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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. Is God most glorified in destroying people in hell? The reason why I ask this is because dont Calvinists think that God gets atleast equal glory through his justice as well as his love? But we have to ask, isn’t the devil trying to keep the most glory from God by blinding people from Christ’s glory? 2 Corinthian 4:4. If the glory of his justice is equal to the glory of his love, then Satan is helping to bring more glory to God through the Calvinist reasoning. Since most people are going to hell, it would stand to reason that God would predestine most to heaven so he would get the ultimate glory, if Calvinism is true. But that’s not the case. What do you think of this reasoning? I could be wrong, give me your ideas.

    1. Does it not mention that it is fair for God to choose the precious stones from the pebbles like man does? Did not God roll the “Dice” at the time of His choosing? If a little later or earlier, would I be saved? We are dust with the breath of God as life, therefore, does a computer programmed artificial intelligence unit have a correct argument in saying to the human creator “the man would not choose the shiny object AI over me the pebble AI because it is unfair”? I don’t really know, but the issue is the bible seems to imply “God does all things”. I do not “get” salvation, I receive it as a “Gift”. Otherwise didn’t I do something to get it?

      I would like to believe in a more “lovely” doctrine, but I don’t see it at present. Doesn’t it say that God kept an adversary to test Israel in the Old Testament; then how do they have free will? Isn’t this pre-planning like a computer game with a story pre-designed, but with characters that are “playable by humans etc” that come to a good or bad end, but mostly the story is set already. If there is a decision to be made by me, when is it too late? What about the people who don’t hear the Gospel?

      People as far as I know generally do not explain these points in a simple text of a page or two, explaining logical and credible, biblical answers & that’s probably why Calvinism still exists(unless you know otherwise?text etc). I don’t like it, but that’s just the way it seems to be.

      Personally it seems God does not easily allow me to evangelise, in my personal limited opinion. I’m too weak mentally, or my computer fails, or my documents get lost or I feel it’s not my place; constant bombardment of “don’t do that”, “it”s not in my plan”, is what it feels like. Very similar to wanting to smoke or drink/sin etc but not doing it because of the feeling of being convicted to not do so by a “small voice”. Seemingly.

      If anyone can show me otherwise without a mountain of book reading, great, otherwise shouldn’t I stick with what seems logical, at least to me?

  2. Dear Leighton,
    Have you discussed 2 Peter 2:1, Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:11.
    These Scriptures all prove that someone ‘for whom Christ died’ can still perish.
    Does not this clearly prove Calvinism is false? Calvinists believe that everyone ‘for whom Christ died’ will all saved.
    regards, Kyle

  3. Dr Flowers, it was nice to meet you at the convention in Dallas. I was a Calvinist for about nine years and have just recently came away from that doctrine. The Lord has used you and others to show me that God loves the whole world and not just a select few. Thank you for your ministry.

  4. I first listened today to the Pod Cast on the 5 Points/Reasons/Calvinism. What a Refreshing understanding of the Word! I have been a Believer in Christ (Yeshua) for 40 years and I have always thought in my Spirit that there had to be something in between these two Doctrinal teachings; Calvinism/Arminianism.

    My experience of the last twenty years with the Calvinist, has given me the sense that much of the Reformed experienced is referenced in the New Testament: “Having a Form of Godliness, they deny the power, thereof”.

    In addition, one of my thoughts is that there appears to be a sense of superiority, as the “Chosen Ones” and very little willingness to have in depth discussions on “The Faith once and for all delivered to the Saints”, in other words (Dead or Dying ).

    May the Lord bring all His people into an understanding of what is His Truth; “That none should perish, but that all that come to Him would inherit Eternal Life”. (paraphrase)

    Thank you again for the clarification.

    God is Good,

    Jeff Simmons

  5. I have read your work and would like very much to talk with you. But having said that there is an issue that I feel lead to address as a Methodist pastor. The Methodist do believe in corporate election. We believe all have been saved but not all are going to heaven. Because all are predestined through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for an individual to miss heaven one must deny what has been done on their behalf. We all start under grace. The question becomes when we arrive at the point in our lives where we must actively choose to acknowledge truth do we continue our lives declaring Him as truth or do we act on the false reality of this world as truth. If it’s not possible to reach that point and continue under grace them what is being suggested is once we reach that point we must step out from under His grace that we might re-enter His grace. Thus we are claiming we can leave grace by our own choice and then be brought back by the power of God. Peter actually did this. When Jesus asked His disciples who do men say that I am after several had replied He turned to Peter and asked him. Peter replied your are the Sin if God at which time Jesus replied man has not revealed this to you but the Holy Spirit. Just a short time later he would deny Christ three times. Question if Peter had not seen Christ resurrected would he have became the disciple that he did? What does it truly mean from Gods perspective to say we are born into sin? To truly understand one must be able to define sin from His perspective. He is truth. Truth is a person and the word truth is an explanation of His presence and nature. What it means to be born under sin is we are caught between two realities His presence and nature which is truth and a fallen version of creation which presents itself as truth. If truth, God, does not insert Himself to reveal Himself as truth could man deduce His existence apart from His presence. The answer to that is no! There is a place of total depravity the Bible calls it hell. So if election is corporate and we begin under grace can salvation be rejected? If election is corporate them the answer must be yes. If Peter had not seen the risen Christ after having declared Him the Son of God by the presence of the Holy Spirit then denying Him three times I contend he probably would have never found the courage on his own to ask forgiveness. One might say Peter had no choice after denying Christ but to continue but the Bible tells us it took Jesus appearing to him to put him back on the road for Christ. Some may say he was never saved until that point because Christ had not yet went to the cross but Christ going to the cross was the straw that broke their misguided ideals about whether type of Savior Christ was and is. I would like very much to hear back God Bless. dpigman@tgtel.com

    1. Meant to say when Peter was asked who do you say that I am Peter replied you are the Son of God

  6. Hello, the following is a reply from a reformed friend regarding Romans 8. Sorry if this is the wrong pplace for this question ” I dont know what to tell him at this point and nees some guidence. I simply don’t understand his method of interpretation. Romans 8:1 Therefore, I would have to stop right there and ask why is that word there. Paul has been saying that there is no hope of salvation in following the law, as Abraham was saved so shall everybody else be. The Jews were arguing against that and we read that as Paul lays it out for us. Faith over meriting salvation by works is Paul’s argument along with some other things like, we are all sinners whether Jew or gentile, we are all in Adam. Therefore can also be understood as consequently. In other words because of that, chapters 1-7 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. So is this referring to the Israelite’s or the men of old? I don’t think so because the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set who free? The old testament saints? No, those who have faith (Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.) Romans 8:18 I think is the transition where Paul starts talking about suffering. He doesn’t think the sufferings here on earth are to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us. Who is the us? It is those who are in Christ. Not the children of Israel chosen for a noble cause. This suffering that we as believers go through may be very difficult but it is very, very insignificant to what we will be. Even the creation awaits this revealing of the saints. In verse 19 we read (sons of God) and in verse 21 we read (children of God) what group of people is this referring to? Those who are in Christ. Not the old testament saints. Jumping to verse 28 for the sake of my sleepiness, this verse anchors those who are in Christ that God works all things for the good to those that love God and are CALLED according to His purpose. So does verse 18-28 deal with the suffering old testament saint only? No it doesn’t it covers everybody who loves God. So everybody who loves God can trust that no matter what happens it’s going to work together for the good, according to God. Not only that, those who love God were foreknew, proginosko meaning God knew people, and those people He predestined to become conformed to Christ so that Jesus would be the firstborn, the preeminent one of all. Everyone in Christ will be like Him. Those whom God predestined He called, here is the call that always accomplishes it purpose because those whom God calls He justifies and those whom He justifies He glorifies. This is a chain of events that can not be broken. To respond to the past tense issue this simply speaks to the absolute certainty of God’s work. So I do not see anywhere in chapter 8 of Romans specifically talking about the people of Israel chosen for the noble cause, its just not there. I see Mr. Flowers attempt to make the elect of Romans 8:33 to be only Israel futile also an assault on the truth of the Scripture. In Love by your non-Calvinistic friend.😉”

  7. Dr Flowers

    I have kids about to start reading and want to get your opinion on actual text bibles and /or study resources for beginner readers that are not Calvinistic. Or at the very least, are there any translations for beginner readers you’d recommend that aren’t a collection of paraphrased bible stories?

    Any insight would be appreciated.

    John Davis
    Austin TX

  8. Hello Dr. Flowers, I watched some of your videos on youtube with interest. I have been interested to see several Calvinists come out of Calvinism and then accept the OSAS position. I have studied both Calvinism and OSAS, and fit into neither camp. I have not studied Arminianism much. I have come to the view, not that people can lose their salvation, but that they can reject it. I do not think anyone just finds out one day that they are lost. It is usually, if not always a process. Of course the OSAS position is that such a person was never saved in the first place. However, what I have searched for, for some time now is the history of where the OSAS position comes from. I cannot trace it very far back at all. I have written numerous church leaders who hold that position if they know where in history this view has been taught. Men like David Cloud respond to that by saying something like this, “Well, it is very simple. It comes from the NT.” I am not interested in whether someone believes it comes from the NT or not. I am interested in where in history, say between 150 AD and 1650 AD, this doctrine was ever taught. Would you know of this teaching appearing within those years?
    Blessings on your ministry,
    Pastor Phil Schlamp
    PS Oh, by the way, I have not received any answers yet other than those that lead back to Calvinism. Also, I am asking Dr. Rob Congdon the same question.

    1. This is from Calvin:

      “God,” says he, “had chosen them all as his people, but many of them fell from grace. Let us, therefore, take heed, lest the same thing should happen to us, being admonished by so many examples, for God will not suffer that to go unpunished in us, which he punished so severely in them.”

  9. Hi Dr. Flowers,

    Thank you for your labors for the spread of God’s kingdom. I recently listened to your Andy Stanley interview (I especially appreciated your encouragement to listen with charity). I tend to disagree with you on many things pertaining to the Doctrines of Grace–as I’m convinced of the reformed position myself–therefore, I found much to disagree with in your podcast.

    One thing I am curious about though, after cruising your site, is that you are a self-proclaimed former “5-pointer” yet you seem to take a stance that is wholly against the Doctrines of Grace. I can definitely understand someone not being convinced, or falling in another “soteriological camp,” but, in my admittedly brief overview of your site, you come across as if the reformed position has no biblical merit.

    Personally, I would be really interested in reading an article of yours that discusses the biblical warrant for the Doctrines of Grace–perhaps with commentary on why you would disagree with the individual doctrines as you go. ||Maybe this is out there in the archives and I just didn’t come across it|| Because, as you mentioned in the podcast, we’re all still Christians, and we may disagree on interpretation of these doctrines, but to assume that those who don’t agree with your position just aren’t reading their bibles–which, intended or not, is the feeling I get from your site–I think is irresponsible. If you think there is merit to both stances (which you must if you used to be convinced of the reformed view), it would be good (and charitable) for you to explain to your readers how one could read their bible with fervor and land in a different spot than you do.

    And I think this would be especially powerful from a person like yourself who has lived in both camps, so to speak. Just my two cents. Take it or leave it.

    Blessings,

    1. Hi Matt, Leighton rarely stops by here to comment. You may have more “luck” or “providence” catching him on the FB Soteriology101 group site. But on this site you will find articles on everything you need to know about what Leighton thinks about each of the 5 points of Calvinism that he formally held to. He still holds to eternal security. And as one of the moderators of Leighton on this site, I would be happy to discuss any specific issue.

      You made it sound as if Doctrines of Grace are only the right way by reformed theology. I think that is the issue at hand here on this site. Leighton believes they have been defined incorrectly by reformed theology, as far as the TULI especially are concerned.

  10. Hello Dr. Flowers, I have found your resources and pod casts a treasure, as I am in the midst of battling Calvinism with my husband whom I love dearly for more than 22 years. It is a long 3 year battle and at times thought it would end my marriage and divide our family (3 children). I am just a simple wife, mother and speech-language pathologist who came to know the Lord at 18 with no Christian upbringing and I admit I do not have a great scriptural reference to back up all of our arguments about theology. I am a simple southern baptist believer who never put much thought into a systematic approach to how I was saved. My husband has always been in love with the Lord and loves deeper theological issues with debate (he used to look for JW to come to our door) and combined with the task of finding a new church home lead us to where we are now. He has a extremist personality to everything he does; and everything he does is done with 110%. I have so much more to my story and so so many questions to ask as I fear my marriage is beyond repair because of my husband’s staunch conversion to Calvinism and the reformed church we now attend. I have searched your website but I didn’t see an email-I would like to sit and clearly lay out my story from a wife’s perspective as honoring and respecting her husband when they are leading you down a spiritual path that you don’t agree with which is so very difficult and I fail daily. Thank you so much for what you do and teach. I had prayed for this for years. You give me hope. Sincerely, DB

    1. This is my first time on this website and was looking around when I stumbled across your post, and I just couldn’t pass it by. First of all, my family and I would be happy to pray about your situation. I know you sought council from Dr. Flowers and I don’t know how soon he will be able to respond – if at all, as he seems a very busy man from what I see so far. I thought that maybe I might be able to say something that would tide you over until he is able to respond.

      I would like to begin by reassuring you that God promises that He is our fortress and our refuge – even with respect to our spouse – and, He will rescue and deliver His children in times of trouble:

      Psalms 31:1-5
      31 In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
      2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
      3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
      4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
      5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.
      NIV

      To keep things shorter, I would say that, in times of trouble, I do the best in getting through it only when I thank God for and in the trouble and then engage in self-examination just to make sure I’m not bringing any of my grief onto myself. Not all suffering is because we’re living for Jesus. Oftentimes, it’s because we’re not living fully according to His teachings – out of not knowing all of what these teachings are, out of not being properly trained, and out of thinking we don’t have to obey something.

      Two things I would recommend both you and your husband look closer at are these:

      1 Peter 3:1-7

      3 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

      7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
      NIV

      Nowhere in this passage do I see a three-year, marriage-ending battle.

      Secondly, we see within the qualifications for church leadership that being overbearing is unwanted and displeasing to God:

      Titus 1:7
      7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless — not overbearing, not quick-tempered, ….
      NIV

      There’s more to say about godly husband and wife interactions, but this should be a good start.

      As for resolving disagreements between any two Christians, I believe the Church overwhelmingly lacks the skills to achieve much unity and agreement; either between denominations, within denominations, or even within marriages. God showed me a very simple “formula” that I’d like to pass along:

      God’s children are supposed to: (1) agree to agree (not agree to disagree); (2) on God’s terms; (3) with His help (the Holy Spirit is supposed to teach us and illuminate our understanding while we study and humbly teach others and learn from others what the Bible says); (4) for His sake (not for our own credit or adulation); and, (5) in His timing (waiting on God to teach each of us what we each need to know in order to be in genuine agreement, which doesn’t always happen right away.)

      True and genuine unity and agreement between any two Christians – even to the mind and thought level – is possible, because all things are possible with God. As we read in the passage below, God expects it from us. So, if we live rightly before God and seek this unity and agreement, God will grant it.

      1 Corinthians 1:10-12
      10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
      NIV

      You could substitute modern-day denominational names or philosophical slants for the names we see in verse 12. It’s all wrong. Aspiring to Calvinism, Arminianism, Catholicism, etc. is all wrong. It only leads to quarrels.

      One day, I believe all the great biblical scholars and theologians will be up in Heaven holding their head in their hands after being set straight by Jesus, all while saying the same thing: “I can’t believe I was that far off in what I believed and documented for others to follow. I feel bad for how much I misled people I was only trying to help.” Worse, they’ll regret how discouraging and damaging to the Church they had been by making people think they first needed to be able to explain their salvation, for example, in the same highfalutin terms as them before they could be “qualified” to feed their hungry neighbor.

      The devil has all of us all fighting instead of: serving others in God’s love (by doing everything God’s way) as we seek God to learn and understand His one Truth, as He makes it plain to us – directly and through our loving (vs. lording) leaders and teachers.

      Hope this helped.

  11. I found your podcast on Spotify I find it very informative. When I was young minister I used to debate with James White on a reformed message board (doesn’t exist anymore). I presented him with Retroactive Theology and what I called the plain reading of the scriptures. Keep up the good work, if want more information about Retroactive Theology (not we’ll known) it is very effective in combating TULIP .

    1. HI Matthew, I”m interested in hearing more about ‘retrtoactive theology’–i just did a internet search and couldn’t find. I appreciate what you said regarding ‘the clear reading of the Word’. When watching theology debates the Calvinists have a tendency to use their own arguments vs letting the Word speak for itself. The problem I see overall with these debates on both sides is neither side gets to get to the point or get annoyingly pedantic.

      As an aside and just as important is that most mainstream churches continue with false teachings, such as ‘once saved always saved’ and the pagan belief that Hell is a place of eternal torment and ignore the multitude of verses that say ‘the punishment for sin is death’ that the wicked PERISH and are DESTROYED. They use two verses (Revelations and Luke) “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” , In Luke 13:28 neglecting to see the PLAIN reading of the text. First of all gnashing has several meanings, not just pain, but also deep regret and anger (think Stephen being stoned)–so to the rest of the verse: “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when they see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves are thrown out.” When do they weep? When they SEE Abraham Isaac and Jacob all the prophets getting into the kingdom of heaven, but they are cast out. They are clearly not in some burning torment. Also it is impossible for them to burn day and night forever since Revelations 20:14 says Hell and Death will be destroyed and that there will be no more night (Rev 22:5) because God will be there light, so following that to its logical conclusion they can’t burn day and night since there will be no more night and day (there can’t be night without day)! therefore TIME will cease to exist. Logically if time ceases to exist it is an impossibility for anyone to burn forever. And even if we didn’t have a multitude of verses saying destruction is the end of the man who rejects Christ (Malachi 4:3)–what would be a loving and merciful God’s point be ?–would eternity of eternal torment be justice for a human’s short life time of sin?

      1. Hell is forever and weeping and knashing is for eternity. Time does not move forward or backward. God created evil just as He created good. Isaiah 45:7. He is omnicient and only chooses some not all. Many are called but few are chosen. God ordains everything for His glory even evil. Do not question God, I did and found out I am just a lump of clay who is not chosen

      2. Lisa –
        –“Hell is forever and weeping and knashing is for eternity.” – True
        –“Time does not move forward or backward.” – Reality moves forward, the past is past, the future is future. Ps 90:2
        –“God created evil just as He created good.” That’s a lie from the evil one. God did not create moral evil. He only created the possibility for its existence… not the necessity.
        –“Isaiah 45:7.” Isaiah 45:7 YLT — “Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil, I am Jehovah, doing all these things.” This is present tense divine activity, and gives no hint of an eternal predestination. Evil is not moral evil in this context but physical and temporal calamity.
        –“He is omnicient” True. But His omniscience is dynamic. His mind is not eternally immutably predestined from before creation to think things only work out one way.
        –“and only chooses some not all. Many are called but few are chosen.” True. But it does not say “have been chosen” eternally, immutably. They are being called and then added to the Elect One through faith… becoming one of His elect.
        –“God ordains everything for His glory even evil.” Misleading. You mean, I think, eternally immutably ordained…not present tense “ordains”. Yes, He is making decisions and choices even now between possibilities that exist in His infinite understanding. He’s not locked in and limited to all things only working out one way. Neither are you!

  12. Dr Flowers,

    I know this is a million to one shot and my comment will probably never be seen. But I have to try. I’m a recent convert to Christianity. I would love to maybe ask you a few questions via email. I promise I’ll keep them brief. Any chances of that happening?

    1. Patrick… Leighton rarely interacts on this blog site anymore. You’d have better possibility to connect with him on his FB page or Soteriology101 Facebook page.

  13. Are there any plans to release ‘THE POTTER’S PROMISE” on audio book format. For example in audible. I love to listen to books while walking and this would bbe a great benefit. Thanks for your minisrty!

  14. Having found contradictions in many both denominational/non-denominational churches overs the years I found in my searching several biblical scholars whom I self study and follow. Those include such as Michael Heiser, John Walton, Tremper Longman III, Dan Wallace, Craig Evans, Craig Keener, Ben Witherington, Darrell Bock, and several others. I have to tell you that your videos fill what I still lacked the ability to formulate against the gnawing in the pit of my stomach after listening to Allie Beth Stucky whom I was initially exposed to in following politics. It sent off several alarm bells and your YouTube videos helped me understand why. Heiser himself has good arguments regarding election etc., but as I’ve said you helped me with a more comprehensive working knowledge as it relates to everyday conversation and what I refer to as “pew speak.” I don’t mean that as an insult but as a distinctive. Thank you so much for starting me in an apologetic approach to combat what I believe is a misreading of actual biblical text turned into a dangerous theology. I pray I never unknowingly mislead anyone who seeks God’s word and your work gives me some confidence.

  15. In my search for the reasons why Augustine underwent such a sudden and extreme change in his teachings it seems likely very human considerations should be taken into account – hatred of his theological enemies, an ends justifying the means mentality and perhaps fear of losing what he had. Given that Paul warns against the doctrines of demons and of some arising from within the church to ravage the flock is there any evidence that Augustine had any kind of spiritual/demonic encounter that resurrected many of his old Manichaean beliefs and breathed new life (death!) into them. They certainly seem to have a more than human grip on many otherwise godly and thoughtful people. When people like Whitefield, Spurgeon and Lloyd Jones espouse Calvinism yet minister to people as if they had autonomous free-will one realise their godliness enabled their success despite, not because of, this part of their theology.

    1. Hello zoransulc and welcome

      Your post is insightful.

      From my perspective it makes perfect sense that Augustine’s thinking evolved the way it did. Firstly, he was born into wealth – which allowed him to take advantage of leisure, learning.

      Christian Gnosticism asserted a significant presence in its day and the Gnostic sect of Manichaeism flourished in the ancient world. Manichaeism spread with extraordinary speed through both the east and west, from North Africa to China. Being widely promoted by apostles, it reached Egypt at around 240 A.D., and Rome at around 280 A.D. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 A.D. during the time of the Catholic Pope, Miltiades.

      Neoplatonism became widely influential at around the 3rd century A.D. and persisted until shortly after the closing of Plato’s Academy in Athens at around 520 A.D.

      English historian, Theodore Maynard, in The story of American Catholicism writes: “It has often been charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast. The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

      In the NeoPlatonist world-view, all things have an infinite, timeless, and unchangeable God as the cause of their existence. Some of the dualistic elements within Manichaeism were also shared, as NeoPlatonism was heavily influential among the Gnostics.

      These constructs would be imbibed by the Catholic NeoPlatonists, and Augustine would carry them forward, and in his eloquent writing, baptize them as Christian, just like the great god Pan.

    2. Those men did not minister to people “as if they had autonomous free-will,” but as if the Biblical doctrine of compatibilism is true. View God as perfectly sovereign and man as wholly responsible and you will have a theology robust enough to handle anything ministry with fallen human beings might throw at you.

      If you view those complementary Biblical truths as competing or mutually exclusive concepts, or reduce either side of the equation into insignificance, you end up with a distortion.

      1. But if the two are contradictory…..we cannot play philosophical games just to satisfy ourselves but present an absurdity to any thoughtful enquirer

      2. True. At the same time, we cannot demand that God (or man) explain deep mysteries to the satisfaction of the human intellect. Some things taught in scripture must be accepted as true even though they cannot be fully explicated by us. The mystery of the Trinity: God’s Being rightly described as both three and one. The mystery of the incarnation: our Lord rightly described as truly human and truly divine in nature. The mystery of Scripture’s inspiration: both divine and human in origin. The mystery of divine sovereignty and human responsibility: both overlapping in the equation of choice. Each of these may properly be expressed in the rhetorical form of a paradox, and they remain ultimately inscrutable since we are not given (in God’s revelation) the details on how they fit together. Aren’t these very kinds of mysteries and paradoxes essential to Christian faith?

      3. I would agree with this.

        However you do understand your position allows for one to reject Universal Divine Causal Determinism (aka Calvinism) and be fully consistent with your position. Of course one can also embrace it and still be fully consistent with your position. However that being said – I also agree with Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Alvin Plantinga who conclude that the rational end ethical problems that arise with the embrace of Universal Divine Causal Determinism represent a significant burden on the believer. Forcing the believer to live *AS-IF* determinism is FALSE – in order to retain an alliance with the language of scripture and retain normalcy in life.

        For example – there is no such thing as “Libertarian” thinking in a Deterministic world. In other words a world in which you are granted the “Liberty” to discern between TRUE vs FALSE. Because in Theological Determinism – a THEOS at the foundation of the world determines what your every perception. For the Muslim – the THEOS determines him to perceive his religion as TRUE and yours as FALSE. And for you – the THEOS determines your mind to perceive your religion as TRUE and his FALSE. And since the THEOS determines what you and the Muslim perceive – neither of you have any way of knowing whether what you perceive is actually TRUE or FALSE. Both of you have your perception of TRUTH totally determined by an external mind – by factors outside of your control. Therefore in a deterministic world there is no such thing as rational reasoning – which requires choosing between multiple options which exist as REAL. Doing so is logically excluded by determinism.

        As Calvinist Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason ministries confirms:
        -quote
        The problem with determinism, is that without freedom, rationality would have no room to operate. Arguments would not matter, since no one would be able to base beliefs on adequate reasons. One could never judge between a good idea and a bad one. One would only hold beliefs because he has been predetermined to do so. Although it is theoretically possible that determinism is true…..no one could ever know if it – if it were. Everyone of our thoughts dispositions and opinions would have been decided for us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore in practice, arguments for determinism are self defeating.”

        So for those Christians who appeal to mystery as you have described – the Non-Determinist Christian is in a much better position to live a rational life – coherent with the language of scripture – than the determinist Christian – who is forced to live *AS-IF* what he believes is FALSE.

      4. The thought occurs to me that both in the Garden (Did God say?) and in the wilderness (If you are …..) the devil questioned what was a fixed truth to the son/Son of God. He tried to prompt a speculation that would put Adam and Jesus at his mercy (Yield to my reasoning an all will be yours) but would actually lead to confusion – Adam would not become like God and fulfil his God given mandate to rule the world; Jesus would not actually be given rulership of the world for he would have made himself subject to the devil. We are told unequivocally that God is love, the Bible makes it crystal clear that throughout history God has appealed to the will of man to repent and return to faithfulness to him. If we now intrude this particular philosophical paradox and insist that determinism must be entertained, it brings confusion and if truly imbibed it prompts a range of unhealthy consequences in many;
        We practically ignore scriptures that don’t fit, or
        We reinterpret them to the extent that language loses its meaning,
        We lose reason, and thereby motivation, to obey God because we are told God’s will is inevitable no matter what we decide,
        We hide this “truth” from unbelievers pretending to all our hearers that God truly loves them when we know he doesn’t,
        We reveal this “truth” once they believe and place them in a position of potential disloyalty to their saviour if they reject it,
        We establish an elite, a de facto priesthood who claim the capacity to understand these things and to whom we must defer,
        We set up a tension within believers who are led by the Holy Spirit to fulfil Christ’s will to preach to all the world that John 3:16 says God loves to the extent of giving his Son, and yet have the knowledge that he only died for the elect. (The fact that many are able to overcome this is surely a case of the divine nature, we are made partakers of, overcoming human reason).
        God knows human capacity to understand and believe. The angel told the uneducated shepherds he was bringing good news, of a saviour, of a great joy which will be for all the people – but there is little to provoke great joy in the deterministic message. I fear that anything which entangles faith in God in a web of doubt and confusion, that only a certain few who disregard normal rules of linguistic communication can clarify, is suspect. Paul feared – “But I am afraid however that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be led astray from the simplicity and purity that is in Christ.” – should we not also?

      5. Wonderful post!
        Well said – and comprehensive!

        I would just add – we create a THEOS who deceives his people by leading them to believe his will is [A] while he SECRETLY withholds the TRUTH – that his will is [NOT A]. He commands man – while employing a SECRET supernatural power to NOT PERMIT man from doing what he commands. He then blames man for not doing what he did not PERMIT man to do.

        Additionally, the Gnostic/NeoPlatonist god has “Moral Dualism” where there is no delineating line between good and evil. He is made up of both good and evil. As Jonathon Edwards would put it – the glory of evil is necessary for the glory of good to shine forth. In this system good and evil are Co-Equal, Co-Necessary and Co-Complimentary. And this is why we observe in Calvinism – many things come in “good-evil” pairs. The divine potter designs vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy.

        Thus historically the primary controversy Reformed Theology has perennially faced is its inherent and underlying embrace of “Moral Dualism”.

      6. Thanks for your kind comment. Your Jonathan Edwards quote and similar sentiments noted in John Piper’s work makes me wonder what they really think love means. When talking to people about the various deities and spirits that, around the world, are allowed to rule their lives I ask which of these they would feel enthusiastic about welcoming into their innermost being. It’s one thing to placate or receive benefits from these beings but to be joined in spirit? Whatever one’s view on the correct application of Rev.3:20 Jesus does ask for rather than impose entry into lives. Those who know God aright have little problem with this – except perhaps with the surrender of their independence. I’m afraid Calvin’s god reminds me more of Allah and I’d have more than second thoughts about welcoming him in.

      7. I can surely understand how you would see it that way – as the Muslim religion (as Calvinism) is founded on Theological Determinism. And yes – and as you’ve well described – Calvinists have to do a lot of word juggling in order make the general narrative of scripture conform to a deterministic world. A double-think theology with a double-think THEOS. IMHO – “Double-Speak” (which is the outward expression of double-think) is a well recognized byproduct of Determinism/Compatibilism.

        Immanuel Kant in Critique of Practical Reason writes:
        “Compatibilism is a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved lives problems with petty word-jugglery.”

        Dr. William James in The Dilemma of Determinism writes:
        “Compatibilism is a quagmire of evasion. The Compatibilists strategy relies upon stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism. They make a pretense of restoring the caged bird to liberty with one hand, while with the other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.”

        So you have good grounds and stand in the company of thinkers – to have come to you’re analysis.

      8. Hi Zornsulc,

        A great argument. I consider myself a critical thinker, yet I attended a PCA church for 7 years (Presbyterian Churches of America–conservative branch of the Presbyterian church) without knowing about Calvinism. I felt at home there more than any church I’ve ever attended. No folderol–no trying to be relevant. And without a doubt the most educated group of people I’ve ever encountered in a church setting. Music wasn’t ‘cookie cutter, e.g. You are the breath in my lungs…” You always knew what the point of the sermon was–no yelling or affectation. And yet it took me all that time before I discovered what the foundation of their belief system was–it wasn’t what was being said, it was what wasn’t. When I discovered Calvinism and TULIP I was like a Mormon finding out who Joseph Smith was. This discovery came at a woman’s study: I said I wanted to be more intentional about sharing the gospel and the response was “You do that in relationship”—other comments I can’t recall–all eyes were on me and I knew something was ‘off’-a wall went up. I said, “Yes, but Jesus said “GO [make disciples of all men]”. As I left I said to myself, “What’s going on here?” And immediately I knew I needed to research Calvinism. It took me a matter of minutes to realize I had been hoodwinked.

        Cyndi

      9. Wonderful post Cyndi!
        I especially took note of this very insightful statement you made

        “it wasn’t what was being said, it was what wasn’t. ”

        You hit such a massive bulls-eye on that one!

        Here is wisdom:
        The Calvinist is not what he says – he is what he HIDES.

  16. Thank you Brdmod! And perfect saying, ” The Calvinist is not what he says – he is what he HIDES”. – how true!

    Calvinists ‘”deny the Christ that bought them’ on at least two accounts”; on one, saying He died for some and not all and on the other that all was decided before hand so essentially Christ died for nothing.

    “God demonstrated His great love in that while we were YET sinners He died for us.”

    Blessings,

    Cyndi

  17. Hi Mr. Flowers. My husband and I have appreciated so much your teachings on Calvinism through your podcast and the books you have written. I still have one burning question though. Often we hear that Calvinists are our brothers and sisters in Christ and just because we don’t agree on exactly how God’s love and sovereignty is displayed we are one in Christ. I struggle with this because when you look at the core differences between how we see God and preach His salvation, they are very different. Calvinists imply that God is less loving, selective and more deterministic towards humans, which paints a very different character of God from a God who we believe shows His love equally to all mankind and allows us to have the free will to choose if we will accept Him or reject Him. So, to my mind, are not Calvinists basically saying God is not as loving or kind or merciful as we believe Him to be. So then, is not the God they believe in different from the God we believe in? Also, the way they twist scripture is not also an offence against God’s word by changing the meaning that is central to the characterization of God and how He shows His love for the world. My husband and I attended a Calvinist church for a few years, and things started off fine but then they turned hostile towards us because we would not accept and claim TULIP. We were told we could not use our spiritual gifts in the church either. We got the sense that, even though they didn’t come right out and say it, they did not believe us to be truly saved. In some material they gave us to listen to the speaker actually said if you don’t agree with Calvinism then you don’t understand the gospel correctly. We heard John Piper say something similar to that as well and actually very forcefully state that those individuals will not be in Heaven. It seems like the Calvinists don’t really see us as brothers and sisters in Christ, whereas Non Calvinist churches do and prove this by allowing them to work and serve in their churches, as well as not discounting the good things they have to say and contribute to the Faith. Calvinists also have said that you Mr. Flowers are guilty of false teaching, therefore saying you are a false teacher. So, its confusing for me because are not Calvinists possibly the false teachers then? They are the ones that have to manipulate what scripture is saying, which the scripture warns about not doing? So, I don’t want to suggest that Calvinists might not be truly saved because of their understanding of how God’s involvement in Salvation works, but in teaching people a message that can actually make them want to turn away because there is less hope of deliverance and less concern from God about how He loves and values each of us, how do I reconcile this? They are preaching something wrong about who God is – they are tarnishing His character. Is the Jesus who died on the cross for the sins of the whole world the same Jesus who died on the cross for only the elected. Are these not two very opposite teachings and representations? So, is the God they believe in really the same God we believe and place our faith and trust in? The other thing I struggle with is because we have the Holy Spirit in us, teaching us truth, why then, do Calvinists who must also have the spirit have such a different understanding and basically belief system? For my husband and I, it’s not about being right but about getting it right. When we ventured on this journey of educating ourselves on Calvinism when faced with the prospect that we might not actually have it right, and therefore, not be truly saved, we went in with an open mind and heart to what God had to teach and show us. We believe 100% that God has confirmed over and over again that how we believe is correct. So if Calvinists are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ, how can the Spirit not testify the same understanding to us all? I understand that Christians don’t always agree on everything, but for me this is the one thing that matters – it has to do with our salvation and relationship with God. How can the foundation of our faith be so different – yet we are still one in the same?

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