SBC and Calvinism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by skypair, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. skypair

    skypair
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    We report. You decide.

    I'm reading Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue and here are some excerpts from the chapter entitled "Calvinsim: Cause for Rejoicing, Cause for Concern."

    "Fisher Humphreys correctly noted, 'Anyone who accepts unconditional predestination should have no trouble accepting the other four ideas [T_LIP] that follow naturally from unconditional predestination.' ... After the line is crossed into philosophical theology with speculation regarding divine decrees, little holds the Christian theologian back from embracing sotierological doctrines of classical Calvinism in their entirety." p. 76

    "Muller correctly noted that what we are referring to here as classical Calvinism 'makes very little sense' unless one also adopts other dictrines such as 'the baptism of infants,' ' the identification of sacraments as a means of grace, the so-called amillenial view of the end of the world.' Conversely, classical Calvinism denies the concurrent emphases on 'adult baptism, being "born again," and "accepting Christ,"' and is uncomfortable with evangelistic language advocating a 'persoanl relationship with Jesus Christ.'"

    "In other words, from the traditional Baptist perspective, genuine classical Calvinism is, to say the least, unacceptable and, pehaps nore correctly, utterly reprehensible." p. 77

    "The first English Baptists, which historians agree are the forefathers of today's Baptists, were not classical Calvinists, although they developed out of the Calvinist context. The first English Baptists,... explicitly rejected predestinatrian Calvinism as unbiblical." p. 78

    "The relevant theological lessons ... for our current subject are threefold: first, Baptists came to their beliefs in the Reform context; second; Baptists came to their beliefs and were compelled to separate from the Reformed churches due to biblical convictions; and third, Baptist have always had both an appreciation for and a healthy distrust of Calvinism." p. 79

    "As I have shown elsewhere, classical Calvinism demotes faith in Christ in order to elevate philosophical specualtion regarding decrees and common grace." ...

    "Unfortunately, Baptists enamored with Reform theology may be tempted to downplay faith in Christ in a rush to rationalistic doctrines of predestination. Such speculations, especially with regard to eternal justification, are key to the theological development of hyper-Calvinism." p. 86


    More to come...

    skypair
     
    #1 skypair, Sep 26, 2008
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  2. Brandon C. Jones

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    Why don't you save the more to come. These snippets are hard to address without the context, but most of them from what I can tell even in their snippet form are wrong. I've studied for two years with Richard Muller (assuming that's the Muller from the snippet in the OP), and he certainly would not identify his views with the snippet that mentions him. In fact, he thinks there's good reason to say that many Baptists are thoroughly Reformed despite having a different view of baptism (he doesn't like or use the term "calvinist"). He would also reject the notion that any particular eschatology is necessarily associated with Reformed theology. One major figure, a Brackel, advocated premillennialism in his commentary on Revelation. He would probably also point out that the Reformed tradition (along with many other Christians) moved away from a sacramental view of the Lord's Supper in the eighteenth century to the point that John Nevin was attacked by other Reformed believers in the twentieth century for claiming that Calvin held such a view.

    I go to a Reformed school (CRC) and there is much talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus here, while that's anecdotal, I would assume that others have had similar experiences who have encountered Reformed believers of any major denomination, especially the PCA.

    Baptist history includes both General and Particular Baptists, and this is not controversial.

    I could go on and refute every other snippet but I have neither the time nor the desire. Did Dave Hunt write this?
     
    #2 Brandon C. Jones, Sep 27, 2008
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  3. JDale

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    It is absolutely true that most Baptists moved away from a sacramental view of Communion within the first century or so of the movement. It might also be pointed out that Baptists never identified one particular eschatology that perfectly conformed to their soteriology (whether Arminian or Calvinist).

    What can be conclusively determined is that the first "Baptists" were lead by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, who as English Separatists fled England in 1609 for the Netherlands. WHile in the Netherlands, they rubbed shoulders with both the Anabaptists and the large and growing theological movement known as "the Remonstrants," followers of Jacobus Arminus, founder of Arminianism.

    When this "Baptist" group split (no, that's one characteristic Baptists have never changed) in 1611, Smyth remained in the Netherlands and joined the Anabaptists, but Helwys lead a small group back to England where they founded the first Baptist Church in Spitalfield.

    Just before they departed from Holland, Helwys penned what could accurately be called the first Baptist Confession of Faith, entitled "A DECLARATION OF FAITH OF ENGLISH REMAINING AT AMSTERDAM IN HOLLAND." The short confession is decidedly Arminian in nature, affirming the General Atonement, Conditional Election based upon Faith, and the possibility of apostasy (falling away or departing from true faith), along with Believers Baptism, and affirmation of religious liberty.

    After returning to England, Helwys, who was a champion for religious liberty, was arrested by King James I (of KJV Bible fame) and spent almost 4 years in prison, where he died in 1616.

    The first Calvinist Baptists (not Reformed, as the Smyth/Helwys movement were descended from English Puritans and Separatists and so were Reformed themselves, as were the Dutch Remonstrants) are not known of certainly to have existed until a generation later, in the 1630's. Within a few decades, however, the "Particular" [Calvinist] Baptists had overtaken General [Arminian] Baptists in number. This happened for a number of reasons, which need not be explored in a limited summary of history.

    Hope this helps a bit!

    JDale
     
  4. Brandon C. Jones

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    Yes, yes Baptist history includes both General and Particular Baptists and this is not controversial. I never said that Particular Baptists were first on the scene and of course the Anabaptists preceded the General Baptists.

    Perhaps the snippet in the OP is benign, but it seems to me that the author (whoever it is) is trying to make hay that the first English Baptists were not "Calvinistic." That much is true, but you are correct that within a generation there were plenty of Particular Baptists, and they have a richer history than their General Baptist counterparts. It's hard to make sense of snippets, so perhaps my point there was unnecessary.
     
  5. skypair

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    Well, they are not wrong in that they reflect an educated view of the facts.

    I apologize. I realized yesterday that I had not properly crediting the author but didn't have time to repost. He is Malcom B. Yarnell III, Director, Center for Theological Research, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX.

    Wonder why?

    Is this because he still sees the SBC as a Reform church in some way? I would certainly grant that the SBC generally believes premil and pretrib.

    Again, as the citations admit, we did come out of the Reform tradition. But it isn't the Reform tradition that has generally moved away from sacramentalism --- it's the off-shoots that did, like the SBC. I have attended Catholic, Presby, and even Methodist churches that still teach grace granted through the elements of the Eucharist.

    Does that in any way seem odd to you? One says we can choose, the other says we don't. I realize the "tipping point" is how much Holy Spirit is necessary in order to choose but that goes straight to the difference between biblical sotierology and "philosophical speculations."

    Thanks for participating, though. :)

    skypair
     
  6. skypair

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    A few more citations and I'm done with Yarnell's contribution:

    "Non-Calvinists Baptists, however, detect causes for concern in the way some Calvinists use the Bible. These arise particularly in teh theological systematization of classical Calvinism." ...

    [Continuing] "The shift in emphasis is subtle but significant. Calvinism is not just interested in the Bible but in a system that issues forth from ruminations upon the Bible by the fifth-century bishop of Hippo and the sixteeneth century reformer of Geneva." ... p. 87

    "As Charles Haddon Spurgeon complained about some Calvinists, 'They bring a system of divinity to the Bible to interpret it, instead of making every system, be its merit what they may, yield and give place to the pure and unadulterated Word of God." ...

    [Continuing] "Non-Calvinists call on our Baptist Calvinist brethren to reject clearly and permanently speculative doctrines, extra-biblical distinctions, and theological methodologies insofar as the detract from the revelation of the Word of God illuminated by the Holy Spirit to the gathered churches. Some forms of Calvinism are simply not biblical enough." p. 88

    "The Calvinist concern for the gospel is cause for rejoicing, but the demonstrated confusion of Calvinism with regard to the gospel is a cause for concern. A related cause for concern is the Calvinist doctrine of conversion. The classical Calvinist understanding of faith and repentance, which together define conversion, is troubling." ... p. 89


    I post these comments because I still believe the Sardis warning I have cited before and I believe there is an "invisible Sardis church" in much the same way there is an "invisible Philadelphian church" amidst every church that names the name of Christ. And I say it because I still see us as like the 2 boats in Luke 5. Our nets are breaking and some fish are getting away because the net is designed to be cast from one boat with Christ in that boat (or, at least, directing the "operation," John 21:6.

    skypair
     
  7. Brandon C. Jones

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    Skypair your response doesn't surprise me. I wouldn't proudly claim General Baptist history because they quickly went the way of Unitarianism and lost influence in England not long afterwards.

    I'll only make one last point here. Muller and many others don't like the term Calvinist because it falsely assumes that Calvin was the chief codifier or even more erroneously the inventor of Reformed theology.

    I don't see the need to dignify the content of anything else here with a response. I went against my better instincts to "participate" in this thread and I already regret it.

    Have a good Lord's day.
    BJ
     
  8. skypair

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    Thank you for your reponse. Neither to I "proudly claim General Baptist history." The thrust of the excerpts is 1) to show the Baptists on BB the "causes for concern" in Calvinism, particuarly in its sotierology and, 2) having demonstrated that this division exists, to try to unify our sotierology around the Bible rather than around "speculative doctrines" and "philosophical theology."

    skypair
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    I was reminded that every signer (145 as I recall) of the original SBC in 1845 would be classified today as a "calvinist". Five pointers all.

    I'm surprised that the SBC lowered its standards and allowed non-calvinists in. I sure wouldn't have compromised truth so easily. :type:
     
  10. JDale

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    I'm not sure Particular Baptists had a "richer" history than General Baptists. Certainly they were more numerous after a few decades -- but there were a number of reasons for that. General Baptists had to face a host of obstacles, some to which Particulars were immune. Most notable was the wrath and condemnation that the Particulars poured upon the Generals, falsely charging them with Papism, Pelagianism and a number of other false charges of heresy. That happened to the early General/Free Will Baptists in the American Colonies as well.

    Sometimes it is not numerical growth that produces a "richer" history, but the trials a people are forced to go through that refines them like gold. How much richer, then, can a people be?


    JDale
     
  11. JDale

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    Brandon:

    With due respect, that seems a little condescending. Why would you not participate in a thread such as this, or "dignify the content...with a response." SP has brought up some important issues, which not everyone agrees with. Of course reaction and discussion is in order.

    As to the General Baptists in England, they actually had an initially strong movement throughout most of the 17th century. But by the 1700's, they began a long, slow side into apostasy -- though it might be noted that not ALL General Baptist Churches in England fell away into Unitarianism.

    And, in the United States, the General Baptists (and their direct descendents the Free Will Baptists) were established early and flourished in the 18th & 19th centuries as a theologically orthodox movement. Again, they faced more of a threat from theological attack and proselytizing by Particular Baptists than anyone else. Particulars of that era were notorious for infiltrating General and Free Will churches and subverting them doctrinally (and that has changed COMPLETELY in our day [​IMG] ). Yet, Generals and Free Wills survived, and theie theology contributed as much or more to the evangelistic and revivalistic impulses of early Southern Baptists than did European style puritanical Calvinism.

    It is worth noting that much of the "apostasy" or falling away from orthodox theology in the early American churches was to be found in the New England states, mostly among congregations that began as thorough-going Calvinists (Congregationalists, Reformed, Presbyterian, etc.). These churches often fell into unitarianism and universalism in the 17th & 19th centuries.

    I suppose it's a good thing Calvinists didn't throw out the Calvinist baby with the heretical bathwater, as they seem so hasty to do with their Reformation brothers the Arminians!

    JDale
     
  12. JDale

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    Yes indeed! And it might even be appropriate to return to the old European practice of burning the heretics at the stake! After all, Calvin and Zwingli demands such extremism in the defense of the truths they discovered. Amen?

    [​IMG]

    JDale
     
  13. Dr. Bob

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    Hey, if you're volunteering, I've got a torch/faggots ready. :laugh:

    Rather than let them pile up more sins for greater judgment or let them deceive the simple, I think burning heretics is a good thing.

    I'll lead in Kumbaya while you toast!!
     
  14. ReformedBaptist

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    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    I think this amount of sarcasm is appropriate for responding to the oft repeated (ad nausium) calumny against Calvin.
     
  15. JDale

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    I'm quite glad for the laughing icon -- otherwise there is nothing in the post to convince me you are kidding!

    JDale
     
  16. JDale

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    Care to roast some marshmellows of the crackling carcasses of the Arminian heretics RB?

    JDale
     
  17. Dr. Bob

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    You weaned on dill pickle juice? You didn't get the DRIPPING SARCASM at the inanity of the thread?

    FYI, I would never burn an arminian. I will let God take care of it.

    But I'll provide the marshmallows to RB.

    :BangHead:
     
  18. JDale

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    My apologies Dr. Bob! I should have included the laughing smiley icon to illustrate that I understood your sarcasm -- and appreciated it!

    Anyone who can employ sarcasm must indeed be gifted by God! Which would of course be evidence that I, an Arminian, am "elect" in Christ. [​IMG]

    JDale
     
  19. Dr. Bob

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    Blessing. Outward repentance and faith are always the sign of inward regeneration. I will rethink my evaluation of God and whether he chose you to be His beloved.

    It's hard for me. It is clear why God should chose me because I am so good and would, of course, love Him. But why should He chose someone like you that doesn't merit His grace like I did??

    :tonofbricks:
     
  20. ReformedBaptist

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    Not really...probably make them taste bad.
     

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