My last post stirred some pushback from many people across a wide variety of camps. The main reason is that I simplified too much of the fundamentalist and Calvinistic camps without sufficient nuance or disclaimers. I made strawmen caricatures with which everyone disagrees. I apologize for overgeneralizations. I was attempting to write my thoughts on the matter and the conclusions to which I’ve come. But in doing so, I’m afraid I did not do justice to my theological sparring partners.
I do want to address where I stand in the matter to other theological systems. First, I am in the Provisionist camp. Basically, it means that God does not micromanage the world, but that he is sovereign over his sovereignty so that he can create freewill among his creatures. This freewill is truly free—not determined and not a compatibilistic freewill.
Let me borrow and modify the statement of faith from soteriology101.com. People sin and are therefore separate from all fellowship with God (Gn 3:15-24, 6:5; Dt 1:39; Rm 3:23, 5:12, 6:23). People are able to respond by faith to God’s appeals for reconciliation. This faith is not a good work but an admission that one cannot do anything to obtain righteousness (Dt 30:11-19; Mt 23:37; Jn 5:40, 12:48, 20:31; Rm 1:16-17; 2 Cor 5:19-20). God’s appeals are available to anyone who lives and he is allowed to enter the Kingdom through faith (Mt. 11:28; Jn 3:16; Rm 10:21; Eph 1:13; 1 Tm 2:4; 2 Pt 3:9). Jesus died to provide vicarious atonement which creates a way for anyone to be saved through Jesus’s blood (Is 53:1-12; Jn 12:32; Rm 4:5; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pt 3:18; 1 Jn 2:2). God must provide illuminating grace for a person to believe. The sinner cannot believe unless this grace is provided. He cannot simply decide to believe in God one day. This illuminating grace is clearly revealed truth through the means of his word which is preached to the unbeliever (Jn 1:9; 12:32; Rm 1:16-2:16, 11:32; 2 Cor 4:3-6; Tit 2:11). People are under condemnation for not believing God and for resisting the Spirit’s promptings (Mt 5:22, 7:13; Jn 12:48; Ac 7:51; Rm 4:5; 2 Ths 2:10). All believers are eternally secure in the hand of God (Jn 20:31, Rm 8:38-39; Eph 1:13-14, Phil 1:6, 3:12; Jd 24-25). This statement largely follows traditional Southern Baptist Beliefs. https://soteriology101.com/about-2/statement-of-faith/
Second, I want to clarify that even though I strongly disagree with the Fundamentalist and Calvinistic positions, I do not hate the people who hold to the positions. Many of my friends are in one or both of these camps. And I do not harbor hatred for any individual.
I grew up in the Fundamentalist cause. My childhood church is Mount Calvary Baptist Church which is pastored by Mark Minnick. I credit him with most of my exegetical skills because to this day I am convinced that he is one of the better exegetes of our time. However, I do disagree with him on several points. But I still respect him tremendously. Further, I return from time to time to MCBC for various occasions and events.
Bob Jones University is also a large part of my upbringing. While they are not above criticism, I do not hate the campus and everyone in it. Many of my dear friends still go to school there. My wife works there. And my kids are in the Child Development Center (Day Care). Yes, I have my critiques enough for me to stop working on my doctorate and move to another school. But that does not change the fact that there are many great people who still believe in BJU. I thank all of my teachers for helping me become who I am today.
As far as Calvinism, MCBC leans strongly toward Calvinism. Like I implied above, I am open in my critique, but not hateful in my attitude toward the church. Also, I have other friends whom I have met over the years whom I count as good friends. I even (gasp) featured a strong Calvinist on my podcast. We didn’t talk about Calvinsim at all, but we worked on angelology project together.
In the end, I will speak my mind on theological issues. But I don’t intend to be hateful toward anyone and I avoid mentioning names and institutions if I can.
Third, these posts are not academic treatises but basically log-entries on my journey through theology. So, yes, they record my opinions, emotions, and thoughts. I don’t intend many of these posts to be purely rational. I do intend them 1) to be accurate records of my thoughts and 2) accurate opinions about other systems. Where I am wrong, I am willing to admit (I hope so, anyways) and will try to correct my error in the future. I do read as many of the comments as I can, although sometimes it’s a little hard to read through all of the negative feedback. So, I hope all y’all understand.
Finally, I hope that within the basic orthodox teachings of the faith we can treat each other with respect and kindness. I know this is far from possible, especially when people like me over-generalize. But I hope we can settle down, learn from each other, and have kindhearted theological debates.