Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (2)

Reformed Theology and Baptist Theology

There are several conflicts between Baptists and Calvinists in general theology and teachings. First, there is disagreeance about the issue of infant baptism. Reformed Calvinists advocate infant sprinkling (or infant baptism).[1] Baptists oppose any form of infant baptism because they believe that infants cannot understand faith or have faith and that baptism is for those who have accepted faith.[2] Baptists and Calvinists have been at odds against each other in regards to baptism since the 1630s.[3]

Also Baptists and Calvinists are at odds about the mode of baptism.[4] Baptists believe that baptism should be only by immersion to represent Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Baptists have a different take on the “separation between church and state” than do Calvinists.[5] In the past, many Baptists churches have opposed the idea of “elder rule,” although recently, many Baptists churches have taken up the concept.[6]

Many of these issues have been debated between reformers and Baptists since the 16th Century.[7] Despite these differences in opinion on these “non-essentials,[8]” Baptists and Calvinists have got along fine over the centuries[9], in fact many great Baptists pastors and theologians have been reformed. [10] The theological issues that really cause more debate and conflict between these two groups are issues of eschatology [11]and the doctrine of election. Many Baptists have a lot of trouble agreeing and getting past these two reformed doctrines in particular. Prominent Baptist leaders have labeled Calvinists as legalistic and intolerant, especially in view of their [Calvinistic] position of the doctrine of election.[12]


[1] Paige Patterson, “Happy Southern Baptists and the Tricky Track.”SBC Today. (2005.) Retrieved from sbctoday.com/files/trickytrack.pdf accessed on July 20th, 2009. pg. 1

[2] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family : a heritage of faith.” Review & Expositor 84, no. 4. (Fall 1987): 589-598. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed July 11, 2009), pg. 589.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Paige Patterson. “Happy Southern Baptists and the Tricky Track,” pg. 1.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family : a heritage of faith.” pg. 589.

[8] Meaning those beliefs which are necessary to hold (or are essential) for salvation. “In Christianity beliefs matter, but not all beliefs matter equally.” Patton, Michael. “Introduction to Theology – Workbook.” (presented as part of class material at The Theology Program, Frisco, TX, November 2006), Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/content/files/TTP/IT/IntroductiontoTheologyWorkbook-Jul-2006.pdf.

[9] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family : a heritage of faith.” pg. 589.

[10] Calvin, Spurgeon, Edwards, Piper, more will be mentioned below.

[11] As mentioned above, this paper will not discuss the eschatological debate between these two groups. Baptists tend to be pre-trib, pre-mils or post-mils, while Calvinists tend to be amils, of course this is not always the case.

[12] Elmer Towns, “WHAT SHOULD SOUTHERN BAPTIST DO WITH CALVINIST?” The Baptist Banner, March 2009, Vol. XXII, No.3, pg. 12.

Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election

Introduction

Southern Baptists and Independent Baptists alike are wrestling among themselves about the issues of Calvinism.[1] These relevant topics have been and continue to be hotly debated among both Southern and Independent Baptists in the Twenty-First Century.[2] Is it theologically justifiable for a Baptist to be reformed in theology? Many Baptists who question reformed theology do so with honest, fair reasons. Some of the aspects of Calvinism collide with Baptist doctrines. The main point of Calvinism that holds the other points together is the doctrine of election. This paper will evaluate the theology of both sides of the debate regarding the doctrine of election between Calvinists and Baptists. It will briefly discuss but not dive deeply in the other debated doctrines between these two groups. Baptists can hold to reformed position regarding the doctrine of election; it is the most Biblical answer.


[1] Jim Jones, “Tiptoeing through TULIP.” Christianity Today 53, no. 4. (April 2009): 13-13. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed July 11, 2009), pg.13.

[2] Keith Hinson. “Calvinism resurging among SBC’s young elites.” Christianity Today 41, no. 11. (October 06, 1997): 86. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 1, 2009), pg. 87.

Worship: Making the sacrifice

Worship is an essential part of spiritual formation.
Spiritual formation is about our relationship with God. Abiding in Christ, means living with Jesus in our lives, hanging out with him, making the choice to obey him! The Bible tells us that we are to worship God by sacrificing our whole being to God. We are to do his will and not conform to this world.

“Worship” has many facets, many levels to it. It is not merely singing praises. There is a lot more to it. To summarize “Let’s talk about worship,” we see that “worship” is about acknowledging and knowing the Lord, adoration and loving Him, and action in service to God. The word has several meanings and there are many ways to worship God. This is what we are discussing today, the many ways to express our worship to God in our worship services and in life.

In
regards to …the first directive that strikes my attention is that
we are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise…” The idea is to praise
God all the time, without ceasing. In our worship services this means that when
the singing is over, the worship is still happening. We worship God when we
give our offerings. We worship him in prayer of praise. We worship him in
learning from his Word. We worship him in fellowship with others. Also I must
note that our entire life can be an act of worship. We must not compartmentalize
our worship to Sunday morning instead continually worship God.

The
second directive is the repetitive idea of “offering up a sacrifice” similar to
. Praise is not about making ourselves feel good and energized, but it is
about worshiping, giving to God. It is not entertainment for your own soul, but
a gift to God, a sacrifice. In our worship services, we must remember that
church is not merely for us. Sure, God blesses us and fills us. Our entire life
is about worship. It is not always going to be easy to worship God. But we
sacrifice for God. And he is pleased with us when we do.

The
third directive is “do not neglect doing good and sharing.” (This is another
sacrifice!) We can and should please God through sharing our wealth, money,time, energy, blessings, etc. But we also share life together with other Christians. We share our time, our sacrifices, food,
fellowship, but also our tragedies, our prayer requests. I think also that we
must not only share with other Christians, but also with those who are sick,
those who are in need, those who need Jesus, and those who are not into the
church. It is good, right, and a sacrifice (of sorts) that pleases God when we
share the Gospel truth!

Tension: one of the reasons I love studying theology

I recently read a well thought out post by a Calvinistic friend who’s posts I read often about Calvinism relating to unconditional election. He explained how Arminians try to solve tension. Arminians’ quest to solve tension is one of their main problems/mistakes. There are a lot of tensions in Scripture and in theology. We do not have to solve these tensions. For example the Trinity, it does not make sense, but we do not find reason to resolve the tension created. The Trinity is not Irrational but it is difficult. Yet we understand that there is a certain amount of mystery involved in theology. Somethings that we humans cannot quite understand fully. One of the main points in Micheal’s post is that Calvinists and Arminians take a different perspective. Both see that God is Sovereign, but in different ways. They both believe in predestination but the difference is in the basis of predestining.

“The Calvinist says that God’s predestination has no founding in the predestined in any sense. God did not choose people based on any merit, intrinsic or foreseen. This is called unconditional predestination because there are no conditions in man that need to be met. It does not mean that God did not have any reason for choosing some and not others, but that the reason is not found in us.

The Arminian says that God’s predestination has a founding in the faith of the predestined. In other words, God looks ahead in time and discovers who will believe and who will not and chooses people based on their prior free-will choice of him.”

Michael brought a real interesting argument to the table. It is a good read and I suggest you take a look for yourself.

Scripture teaches both of God’s Sovereignty and Man’s responsibility. The Arminians found a solution to the conflict. Calvinists are left wanting more.
“To the Calvinists, man is fully responsible for his choice, yet God’s election is unconditional. Therefore, there is a tension that is created between human responsibility and God’s election.”

Man may not know how to understand how it works. The balance and tension of man’s responsibility and God’s unconditional election…it is amazing to think about. It is amazing how God lets it all happen but yet is in control either way. It is great stuff.

This post really was great for me because of my stance on unconditional election and predestination. The more I study it the more I feel like I have no idea what I am talking about. But I do not feel satisfied with the extreme arguments of the two sides, in the false dichotomy of Calvinism and Arminianism.

It was refreshing to see others alongside of Michael in the comments section of his post reflecting on it and realizing that there is a tension and mystery to some issues like this topic. And there is a balance to the arguments. And that the truth is ultimately in God’s hands.

Well anyways, thanks Michael for getting me exciting about theology again. This is one of the main reasons I love studying it…some of these things that I cannot get my brain around are fun to think about. The tension and mystery is like an adrenaline rush and a puzzle to piece all at the same time.

theories of eschatology


This chart you may have seen before it is on Wikipedia.

A lot of my friends are baptist and they believe in the notion of pre-tribulation dispensational premillennialism. – yeah the longest, most confusing title…and it actually is one of the more complex and confusing theories too! Are you familiar with the Left Behind books by Tim LeHaye. well those books portray this theory.

I have been studying the end times or eschatology with the help of apologetics.com and some theology books. I am still not sure where exactly I stand, but I have found problems with the pre-tribulation dispensational premillennialism. And am not a follower of that theory.

I also struggle to believe the symbolic millennailism or amillennialism. Basically, it suggests that number of years in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the church age. And Christ could return at any moment.

Check this out:

Eze. 22: 30
NET ©

“I looked for a man from among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one.”

Standing in the gap, like Moses had done: “So he said he would destroy them — had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them” (Psa 106:23)… (Jeremiah had been told no longer to pray for them: Jer 11:14.)

The Babylonians would come in and destroy Jerusalem.

Jesus was the Servant who could stand in the gap. No man was ever sufficient.

It is amazing how many prophecies are fulfilled and foreshadows of Christ in the OT. I love reading the OT just for that purpose.

We have made so little of imagination

I am reading Spiritual Life : The Foundation For Preaching and Teaching for my class on Spiritual Formation.

The book has got me thinking a lot already. One topic addressed is that Christians recently, along with American society as a whole, has forgotten about mystery and imagination, in its quest for rationality and analytical thinking during the Enlightenment.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depends on how you look at it), humans are not analytical and logical but we also are creatures of intuition and imagination. There is healthy balance that needs to be in place. We “see” deeper meaning of our experiences. We can look beyond the mere surface, we are complex and mysterious creatures.

The Enlightenment left people thinking that objective truth is the only way. During this time things like the arts and other more subjective mysteries were neglected.

Faith and prayer are some of the other things that have been forgotten and left behind in the last three centuries.

Also an interesting note is that our teaching and preaching style in these years has been greatly affected by the Enlightenment. Instead of looking at Scripture from a theological angle, us looking down into Scripture to study it – we can and should from time to time change our method. We can allow the Scripture to meditate on top of us. Instead of looking to study we can be more intuitive and let the Scriptures engage our hearts. We can be flooded with the mysteries
on our hearts all day, instead of trying to control the Scriptures with our own minds.

Thomas Merton, a monk, had a dream about a Protestant theologian, in summary, the dream suggested that he [the theologian] would be saved more by the music lover in him than the theologian in him.