Ethos Statement on Salvation & Sanctification

Republished with permission (and unedited) from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. (The document posted at Central’s website in August of 2010.)

Salvation

The faculty of Central Baptist Theological Seminary affirms that salvation is found only in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by virtue of His unique personhood, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection is the only one who possesses authority to save. The salvation of any soul is an assertion of Christ’s authority or lordship over sin and death. Therefore, we hold that the acceptance of Jesus as Savior implies the acceptance of His authority as Lord. No person can turn to Jesus as Savior while denying Him as Lord. The rejection of Christ as either Lord or Savior is wholly incommensurate with saving faith.

At the same time, we recognize that implicit truth is not always explicitly recognized. Sinners who turn to Christ for salvation do vary in the extent to which they overtly and explicitly recognize His lordship. Certainly no believers immediately understand all the implications of their acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord. As believers advance in this understanding, the lordship of Christ must be increasingly worked out in their individual lives. We all believe that repentance is a necessary component of saving faith. The intellect, the will, and ordinate affections are integrally related to true repentance and saving faith. Therefore, we find intolerable those approaches to evangelism which minimize any of the three, for example: easy-believism, pragmatism, and revivalism. We also reject any understanding of repentance that makes salvation a reward for virtues that people might produce in their own character or conduct.

We affirm that salvation is the work of God wholly and completely. Humans contribute nothing to the process and can only believe as they receive the grace of God to do so. Apart from that grace, humans cannot believe because they are thoroughly sinful. People are naturally at enmity with God and resist Him at every turn. Therefore God, for reasons completely of His own determination, chooses and draws those whom He saves.

Since God commands all people everywhere to repent, we all believe that the offer of the gospel should be extended to all. Some of us believe that Christ has provided the benefits of salvation for all people, while others believe these benefits may have been secured only for those whom God intends to save. Also, some of us believe that God selected individuals for salvation without condition in eternity past, while others understand God’s choice as either corporate or conditioned on His eternal prescience. Each of these views admits a gracious working by God in those who ultimately respond to the gospel in faith. This gracious work is different in character than any work performed by God in the hearts of those who ultimately reject Christ.

We believe that regeneration establishes permanent membership in the family of God. Some of us believe that regeneration is also the work of God that makes human faith possible, while others of us (not denying that such a work must occur) affirm that regeneration is the result of saving faith. For the regenerate, ultimate denial of the faith is not possible. The regenerate, therefore, will maintain their profession of faith in Christ alone without exception and without end.

Sanctification

We all believe that new life is imparted to every believer at regeneration. Sharing in the life of Christ is intrinsic to the Christian experience. Every believer, therefore, will manifest outwardly this new life in Christ to some extent. The absence of any visible manifestation of new life indicates the absence of regeneration and, hence, the absence of saving faith.

We all affirm that God works over time to conform each believer to the image of His Son. We deny that this transformation will ever produce perfect conformity during the believer’s earthly life. We hold a variety of understandings about the immediacy of the visible manifestations of new life, the extent to which this life must be evidenced, and the degree to which lapses in visible growth might occur. We likewise hold various understandings as to whether post-conversion decisions of dedication or surrender are necessary mechanisms by which spiritual growth is initiated, advanced, or sustained.

We all affirm that believers can and do sin. Sinning believers need confession (which entails repentance), forgiveness, and a restoration of broken fellowship with God. We agree that a professing believer may be carnal, but we give different answers to the question of whether a believer can live in an extended state of carnality. We agree that God can and does discipline sinning believers up to, and sometimes including, physical death.

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Joel Tetreau's picture

I appreciate this guys. I rejoice that you have emphasized the unity of orthodoxy with an acceptable variety within Biblical/Systematic//Evangelical/Fundamentalist theology. On my first read of this I'm very pleased. Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - For the record I believe that a local church can have the same kind of variety of belief demonstrated by the variety of views held by the teaching faculty at Central.

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Ted Bigelow's picture

SharperIron wrote:
Also, some of us believe that God selected individuals for salvation without condition in eternity past, while others understand God’s choice as either corporate or conditioned on His eternal prescience.

According to the theory of prescience, in time past God looked ahead into human history and "saw" those who would trust Him during the course of human history. In response, God "elected" these individuals to salvation. In other words, some teaching at the school believe God elects those who He saw would first choose Him. However, this position is a denial of the first sentence of the seminary’s position:

SharperIron wrote:
Humans contribute nothing to the process and can only believe as they receive the grace of God to do so. Apart from that grace, humans cannot believe because they are thoroughly sinful.

You can’t have both. If God elects based on prescience (foreseen faith), then humans most certainly do contribute to the process of salvation. This simply agrees with the classic Roman Catholic position on salvation.

In Romans 9, Paul teaches that God does not choose based on prescience, which means this: that God does not look ahead in history to see who will respond to Him. If that were the case, then salvation becomes a reward for foreseen goodness. In this scheme God sees something better in one man than another, and thus chooses him for salvation. This is a salvation in which God justifies the godly. But Romans 4:5.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, God sees no difference among men. All are guilty, and all have their mouths shut up in sin, judgment, and disobedience (Romans 3:20, Romans 11:32). But in mercy, God elects and saves some based only on His mercy alone, and never elects and saves based on what the creature will do in the future. The Apostle Paul teaches on this explicitly. He uses Jacob and Esau, who "had not done anything good or bad so that God's purpose would stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls..." Romans 9:11).

Having some in a seminary teach that salvation includes the foresight of human choice is an error of the first order.

MShep2's picture

Very good explanation.

I especially appreciate the balance in the following statement:

Quote:
Therefore, we hold that the acceptance of Jesus as Savior implies the acceptance of His authority as Lord. No person can turn to Jesus as Savior while denying Him as Lord. The rejection of Christ as either Lord or Savior is wholly incommensurate with saving faith.
This avoids the excesses of both Lordship salvation and easy believism.

MS
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Luke 17:10

MShep2's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:
SharperIron wrote:
Also, some of us believe that God selected individuals for salvation without condition in eternity past, while others understand God’s choice as either corporate or conditioned on His eternal prescience.

According to the theory of prescience, in time past God looked ahead into human history and "saw" those who would trust Him during the course of human history. In response, God "elected" these individuals to salvation. In other words, some teaching at the school believe God elects those who He saw would first choose Him. However, this position is a denial of the first sentence of the seminary’s position:

SharperIron wrote:
Humans contribute nothing to the process and can only believe as they receive the grace of God to do so. Apart from that grace, humans cannot believe because they are thoroughly sinful.

You can’t have both. If God elects based on prescience (foreseen faith), then humans most certainly do contribute to the process of salvation. This simply agrees with the classic Roman Catholic position on salvation.

In Romans 9, Paul teaches that God does not choose based on prescience, which means this: that God does not look ahead in history to see who will respond to Him. If that were the case, then salvation becomes a reward for foreseen goodness. In this scheme God sees something better in one man than another, and thus chooses him for salvation. This is a salvation in which God justifies the godly. But Romans 4:5.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, God sees no difference among men. All are guilty, and all have their mouths shut up in sin, judgment, and disobedience (Romans 3:20, Romans 11:32). But in mercy, God elects and saves some based only on His mercy alone, and never elects and saves based on what the creature will do in the future. The Apostle Paul teaches on this explicitly. He uses Jacob and Esau, who "had not done anything good or bad so that God's purpose would stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls..." Romans 9:11).

Having some in a seminary teach that salvation includes the foresight of human choice is an error of the first order.

I have a problem with the whole idea of prescience when it is defined as God "looking ahead." This lowers God to the level of his creatures by making Him subject to time, which He is not since He created time. As some have tried to explain, I believe God lives in an eternal "now" and does not have to "look ahead" or "look back" to see the events of history. God is the "I AM" and his decree does not depend on "future" events or the choices of humans.

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Ted Bigelow's picture

MShep2 wrote:
I have a problem with the whole idea of prescience when it is defined as God "looking ahead."

Quite right - you should :Sp. But that's the only way it can be defined in line with the history of theology.

But your bigger problem than how prescience relates to time should be how it denies the gospel of God's grace, and makes the gospel "synergistic." What this means is that in salvation, God does His part, and we do our part. In this case, we exert faith, and God sees our faith, and saves us with the merits of Jesus Christ. It is semi-pelagianism.

This is why the seminary writes "some of us believe that God selected individuals for salvation... conditioned on eternal prescience." For such professors, salvation is conditional on man. If man fulfills the condition, he gets saved. And these folks are teaching future preachers of the gospel? What gospel will they preach? The gospel of eternal prescience, or grace?

This position is a clear denial of the gospel of God's grace in which God does all the saving and the very best man ever contributes to his salvation is his sin. In the true gospel, man's faith and good works account for nothing since they are riddled through with sin, and in no way grant him favor before a holy God. In the true gospel, God gets all the credit for saving a sinner.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Mr. Bigelow,

Your response typifies precisely the sort of careless Calvinism to which we at Central Seminary object. To be sure, we also object to the careless anti-Calvinism that too often characterizes some of the self-proclaimed "biblicists" of Fundamentalism. Carelessness on either side, however, is damaging to the pursuit of truth.

What is the difference between the one who receives Christ and the one who rejects Him?

The Pelagian sees the difference strictly in the power of the human will, unassailable and unassisted. Pelagianism has no room for original sin and constitutes a complete denial of divine grace. Pelagianism is in effect a system of self-perfection.

The semi-Pelagian acknowledges human moral imperfection, but insists that the first movement toward God must come from the sinner in his own strength. If that effort is sincere, God will assist with cooperating grace. This is a genuine synergism. It is an abridgment of grace. This position does seem to be articulated by some Fundamentalists.

Traditional Arminians, however, fit neither of the above descriptions. They believe that the human will is completely disabled and that humans are dead in trespasses and sins. No human is capable of spontaneously originating any positive choice toward God. To such persons, God, as part of prevenient grace, provides sufficient ability to make an initial moral response to Him. Those who do make this response find that God responds with complete saving grace.

Traditional Lutherans take a slightly different approach. For them, no humans are capable of cooperating with the common grace of God before they are regenerated, but they are capable of resisting it. Those who do not resist are the ones who will believe.

All of these are non-Calvinistic positions. The first two are abridgments or denials of the gospel itself. Even if the latter two are erroneous, however, it is unfair to categorize them as either semi-Pelagian or as synergistic. In traditional Arminianism, traditional Lutheranism, and traditional Calvinism, salvation comes wholly from God. No saints in any of these traditions would claim any credit for their own salvation.

Archibald Alexander Hodge was no weenie Calvinist. He was the bridge that connected his father, Charles Hodge, to his successor, B. B. Warfield (neither of whom were weenie Calvinists, either). Thinking about this very issue (i.e., the importance of a Calvinistic understanding of election and predestination), however, he wrote,

Now I am perfectly free to confess that however true this view of the general principle of predestination is, and however much it is logically implicated in the essentials of the Christian doctrines of grace, nevertheless this transcendental way of conceiving the matter is more speculative than practical. Although I heartily accord with the view in my own mind, I feel no disposition to insist upon the assent of any Christian brother as a matter of loyalty to the Christian faith. No element of the Creed [i.e., Westminster Confession ] is essential unless it practically determines the attitude of the soul in its relations to God through Christ. And only those aspects and modes of conceiving Christian truth should be insisted upon and imposed upon others as obligatory which do directly determine this Godward attitude of our souls, or, in other words, which directly enter into and give form to our religious experience.

Hodge refused to make the doctrine of unconditional election a test of Christianity. He emphatically rejected the notion that it was part of the gospel. He was more than happy to extend Christian recognition and fellowship to people who believed that election was condition by God's prescience.

We at Central Seminary think that Hodge was perfectly correct. To classify Arminians with Romanists, or to suggest conditional election entails a denial of the gospel, is simply a violation of the ninth commandment. At Central Seminary we do not fault someone for being firmly committed to Calvinism, but we do expect him to be firmly committed to truth.

Within Fundamentalism, Calvinism should be one of those things that we talk about, but it should never be one of the things that we fight over. Both the shrill anti-Calvinists and the snooty Calvinists would serve us better if they would simply turn down the temperature, study the Scriptures and the history of the debate, and try to understand the issues before plunging us into unnecessary ecclesiastical conflict. Both should be careful to use their terms properly and not to impute to their opponents the extremes to which they think their opponents views should (but rarely or never do) lead.

David S.'s picture

I'm really not sure this is worthy of any discussion but to say that a belief in God's eternal prescience (as stated by Central Seminary) is a denial of the gospel can only be described as ignorant at best and schismatic at worst. Those who believe that God's selection of individuals for salvation is conditioned on eternal prescience do not believe that man in any way contributes to his salvation. They believe that God in his grace has afforded all people the possibility of making an initial positive response to salvation with God then pursuing them with saving grace. They praise God for his gracious choice in giving all people both the ability to make an initial response toward salvation and for his saving power that pursues them.

This is not a denial of the gospel. It is an error and in my opinion a serious one that could limit fellowship among brothers and sisters in some contexts. But a first order denial of the gospel? No, that belongs to things like open theism, new perspective on Paul, denial of the deity of Christ, ect. . .

***Edit. My apologies for posting after Kevin's much more eloquent and complete response.

MShep2's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
Mr. Bigelow,

Your response typifies precisely the sort of careless Calvinism to which we at Central Seminary object. To be sure, we also object to the careless anti-Calvinism that too often characterizes some of the self-proclaimed "biblicists" of Fundamentalism. Carelessness on either side, however, is damaging to the pursuit of truth........

Kevin,

Thanks for interacting with us in this forum. While the ethos statement is good, words are many times defined differently by people, esp. if they are theologians trying to prove a point Wink Your (long) post clarifies what is really meant by the words of the ethos statement.

Of course, we also will have to blame you for ruining a good discussion about what the Central professors really mean. I am sure we could have continued this discussion for many pages producing a lot of smoke without shedding any real light. Cool

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Jay's picture

Quote:
Traditional Arminians, however, fit neither of the above descriptions. They believe that the human will is completely disabled and that humans are dead in trespasses and sins. No human is capable of spontaneously originating any positive choice toward God. To such persons, God, as part of prevenient grace, provides sufficient ability to make an initial moral response to Him. Those who do make this response find that God responds with complete saving grace.

Maybe it's the stuff I had to read in Grad School, but it seems like this is all stuff that wasn't true of the Arminian position as described in the books that I read.

Of course, I've always said that I leaned more Arminian than Calvinist in my theology anyway.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ted Bigelow's picture

Dear Dr. Bauder,

Although I have never met you, I have a keen admiration for your grasp of the contemporary religious scene and you ability to express yourself clearly and forcibly. If I were even half as sharp as you, I could only hope the Lord would use me half as much as He is pleased to use you. May He be glorified in your ministry as you seek to please Him in everything.

However, we have a contention between us. It seems to me that foremost is your accusation that I have broken the 9th commandment – bearing false witness. This is a serious accusation. I will gladly own it if you will show me whom I have borne false witness against, and/or what my false witness is. To the best of my memory, I was attacking a doctrinal position and never mentioned anyone.

Perhaps I miss-stated the doctrinal position? That is certainly possible, though you have not claimed it in your post. Since a theological position does not a man make, I trust you will either clarify whom I have borne witness against, or retract the charge.

I do, along with others, classify the theology of Arminianism with Catholicism since both teach, with slight differences, that man is saved by the action of his own free will in cooperation with God. God saves those who cooperate with His grace, whether that grace is labeled cooperative, or prevenient. My linking the two together is hardly a unique position!, although judging by your words, it bears the marks of sin. If that is the case, many have sinned before me.

To misunderstand grace is a deeply serious matter, Dr. Bauder, and one which should not be trampled on lightly. Warfield writes about this matter in his book “The Plan of Salvation.” As you well know, both the Arminian and Catholic position is that God gives grace to all men indiscriminately, or in Warfield’s words, “universally.” Everybody who is born, according to those teachings, receives some measure of God’s grace that, if they will respond properly to it, He will grant them more grace. Warfield writes:

“The upshot of the whole matter is that the attempt to construe the gracious operations of God looking to salvation universally, inevitably leads by one path or another to the wreck of… the supernaturalist principle, on the basis of which all Christians churches professedly unite. Whether this universalism takes a sacerdotal form [i.e., Catholicism ] or a form which frees itself from the entanglements with earthly transactions [i.e., Protestant Arminianism ], it ends always and everywhere by transferring the really decisive factor in salvation from God to man.”

And that being the case, we have a truly serious doctrinal matter here.

You write:

Quote:
Hodge refused to make the doctrine of unconditional election a test of Christianity. but He emphatically rejected the notion that it was part of the gospel. He was more than happy to extend Christian recognition and fellowship to people who believed that election was condition by God's prescience.

We agree. The doctrine of election is not a test of Christianity, as, say, the Trinity is. Nor did I ever claim it was. That is your contribution alone. But just as much as Hodge would never hold the manner of election as a test of genuine Christianity, nor would he defend its presence in his seminary. My remarks above were confined to this matter alone.

Quote:
At Central Seminary we do not fault someone for being firmly committed to Calvinism, but we do expect him to be firmly committed to truth.

Then I ask you, which is gospel truth: election by eternal prescience, or unconditional election?

If I have written wrongly, please show me my error. But this you have not done. Instead, you launched your post with an ad hominem (“careless Calvinist”) but never showed me the common dignity where my carelessness apparently lies. It’s actually OK with me that you implicate me as a weenie Calvinist and snooty Calvinist. Perhaps that scores points with a constituency of yours. Whatever.

But I did share Scripture as a defense of my theological position (Romans 9:11). I will stand by that as Paul’s inspired and stinging corrective to doctrines like election by eternal prescience.

Dr. Ted Bigelow

Charlie's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:

I do, along with others, classify the theology of Arminianism with Catholicism since both teach, with slight differences, that man is saved by the action of his own free will in cooperation with God. God saves those who cooperate with His grace, whether that grace is labeled cooperative, or prevenient. My linking the two together is hardly a unique position!, although judging by your words, it bears the marks of sin. If that is the case, many have sinned before me.
......
To misunderstand grace is a deeply serious matter, Dr. Bauder, and one which should not be trampled on lightly. Warfield writes about this matter in his book “The Plan of Salvation.” As you well know, both the Arminian and Catholic position is that God gives grace to all men indiscriminately, or in Warfield’s words, “universally.” Everybody who is born, according to those teachings, receives some measure of God’s grace that, if they will respond properly to it, He will grant them more grace. Warfield writes:

Hey Ted, I appreciate your vigorous defense of Augustinianism here on the board. I'm a confessional Presbyterian, so three cheers... err... five cheers for Dordt! On the other hand, I do think that some of your statements have gone a bit far. There was a sentence or two in your fist post that really did seem like you were equating a denial of unconditional election with a denial of the gospel. You've clarified yourself a bit since, and I do indeed agree with you that it seems odd that such latitude would exist in a seminary.

On the other hand, I would encourage you to be careful equating Arminianism with Romanism. Warfield, for example, does not do so. He does indeed declare that in respect to the capacity of man to respond to prevenient grace they share the same view, but that does not make them the same in other respects. Note please that in Warfield's classification system, he places (Wesleyan) Arminianism within the evangelical fold, and his definition of evangelical is virtually synonymous with Protestant. There are features of Arminianism that make it a distinctly Protestant doctrine. I would be comfortable even saying that Wesleyans are inconsistent Protestants, but they surely share more in common with Lutheran and Reformed doctrine than with Roman on dozens of points.

However, many contemporary "Arminians," "biblicists," and even so-called "moderate Calvinists" are not nearly so careful in their formulations and are indeed semi-Pelagian. Norman Geisler comes to mind. When he contributed to the volume Four Views of Eternal Security, the two Arminian contributors both remarked that he was not a moderate Calvinist, nor even an Arminian, but a semi-Pelagian!

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Mr. C.:

As a reference point, here are the third and fourth Arminian Articles (kindly excuse typos). These are the statements that define traditional Arminianism.

Article 3

That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of an by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving Faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

Article 4

That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can nei­ther think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible; inas­much as it is written con­cerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts 7, and else­where in many places.

I'm not sure which books you may have read in grad school, but in these words you have Arminianism straight from the horse's mouth.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Dr. Bigelow,

We have two questions. One whether conditional, unconditional, or corporate election is the true and biblical doctrine. You and I will answer that question in exactly the same way.

The other question is whether the gospel is at stake in this distinction. In fact, you force this question when you ask, "[W ]hich is gospel truth: election by eternal prescience, or unconditional election?" The only correct answer to this question is: Neither. One is true and one is false, but in neither case is the gospel at stake.

Please don't be like those people to whom C. S. Lewis somewhere refers--you know, the ones who scratch like cats but bleed at a touch. What I have said, and what I shall now repeat, is that "to classify Arminians with Romanists, or to suggest conditional election entails a denial of the gospel, is simply a violation of the ninth commandment." If you have not suggested those things, then you have nothing to worry about.

I invite you and others to go back and to read your first two posts, and to ask yourself whether you have not in fact classified conditional election as an apostasy. Synergism? Semi-pelagianism? An error of the first order? Agrees with the classic Roman Catholic position on salvation? REALLY?

We must not engaged in doublespeak here. A person who affirms apostasy is an apostate, and a person who affirms heresy is a heretic. We are not allowed to distinguish what we say about the position from what we say about the people who hold it.

I shall not ask that you abandon your commitment to the doctrines of grace. I do ask, however, that you reconsider your rhetoric, lower the temperature of your condemnations, and open yourself to the possibility that being together for the gospel just might include non-Calvinists.

If you can't do that, then I am quite willing to apply the assessment that yours is a careless and snooty Calvinism. It is, after all, a Calvinism that out-Calvinists even the Princetonians! That's really up to you. (Incidentally, saying that the Princetonians were not weenie Calvinists is a statement about them, not about you.)

Alex Guggenheim's picture

An outstanding dimension of the Ethos statement in this portion is that while it is expectantly favorable toward Calvinism/Augustinianism it, unlike many in the body Calvin, understands and accepts the existence of valid orthodox/fundamental positions that are non-Calvinistic which do not exclude such brothers from high degrees of fellowship . Central has identified the necessity of gospel and ecclesiastical health in demarcating between genuine essentials of the gospel and more distant concerns.

As well I appreciate the distinction between non-Calvinists and anti-Calvinists. I am a former Calvinist myself and now a non-Calvinist (as opposed to an Arminian) and while I reject the tenets of the TULIP I do not hold a hostile position Calvinism seeing that John Calvin and Augustine had many other contributions, some from which I and many others have profited, as well as the fact that the views of the TULIP themselves do not undermine the gospel.

Mike Durning's picture

Thanks, gentlemen of the Seminary, for this most excellently crafted statement.

Ted, while I have heard people state what you are stating before, I would point out that many fine and devoted Calvinists of history would disagree with you.

In the 1730’s, Whitefield and Wesley were working together. One was Calvinist, the other very much not Calvinist (Duh. Wesleyan.). Whitefield, writing to John Wesley, in 1739: "I hear, honoured sir, you are about to print a sermon on predestination. It shocks me to think of it; what will be the consequences but controversy? If people ask me my opinion, what shall I do? I have a critical part to act, God enable me to behave aright! Silence on both sides will be best. It is noised abroad already, that there is a division between you and me. Oh, my heart within me is grieved”

Spurgeon, who said “Calvinism IS the gospel”, had this to say bout John Wesley:
“Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley.
“The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one ‘of whom the world was not worthy.’ I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.”

Bob T.'s picture

To those desiring to properly represent Arminianism may I recommend the book "Arminian Theology, Myths and Realties," by Roger E. Olson.

It was good of Kevin Bauder to give a response and endeavor to correct some of the misconceptions and overstatements often made by todays Militant Calvinism.

From my perspective such misconceptions and overstatements are often made by some that we would classify as "Conservative Evangelicals." In an attempt to advocate Reformed soteriology some go beyond even some CE leading lights. They go beyond what are the excesses of their revered leaders and become wildly dogmatic and schismatic. For this reason some YMCs (young militant Calvinists) insist on changing church doctrinal statements and not allowing anything contrary to strict 5 point Calvinism be taught in the church. They improperly see any position other than strict 5 point Calvinism, with reformed soteriology, as a compromise of the gospel. I have Masters Seminary in mind as such an example. In his statement reviewing his alleged 15 year battle for the LS gospel as he teaches it, John MacArthur characterized all who disagreed as having a false gospel and easy believism gospel. In traditional MacArthur style he overstates, falsely characterizes some on the other side, and views his viewpoint as the only correct true gospel. Of course his view is based on the so called doctrines of grace with regeneration before faith thus enabling full submission to Lordship as a requirement for true faith. This same dogmatism regarding the Gospel and Reformed theology is seen with Mark Dever, who will only allow those of 5 point Calvinism in his church pulpit. This is why T4G really becomes T4MC.

When you start defining the doctrines of grace as defined by Reformed theology as the true gospel then you had either better start honing your own exegetical skills so as to handle scripture fairly and/or widen your reading to be more aware of the opinions of other viewpoints.

A lot of "internet Calvinism" appears to be nothing but the dogmatism of the naive novice theologian. Many today go to seminary with too many opinions and not enough questions. I appreciate some of the possible nuances in this ethos statement. However I do have some questions.

The Central I attended had a unified faculty in Classical Dispensationalism, moderate Calvinism, and unlimited atonement. AH Strong's sublapsarianism was taught in Systematic Theology. Doc Clearwaters had no place for the limited atonement of 5 point Calvinism. Dr. Warren Vanhetloo who was the founding dean, had one of his degrees from Calvin Seminary, but would not use the term Calvinist to characterize his position. He liked the simplicity of the term "Biblicist." Revivalism was appreciated as the regular invitation was practiced at Fourth Baptist and encouraged on all students. Evangelists were a regular feature at Fourth Baptist and in Chapel. I am not saying the past must be the norm for today but some questions are raised.

Dr. Kevin Bauder,

For the sake of clarity and up front transparency I have the following questions and hope that they will be answered:

1. Are there one or more present faculty that hold to progressive Dispensationalism? Number?

2. Are there one or more faculty who hold to limited atonement? Number?

3. Are there one or more faculty that hold to regeneration being a work of God that logically precedes faith? Number?

4. Please define the type of Revivalism the prior ethos statement speaks of?

JohnBrian's picture

I have been working on a 3 part blog article for the past 4 months or more, on the issue of monergism vs synergism, and hope to have it ready soon.

I appreciate the distinction Dr Bauder makes between the Arminian and the non-calvinist/non-arminian/biblicist. The Calvinist and Arminian both view depravity in the same way, but diverge on the prevenient grace issue. Where we "militant calvinists" (to use Bob T's term) see the arminian as being synergistic, he is not synergistic to the same degree and kind as the "non" guys. I have a greater appreciation and respect for the arminian position than I do for the "non" position, as the latter has no way to account for spiritually dead persons making choices that are pleasing to God. In my article I refer to that position as the "mostly dead" view of depravity. Sadly, much of what passes for evangelism is based on the view that man is mostly dead and is just holding out for the old ship of zion to pass by and for someone to throw him a life vest before he sinks below the waves.

As is my usual custom, when my article is posted I will open a thread with a link to the article.

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Ted Bigelow's picture

Thanks to all who have responded to my earlier posts, especially Dr. Bauder.

Blogs can be funny things. In this case, I started out criticizing a seminary for having antithetical teachings in its ethos statement. I did not call John Wesley a heretic, or those who hold to less than 5-point Calvinism as apostates. Indeed, in the church I pastor we have brothers who hold to varying points in these matters and regularly teach the church body, and have shepherding responsibilities. So let’s keep in mind the scope of this thread – even though the rhetoric (bad word?) has strayed. We’re discussing a seminary and its theological commitments.

Of course, this is the way blogs work. One person puts something out there, and others respond. If the topic is sufficiently meaty, there will often be misrepresentation or misunderstanding. One’s words will be called rhetoric, which in today’s world means overheated, inflammatory, and bombastic. Or, to boil it down, they are words that hurt. On a blog one's statements are easily demonized so that the writer is made to sound black and white, or worse, quite ignorant. Sometimes you even get accused of sin when you didn’t, and sometimes, you actually do sin. But in general, blogs allow us to interact with each other and "hear back" how our own words sound to others. Surely that sharpens the iron.

So thank you to those who pointed out that some of my words were too strident. I repent! However, I would simply ask that we keep in mind the original reference to the discussion - the seminary context.

This is why I wrote in my first post:

Quote:

Having some in a seminary teach that salvation includes the foresight of human choice is an error of the first order.

Upon reflection, I should have been more careful with my words, “first order.” That was insufficiently nuanced. It was meant in the context of the seminary, not the church. My apologies to everyone and especially to those I hurt.

A better and less rhetorical (that word again!) choice of words might have been:

Quote:

Having some in a seminary teach that salvation includes the foresight of human choice encourages two divergent views of how God saves men. This inevitably creates an inconsistency and tension in both students and faculty. In time, these divergent views will probably create too great a conflict, as church history attests, and drive the two schools of thought apart.

I could have left the “first order” comment off. But again, please keep it in context – seminary.

I would not say this about many doctrines – but yes, on the doctrine of God, Christ, or salvation – opposing positions create irreconcilable consequences and first order confusions in the minds of the student that have major consequences. And in the seminary context, having well-studied men who hold to the doctrine of eternal prescience training men to preach the gospel is hugely problematic.

I do hold out hope that on Sharper Iron we can make claims like that about divergent theological positions without sinning, as Whitefield and Wesley did for a season.

As Mike wrote above, there was a doctrinal conflict between Whitefield and Wesley on precisely the theological issues we are discussing here. Wesley reluctantly preached a sermon that assailed Whitefield’s doctrine of predestination, but only after Whitefield had (perhaps sinfully) lobbed the first grenade in his own sermon some months before. Both men were allowed freedom to assail each others theological positions, while still affirming respect and admiration for the other. But their theological differences, which are the differences pointed out in this thread, did not allow them to work together in gospel ministry. That’s sort of my point in this whole post. The Remonstrance and Dordt were not led by men merely devoted to rhetoric (that word again?), but who passionately argued the irreconcilable theological differences we are pointing out here They certainly knew their theology and vehemently disagreed.

Sadly, Mike, it ended quite poorly on earth between the two men, Whitefield and Wesley. The sermons and the timing of their preaching, and their rhetoric (enough already!) placed too great a strain upon their admiration upon each other. They fell apart and never truly reconciled.

Could Sharper Iron handle a discussion of eternal prescience, unconditional election, and its Scriptural basis, or lack thereof. Risky – of course. But well worth it, in my opinion. So I’m laying out a velvet gauntlet again that has yet to be picked up: Romans 9:11 directly denies the doctrine of eternal prescience. Anybody want to take it up in a new thread? Or is that discussion better left to the seminary ;).

Jim's picture

Would ths be militant Amyraldism?

Quote:
Doc Clearwaters had no place for the limited atonement of 5 point Calvinism.

Quote:
[some ] insist on changing church doctrinal statements and not allowing anything contrary to strict 5 point Calvinism be taught in the church.

Observation. One man's militancy is another man's reasonableness

Bob T.'s picture

Jim,

I believe there is a difference in rhetoric between Doc Clearwater's stance against 5 pointers and the rhetoric of many that I call militant Calvinists today. I do not believe the LS gospel was such an issue as today. It was fanned to a wild fire by John MacArthur's book in 1988. The flames have been fanned and connected to Reformed Calvinism since then. However, the spark of the term "Lordship Gospel" can be traced to a discussion in a magazine between Everett F. Harrison and J.I. Packer in 1957.

I remember Doc Clearwaters saying in chapel that the reason he and some others that came out of the Conservative Baptists did not entertain going into the GARBC was because of the Calvinism in the GARBC. However, he did consider them as Christians and having a true gospel. That is the difference. He did not accuse the Calvinists or Reformed as having a false gospel. He did consider them as generally not being as evangelistic as they should be. At least that is my perspective. Perhaps some other former students have a different perspective.

Jim's picture

Bob T. wrote:
I remember Doc Clearwaters saying in chapel that the reason he and some others that came out of the Conservative Baptists did not entertain going into the GARBC was because of the Calvinism in the GARBC. However, he did consider them as Christians and having a true gospel. That is the difference. He did not accuse the Calvinists or Reformed as having a false gospel. He did consider them as generally not being as evangelistic as they should be. At least that is my perspective. Perhaps some other former students have a different perspective.

Not knowing Clearwaters (before my time and different place): As a former GARBC Pastor, I found the GARBC to be mostly moderate calvinists. But (speaking specifically about the Garden State GARBC) I did not find it to be hostile to particular redemption.

Bob T. wrote:
The Central I attended had a unified faculty in Classical Dispensationalism, moderate Calvinism, and unlimited atonement. AH Strong's sublapsarianism was taught in Systematic Theology

In the context of the three issues you mention, I can see the value of a completely unified faculty but to me it seems that that might be the hypothetical ideal. I would certainly hope that for the sake of academic freedom something as complex as various views of Lapsarianism would not be rigidly enforced upon a student body.

Todd Wood's picture

I can embrace this ethos statement. Thanks. I will tuck this one in my file for further thought.

The second blurb on sanctification and carnality peaks my interest since I just covered I Corinthians 3:1-4 with our church family last Sunday morning.

thanks to the Central crew for the interaction (and the honest display of how you are seeking unity amid the various viewpoints),
et

Alex Guggenheim's picture

It appears that the congregation collectively was in a state of sustained carnality and according to militant Calvinists (I like this term by Bob T) even Paul erred in believing they were saved.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

I'm not sure but there must be a formula in the bible somewhere for a time limit (well with the exception of the final cycle of discipline which is death) where we can safely say they weren't really saved (tongue in cheek) but you'd have to ask the fellas asserting carnality can not be perpetual for a Christian while on earth, rather only for certain periods of time,...exactly what those periods of time are limited to (though the sin unto death which is the last cycle or final stage of discipline for a believer due to exactly that, living in perpetual or gross carnality with a most severe kind at the end, contradicts this). Smile

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Dr. Bigelow,

Your last post (#18) was a tremendous relief to me. Thank you for your very gracious reassurances.

I am happy to restrict our universe of discourse to seminary instruction. At this point, it needs to be said that seminaries attempt to fulfill two kinds of goals. Some seminaries wish to foster and perpetuate a doctrinal and ecclesiastical tradition. Other seminaries wish to prepare their students to think independently and to come to their own conclusions about matters of theology and conduct..

Many seminaries attempt to combine these two goals. The attempt invariably creates tension. By equipping a student to think, you automatically create the possibility that he (or she) may end up disagreeing with you and even rejecting your tradition. By focusing too strongly on the tradition, however, you deny the student the opportunity to think through the issues for her or himself.

At Central Seminary, we do not claim to have struck the balance or to have resolved the tension. We want to fulfill both kinds of goals, and we admit that we sometimes fail to fulfill one or the other. Nevertheless, we believe that it is important to seize both goals rather than to depreciate one in the interest of the other.

Calvinism is a part of our Baptist tradition. So is non-Calvinism. For that matter, so is arguing about Calvinism. We believe that the best of our tradition calls for a thoughtful and charitable toleration of the center positions in the spectrum of Calvinism and Arminianism.

We acknowledge that the problem of unconditional election is more important than many other theological problems. We do not believe, however, that it is of sufficient importance to require separation at most levels of Christian cooperation. It is less of a problem than the denial of eternal security (on the one hand) or the adoption of supralapsarianism (on the other).

For Central Seminary, Calvinism is not a necessary requirement for employment as a professor. One of our most beloved professors was C. Raymond Buck, who did not affirm unconditional election. Before the presidency of the seminary was offered to me, it was offered to Dr. David Burggraff, who certainly would not identify himself as any sort of Calvinist.

Nor is Calvinism an extremely controversial subject among us. It actually took me several years to find out what some of the fellow-professors believed on the subject. We discuss it when it comes up, but none of us really wishes to push the issue.

What we do push is the idea that debate over Calvinism should not divide Baptist Fundamentalism. We believe that it is possible to speak so graciously about the doctrines of grace as to provoke no hostility. We wish to model that conduct before our students and before the Christian world. We will not react if someone is a Calvinist, nor will we react if someone is a non-Calvinist. We will react, however, if someone begins making Calvinism (or non-Calvinism) a test of ordinary fellowship and cooperation among Baptists.

For many years, the greatest infractions have been committed by crusading anti-Calvinists. In many quarters, they created a Fundamentalism in which Calvinists simply were not tolerated. The only choice they left to Calvinists was to leave Fundamentalism for some other branch of evangelicalism. Then they would complain about the "compromise" of the very people whom they had driven out.

Central Seminary is committed to providing a safe home for Calvinists within Fundamentalism. We are equally committed to providing a safe home for non-Calvinists. We are appalled by the crusaders on both sides of this debate--and by crusaders, I mean those who question the orthodoxy of the opposite party, or who wish to ban the other party from full participation in ordinary fellowship and cooperation.

Calvinists are welcome here, and so are non-Calvinists. Both are at complete liberty to express their theology. Both will surely get an argument from someone. But that's part of what should make seminary training interesting.

Rob Fall's picture

Quote:
Calvinism is a part of our Baptist tradition. So is non-Calvinism. For that matter, so is arguing about Calvinism. We believe that the best of our tradition calls for a thoughtful and charitable toleration of the center positions in the spectrum of Calvinism and Arminianism.
I would add we Baptists define Calvinism differently than our Reformed (Dutch and Scottish) brethren.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Dear Brother Over-the-Topartzer Wink ,

Your legal training is showing. You are asking for information, but you sound like you are seeking an indictment! Well, I'll provide the information, and you can do the indicting if we warrant it. You have to realize, though, that some of your questions do not permit straightforward answers.

"The defendant will answer the question."

Yes, I will--but in a way that serves the truth.

Let's start with your claim that the Central faculty of your day was unified in its commitment to Classical Dispensationalism. Well, I knew Pickering for years. Myrant taught me theology. Delnay taught me Greek and Church History. I reckon Van Hetloo, Lovik and Peterson as friends. McCune is in some ways a role model. The point is that I know most of the faculty from the sixties and seventies--several of them quite well. And none of them can fairly be described as what we would now call a "Classical Dispensationalist."

Of course, in those days we didn't distinguish Classical from other varieties of dispensationalists. There were "older" dispensationaists like Gaebelien, "Grace" dispensationalists like McClain, "Dallas" dispensationalists like Chafer and Walvoord, but no "Classical" dispensationalists. By the sixties and seventies, almost all thoughtful dispensationalists had become a bit embarrassed by certain excesses of Scofield, leading to the publication of the New Scofield Reference Bible in 1967. Few if any of the early Central profs were strict Scofieldians.

Most of the faculty at Central Seminary at that time fit somewhere between McClain and Walvoord, though Van always kind of cut his own path. But there were tensions even then. Was the Kingdom present in any form? What about a mystery form? If so, what could that mean? Did the New Covenant include the Church in any sense? If so, how and in what sense?

Progressive dispensationalism was a development of the 1980s and 1990s. The best concise description of the theology is probably the one given by Craig Blaising in an article in the Southwestern Journal of Theology in 1994. If that description is taken as normative, then none of our professors holds to progressive dispensationalism.

Others who identify with progressive dispensationalism, however, take a position that is much closer to essentialist dispensationalism than Blaising's. For example, Saucy thinks of himself as a progressive dispensationalist, but he does not believe that Christ is presently ruling from the Davidic throne.

All of this is to say that there is no neat dividing line between progressive dispensationalism and other forms of dispensationalism. Central Seminary has a history of difference within its broad commitment to dispensational theology. Presently, the bulk of our faculty would reject the notion of an inagurated kingdom or an inaugurated Davidic covenant. We're all over the map on the status of the New Covenant (as, I think, our faculty always has been). A minority does affirm a mild form of inaugurated eschatology. If you want to know what our boundaries are on Dispnesationalism, you will find them articulated in a separate ethos statement.

Next question: Limited Atonement

Here is what our doctrinal statement says:

Salvation is made free to all by the Gospel. It is initiated by God and is accomplished by grace apart from any human works (1). It is the duty of all persons to accept it by personal faith (2). Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Christ as Savior (3). All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are forgiven, regenerated, and justified (4). The perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to them (5). They are given spiritual life which is manifested in their growth in grace (6). True believers are saved forever and can never be lost (7).

Some places where taught: (1) Eph. 2:8-9. (2) John 3:16; Acts 16:31. (3) John 5:40; Rom. 2:5; I Tim. 2:4. (4) Rom. 5:1; Eph. 1:7; I Pet. 1:23. (5) II Cor. 5:21. (6) II Pet. 3:18. (7) John 10:27-30.

No professor can teach at Central Seminary who does not wholeheartedly embrace these propositions. If a man thinks that he believes in particular redemption, but he can affirm these statements without mental reservation, then he can teach here. Some can. In the past we have had at least one professor who affirmed both particular redemption and our doctrinal statement.

At the present moment, we have no faculty who are claiming to believe particular redemption. If one did, his employment would remain unaffected--so long as he could affirm the foregoing.

Next Question: Regeneration and Faith

As with Limited Atonement, our professors must affirm the above statement. To do so is not necessarily incompatible with a belief in the logical priority of regeneration. We have professors on both sides of that issue, and we have had since the seventies at the latest. We don't care.

Next Question: Revivalism

Hmm. You're asking for a book, not a short definition. But let me give you a list of characteristics. These all stem from the presupposition that the normal Christian life is one of decline, i.e., that Christian people, left to themselves, will usually just stagnate and then backslide.

(1) A belief that crisis decisions are the normal and principal mechanism of sanctification and spiritual development, and that such decisions are typically manifested by "going to the altar" during the public invitation. "Evangelists" are thought of as preachers who have a special ability to produce these crises. Often a preacher is expected to have some special spiritual enduement or anointing to be able to perform the function of precipitating these crises.

(2) A failure to distinguish persuasion from manipulation in seeking to precipitate such crises, accompanied by an inability to distinguish legitimate appeals to the mind through the affections from appeals to the appetites. Tear-jerking stories, ranting, and demagoguery are the special province of revivalism.

(3) A suspicion or rejection of biblical exposition as the normal and principal mode of preaching, and the adoption of storytelling and "hard preaching," which focuses on the invitation to salvation and the berating of God's people for their failure to evangelize or to live up to the "standards."

(4) The use of amusements and propaganda techniques in gathering and holding a crowd.

(5) The displacement of corporate worship by religious amusements and crowd evangelism in the public gatherings of the church.

(6) A reluctance to commit the decision-making process of the church into the hands of the members, resulting in a de facto pastoral dictatorship. Sometimes this form of spiritual contempt extends even to the private lives of church members, who are told that they should seek the pastor's counsel before making any important decision. Very often, this philosophy of manifested in an attitude of suspicion or even contempt toward pastoral arrangements that involve a real sharing of authority and responsibility among multiple pastors.

(7) A belief that the spiritual effectiveness of ministers and ministries can be gauged (ceteris paribus) by the number of crisis decisions that are being made. Soul-winning covers a multitude of sins.

Now, this is a short description, and it is therefore incomplete. Still, to the degree that a ministry is characterized by the above, then it can fairly be called revivalistic. Of course, non-revivalists also favor revival (or, as we prefer to call it, "awakening"--and there is a good reason for this). In contrast to revivalism, biblical Christianity assumes that spiritual growth is the default state for true believers. The corollaries work out as follows.

(1) A belief that spiritual decisions are being made constantly and that they are not normally crisis decisions. Over time, small decisions add up to big growth. When crisis decisions are necessary (and they sometimes are), then they should be made in the right ways and for the right reasons.

(2) Refusal to bypass the mind when appealing to the emotions, but recognition that the emotions (in the form of Christian affections) are extremely important. Loving God rightly is the most important thing that we can ever do, and this right love (orthopathy) must undergird every attempt to serve and obey Him.

(3) An insistence upon biblical exposition as the normal and vital pattern of preaching and the focal point of worship. As the Scriptures are carefully interpreted, explained, and applied, the lives of God's people will be transformed. They will see Christ in His beauty, love Him for Himself, and live out that love increasingly in their daily conduct.

(4) The recognition that the most important presence in the assembly of the Church is God Himself, leading to the utter rejection of any attempt to convert Christianity into a system of amusement for the religiously inclined.

(5) A commitment to worship as the central activity of the assembled church, and a recognition that all other activities must be grounded in this. Evangelism (outreach) and fellowship (inreach) must both stem from a vital worship (upreach) or they will be shallow, perfunctory, and contrived. Christians have no higher duty or greater delight than to exult in the presence of the Mighty God, the merciful Savior, and the eternal Spirit. Where His holiness strikes us with awe, it also fills us with longing and joy. No church can offer any higher inducement for attendance at any meeting than the presence of God Himself.

(6) Rejoicing in the priesthood of believers and its implication that spiritual wisdom is available to all of God's people. Baptists understand this to imply congregational polity and to permit--perhaps even encourage--shared pastoral authority. Presbyterians also affirm the vital role of the congregation in the selection of ruling elders, which elders constitute the voice of the "laity" in church decisions. Spiritual leadership is understood primarily as a matter of exposition and example rather than as the exercise of fiat authority.

(7) Radical commitment to the notion that the success of the church must be measured by the degree to which it achieves the unity of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, unto a mature man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

We at Central Seminary see revivalism (as described above) as a blot upon Christianity and a tumor within Fundamentalism. Having said that, revivalism is not normative for Fundamentalism. If you look at leaders like Jordan, Davey, Doran, Harding, Minnick, Olson, Dickson, Ollila, McLachlan, the Hartogs, or Morrell, you will see a deeply spiritual and vibrant Christianity that rejects the excesses of revivalism. Institutionally, Stephen Jones is modeling this kind of leadership, as are Dan Anderson, James Maxwell, DIck Stratton, Dave Little, and Gary Anderson. Bottom line: it is possible to be energetic and vital without being artificial or abusive. We at Central Seminary wish to strengthen the viviality and conviviality of Fundamentalists by promoting the kind of ministry that the New Testament actually describes, not by conceding to the kind that demagogues have found convenient.

Bob, I'm sure that these are not the popcorn answers for which you were looking. I hope, however, that they are complete enough to provide some satisfaction.

Kevin

Bob T.'s picture

Dr. Kevin Bauder,

Let me assure you that the questions asked were not crafted as interrogatories to gain an indictment or accusation against you or Central. They were simple and direct for purposes of clarity. I found your prior ethos statement carefully crafted and having many good points and a gallant attempt at balance. However there were some questions. The statement did say:

Quote:
Some of us believe that Christ has provided the benefits of salvation for all people, while others believe these benefits may have been secured only for those whom God intends to save.

This certainly appeared to indicate that some hold to particular atonement and some do not. However, you stated that none presently on the faculty hold to particular atonement. That clarifies the matter.

Also, I hope I am adequately aware of the history and issues of progressive Dispensationalism having gone to Northwest Baptist Seminary, Tacoma, after Central and then studied under George Ladd at Fuller. The one question I generally ask a person when discussing this issue is, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ gave a genuine offer of the kingdom to Israel that was rejected?" If they believe such an offer took place they would appear to me to be what we "now" call a classic Dispensationalist holding the Messianic kingdom and Christ reigning on Davids throne is still future.

The faculty I studied under at Central was McCune, Vanhetloo, Kim, Lovick, Thornton, Borland, and a couple adjunct profs. Peterson taught only a class called "Soul Winning." I do believe all these held to unlimited atonement and normal dispensationalism though there may have been some variation in kingdom definitions based on Dallas v. Grace. McCune taught a class on the kingdom that set forth the Alva J. McClain view. Also, as you know there variations the view of the kingdom from Dallas. J. Vernon McGee, whom I would come to know fairly well, held to a present mystery form of the Kingdom. But he still held that Israel did receive a genuine offer of the kingdom in the Gospels and Israel's kingdom and Davids throne was still future. A recent issue of the Masters Journal had several articles articulating progressive Dispensationalism and it appeared to me they did a good and helpful job. I do see the progressives as intermingling gentile reformed theology with an attempt to make Israel's kingdom promises still future yet now gentilized and with now presence. Some who knew and studied under Ladd were influenced by his perspective. Others were so turned off by his continuing Alcoholism and messed up personal life that they left confused on the subject. At any rate, it is his writing and kingdom view that appears to have influenced some progressives. Even though not then called "Classic Dispensationalism," the kingdom views variously held by Central faculty members were within the parameters of todays Classic definition in contrast to the progressive view. At least that was and is my perspective.

Also, from my perspective there was then a unity at Central on the view of unlimited atonement. A booklet against the limited atonement was printed by the seminary press. Its still on my shelf somewhere. I believe it was a thesis by a prior graduate. Doc Clearwaters was outspoken against limited atonement. Some of the profs you mentioned were at central before me and of course Pickering came back in the late 1980s to 1990s ( exact years evade me). My only contact with him was when I was at the seminary to speak in chapel and the prior Sunday had dinner with him, his wife, and a son. However, I do believe he held to a moderate Calvinism that included faith before regeneration and unlimited atonement. MacArthur's book had come out and he appeared to have strong opinions against it. From my present view, I have thought Central and Calvary to both be more moderate on Calvinism than Detroit. That appeared to place Central as holding unlimited atonement and to faith before regeneration. Central appeared to take a more balanced view of the LS gospel debates. The present ethos statement presented balance but raised questions. I am disappointed that Central has faculty holding the post Dort view of regeneration preceding faith.

On the Revival issue, I would of course agree with most of the points you make. My great influence in the method and system of Pulpit ministry came from the example of J. Vernon McGee. He faithfully went thru the Bible book by book, line upon line, precept upon precept. His pulpit ministry was much more dynamic than his Radio Bible teaching method. He was a graduate of the Columbia Presbyterian Seminary in Atlanta before going to Dallas for his THM and THD. He was a teacher but never failed to give a gospel invitation at the close of his Sunday Morning service. He gave an invitation to go to the back to be met by a counselor. Doc Clearwaters stated that the one good thing Billy Graham did was to popularize the invitation and make it more acceptable. Too many teaching type pulpits become an obstacle to zeal for the lost. A book was written back in the 1980s in which an analysis was made of different kinds of churches and then classifying the churches. Those said to be classified as teaching classroom churches were, in the opinion of the author, placing but minimal emphasis on Evangelism. I certainly can find no fault with the models you advocate. I am also not familiar with some of the ministries you name. I would not say invitations need to be regularly given. However, I am familiar with growing Evangelical churches out here where analysis indicates most all growth is transfer growth. To them, all invitations are too old fashioned and of Finney. However, they diminish the visibility of soul winning. I am with you in seeing the dangers of "some revivalism mentality." However, I do think there are aspects of revivalism that were and are that motivated by the Spirit of God. We must be careful not to quench the Spirit. As you are aware, some historians do define revivalism as pre dating Finney and involve Whitfield, Edwards, and then the Wesleys. The word appears to be used broadly. That is why there was a request for definition. My own personal and church ministry has involved forthright separation form Charismatics and now also KJVO. Both of these movements have unbiblical revivalism.

On the doctrine of Sanctification, both from personal experience and Biblical perspective, I believe both crises and imperceptible slow growth are involved in our Spirit led journey. We are filled with the Spirit, then quench the Spirit, and struggle to subdue the flesh and put off the old and put on the new. We exhibit fruit of the Spirit and use gifts of the spirit while also experiencing the pride of life and the defeats of personal failure in sin. Therefore I do see both the points of the Keswick, the challenges of revivalism, and the struggles of slow growth all present in every person blessed with the indwelling Spirit and new life in Christ. There may be something to age. Now at 71 and being through Cancer twice, I find my view of the Christian life different than when I was a young man just saved while in the Navy. I do not see crises as important as before. We learn from crises but what happens in the insignificant times is also very important.

I do not have any major indictment or criticism to make of my alma mater, Central Seminary, or of you Dr, Bauder. I just wanted to state my view of Centrals past and clarify some issues. I did state my disapointment regarding the Ordo issue of regeneration.

My greatest criticism would involve not only Central but many Fundamentalist schools as well as a couple Conservative schools. That involves the foundation and particular biblical facts involved in counseling based on the Nouthetic method. But that is another subject. There was a thread on SI sometime back that involved Aaron Blumer's interview with jay E. Adams. I had ample opportunity to vent on that thread. My very dogmatic differences on this subject would not prevent me from recommending Central and are not an issue to be involved here.

Thank you for your response. I know you are very busy.

May God give you wisdom as you seek to guide Central.

Bob

Greg Long's picture

Thank you, Dr. Bauder, for your response to Dr. Bob. It was quite helpful, especially your description of revivalism and the alternative to it.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

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