July 17, 2008

The Controversy Over Hypo-Calvinism Revived

One hundred and fifty years ago the controversy was not severe. There have been justified questions about Spurgeon's Calvinism. Perhaps the Baptist historian, A. C. Underwood, was correct about Spurgeon's departure from Calvinism.* (if this is true it was probably a temporary departure and perhaps a part of the downgrade controversy)

The criticism irrevelant then is very relevant today. Hypo-Calvinism needs to be analyzed and who best than the old critics of days-gone-by. First however is a criticism by Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation (Eerdmans, 1942), pages- 93-96: "The schematization of the order of decrees presented by the Amyraldians, in a word, necessarily implies a chronological relation of precedence and subsequence among the decrees, the assumption of which abolishes God, and this can be escaped only by altering the nature of the atonement. And therefore the nature of the atonement is altered by them, and Christianity is wounded at its very heart."

The free offer and duty faith require an alteration of scriptural atonement and wounds the message of the Church. Charles Banks stated in his pamphlet, "Earthen Vessel" 1857: "1.) duty faith dishonors God. To preach that it is man's duty to believe savingly in Christ is absurd. A babe in grace knows better... 2.) Duty faith points the sinner to himself for a remedy against sin... 3.) Duty faith is is calculated to mislead and deceive." "A babe in grace knows better."

These warnings stated 150 years ago are absolutely relevant to today's gospel preachers. Are there any babes who know better or has American Christians been so beguiled with free-willism? Has humanism so infiltrated the message that we can't see what it was expected that babes could see 150 years ago.

James Wells not as sympathetic as Banks said of Spurgeon unfairly: "that it is most awfully deceptive; that it passes by the essentials of the Holy Ghost, and sets people by shoals down for Christians who are not Christians by the quickening and indwelling power of the Holy Ghost. Hence free-willers, intellectual Calvinist, high and low are delighted with him, together with the philosophic and classic taste Christian! This is simply deceiving others with the deception wherewith he himself is deceived." C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, 1899, p. 39

Where are Wells and Banks when we need them today? Would anyone heed their words?

*A.C. Underwood, A History Of The English Baptist, London: Baptist Union Publications Dept., 1974, p. 204

added: "The kind of theology being presented by Spurgeon and Murray is sometimes known as 'hypo-calvinism' (see trinityfoundation.org), where G-d is seen as electing only some people to salvation (true), but at the same time honestly desiring the salvation of every single individual in the world (false - see Proverbs 16:4, 1 Peter 2:8), and where His grace is divided into a higher kind (shown to the elect) and another lesser kind (shown to everyone else)." review of Spurgeon v Hyper-Calvinism

July 16, 2008

Revisiting A Previous Controversy

Over one hundred and fifty years ago there arose a controversy among the Particular Baptist in London over the successful ministry of Charles H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon, in his twenties, pastored the New Park Street Baptist Chapel, the largest Church in the world at that time. James Wells, in his fifties pastored the Surrey Tabernacle, a successful large Church only one half mile away from Spurgeon's Church. Charles Waters Banks, also in his fifties pastored the Unicorn Yard Chapel and both he and Spurgeon became close friends ministering to each other during the cholera outbreak in London. Wells and Spurgeon were not as close.

Spurgeon's preaching drew criticism from Wells and Banks over the general offer to all sinners for salvation. Though all three were Calvinist, Wells especially criticized Spurgeon over his free offer, called "duty faith." Duty faith implied that all men everywhere are commanded to repent and accept Christ while the Calvinist emphasized limited atonement for the elect only who are commanded to repent after they are regenerated. Wells had successfully argued against the Arminianism of the General Baptist in London and Spurgeon's preaching carried hints of the Arminianism he had fought against.

This controversy would not be known to us today because of the lack of theological severity involved. However the charges of hyper-Calvinism brought against Calvinist by anti-Calvinist preachers has spurred Iain Murray to drag this controversy into the fray to dispel the hyper-Calvinist charges. His book, "Spurgeon Verses Hyper-Calvinism The Battle For Gospel Preaching" has muddied the issue between Calvinst and non-Calvinist. it is my opinion that he has indirectly and unintentionally exposed the ugly heads of Hypo-Calvinism, a first cousin of Arminianism. Since there are hardly any Hyper-Calvinist to fight against, the enemy in the near future will be Hypo-Calvinism, a modern version of Amyraldianism.

However the point I wish to emphasize is that Wells and Banks, prominent Baptist ancients would turn over in their graves at the "free offer" preached by Adrian Rogers. Rogers was no Spurgeon by a long shot. While the controversy was not so severe, if Adrian Rogers had preach his gospel at New Park Street Chapel (Spurgeon would not have allowed it) we all would know about the controversy still today. It would have made a major item in Church history.
Any followers of Dr Rogers, one hundred and fifty years later, would be a new denomination and that denomination would be a inerrant Bible believing Unitarian Church worshiping Jesus only!

ref. review of Iain Murray's book here

July 13, 2008

Is Reverend Miller Right?

Southern Hills Baptist Church, Sioux City Iowa
July 7, 2008 3:54 PM
Dave Miller said: "I don't know the heart of God, but I know this - I would rather stand in Adrian Rogers' place at the last day than in yours."
According to Dave I am in trouble with God however I wonder if Dave understands God! Apparently he thinks one earns the right to stand proudly before God. Guess what Dave, without Christ as my savior I would not want to be Adrian Rogers let alone Charles Page. Adrian nor I don't mean squat without Christ!
So I am being bold and not vindictive when I critize Adrian Roger's theology and his ministerial methodology. I am not breaking a law but I am breaking Christian tradition by speaking out and focusing on one person as a representative. Adrian Rogers represented the "free willers" and the "whosoever wills" and was not afraid to speak out against Calvinist.

Dave said, "You, who spread slander against brothers in Christ, sow discord and dishonor the body of Christ, where does that leave you?" July 7, 2008 12:28 PM . Dave is a pastor and understands the need to maintain unity in HIS Church. Naturally people like myself create problems for him and "dishonor the body of Christ." According to Dave, I should not be able to discuss my views. I should be censored! If you are so sure that you are the agent of God to pronounce judgment on the world, then shake the dust off your feet. I am not buying it. I consider you a false prophet and an evildoer. Dave, this judgement is against the Church and not the world.

July 8, 2008

Was Adrian Rogers Chairman Of This Committee?

The Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee issued the following statement on May 26, 2000 in response to questions and feedback they received from Southern Baptists shortly after the release of their report. (an exert)
"In light of modern theological controversies, we have clarified that Southern Baptists believe in the unlimited omniscience of God, and in the essential fact of Christ's substitutionary death on the cross. We do not deny that other historic understandings of the atonement add to our appreciation for the saving work of Christ, but the central message of the New Testament is that Christ 'died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.' [1 Corinthians 15:3]

This is a cleverly crafted statement as are all committee responses to feedback and questions.
Just a quick summary of the craftiness: 1.) modern theological controversies is a trivializing of the oppositions arguments. A shameful denial of centuries of a great Baptist heritage. Modern - last few years or last few decades. Theological - not Biblical but mere musings of human reasoning. Controversies - devises that destroy unity. 2.) unlimited omniscience Wordy phrase, redundant. Isn't omniscience already unlimited? A tactic a used car salesman would use. Usually there is a fault somewhere. 3.) essential fact - probably the fault that follows redundancy. 4.) add to our appreciation - a plain outright lie by at least two members of the committee and a shameful concession to at least one member of the committee. 5.) Central message We are right and have the Bible on our side! If you disagree with this you disagree with the Bible!

Do Denominational Committees deceive and lie? In the words of Rowan & Martin "you bet your sweet bippy" they do! But it is not a "lie" if done in "committee." It is the preservation of the unity of the institution. It falls under "well-intention."

July 3, 2008

This Is Very Important

The Holy Scriptures have only one meaning and that is the meaning God intended it to mean.
1 Corinthians 14:37 (KJV) If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

This is a two edged sword. On one hand Paul is making the case for an oracle of the Lord. This is the WORD of God. If you even think you are spiritual then recognize that this is the Word of God. On the other hand he says in verse 29 and 30 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. The Bible is not for ignorant people! Neither should it be handled by ignorant people.

Paul says at the beginning of this section, "Brethren, I would not have you ignorant" and at the closing he says, "But if a man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." Often the Bible is left to ignorant men to direct us. When men think that the Word of God is their word or that God has trusted them alone with the Word then they are ignorant. I heard Adrian Rogers resort to this tactic many times when he preached. He would preach what was clearly his interpretation then add "this is not my opinion but the Word of God." "Don't argue with me take it up with God!"

I have a good Jehovah Witness friend and we discuss the Bible nearly every day at work. Now he is a Bible-believer. He seriously believes that the Holy Bible is our guide in daily living. As they have it in the form of the New World Translation it is the perfect guide for all things spiritually. He is a student of the Word. Repeatedly he tells me what he believes and when I repeatedly disagree he shakes his head in disbelief that I would disagree with the Word of God.

"Charles," he says, "this is what the Bible says." Rarely in my discussions with him do I use the Bible as a proof text for what I believe. Why? Because he believes in the infallible and inerrant Bible and it is useless to argue with a person who equates his traditions, especially Watchtower traditions, with the Bible. You have no argument and never will. He is closed minded! He is my friend but he is ignorant!

The same can be said of a Catholic. They equate tradition with the Bible. Christ had the same problem with the Jewish rulers, they thought the same way.

James White encountered this in discussions with Dave Hunt's denial of Calvinism. He said his "denial of Calvinism is not based upon careful, consistent exegesis of the biblical text. it is based upon his traditions, which then determine the meaning of the biblical text and therefore (and this is very important) cannot be tested by that biblical text. Those traditions become infallible in and of themselves, even if they are contrary to the actual meaning of the text." -Hunt and White, "Debating Calvinism" p. 419 [emphasis mine]

This is not a politically correct post and I say it with all sincerity, when it came to the Bible, Adrian Rogers was ignorant. All who handle the Bible the way he did are ignorant as well. Boy, does this broadbrush American fundamentalism! Everyone wants to be just like Adrian Rogers, but believe you me he, at this moment doesn't want you to be like him. He handled the inerrant Scriptures deceitfully and is still teaching by video technology how to handle the word deceitfully.
Jeremiah 23:36-40 (NLT) But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the Lord.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the Lord!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the Lord says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the Lord,” even though I warned you not to use it, I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.’”