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Dr. Leighton Flowers was named the Director of Evangelism and Apologetics for Texas Baptists in 2018. In addition to preaching on a wide range of biblical subjects, Leighton regularly travels to churches of all sizes to conduct seminars that specialize on evangelism and apologetics. He has participated in debates with leading apologists and led training conferences for the Annual Convention, Conclave, Apologetic Conferences, and the SBC Annual Convention.

Previously, he served as the Director of Youth Evangelism for Texas Baptists for 13 years. In this position he oversaw the statewide youth leadership training camp called Super Summer and the Youth Evangelism Conferences impacting thousands of teenagers with evangelistic messages, missions mobilization and discipleship training. Leighton has also assisted in the oversight of such ministries as See You At The Pole, a worldwide prayer movement (began by his father, Chuck Flowers) which is impacting people not only in Texas but all around our world.

Leighton earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Theology from Hardin-Simmons University (1997); a Masters of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2000); and completed his Doctorate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (2016).

Leighton and his wife Laura, a Licensed Therapist in Richardson, have four children (Colson, Cooper, Esther and Caden) and live in North Garland just outside of Dallas where he also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Theology for Trinity Seminary. Prior to coming on staff with Texas Baptists, Leighton served as a pastor in the local church for over 10 years. He and his family are active members of First Baptist Richardson.

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  1. Great teaching, I was a missionary for 10 years, I recently came back to the states and began ministry here. I am amazed at how Calvinism has grown in these 10 years. I use to say that I lean Calvinistic but now I never say that. Keep up your great teaching and stand firm for all of us who are not Arminian or Calvinists but Biblicist.

      1. Hello Mr. Flowers, Can you point me to where I can find your exegesis of 1. Corinthians 1:26-31 in light of your view that God does not particularly choose the individuals who are saved?

  2. Thank you for your work and podcast, Leighton. Your analysis is much needed. A Podcast idea: I would suggest that you provide commentary on the video series “Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism” (on YouTube). It would be helpful! Blessings.

  3. It has been a joy listening to your podcasts. I respect the fact that you are willing to look at the Bible objectively searching for truth. So often people view and interpret scripture through the lense of their theology. I too share a love for the writings of A. W. Tozer. It was his book the pursuit of God that helped me during my struggle with Reformed ideas. One of my favorite quotes of his goes something like this: “I refuse to look at the Bible through another man’s lense” . How often people view the Bible through the lense of a pastor or favorite theologian with out ever just studying the Bible for themselves. Send me an email. I would like to share my experience with you.

  4. Just getting acquainted w/your site; it’s true that redefining the normative assumptions for words like “Sovereignty” can be very “earth-shattering!” In a similar, and related way, what about the idea of God’s omniscience and open theism, particularly regarding deterministic theology? What has been particularly revealing for me personally is reading the scripture with these assumptions consciously identified, and seeing the support (and lack thereof) for what has become a pseudo-orthodoxy. Thanks for your work here!

  5. Leighton,

    I have carefully listened to just about every podcast you have released thus far. A serious and fair-minded non-Calvinist perspective is always worth hearing out thoughtfully. Like you, I take issue with some of the ways Calvinistic beliefs are expressed by many of today’s Calvinist leaders and apologists. For many years, I was Arminian (and even Pelagian), with Charles Finney and John Wesley strongly influencing my thinking. I very much appreciate the way you have outlined a different kind of non-Calvinist approach. However, after making a thorough study of the broad range of Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic beliefs, I have been a grateful (and hopefully graceful) Calvinist for several years.

    Just as you take issue with the “foresight faith” version of non-Calinism/Arminianism, which is often put forward as the “only alternative to Calvinism,” I take issue with the one-sided portrayal of Calvinism you present in your podcasts as the Calvinistic contrast to your views. The “Calvinistic” position you strongly refute in your podcasts is, to me, more like hyper-Calvinism than the Historic/Moderate Calvinist views I hold. For this reason, I would like to invite you to interact directly with the moderate and balanced positions held by many mainstream Calvinists over the centuries, which have been distilled into several of my blog articles:

    1. 10-Point Calvinism (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/p/10-point-calvinism.html) — If nothing else, PLEASE INTERACT WITH THIS ONE 🙂
    2. Compatibilism #1 (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/p/compatibilism.html)
    3. Compatibilism #2 (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/2013/05/calvinistic-compatibilism-discussion-of.html)
    4. The Extent of the Atonement (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/search/label/Particular%20Redemption%20Series)
    5. Common Grace (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/2011/02/three-points-of-common-grace-plus-one.html)
    6. The Free Offer of the Gospel (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/2009/06/free-offer-addendum-part-1.html)
    7. The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart (http://theoparadox.blogspot.com/search/label/Pharaoh)

    I believe all (or at least most) of your objections to what you understand as “Calvinism” are covered within these articles. Because I hold to a moderate form of Calvinism (affirming TULIP, but also much more for Biblical balance), I have not found your arguments to be in any way convincing. Nevertheless, I hold you in high regard and appreciate the way you work hard to offer an alternative version of Evangelical non-Calvinism that is nuanced and well thought out. It is a delight to find anyone who wants to have this conversation in a fair-minded and gracious way.

    Thank you for a challenging and thought-provoking several weeks! I believe that if you had been introduced to the Historic/Moderate Calvinism (as affirmed and espoused by so many well-known Calvinists of the past — and lesser know Calvinists of the present), you would not have become enamored with the alternative view you hold today. Nevertheless, Historic/Moderate Calvinism is still a viable option, and one I encourage you to consider, even as I have considered your views with an open and prayerful heart and mind.

    Many blessings in Christ,
    Derek Ashton
    aka “THEOparadox”

    1. Wonderful note Derek! I recieve that encouragement and that challenge. I do think I tend toward responding to the highest extreme that I am familiar with. But in my defense that is the position being taught by those having the most influence, like John Piper, James White, and the like.

      With that said however you are correct. I should follow my own advice and willingly consider more mild or even moderate forms of Calvinistic teaching. I will take some time to read through your blog and get back with you. If you are willing maybe we can talk by phone or even record a conversation for a future podcast? You seem to be the type of Calvinist that I would enjoy talking to.

      I have tried to give a wide representation of Calvinists airtime on my podcast. The theology unplugged group is relatively moderate I think. And I have quoted McArthur quite extensively. Nevertheless you may be right about my tendency toward assuming more hold to the logically consistent approach of meticulous determinism. Thanks for bringing up that point. Look forward to discussing more soon.

      1. Leighton,

        Thank you for your quick (and kind) reply. As time permits for both of us, I would very much like to interact further, and look forward to it. A phone conversation would be a good way. Any responses or insights related to the blog articles are much appreciated.

        Have a great weekend!

        Derek

    2. Derek,

      I’ve read through a few of your articles and I’m not seeing much distinction from your arguments and what I have attempted to address on the podcast, but maybe I’m missing the nuances?

      Maybe this will help. Please read this article from John Hendryx and tell me if you’d consider him to be hyper?

      http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/sovereignfree.html

      What, if anything, do you specifically disagree with about what he argues? Thanks.

      1. Leighton,

        Thank you for your reply. I would not consider Hendryx (nor the others referenced on your podcasts thus far) to be hyper. I do think the way you frame Calvinism when replying to them (particularly with regard to the issue of determinism) represents the hyper approach more than the mainstream or moderate point of view held by most Calvinists. I did not mean to imply that you are only responding to hypers; rather, that your arguments against Calvinism tend to target a hyperized version of the point of Calvinistic belief you are addressing.

        In his article, Hendryx offers a mainstream and very common High Calvinist explanation of compatibilism. However, there are many types of philosophical “compatibilism” that are *compatible* with Calvinistic belief. My own view differs significantly from Hendryx because I not only affirm that God is meticulously sovereign, but also that human beings are genuinely free to make alternative choices (although because of depravity, i.e. their own stubborn wills, they never choose conversion apart from His intervention). We are “free” in a way that is mysterious and not easily defined (primarily because the explanation is not revealed by God in His Word). These matters are more complex than the human mind can fully grasp or explain (although we may speculate to find possible solutions). In other words, Hendryx emphasizes the compatibility of determinism and moral responsibility (culpability), while a more moderate Calvinist will emphasize the compatibility of God’s mysterious ordination of all things (“meticulous Providence” if you will) while also emphasizing man’s mysterious freedom of choice (or “free will” as some would call it). Even on this point, Hendryx allows us a measure of voluntary choice that affords more human freedom than hyper Calvinists would affirm. Moderates go much further by accepting both meticulous Providence and human “free will” — two Biblical realities interacting in a way that is an unrevealed mystery.

        When explaining Calvinism in your podcasts, you sometimes seem to put the blame for man’s bondage to sin back on God, as though God “made” man that way, or forced man to sin against his own will. For me (and most other Calvinists, I think), this is not the case. God mysteriously ordained the fall, but Adam also freely chose sin from among the many alternatives. Every one of us has re-confirmed Adam’s choice when faced with the various alternatives we are offered in life, starting at the earliest age. God did not force us into this mucky pit, but only He can bring us out of it. I know you agree that only He can do this; it is on the question of how He works it all out that we will disagree.

        I hope this helps. Have a great Lord’s Day!

        Blessings in Christ,
        Derek

  6. Derek,

    Who, if not God, decided that all men, as a result of the fall, would be born totally unable to respond to God’s appeal to be reconciled from the fall?

    I understand that (according to Compatibilism) man decided to sin (mysteriously by God’s decree) but how does that explain God’s decision to punish all of mankind by making them totally unable to respond to His own appeal to be reconciled from that sin from birth?

    With all due respect, and I mean that, it seems that your objection against me has more to do with the way I explain what you believe rather than my explanation actually being inaccurate. I may not express your system in a palatable manner but can you tell me specifically what I have said that is untrue of your system’s claims?

    I know you all do not “blame” God for sin. But my argument is that your system necessitates blaming God for the inability of all sinners to respond to God’s own appeals. After all God is the one who punishes mankind by binding them over to inability from birth, but then still holding man responsible for rejecting his revelation…all the while expressing outwardly His longing and patience for all to respond, and frustration or anger for those who do not. That is what I believe is inconsistent with scriptures teaching. I believe that explanation makes God appear disingenuous at best.

    1. Derek, you said you disagree with Hendryx because you “not only affirm that God is meticulously sovereign, but also that human beings are genuinely free to make alternative choices,” which to me sounds like you affirm contra causal choice (LFW). Is that correct?

      I guess he would call you “inconsistent” according to that article, right? How would you rebut that accusation?

      Can you reference other scholarly Compatibilistic believers who teach what you claim so that I may read up on this perspective?

      Also, are the texts you listed in your article the only ones that you feel support meticulous determinism? I read those texts as supporting more of the idea that God is able to work out all evil things for good rather than His meticulously determining all the evil things that need to be worked out. And given all the passages which speak of God’s holiness and separate-ness from moral evil, don’t you think that approach is more biblical?

      Is God working out the evil that He meticulously determined or is He working out the evil that humans Autonomously determined?

      Thank you.

      1. Leighton,

        The term “inconsistent” is one that is rarely used in a consistent manner. To me, being consistent with Scripture is the one and only necessity. This is the consistency for which we must strive. Perceived logical consistency is an illusion cherished by some who flatter themselves, and it is subsequently lobbed like a grenade against others who disagree. But anyone who tries to balance the multi-faceted and mind-boggling realities of the Word of God will be inconsistent in some measure, simply because we cannot be perfectly balanced and cannot comprehensively explain every tension that is presented to us by an incomprehensible God. Is anyone perfectly consistent in articulating Scripture as both divine and human in origin, God as both spirit and incarnate, or immanent and transcendent, the Trinity as both One and Three, Christ as both divine and human, sanctification as both “worked out” by us and “worked in” by God? I gladly wear the accusation of “inconsistency” as a badge of orthodoxy.

        To the extent that LFW defines itself as a denial of the sovereign ordination of all things, I cannot claim it. I nevertheless freely chose which pair of socks I would wear today. 🙂

        For broader Reformed perspectives on human freedom, you might begin with the relevant chapter in Oliver Crisp’s book, Deviant Calvinism. A much more focused and informative exploration of the topic is Yeongmo Yoo’s dissertation on John Edwards (a British theologian and contemporary of the famous American theologian, Jonathan Edwards). It is called “John Edwards (1637–1716) on Human Free Choice and Divine Necessity: The Debate on the Relation Between Divine Necessity and Human Freedom in Late Seventeenth-Century and Early Eighteenth-Century England”

        Here is a synopsis:

        “Yeongmo Yoo examines John Edwards’ (1637–1716) doctrine of free choice, focusing on his understanding of the relation between divine necessity and human freedom. Even though free choice is an important theme in the history of Reformed theology, Reformed teaching on free choice has gained much less attention by modern scholars than other Reformed themes such as faith, grace and predestination. Moreover, the traditional Reformed doctrine of free choice has been frequently criticized as metaphysical or philosophical determinism by modern scholars. The crux of this criticism is the claim that the classical Reformed doctrine of divine necessity such as divine decree, providence, and grace rule out human freedom or contingency of events in the world.
        Filling the historiographical gap, Yoo raises a fundamental question concerning the criticism of the Reformed doctrine of free choice in relationship to divine necessity as determinism. Unlike the deterministic interpretation of traditional Reformed thought on free choice, the substantive and careful study of Edwards’ writings on free choice in the intellectual context of the seventeenth and the eighteenth century shows that in Edwards’ view, human beings retain the natural freedom from compulsion and freedom of contrary choice even after the Fall, and divine necessity such as decree, predestination, and foreknowledge does not exclude human free choice at all. Therefore, in so far as human freedom and contingencies are maintained by Edwards, especially with respect to divine necessity, his thought does not conform to the stereotype of Reformed theology as a deterministic system. Consequently, the examination of Edwards’ view of free choice points toward the need for a broad reassessment of Reformed understanding of free choice in the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras.”

        Beyond this, one need only point to the Westminster Confession’s explanation of sovereign ordination:

        “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” (see WCF Chapter III; cf. Chapter IX)

        The London Baptist Confession of 1689 repeats the same terminology of “liberty” and “contingency,” leaving much room in Calvinistic theology for sincere affirmations of human freedom.

        You asked: “Is God working out the evil that He meticulously determined or is He working out the evil that humans Autonomously determined?”

        This question strikes me as a classic false dichotomy. Does it have to be either/or? I’ll take “Accusations of Inconsistency” for $500, Alex.

        I hope this helps to fill in some gaps.

        Blessings in Christ,
        Derek

    2. Leighton,

      You said: “I believe that explanation makes God appear disingenuous at best.”

      Fallible humanity views God in many inaccurate and uncharitable ways, not understanding the mystery of His holy character. Perhaps by punishing sin He appears unkind. Perhaps by forgiving sinners He appears weak. Perhaps by telling us the Truth He appears harsh. Perhaps by damning the unrepentant He appears cruel. Perhaps by letting Himself be crucified He appears foolish. It is unfortunate that we have so many misapprehensions of Him, but that is part of the plight of fallen mankind, isn’t it? I do not worry that some may misinterpret His lofty ways and consider His calls to be disingenuous.

      You asked: “Who, if not God, decided that all men, as a result of the fall, would be born totally unable to respond to God’s appeal to be reconciled from the fall?” and “… how does that explain God’s decision to punish all of mankind by making them totally unable to respond to His own appeal to be reconciled from that sin from birth?”

      I know of no Calvinist who says God “punishes” mankind by “making him unable to respond.” On the contrary, from at least Augustine forward, the following view has been held by the mainstream:

      “For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost.” (Augustine)

      This quote shows that Augustine saw no incompatibility between “free will” and God’s ordination of all things. Granted, he frames our fall into sin as a loss of free will (at least with regard to salvation) — but it is a self-imposed bondage, and not one forced on us by God as some sort of punishment. It was not God who destroyed humanity’s freedom, but sin.

      You said: “After all God is the one who punishes mankind by binding them over to inability from birth, but then still holding man responsible for rejecting his revelation…”

      As you can see from the comments above, this is a significant misapprehension on your part. To some extent, your rejection of Calvinism would seem to be based on an incomplete view of Calvinism’s tenets with regard to free will and sovereignty. I suggest further study, especially ad fontes study, before drawing conclusions.

      Some modern Calvinists push much too far in the direction of determinism, unfortunately, which is part of the reason so many otherwise thoughtful people overlook the clear reasoning of Augustine and many, many of his theological descendents. There is also much confusion of terms, which makes the discussion unnecessarily challenging.

      Hope you are doing well. Have a great evening.

      Derek

      1. Derek, you seemed to think my rejection comes out of an “incomplete view of Calvinism” but which view of Calvinism is incomplete? Yours or the more deterministic version whose proponents call your view inconsistent for the same reasons I do?

        You said, “I know of no Calvinist who says God “punishes” mankind by “making him unable to respond.”

        But if the non-elect reprobate due to Adams sin is born hopelessly dead in a corpse like condition in regard to his inability to “feel” enough to respond to Gods own Words appealing for his reconciliation but remains able to feel the pain of fire for all eternity isn’t “punishment” …I don’t know what it. If you were born a reprobate and we interviewed you after 100000 years of burning I bet you’d call that “punishment.”

        Again, with all due respect, your objections come across as semantically distinctions without a difference. I don’t mean to in any way insult you or belittle your perspective when saying that. I just honestly see it that way. I realize what I’m saying isn’t palatable for the promotion of your system but I fail to see what is technically inaccurate.

        Also, even if we were to agree on the nature of man’s fallen condition (loss of contra causal freedom) we would still need to establish from the text the insufficiency of God inspired Word to enable a fallen man the freedom respond. Why would God send a message appealing for men to be reconciled from a condition when the condition itself prevents their response?

        I believe the double edged soul piercing sword of the gospel is more powerful than the falls condition of man and thus is sufficient to enable the lost to respond to its appeal, which is why God holds man response-able.

        So the burden is on the Calvinist to establish not only corpse like inability to respond, but corpse like inability to respond to God’s own life giving powerful Holy Spirit wrought gospel truth.

      2. Leighton,

        Thank you for your response. I am a little mystified by some of this, and will try to parse out some reliable distinctions with your help. Perhaps we will understand one another better with further clarification.

        Are you saying you see no difference between these two statements?

        1. God punishes sinners by making them unable to respond to Him, and then condemning them for not responding.
        vs.
        2. God punishes sinners for their own freely chosen sin and unrepentant stubbornness.

        If these really are nothing more than semantic “distinctions without a difference,” then I would expect that you will have no problem with either statement, since we are surely in agreement on #2, and you seem to imply that the two statements are basically equivalent. #1 is clearly false under Calvinism, yet you claim this is what Calvinism teaches. The illustration about burning your dog is an example of great misunderstanding on this point. How can this be characterized as a matter of mere technicality? Rather, this gets to the core of the matter. #1 is a patently false representation of the teaching of mainstream Calvinism, whether High or Moderate (i.e. 98% of the Calvinism that exists in the world). We are not asking the question of whether there is punishment; rather, we were discussing the reasons why man is justly liable to eternal punishment.

        With regard to the power of God’s Word in conversion, it would seem to be much more prominent in Calvinism, as follows:

        A. The fact that humanity can resist the powerful wooing of the Gospel appeal is a testimony to the real depths of human sin.
        B. The fact that God efficaciously saves many sinners through the preaching of the Word is a testimony to the power of His love and grace in the Gospel.

        These statements practically summarize Ephesians 1 and 2. Calvinists do not deny the power of the Gospel. Rather, they downplay their own power in order to magnify God’s.

        How does your system account for the fact that so many sinners resist the “doubled-edged soul piercing sword of the Gospel”? For Calvinists, the Gospel is powerful enough to actually convert sinners. It does not simply give them the option to be converted, should the whim happen to arise, or their corrupted hearts suddenly choose not to hate and oppose Him anymore. To me, the kind of Gospel you are describing sounds more like a voting booth than a “soul-piercing sword.”

        Perhaps I am just not presenting your system in a “palatable” fashion here. 🙂

        Thanks again for the interaction, and have a great day!

        Blessings,
        Derek

  7. Derek,

    You wrote:
    “Are you saying you see no difference between these two statements?

    1. God punishes sinners by making them unable to respond to Him, and then condemning them for not responding.
    vs.
    2. God punishes sinners for their own freely chosen sin and unrepentant stubbornness.”

    Several points need to be clarified to understand what is intended by these statements.

    1. WHO sins? Do you mean Adam (our representative) sinned and thus all were born punished by imputation?

    2. WHAT is the punishment? Spiritual death, which is interpreted by Calvinists to mean corpse like inability to respond to God’s own revelation and appeals for reconciliation from the time they born to the time they die?

    3. HOW do you define “freely?” Do you agree with Hendryx and others who define freely as “voluntarily” (in accordance with ones desires/nature), but while still maintaining that man’s desires/nature is meticulously determined by God? Or do you mean man’s ability to refrain or not refrain from any given moral action?

    If you answer these question consistently with the claims of Calvinistic teaching you will affirm that God unchangeably determined that all people would be born spiritual dead as a result of Adam’s sin and thus unable to willingly respond to God’s own appeals to be reconciled from the fall.

    The #2 statement, “God punishes sinners for their own freely chosen sin and unrepentant stubbornness,” for clarity needs to read, “God punishes all humanity from birth for the sin of their representative Adam, because he voluntarily chose to sin.”

    And WHAT is that punishment? SPIRITUAL DEATH, which is defined by Calvinists as “total inability” to respond even to God’s appeals to be reconciled from their fallen condition. That doesn’t happen by accident. God HAD to decide that would be the result of Adam’s sin. That is a PUNISHMENT God decreed to come to pass. The way I worded it may not be as palatable as you’d prefer but what I said is not inaccurate according to the factual claims of Calvinistic teaching.

    And as stated before, even if we concede to the level of depravity and “death” of man’s fallen condition it does not answer the objection regarding the sufficiency of God’s word to enable a FREE response. (“free” defined as “ability to refrain or not refrain” not as “according to God’s predetermined desire”)

    “In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction.” – John Calvin

    As Piper’s Desiring God site explains, “The “sixth” point, double predestination, is simply the flip side of unconditional election. Just as God chooses whom He will save without regard to any distinctives in the person (Ephesians 1:5-6; Acts 13:48; Revelation 17:8), so also he decides whom He will not save without regard to any distinctives in the individual (John 10:26; 12:37-40; Romans 9:11-18; 1 Peter 2:7-8). By definition, the decision to elect some individuals to salvation necessarily implies the decision not to save those that were not chosen. God ordains not only that some will be rescued from his judgment, but that others will undergo that judgment. This does not mean that someone might really want to be saved but then be rejected because they are on the wrong list. Rather, we are all dead in sin and unwilling to seek God on our own.”

    And I would ask Piper, just as I’m asking you. Who decided that all humanity, as a punishment for Adam’s sin, would be born “dead in sin and unwilling” … totally unable to be willing even in the face of God’s gracious, powerful appeals? The only answer is GOD. God made that determination and mankind are born victims to it.

    1. Leighton,

      I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your recent podcast on “limited atonement.” Funny that we agree so much on that particular topic (no pun intended!).

      Have a blessed weekend.

      Derek

  8. Mr. Flowers,

    Thank you for taking the time to make these podcasts. I have enjoyed them! One of the things that makes many Calvinist “ok” with the logical implications of their belief is that they believe the bible more than philosophical or logical arguments. If they buy into hard determinism, then they have to buy into all the things you were bringing up to Derek. If they buy into softer determinism, they are more in line with what you are saying, but probably are inconsistent in that. However a lot of the arguments I have heard you make on your podcasts seem to be “emotional” or based on “common sense”. For instance you argument about how a person not chosen that is born hating God verses one that had all the means given by God but just rejected him, spitting in his face. How the latter is a lower view of man than the Calvinist. It’s a cool argument, but what matters is what the bible says. Sometimes we must be careful of human wisdom as Paul warns in 1 Cor 2 (which is also where the main verse for inability comes, v14-16).

    One argument sort of like yours that I use is: Since the wages of sin is death, and Jesus paid for those wages with his death, why do non-believers have to die for their sin AND pay for them in eternity too? Does God require more punishment out of the unbeliever than he did out of the atonement?

    Arguments like this are cool (logically sound and based on our own forms of government where the crime is commiserate of the punishment. As in we don’t get the electric chair for stealing a piece of bubble gum. That would be unjust right?) , but they also can get us into a world of trouble, making us believe things against what the bible says at times.

    One passage that has always “troubled” me is:

    Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you.” (‭1 Kings‬ ‭22‬:‭19-23‬ NASB)

    The reason why this passage bothered me is that God is described here to have commanded and signed off on a lie that went into the mouths of over 400 false prophets that eventually led to the death of not only King Ahab, but all the other men who died in the battle too.

    If we try to use our president as an example similar to the above, we would probably have reason to impeach. But we are talking about God. The King on the throne. Who are we to bring a charge against him?

    These are things Calfinists see in the bible that make them realize just how useless pleading to God about any injustice you may think he does is. Who are we to counsel God? Are we to dare put him on trial? That’s silly, which I am sure you agree.

    My point with all this is just to say that there are things which God has done which are savagely stern and there are things which are overwhelmingly kind. And whatever the bible says we must believe it. All of it. And I am pretty sure you know that the Calvinist position is a valid biblical view, but you are convinced that the emotional and “what’s fair” arguments have kept you from conceding some of their strong points.

    At the same time, there is enough verses in the bible to challenge a lot of their claims too. So I agree with you on a lot of points. And I agree with them on some points. I look forward to listening to some more of what you say and maybe even talking here.

    Before I go, where I am totally with you is on the hardening of Israel. That is abused by the C’s a lot. And they somehow overlook this is Romans 11. And I also have a very High view of the gospel and its power like you do. I am still studying this, but I think total inability has many issues. Some of the ones you talk about I agree on. But the main flaw is that the gospel is more powerful than any inability men might have. It is spirit and life.

    May God Bless,
    Greg

  9. Hi Greg! Thanks for your kind words and challenge. You make some valid points here.

    You said, “It’s a cool argument, but what matters is what the bible says. Sometimes we must be careful of human wisdom as Paul warns in 1 Cor 2 (which is also where the main verse for inability comes, v14-16).”

    I agree, emotional arguments are certainly not the authority here. We must look back to the text and in my defense I offer a clear biblical explanation regarding 1 Cor 2:14 both on my blog and in several of the podcasts. I don’t expect you to be familiar with everything I’ve said or written, but I’m just letting you know I have considered this passage extensively.

    Regarding your reference to 1 Kings‬ ‭22‬:‭19-23 and your statement, “My point with all this is just to say that there are things which God has done which are savagely stern and there are things which are overwhelmingly kind. And whatever the bible says we must believe it. All of it.”

    I’m sure you have heard of “anthropomorphic language,” right? It’s a literary device said to be used by authors of scripture to explain mysterious infinite matters that our finite minds cannot comprehend by giving God more human like characteristics…or explaining divine exchanges in a human like narrative fashion (like Satan visiting God and having a conversation, etc).

    Calvinists are quick to use the appeal to anthropomorphism in regard to God changing his mind (like in His exchange with Moses: Ex. 32). Why? To preserve their biblical understanding of God’s eternal unchanging nature. So, why not employ a similar explanation to protect the biblical concepts of God’s Holiness in passages like 1 Kings 22? Do you understand what I’m asking? Why work so hard hermeneutically to protect God’s attribute of Sovereignty but not his Holiness?

    Jesus is known for saying things like…”you have heard it said, but I tell you…” Why? He acknowledges that there have been misconceptions about God that have developed over the years and He is bringing correction. Jesus is the ultimate and final revelation of God and his true nature. We must interpret all of the scriptures in light of what Christ revealed. Many people thought of God as the one who brought temptations, as James indicated when he wrote, ” When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” James is offering correction to those who wrongly thought that God tempts man.

    So, am I saying that 1 Kings 22 is contradicting James 1? No more so than a Calvinist would say Ex. 32 is contradicting Eph. 1. That is what hermeneutics is all about and often it is not as cut and dry as some would like to make it seem.

    I love how you ended: “the gospel is more powerful than any inability men might have. It is spirit and life.” Amen!

    Blessings to you brother!

  10. Hi again Mr. Flowers,
    I see what you are talking about with the anthropomorphism. I can understand how some appeal to it when it comes to understanding God’s emotions in human form. Stuff like him “feeling sorry” “regretting” “repenting” “changing his mind” etc.

    But how can one appeal to anthropomorphism in the passage I brought up? It is a true prophet of God, Micaiah, recalling a vision of heaven that he was given, depicting the LORD assembling a counsel of Angels together with the purpose of determining who would entice King Ahab into battle.

    I don’t see how one can appeal to anything but what Micaiah is literally saying unless you think he is lying (which is God forbid because it’s written down in the bible!).

    What you are suggesting seems very dangerous to me. You seem to be saying, when you talk about how Jesus explains stuff people got wrong in the past, that there could well be things written in the bible that are false. That’s not what you are implying is it? If so, how can you have confidence anything is true? If not, why do you appeal to anthropomorphism in the passage I brought up?

    It sounds like you do so in order to preserve God’s character. Which is a noble thing, but it’s also dangerous (let God be God and believe what he says in the bible). One thing I would offer is how I deal with this passage:

    1.) King Ahab was as corrupt a King as it gets. Think Hitler or Saddam.
    2.) God sent many many messages to him and the people over the years but they rejected them over and over.
    3.) God even sent the truth through Micaiah about the lies God sent through the false prophets. Ahab was furious instead of repenting! But he sort for believed it because he did not wear his kings robes into the battle. That didn’t save him him from falling by an arrow. You can’t hide from God.
    4.) Paul agrees that this is how God operates.

    that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭2‬:‭9-12‬ NASB)

    5.) Our God is very kind but he is also very strict. And his ways are mysterious! I think it would have been much easier to just snap his fingers and make Ahab have a heart attack. But that’s why I am not God and that’s why we need to believe what the bible tells us our God is. I think it would have been much easier to just snap his fingers and have all but Noah’s family perish. Start over. But our God sent a massive flood to do it. Again, that’s why he is in charge. And we aren’t.

    I am about to listen to your podcast on 1 Cor 2:14. I am very interested on your take of it because I think it’s solid evidence for total inability at first glance. When you look at 1 Cor 3:1-7 it becomes a head-scratcher though since Paul could not address these regenerated men as “spiritual” rather “of the flesh”.

    Do you go into 1 John 5:1? That’s the other one that I think is pretty solid. It at least says one who currently believes Jesus is the Christ has been previously born of God.

    Also what is your take on John 3, and the rebirth “born again” “born of God” concepts in general. Do you believe the word and the Spirit combine to produce this, or just the word alone?

    May God bless,
    Greg

      1. True. I don’t apeal to anthropomorphism on any passages, but I see how or why some do. I just try to believe the bible as written and let it and God speak for himself.

        BTW, is there a place I can post about certain, specific, podcasts of yours?

  11. Leighton,

    I have been studying Calvinism vs. Arminianism over the past few years and cannot seem to wrap my mind around several of the same areas that you said you disagree with in Calvinism. I believe in eternal security. But on the other points in Calvinism I cannot seems to bring myself to acceptance. The problem of God condemning people who never had a really choice to be saved has nagged at me, along with the exaggeration of how total depravity impairs a man from being able to accept the gospel, I don’t not see that in scripture. There are several other things that I struggle with, but I am not very interested in Arminian doctrine, so this site has proposed an alternative. I think that the view presented on this website should be consolidated into a formal theological position so that people like me can have a systematic to use when we discuss the topic of Calvinism with others. Can you please tell me a couple of good resources, mainly website where I can get more information on how to respond to Calvinism? Which resources did you use in your journey of investigating Calvinism? I would like to see a list of rebuttals to the classic Calvinist proof texts so that I can better understand the true scriptural position of each text. I keep having things like “You didn’t choose Me, I chose you” and “No man comes to the Son unless the Father draws Him” pop in my head and I don’t know how to interpret those properly. Any help would be great! Thanks

    1. Kyle,

      Keep studying. It is good that you are open to still learn and search out these truths. I realize there are several passages, which at first reading, may in some ways seem to support Calvinistic doctrine, but I think you will find that after careful and objective study that they do not. There are hundreds of resources beyond what I offer on my site (see the Statement of Faith Page and links provided).

      Regarding John 15:16…I’ll direct you to read a recent Blog post titled “The 3 Choices of God.” (Divine Election for Dummies) <–I'm the dummy

      Regarding John 6…I hit on this one throughout my blog and podcast…just dive in and study

  12. Thanks. Since Yesterday I have read so much of your material and linked resources my head is throbbing. lol. But I am definitely gaining some perspective on how to exegete these difficult passages. They used to be the only thing standing in the way of me fully renouncing the majority of Calvinism. Thanks for the site!

  13. Leighton,
    I wanted to say thank you so much for your blog and podcast. I feel like you have really engaged me in my studies and conversations I have had with others who do not share my views. One thing I would be interested in hearing from you on is what I call the pronoun problem many have when reading scripture. In my opinion, often times people (especially Calvinists) replace the word you in scripture with a personalized invitation to insert their own name irregardless if the “you” is designed for a group of specific people the author was writing to. I feel as if this often leads them erroneously to specialization (written to individuals) of scripture when the author clearly meant the comments as generalizations (written to groups of people). The analogy I use is that as a teacher I may say to a class you have been my favorite class. This does not necessarily mean that everyone in that class is my favorite student. To me this pronoun problem helps explain why Calvinists dismiss the corporate view of election because they incorrectly place a generalized comment to a group of people as if it were a specially designed comment to individuals today. Just curious of your thoughts. Thank you again, I listen to the podcast regularly and wish you the best in the debate!

  14. Hey, Leighton. I recently stumbled on your podcast as I’ve been doing some searching and questioning of my own theology. It’s been really helpful and I appreciate your gentleness and humility in discussing really big topics. Also, I have to tell you. For days I couldn’t put my finger on who your voice reminded me of. And then it hit me today- Mike Huckabee. It’s like crazy uncanny!

  15. Will you email me a list of commentaries that you recommend for each NT book?
    I have plenty of great calvinist sources, but i am looking for some from the traditionalist view.
    Thanks,
    Davis
    follow777@gmail.com

  16. Wiki On Free Will Theism: Open theism
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. (August 2013)

    Open theism, also known as openness theology and free will theism,[1] is a theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas related to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology. It is typically advanced as a biblically motivated and philosophically consistent theology of human and divine freedom (in the libertarian sense), with an emphasis on what this means for the content of God’s foreknowledge and exercise of God’s power.[2][3] It has been said that Open theism triggered the “most significant controversy about the doctrine of God in evangelical thought” in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.[4]

  17. Dear Pastor Flowers, I am a Chinese studying here in U.S. I became a Christian 5 years ago, so I am still a baby in the faith. Forgive me if I sound naive. I saw one of your videos talking about God’s Holiness and therefore He can not cause/use/allow evil to bring Himself glory. And you used the example of holocaust. Saying that holocaust can not be the doing of a Holy God. My question is, if no sin can even be related to God, then what about us Christians? As His children we are probably the worst sinners.(He came for the sick). And we sin against Him everyday(if we call ourselves sinless then we are liers). If God can not work through our sins for His glory, and only pure goodness(no failure, no imperfection in between) can be attributed to Him, then what is His purpose in creating us with the potential to sin? There are bigger problems such as if God only authored good, and He is the creator of all things from nothing, then where did evil come from? Does that mean we as human beings also have the ability of creating things from nothing? I think there is a fundamental difference between “there is no way for God to glorify Himself through the bad things.” and “I can not imagine how God can glorify himself by working through the bad things.” It seems by adhering to the former we are limiting God to our perceptions instead of letting Him be God. The latter view seems to be humbler. If God created everything, including us, and the holocaust did happen. Then we simply cannot say, because I can not imagine how this proves God to be good eventually, therefore God can not be the one to allow holocaust to happen. After all why should the pottery determine what the potter wants to make? In the end, I believe a God who allows free will and sin, even sin from His enemies, but can make goodness out of all these mess, such a God is infinitely more powerful than a God who can only work with good things.

    1. I do affirm that God can and does redeem sin for good. He does use evil for a good purpose. There are several blogs on this subject. See the one titled “judicial hardening: Gods sinless use of sinful means”

      Thx for the comments and welcome!!!

  18. Mr. Flowers,

    I would really like to purchase a copy of your book, The Potters Promise. I want a hard copy, not a kindle edition. Do you have one for sale or know where I can find one? Please email me your response. Thanks.

      1. Dear brother Leighton Flowers,

        Im an Ex Muslim who came to Christ about 4 years ago. I was a CAlvinist for ab 3 yrs into my Christian walk. Had left limited atonement about a yr and a half ago and left calvinism completely about two weeks ago. I found your videos and you made some very great points. I’d hope to get more in contct with you when you have time so I can talk to you in mroe detail. God bless you my brother.

  19. Hi,

    I’ve listened to several podcast episodes and, as a Seventh-day Adventist, I began to wonder how our own theological tradition would fit into this conversation. I wouldn’t mind doing an episode with you on this.

  20. Hi,

    I’ve listened to several podcast episodes and, as a Seventh-day Adventist, I began to wonder how our own theological tradition would fit into this conversation. I wouldn’t mind doing an episode with you on this sometime.

  21. I thank you for your your article “Five points that led me out of Calvinism”. The courage and wisdom you have shown is a great encouragement for others to respond likewise, not only concerning Calvinism but any incorrect position that might have them in bondage. Bondage is where you were and when you were faced with the “choice”, do I do as Paul and “count all things loss”, even his great standing as a “Pharisee of Pharisees”, you chose the truth. It is no small task to defeat pride and that is what we face when we must admit our error. Genesis 4:7, “Sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

    Your article encourages me to speak out even more against this doctrine when the opportunity presents itself and I look for them. I think it is divisive and harmful to the SBA of church’s.

    If you have time I would like you thought’s about the arguments I present form scripture to refute Calvinist doctrine. I have written many Calvinist and the only response I got is that it is a mystery how “election” and “free will” cooperate.

    I was introduced to Calvinism forty years ago by a friend at work. My first thought was this doctrine seems to totally contradict a lot of scripture. The first rule I apply in trying to interpret scripture is whether or not it contradicts the character of God! Scripture will not contradict God’s character therefore, our understanding of what it means cannot contradict God’s nature.

    I believe that when the scriptures says, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”, “the Lord in not willing that any should perish”, “who desires all men to be saved”, the scripture means just what it says. Since man cannot save himself it is incumbent upon a merciful God to provide a way for salvation, a way that agrees with the offer’s in scripture as noted above.

    Over the years I have tried to educate my self to be able to give a defense of Biblical soteriology. Therefore, I have prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to help me find scripture that gives a practical explanation that refutes Calvinist doctrine. I wanted a clear easy way to help others understand why Calvinist doctrine could not be true.

    There are many scriptures that I could use which conflict with Calvinist doctrine and Calvinist have just as many, although out of context, to support their position. That said, the following two scripture’s I believe are indefensible concerning Calvinist doctrine. Your analysis would be appreciated since you have an understanding of both sides.

    First, if Calvinism is to be believed then these scriptures and many others are disingenuous, completely false. In Genesis 4 Cain is clearly given the opportunity to be accepted if he chose to do the right thing. He had to know what was expected and also be able to comply. Was God’s offer to him a lie? It would be if only the “elect” could respond to God’s call. Second, Jesus made this statement, Luke 10:12-14 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. Now those in Tyre and Sidon must not be the “elect” because they refused to repent and are long since dead and awaiting judgment. How could a greater revelation of truth have made a difference when by Calvinist doctrine salvation is a predestined and irresistible election by God’s choice?

    Thank you for your time.

  22. Eric Metaxas just interviewed Tim Keller. Please listen to the last 3min of the Podcast. Tim makes an interesting comment on works and salvation. It would be great to hear you comment on his view.

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-eric-metaxas-show/id991156680?mt=2&i=358090290

    I am a faithful listener and have listened to all your Podcasts.

    You are providing a valuable contribution to the debate. I am a non-Calvinist and I appreciate your insights.

    1. OH WOW! That’s what I’ve been harping on over and over again. What a great quote! That is exactly what we believe about salvation and I have to wonder if other more hardline Calvinists would support Keller’s quote on that point?

  23. What rough percentage of global Baptists are:

    1) Calvinists
    2) Arminians who believe in Once Saved Always Saved
    3) Arminians who reject Once Saved Always Saved

    To what degree does this depend on the particular variety of Baptists?

      1. I figured it would be hard to get specifics but my impression is that the largest group reject OSAS, the next largest group accept it and Calvinists are a minority. Am I wrong? The two larger groups are probably switched in the U.S.

  24. Dear mr. Leighton,
    My name is Erlan and I’m from Brazil.
    I started to follow your website recently and I was very happy to see such rich material. We have few synergistic materials in our language.
    I wish I had your permission to translate some of the texts present on Soteriology101 to my language (Brazilian Portuguese) and republish them on my personal blog.
    Thank you, my best regards.

    May God bless you all.

    1. Sure, we just ask you keep a link on your site to reference this site for those who need to find the original source. Thanks for asking and thanks for spreading the word!

  25. Leighton,

    I started listening to your podcast after i heard you at Conclave during one of your seminars. I was intrigued. I never really quite understood fully Calvinism or any side for that matter and therefore never really determined my own thoughts on the subject. However after listening to your podcast since October I have come to further understand both the traditional and Calvinistic approach better. I was hoping maybe at some point if you haven’t already, maybe you could discuss in your podcast more thoroughly the differences between the traditionalist perspective and the Arminianist perspective. I appreciate your podcast a lot. Blessings

  26. How can you conclude that His “ministry” is only three-years (Jesus) when archaeological proof exists that Herod died in 4 BCE (GAD) and the order to kill “babies” two years down occurred earlier; Census, according to archaeological proofs occurred during 8 or 7 BCE…with this background and traditional Jewish Ministry (Itinerant rabbi) starts at age 30? So please count the years for it coincides with a 10 year ministry, according to the Father’s plan -not man!

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