Jay Rogers
Jay Rogers

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The Forerunner

Baptized Arminianism

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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Your comments are welcome!

I’ve been reading website after website, about this matter. It’s unfortunate that people continue to identify with a particular brand. I believe the Bible. I don’t believe that a Christian can come to “Calvinistic” doctrine without being taught. You cannot come to these conclusions by reading the Word of God. The only election that I find always references the BENEFITS of salvation, not salvation itself. I’m not Arminian, because I don’t believe that sin is more powerful than the Blood of Jesus Christ.

Posted by Matt Wilkinson on 12/20/2009 04:43 AM #

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

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Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

Watch these pro-life videos on-line.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

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.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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