By P. Andrew Sandlin
Published May 1, 2008
To most Church of God, Assembly of God, and Pentecostal Christians the term “Calvinism” is simply bad. It elicits images of a mighty divine ogre damning infants and those who would be saved but are not “elect.”
Baptists and many nondenominationalists in large part also dislike Calvinism, but they are forced to manifest a sort of ambivalence about it simply because they have the queasy feeling that their heritage, if not their doctrine, is somehow Calvinistic. I’m not referring here to Calvinism as an entire system of doctrine in life, as it truly is, but only to the soteriological (or saving) doctrines of Calvinism. Thus, some ambivalent detractors use the term “hyper-Calvinist” in much the same way that Pentecostals and other Arminians use “Calvinist” to refer to those who are “a little more Calvinistic” than they are. For Baptists, the ambivalence is often induced by the recognition that a rich Calvinistic Baptist heritage-in both England and America-really does exist. The Particular Baptists in England, and the Regular Baptists in America, have been historically and are presently firmly Calvinistic in soteriology.
The rub is this. The modern independent Baptist movement (and to a large degree, the Southern Baptist denomination before it) is of all things evangelistic. And of course, being evangelistically minded, it tends to perceive Calvinism as an enemy of evangelism. Many of its disciples have never considered that it may be possible to be both evangelistic and Calvinistic, but that is another matter.
Theirs is a sort of synthesis of Arminianism and Calvinism, but mostly Arminian. Though there are variations to it, it can be understood in broad outline. It goes something like this.
Man is a sinner, but not so totally depraved that he cannot seek after Christ. God sent Christ his Son to die on the cross for everyone in order to make salvation available to all who would receive the message of the gospel. Before the foundation of the world God elected to salvation those that he knew beforehand would believe if they heard his gospel. When an individual hears the gospel and makes a decision for Christ, he becomes justified. Once he has received salvation, he can never forfeit or lose that salvation.
That, in a nutshell, is what many modern independent Baptists believe about salvation.
What many of them apparently fail to notice in their ambivalence about Calvinism, and in their usual declaration that they are not Arminian, is that 80% of that formula is staunchly Arminian. Arminians historically believe that man is depraved but not so totally depraved that he cannot “choose Christ” when given the opportunity; that Christ died for all men in order to make salvation “available”; that election is based on God’s knowing beforehand who would and would not believe; and so forth. The only difference between the modern independent Baptist understanding of salvation and that of historic Arminianism is that Arminians do not believe-as independent Baptists do-that one’s salvation is eternally secure.
Some people refer to this modern independent Baptist view as “mixed Calvinism” but that description is misleading inasmuch as it implies that a significant amount of the view is in fact Calvinistic; it is not. Only a minute portion of it is truly Calvinistic. It is nothing more than a baptized Arminianism with a half-way Calvinistic doctrine of “eternal security” tacked on for good measure.
The idea is that one may believe like a Calvinist, just as long as he doesn’t talk or act like one. This Baptist baptized Arminianism with its ambivalent attitude toward Calvinism on the part of modern independent Baptists is nowhere more strikingly evidenced, however, than in the statement often made, “So-and-so holds Calvinistic doctrine, but thank the Lord, he doesn’t allow his doctrine to affect his practice!”
I doubt that anybody could make a more asinine statement than that. Imagine my saying, “So-and-so believes in the deity of Christ (or vicarious atonement or bodily resurrection), but thank the Lord, he doesn’t allow his doctrine to affect his practice!”
A further complication in the modern independent Baptist mentality is their definition of both “Calvinists” and “hyper-Calvinists.” I refer to their apparent misapprehension that those who believe in unconditional election and particular redemption are somehow hyper-Calvinist. They are nothing of the kind. If we define Calvinism in this sense as affirming what John Calvin taught about salvation, unconditional election and particular redemption and total depravity are nothing more than plain, old Calvinism. One may have some justification for labeling Beza’s double predestination as “hyper-Calvinist”; but to refer to plainly Calvinistic doctrines as “hyper-Calvinist” is at best a misunderstanding, and at worst deliberate deception.
Some independent Baptists want to have their cake and eat it too, and have coined the term “moderate Calvinist,” which is nothing more than the baptized Arminianism. Well, they are either ignorant or else hypocritical. If they want the soteriologically Calvinist name, they should affirm soteriologically Calvinistic doctrine. Period.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
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“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
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Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
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