3) Spurgeon consistently emphasized human responsibility in the exercise of free-agency to repent and believe; and (4) Spurgeon believed that the love of God could not be restricted to the elect, although he did distinguish between God’s benevolent love and his elective love (pp. 66-99).
    The word “antinomy” refers to an apparent contradiction between two equally valid or reasonable principles. As I stated in my report, it is my conviction that scripture teaches both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of the human heart in its response to God. I said, “Both are necessary elements in the salvation experience. A healthy tension (an antinomy) exists in the Bible with regard to these two important biblical truths. Both are present in the salvation experience.”
    In a 2007 interview with Steve Lemke of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I responded to the question: “The resurgence of Calvinism in the SBC has been a controversial issue in some ways. What is your perspective on the resurgence of Calvinism in the SBC?”My complete reply, part of which I incorporated in my 2009 report to the Convention, follows:
    “The resurgence of Calvinism is largely a reaction against the shallowness of Baptist doctrinal instruction during the era of moderate-led seminaries coupled with a strong interconnection of the principle of sola scriptura ("scripture alone") with Reformed doctrine during the Protestant Reformation. Since the principle of sola scriptura resurfaced during the inerrancy debates of the Conservative Resurgence, it is only logical that its relationship with Reformed doctrine would also emerge. An additional reason for the resurgence of Calvinism is that a wide-open Arminianism under the guise of Open Theism must be refuted. Generally, where a heresy surfaces its closest theological polar opposites will appear and gain a relatively wide following.
    “The Scriptures reveal numerous "antinomies" (apparent contradictions between two equally valid principles). For example, how can Jesus be fully human and fully divine? How can Scripture be fully the Word of God and the words of men? How can sanctification be a work of the Holy Spirit and a work to which we must give all diligence? Similarly, how can salvation be totally an act of God, independent of human means, and a human response to a divine initiative? Calvinism, drawing heavily on a logical system of thought, seeks to address these questions through the lens of Divine Sovereignty.
    “The resurgence of Calvinism is both to be expected as a historical reality that surges in popularity every few generations and as a healthy conversation about the sovereignty of God in comparison to the responsibility of man.
    “One danger is that pastors are tempted to accept church pastorates in churches that are not Calvinistic, and then strive to drive them into the Calvinistic camp, thereby destroying an otherwise strong and healthy church. Another danger is that the truly warm-hearted, ‘evangelical’ Calvinists often are misunderstood by second-generation successors, potentially resulting in a decline in evangelism and missions. As long as the conversations can remain cordial and warm-hearted, we always have been able to work together for the missionary, educational, and benevolent needs of the Convention and the world.
    “The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man both are taught in the Bible. Both are necessary elements in the salvation experience. A healthy tension (an antinomy) exists in the Bible with regard to these two important biblical truths. Both are present in the salvation experience. Man is often tempted to design a theological theory in light of a biblical antinomy in order to clarify what God is trying to say. Man's system will be inferior to God's system now and forever. Why is it so difficult to accept from God what we cannot fully explain? After all, He didn't begin to tell us everything He knows, but what we need to know to be redeemed and live righteously.”


    So...if the problem is a lack of proper hermeneutics...why are they still putting forth such "milkish" and morality lesson based bible studies? After all...his defense left a lot to be desired here.
     
  2. Rippon

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    Jesus didn't comment because the two terms didn't exist then. But true Calvinism is taught in the Holy Scriptures.



    Murray noted no such thing. Hyper-Calvinists viewed Spurgeon's ministry as tainted with Arminianism -- not Calvinists.

    There are too many errors in Mr. Chapman's report to deal with in my limited time.

    Wecome to the Baptist Board JohnDB.
     
  3. webdog

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    On the contrary, Chapman's letter showed a good understanding and proper hermeneutics.
     
  4. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    Wrong on both counts. His letter showed neither. The exegete of Eph. 2:8 is not accurate.

    John Gill has this to say on that verse:
    "salvation is through faith, not as a cause or condition of salvation, or as what adds any thing to the blessing itself; but it is the way, or means, or instrument, which God has appointed, for the receiving and enjoying it, that so it might appear to be all of grace; and this faith is not the produce of man's free will and power, but it is the free gift of God."

    'That' refers to 'faith'. But even if it did refer to the whole concept of 'grace-by-faith' it still leaves it as "not of yourselves" but is a gift of God.

    BTW, Jesus Himself stated that this faith must be a "gift" from God in John 6:65 Therefore said I unto you, that no man can ('can' speaks of ability, not desire or will here), come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

    Now is faith necessary to come to Christ or not? If so, then it was gift from the Father.
     
  5. JohnDB

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    I am gonna agree here up to a point.

    He left many "loopholes" and didn't "seal the deal" so to speak.

    SBC Baptists have had a long standing history of inclusion of both Calvinists and Armenian believers (and occasionally pelagian)

    Those two camps have never been allowed to write any of the Literature that brought so many into the fold of the SBC. (granted the cooperative program did as well)

    But if the problem is as he states a real lack of complete exegesis and hermeneutical skills then why has the SBC been promoting seminary colleges that do not teach the scriptures as hard core as needed to refute Calvinism. The Calvinists on this board do not even know what I am talking about when I say that Jesus actually spoke on this very subject. (fuss all you like but it doesn't change or delete what Jesus said) They will research it till they are blue in the face and come up empty because they won't have a rescource on their shelves that explains it to them...and lately neither do the Baptists...including the SBC Chair.

    I know I have been looking for some scholars (and not the self proclaimed kind either) to discuss an issue with Syndoche in the Bible and have come up really really empty inside of Baptist circles) The skills just aren't there to have a discusion of it on a reasonable level of understanding the scriptures with a serious student of the bible. Most read commentaries to gain understanding on the Bible passages and where they are quick and easy...they ain't always right.

    and one last point...

    For those that welcome me here...
    I was born a baptist and raised a baptist...since I was a week old. :thumbsup:
     
  6. webdog

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    You hold the minority view, even amongst your peers that "that" is referring to faith, and not the whole of "by grace through faith" which simply means salvation is a gift that is not earned. Even if it were a gift, once it's given to you it's yours...so what's the point? It is then what YOU do with YOUR faith that counts as righteousness.
     
  7. Rippon

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    Hmm,born a Baptist?! Do you also think you were born a Christian?
     
  8. Rippon

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    No, you are mistaken. Most Calvinists believe that faith is primarily what is referenced as given by God to His own in Ephesians 2:8.It is certainly not a minority view.
     
  9. Jerome

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    Straight from the horse's mouth:

    "And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us,—that salvation comes to us,—by the gift of God." ---John Calvin, Commentary on Ephesians
     
  10. BaptistBob

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    If memory serves me, he suggested that it could be debated, but can't actually find a way that it could.
     
  11. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    I have Calvin's commentary. You should read the sentence in its context. Calvin does not deny that this verse says faith is a gift of God, but he says that all of salvation is given to us, and that includes the faith by which we receive it.

    Saved by grace through faith. It is the gift of God. But as I said in my first post on this even if you include the whole 'saved by grace' concept as that to which the word "that" refers to, you still have it as a gift from God that has nothing to do with man's works.

    Here is what Calvin wrote on the first part of Ephesians 2:8

    "For by grace are ye saved"
    This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

    Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.
     
  12. preachinjesus

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    From what I'm hearing, Morris Chapman is on his way out so this "clarification" is pretty pointless.
     
  13. BaptistBob

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    We can't help that he misundertood Ephesains 1. The point is that Ephesians 2:8 doesn't teach that. And that was what was being addressed in the OP.
     
  14. Lux et veritas

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    The original OP said...
    Wallace concluded, “More plausible is the third view, viz., that touto refers to the concept of grace-by-faith salvation.

    Whether "that" refers to "faith" exclusively, or the "concept of grace-by-faith salvation", doesn't change the issue that FAITH is still a gift from God.

    If faith is included in the larger issue of salvation (I don't think anyone on this board would say that faith is NOT essential!), then it is also part of that 'gift'.

    The point is that the anti-calvinists who want to use this line of reasoning, still have the same problem. They still have faith as a gift of God, and not something that originates in man.
     
  15. Allan

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    No, that passage does not establish that faith is the gift being spoken of. The gift is salvation as expressed in the surrounding passages as well, which is by grace through faith. Not by grace if gifted with faith. Thus we can not take once verse out of context for a proof-text when the context establishes a different meaning.

    What has never been proven exegetically from the scriptures is that faith itself is a gift in which no man had/has unless God give him it to Him. Example.. like giving a person a bike who never had one.
     
    #15 Allan, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2009
  16. BaptistBob

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    No, you are selectively reading, among other things he says:

    Now, speaking more broadly, and outside of that context, it is obvious that apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, no one would believe. So talking about faith being a gift in that regard is not a problem.

    However, Ephesians 2:8 is a dead horse with regard to your use. You can beat it all you want, but faith being some kind of irresistible gift will not come out of it.
     
    #16 BaptistBob, Jul 20, 2009
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  17. Allan

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    Exactly! :thumbs:
     
  18. JohnDB

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    Oh yeah?
    What makes you think that?
    I was unaware of any actions, or lack there of, that had upset the majority. But then again I live in a cave...:sleep:
     
  19. preachinjesus

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    Oh my, go to Google type in: "Clark Logan Morris Chapman" and enjoy...the Timmy Brister article is probably the best. :)
     
  20. preachinjesus

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    I will say this about the article, Morris is very disturbed by the rising of a strong (and as he sees it virulent) form of Neo-Calvinism. He is mortified about what will happen if the Neo-Calvinistic (who's heroes include Mark Driscoll and John Piper) assume power in the SBC.

    His address at the Convention was so foolish and sad that I'm surprised this is the point he decided to address. Nevermind his arrogant and childish comments about the Great Commission Resurgence.

    I have great respect for many of my Reformed friends. They have a God given, Gospel driven passion to reach others for Christ. They are a valuable part of our convention. I'm not reformed. I have good reason not to be reformed.

    Faith is a gift from God. That is all we need to say. Maybe it would be best if Brother Morris would turn to considering how his enormous office can best impact the world for Christ than worrying about which evangelism theology is best. Just a thought. :)
     

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