Leighton Flowers Scares a Bible Thumping Wingnut

This post is a response to the latest over at BTWN.

Tim Hurd disagrees with Dr. Leighton Flowers on, well, just about anything theological. Recently, he had a guest, Len Pettis, on to discuss a broadcast Dr. Flowers did on the Sovereignty of God.

Disagreement = Nefarious Motives

It is not the disagreement, itself, that piques my interest here: It is that, in Tim Hurd’s intellectual world, someone disagreeing with him means that person has nefarious motives and deficient character. Bringing this uncharitable and anti-intellectual assumption out will be the focus of this article. As Tim introduces Leighton Flowers to his audience he says:

14:15, “He could probably quit every other job he has and just do Soteriology 101. He’s made quite a profit warring against the Calvinist understanding of the Scriptures”

Two points about this are fascinating. First, Tim is acknowledging that Soteriology 101 is successful and continues to grow. So they are well aware of the success this ministry is having in terms of numbers of clicks, likes, downloads and other markers of “success” in the internet world. Secondly, Tim puts forth as true something he cannot possibly know is true or not: that Dr. Flowers has made a “profit” on Soteriology 101, so much profit in fact that he could quit his other jobs. He could have easily deduced that Dr. Flowers has patrons that give monthly, as well as one time donors, and so the ministry has some financial support. That’s easy to see. But Tim takes it a step further and claims that there has been a “profit”. Evidence, Tim?

But even further than that is the implication that profit, itself, is Dr. Flower’s goal. That he’s making money attacking the truth, knowing what he’s doing, and laughing all the way to the bank. That’s the picture of Dr. Flowers Tim Hurd is attempting to paint for his listeners. Dr. Flowers is a dastardly figure worth scorning and fearing because…money!

Nefarious mustache

The disagreement that spawned this latest article was about Dr. Flowers saying that God’s sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God. They watched the “5 Points that Led Me Out of Calvinism” video and provided commentary. I will respond to a few points they make in the video and then to some of the points made in the article. My main focus will be the rhetorical tactics used in place of arguments.

They start watching Dr. Flowers’ video at the 17:50 mark and to introduce Dr. Flowers’ words Tim Hurd calls him a “professing Christian”. Do you see what he did there? It would be the same as if I said, “Well, Leighton says he’s not a racist but let’s see” or “professing non-wife beater Leighton says…”. I’m setting up the person as someone not to be trusted when they speak because of the degenerate character I have labeled them with before you hear their words. In Christian circles, this comes with questioning the person’s salvation with “professing Christian…”

Is God’s Sovereignty Eternal?

Let’s quickly address the impetus for this kerfuffle. In the video being reviewed, Dr. Flowers states, “Sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God that would be compromised by the actions of free moral creatures.”

To his credit, Tim eventually does play Dr. Flowers full argument, but has a “right off the bat” response to which he asks his guest, “Do we understand any attribute of God to be not eternal?” Clearly, he assumes the answer to this question is “no” and that this answer is so demonstrably obvious that only a dastardly villain like Dr. Flowers would think otherwise. Yet, Len also thinks that a certain attribute of God isn’t eternal, so I guess the idea is not that outlandish after all.

Len answers Tim’s question, “Yea, sure.

Tim: “Which one?”

Len: “Wrath, anger, certainly before sin came into the world there would have been no reason for God to have wrath”

Yes, exactly. Now do the same thing with Divine Rule…go ahead. Here. I’ll start: “Certainly before there was nothing to rule there would be no reason for…”.

Tim then disagrees and corrects Len on this point, the exact same point Dr. Flowers is making, but Tim does not seem to be afraid of Len. Weird.

Len: “Just because He couldn’t express an attribute does not mean the attribute did not exist”

To be fair, Dr. Flower did not say God’s sovereignty didn’t exist, he says it is “not eternal”. So yes, that’s exactly what it means. If God could not express an attribute that exactly means the attribute is not eternal. The expressed attribute is the product of the eternal attribute it gets expressed from. This is not the least bit controversial. According to Monergism.com:

“The Sovereignty Of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy”

The kicker is that Len said this exact same thing about God’s wrath, that there was nothing for God to have wrath on until creation. Dr. Flowers is simply making the same point regarding God’s sovereignty; that Divine Rule requires a creation to rule over. Exactly how Monergism.com defines it and probably a dozen other systematic theologies.

Here is a comment left under Tim’s tweet about this article:

Sovereignty Eternal

Perhaps Mr. Lacky is also a nefarious truth-denier for profit?

What is fascinating about the following discussion in the next several minutes of the video is that they have a difficult time finding the nuance in which they can claim all of God’s attributes are eternal. Len had to pause and think about exactly how he wanted to say it. It’s a difficult concept! Which is far from the dogmatic introduction Tim gave to Dr. Flowers’ argument.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

The video I have been discussing so far is contained underneath an article. The article is a re-posting of a YouTube comment left by Eric Smith. Mr. Smith starts with:

“The frightening thing about Leighton Flowers is the fact that he knows what he is doing. He knows what the Bible says about these doctrines but refuses to believe those verses because he actually does have his own idea of God.”

Dr. Flowers understands the truth but stubbornly denies it because he worships a god he made up in his own mind. This isn’t an argument, it’s pure character assassination. Instead of “Dr. Flowers is wrong because <insert argument here>” it is “Dr. Flowers is wrong because he’s an idolator; worshipping himself”.

Not only this, but we should be scared of this sort of person. We should not attempt to cordially engage with this person in order to bring them out of their error. No, idolators ie. everyone who disagrees with us, should be feared and reviled. This is the theme of the rest of the article but it also seems to be a constant theme of Tim Hurd’s Twitter feed. A cursory glance pulls up tweets such as:

Run! Flee! Warn! And whatever you do, do not partner with unbelievers on anything! Tim Hurd is not seeking to teach his listeners how to form cogent, solid arguments to defend their viewpoint in order to more effectively engage with those whom they disagree with. He’s teaching them fear and ridicule.

Here is one last quote from the article I would like to address:

He leans on his own understanding and is spoiled by vain deceit and philosophies after men (after the principles of the world) and he doesn’t trust the Lord. This violates Proverbs 3:5 and Colossians 2:8. 

I am seriously afraid for Dr. Leighton Flowers, because his obsession for stamping out Calvinism has led to the most unbiblical views I’ve ever heard. 

Unfortunately, many that follow him either are as obsessed as he is or they haven’t fully read and studied what the full counsel of God says about this subject. 

This isn’t meant to be an insult, just a fact, because as you read and study the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 2:15), you find that the doctrines of grace and God’s attributes (particularly God’s sovereignty) are all over the Bible.

He’s not insulting you, see, he just knows you don’t read your Bible as much as he does. The intellectual bankruptcy is astounding. This is what passes for argument over at BTWN and if you parrot lines like this there is a chance you will get promoted on the main page. Mr. Smith isn’t making an argument; he’s telling a story. The story he is telling is that there are two kinds of people in this debate; those who are idolaters versus those who read their Bibles. The storyteller is not telling his reader anything about the argument so that you can be able to reason through it but only the sort of person you will be if you disagree with him. The implied question is, “You don’t want to be that sort of person, do you? Of course, you don’t.”

Considering the diversity of theology of the entire history of Christendom brings into focus how absurd Mr. Smith’s myopic view of theology is. No one in Christianity but his tiny, particular brand of Reformed theology has ever sincerely read their Bibles like he has, apparently. Tim actively pushes this sentiment and encourages his listeners and readers to fear those whom they disagree with and ridicule the “other” that is to be feared. These are the rhetorical tactics Tim Hurd employs. It is those tactics, and not our differences with his theology, that makes it impossible to have discussions with a bible thumping wingnut.

16 thoughts on “Leighton Flowers Scares a Bible Thumping Wingnut

  1. Internet rhetoric is papercut–persecution. Disagreements are called “attacks”… suddenly every argument becomes another reason why some hypothetical sinner won’t come to Jesus. I admire your call to honesty.

  2. I know Leighton Flowers personally. Leighton Flowers is no one to be scared of, unless he is picking out your clothes. (I am not 85 yet)

  3. A bit confused and my be wrong, but Leighton didn’t say “Sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God”. He said,”Sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God that would be compromised by the actions of free moral creatures.” In other words, actions of free moral creatures would not compromise God’s eternal attribute of sovereignty. Not sure if their discussion skewed the understanding of what Leighton said going into this article. But confused why the original sentence seems to be completely misinterpreted in this rebuttal.

    1. Hi John, I believe Leighton’s position is that sovereignty is a temporal expression of God’s wisdom and power that requires a creation for its expression. He is not sovereign over Himself or within Himself before creation.

      I don’t know his position on whether he thinks there is an eternal economic subordination between members of the Godhead (like eternal Sonship theory). But I wouldn’t think he would call even that an expression of eternal sovereignty.

  4. “Spoiled by vain deceit”?
    – “Doesnt trust the Lord”?

    Prove it. Serious charges require serious proof. Not a flimsy associations with no direct connection.

    These are presumptives that the accuser would have no way of knowing, barring a confession or a wire into Leightons head.

    This style of sloppily-derived personal accusation is too prevalent in theological debate, and greatly lowers the intellectual credibility of the accuser.

  5. “Spoiled by vain deceit”?
    – “Doesnt trust the Lord”?

    Prove it. Serious charges require serious proof. Not a flimsy associations with no direct connection.

    These are presumptives that the accuser would have no way of knowing, barring a confession or a wire into Leightons head.

    This style of sloppily-derived personal accusation is too prevalent in theological debate, and greatly lowers the intellectual credibility of the accuser.

  6. I was a calvinist for a number of years until I had to come to the conclusion that it didn’t line up with reason and Scripture. However, I did continue to attend MacArthur’s church, and to this day love the ministry of MacArthur even though I don’t agree with his Reformed views, for I am able to appreciate the work of calvinists even though I see things differently theologically. That said, I graduated from Talbot and Dallas seminaries where I was taught from a calvinistic perspective, so I’m thoroughly familiar with the ins and outs of calvinism, so it is disgraceful and tragic to see Calvinists behave with such vitriol by claiming those who don’t embrace calvinism are biblically ignorant, theologically inept, et al.

    1. Welcome Stephen
      And thank you very much for your post!

      I wonder if in your observation of MacArthur’s statements – you don’t observe a kind of DOUBLE-SPEAK language.

      For example – He asks his congregation the question:
      -quote
      Who lives your Christian life? If you say God does – then I don’t know if you could convince everybody who knows you”.

      Now that statement makes perfect sense from a NON-Calvinist perspective.
      Because in the NON-Calvinist world – humans are granted a certain amount of autonomy.
      They are granted what John Calvin called “MERE” permission.
      For every decision in life – they are granted multiple options – made available to them.
      And they are “MERELY” permitted to be the DETERMINER of which option they will select.

      But in Calvinism that is logically impossible – because it is not possible to predestine alternative possibilities.
      You probably already know – that Alternative Possibilities (PAP) are ruled out by Determinism.

      So for the Calvinist – for every impulse/action/inclination/event there is ever only one RENDERED-CERTAIN option.

      So the TRUE Calvinist answer to MacArthur’s question – to ‘Who lives your christian life” is – Calvin’s god is the one to determines the state of your Christian life – at every instance in time – and nothing about anything is UP TO YOU because whatsoever comes to pass with you was infallibly decreed at the foundation of the world.

      So when MacArthur says “if you say god lives your Christian life – then I don’t know if you could convince everybody who knows you” he is speaking *AS-IF* the Christian’s life is not 100% meticulously determined in every part – which is a denial of the doctrine of decrees.

      Thanks in advance
      br.d

    2. Welcome Stephen. What was the main thing or event that became at reason for you to being to question and retest Calvinist teachings from Scripture? I’ve been putting together a list of such reasons from former Calvinists. I now have 13 main reasons for the start they made to begin leaving. Thanks.

      1. I am not “afraid” of Leighton Flowers. Nor am I afraid to listen to Calvinists. I have even read 2 books by Johnny Mac, one by Sproul, and several by a local (Twin Cities) Reform Pastor-author, Bob Dewaay, who does yeoman work on Emergent, Purpose Driven and KJV Cronyism. “Wretched” Todd Friel was on local radio here for years. BUT, when an individual starts out with “Leighton Flowers is only in it for the filthy lucre” (a loose paraphrase!), it’s time to GET THE HOOK!! One last comment. Calvinistas need to learn that evangelicalism is NOT BINARY between Calvinism and Arminianism. Leighton calls it Provisional, my church calls it Free Grace. It’s here and it’s real and it’s right!

      2. Welcome Ivy! Here it is.
        13 Reasons People Begin to Rethink and Leave Calvinism that I have read.

        1. Some became willing to test again each of the arguments of Calvinism that they presumed were true only because of the men (books, podcasts) they respected, who had taught them those premises. They approached them anew for themselves, and from the perspective of a debater who must force themselves to take the other side and to try to see the strongest legitimate arguments for that other perspective.

        2. Some of those had started reading through the whole Bible and noting that the tenor of the majority of Scriptures was plainly teaching the opposite of what the few favorite Calvinistic proof texts seem to teach.

        3. Some started looking back on their life and became convinced in their heart and mind by the HS that they could have done differently at times. They knew this thinking clearly rejects what their deterministic theology says about everything happening in a predestined way.

        4. Some started to sincerely listen to good testimonies of former Calvinists and the sound arguments from Scripture that began then to convince them what the HS had been nudging them to reject all along in the harmful doctrines of Calvinism.

        5. Some started wondering, after having children of their own, how their love for each of their children, even wayward ones, could be any more than God’s for all of His “children” by creation. How could He not give them all sufficient opportunity to seek His mercy and grace? This led them to recheck the underlying teaching and alternative teachings to predestination of a limited elect.

        6. Some started seeing the unspiritual responses of some who professed Calvinism, like calling it the “gospel”, or those in leadership being oppressive, plus seeing some other reformed teachings that they felt the Scripture didn’t support, all of which caused them to research the points of Calvinism more in depth and that study led them to reject Calvinism.

        7. Some started seeing that attributing their own failures/sins to God’s predestination and not accepting personal responsibility for them was a reaction from fleshly pride. They decided to reevaluate the theology that taught them all was predestined to work out only one way. Studying graciously presented teachings contrary to that idea of predestination helped them reject Calvinism.

        Here’s part of one specific testimony – “I began to become very disillusioned with what I now call theological determinism, as it was having a significant impact on my prayer life and ambivalence towards my sanctification. I could not shake these questions from my mind. Why pray when everything is already determined? Why struggle against sin when God ‘clearly’ determined me to have these thorns in the flesh? Why evangelize when the Elect will come to faith no matter what?”

        “As someone who has a very logical mind, after years of believing Calvinism, I came to realize the logically consistent conclusions of these doctrines and I hated what it was doing to my walk with the Lord. Even though I knew Scripture described God as loving, merciful, and slow to anger, my Calvinistic cognitive dissonance screamed otherwise. As if the Lord knew my heart and desired to help me understand the truth, I stumbled upon Leighton Flowers and Soteriology 101.”

        8. Some researched the Servetus affair and became alarmed by the defense and revision provided by Calvin and Calvinists for such an un-Christian response against heresy. They became willing to research opposing explanations of Romans 9 and other passages, leading them to reject Calvinism.

        9. Some saw the hardening effect the teaching of Calvinism was having on their children… producing a fear of God but not a love for God or for the lost. They then prayerfully read through Scriptures and saw more clearly God’s universal love, leading them to reject Calvinism’s view that God eternally hates most people.

        10. Some began reading writings from early Christian history which sounded nothing like Calvinism and even sounded condemnatory to what looks like it.

        11. Some didn’t get satisfactory answers to the questions that plagued them. Listen to this personal testimony:
        “They couldn’t answer my questions. For me there’s a point where you think they just don’t want to. Then you graduate to – they just can’t be bothered. Then you graduate to the realization that it’s not that they won’t; it’s that they can’t. Then you either accept the incoherence for whatever reason or you roll up your metaphysical sleeves and get to work finding a system that is more coherent.”

        12. Some began to rethink why they should be forced to think God is less merciful. Listen to this personal testimony:
        “Seriously though, the thing that really got me rethinking Calvinism was a quote I saw on twitter…: ‘Calvinism has taught the church that we should all be shocked that God would show mercy to even one unworthy sinner, but anyone knowing Jesus and His selfless sacrifice on the cross should be shocked that God would refuse to show mercy to even one unworthy sinner!’

        …I couldn’t think of anything to say right then so I just went on about my day and forgot about it. That night I was trying to fall asleep and pulled back open twitter and my message box was still open waiting for me to reply… I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why do we (Calvinists) work so hard to try and make people think it should shock us that God would be merciful to as few people as we can imagine….’

        That question ran through my mind for a good week and I just kept trying to ignore it by telling myself, “My flesh is trying to take glory from God by claiming it for myself.” But deep down I knew that wasn’t my root motive in asking that question. My motive was that I really wanted to highlight God’s love for everyone and his genuine desire for their salvation. Deep down I wanted for God to be more loving and desirous of others salvation than I am. I know that my heart’s desire for my sister and many of my close friends that remain lost is for them to believe and be saved and I wanted to believe that God really wants that too. I knew that consistent Calvinism doesn’t allow for that and that was my struggle.

        So, that’s when I went back and read… articles about how defending free will is actually more about defending God’s holiness and something just kind of clicked.”

        13. Some felt deceptive during evangelism trying to answer sincere questions about how God felt about the specific sinner in front of them. Listen to this personal testimony:

        “It was not until I left Calvinism that I was able to share the Gospel without measuring my words or evading questions…. I was struggling to express the most plain Biblical truths all because I didn’t want to violate Calvinism. It is a terrible feeling to be sharing the Gospel, and at the same time hoping the hearer doesn’t ask you too much about it. I have shared the Gospel on the corner and had the fellas ask questions like the one below:

        ‘Man Jay, I have done so much dirt. You think God wants to save me’?

        In my heart i want to just blurt out YES! But instead, I am thinking ‘I wish he said save ‘someone like me’; then I could technically say ‘Yes’. Instead I respond: ‘It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. That won’t stop God from saving you.’ Now I feel dirty because he’s trying to make it personal and I’m trying to make it general. He thinks I am talking about him (which is what I want him to think). The truth is I’m talking about the concept (technically a person’s sin doesn’t stop God from saving them). The man wants hope for salvation and I’m scared to give it to him because I don’t want to violate the GOSPEL! Lord forgive me.”

  7. Why did GOD before the earth’s foundation, program Brother Hurd to call his internet venture, “Bible Thumper Wingnut? Did HE think it would attract more 21st century AD people than the ultra “pedestrian” title of Soteriology 101? Doesn’t he know that whom will tune in to whom, has been determined since before lightning struck the Primordial Puddle (PP) I will read and listen to Reformist and Determinists for my own education. BBBut when an individual starts out with “Leighton Flowers is in it for the filthy lucre”, it’s time to GET THE HOOK!! Well I’ll let you be now, I’m sure don’t want you to be late for your “vain deceit” practice.

    “,

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