Our Beliefs

What is Provisionism?

Please watch this video to better understand why some of us prefer the label “Provisionism” over “Arminianism” or “Traditionalism.” The focus of this soteriological view is on God’s gracious and loving provision for every individual so that anyone may believe and be saved.

Here is a list of articles, statements and resources to help you better understand the “Provisionist” soteriological perspective:

Why are you sometimes called a “Traditionalist?”

Dr. Eric Hankins wrote a statement (see below) which references the “traditional” beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention over the last 75-100 years. The label “Traditionalist” was used by some to distinguish our view from the more recent resurgence of Calvinistic beliefs within the convention. We recognize the shortcomings of this label which is why some prefer the term “Provisionism.”

We affirm:


(Written by Dr. Eric Hankins. See a list of Southern Baptist professors, pastors and theologians who have signed this statement and the ever growing list of other biblical scholars who affirm the non-Calvinistic interpretation of the scriptures in the comment section below.)


Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.

While Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made very important contributions to our history and theology, the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism. Even the minority of Southern Baptists who have identified themselves as Calvinists generally modify its teachings in order to mitigate certain unacceptable conclusions (e.g., anti-missionism, hyper-Calvinism, double predestination, limited atonement, etc.). The very fact that there is a plurality of views on Calvinism designed to deal with these weaknesses (variously described as “3-point,” “4-point,” “moderate,” etc.) would seem to call for circumspection and humility with respect to the system and to those who disagree with it.

For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status along with other important but “non-essential” theological matters. The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while kindly resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard. We would be fine if this consensus continued, but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this longstanding arrangement.

We propose that what most Southern Baptists believe about salvation can rightly be called “Traditional” Southern Baptist soteriology, which should be understood in distinction to “Calvinist” soteriology. Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is articulated in a general way in the Baptist Faith and Message, “Article IV.” While some earlier Baptist confessions were shaped by Calvinism, the clear trajectory of the BF&M since 1925 is away from Calvinism. For almost a century, Southern Baptists have found that a sound, biblical soteriology can be taught, maintained, and defended without subscribing to Calvinism. Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is grounded in the conviction that every person can and must be saved by a personal and free decision to respond to the Gospel by trusting in Christ Jesus alone as Savior and Lord. Without ascribing to Calvinism, Southern Baptists have reached around the world with the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Baptists have been well-served by a straightforward soteriology rooted in the fact that Christ is willing and able to save any and every sinner.

New Calvinism presents us with a duty and an opportunity to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation. It is no longer helpful to identify ourselves by how many points of convergence we have with Calvinism. While we are not insisting that every Southern Baptist affirm the soteriological statement below in order to have a place in the Southern Baptist family, we are asserting that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life. We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology.

Below is what we believe to be the essence of a “Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” We believe that most Southern Baptists, regardless of how they have described their personal understanding of the doctrine of salvation, will find the following statement consistent with what the Bible teaches and what Southern Baptists have generally believed about the nature of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.



We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.

We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.

Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:1-12; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; Luke 19.10; Luke 24:45-49; John 1:1-18, 3:16; Romans 1:1-6, 5:8; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:9


We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty (?) before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Genesis 3:15-24; 6:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 6:5, 7:15-16;53:6;Jeremiah 17:5,9, 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18, 5:12, 6:23; 7:9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 6:9-10;15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15


We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ is the only available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.

We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith. We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will. We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved.

Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12; John 12:32, 14:6; Acts 10:39-43; Acts 16:30-32; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:10-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Col. 1:13-20; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:12-15, 24-28; 10:1-18; I John 1:7; 2:2


We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.

We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.

Ezra 9:8; Proverbs 3:34; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 19:16-30, 23:37; Luke 10:1-12; Acts 15:11; 20:24; Romans 3:24, 27-28; 5:6, 8, 15-21; Galatians 1:6; 2:21; 5; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:2-9; Colossians 2:13-17; Hebrews 4:16; 9:28; 1 John 4:19


We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.

Luke 15:24; John 3:3; 7:37-39; 10:10; 16:7-14; Acts 2:37-39; Romans 6:4-11; 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; 6:15; Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:18


We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God’s eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.

We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.

Genesis 1:26-28; 12:1-3; Exodus 19:6;Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 24:31; 25:34; John 6:70; 15:16; Romans 8:29-30, 33;9:6-8; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:11-22; 3:1-11; 4:4-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 7:9-10


We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.

We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.

Genesis 1:1; 6:5-8; 18:16-33; 22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:32; Psalm 23; 51:4; 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:3; John 6:44; Romans 11:3; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:13-15; Hebrews 11:6, 12:28; 1 Peter 1:17


We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.

Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17


We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25


We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.

We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:13; Proverbs 11:30; Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6; Acts 1:8; 4:12; 10:42-43; Romans 1:16, 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-21; Ephesians 3:7-9; 6:19-20; Philippians 1:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5


Who supports the Non-Calvinistic interpretation?

Loraine Boettner, a respected Calvinistic Historian and Theologian, wrote “It may occasion some surprise to discover that the doctrine of Predestination was not made a matter of special study until near the end of the fourth century. The earlier church fathers placed chief emphasis on good works such as faith, repentance, almsgiving, prayers, submission to baptism, etc., as the basis of salvation. They of course taught that salvation was through Christ; yet they assumed that man had full power to accept or reject the gospel. Some of their writings contain passages in which the sovereignty of God is recognized; yet along side of those are others which teach the absolute freedom of the human will. Since they could not reconcile the two they would have denied the doctrine of Predestination and perhaps also that of God’s absolute Foreknowledge. They taught a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will. It was hard for man to give up the idea that he could work out his own salvation. But at last, as a result of a long, slow process, he came to the great truth that salvation is a sovereign gift which has been bestowed irrespective of merit; that it was fixed in eternity; and that God is the author in all of its stages. This cardinal truth of Christianity was first clearly seen by Augustine, the great Spirit-filled theologian of the West. In his doctrines of sin and grace, he went far beyond the earlier theologians, taught an unconditional election of grace, and restricted the purposes of redemption to the definite circle of the elect.”

So, even by Calvinistic scholars own admission the Earliest Church Fathers did not teach the Calvinistic view of election, but in fact taught “the absolute freedom of the human will…a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will.”   These Early Church Fathers include:

-Clement of Rome (AD30-100)
-Ignatius (AD30-107)
-Barnabas (AD100)
-Justin Martyr (AD 110-165)
-Irenaeus (AD120-202)
-Tatian (AD110-172)
-Tertullian (AD145-220)
-Clement of Alexandria (AD153-217)
-Origen (AD185-254)
-Hippolytus (AD170-236)
-Novatian (AD210-280)
-Archelaus (AD277)
-Alexander of Alexandria (AD273-326)
-Lactantius (AD260-330)


Some have asked if I recommend any particular study Bibles. I have not vetted any one fully but I have enjoyed The Peoples New Testament with Explanatory Notes – One Volume Edition (2 volumes in 1) [Hardcover] B.W. Johnson (ISBN-13: 978-0892251414, ISBN-10: 0892251417)


I recommend this Systematic Theology by Dr. James Leo Garrett

Also, below is an ever growing list of modern day scholars who do not affirm the Calvinistic interpretation of the scriptures:

AW Tozer
Howard Marshall
Doug Stuart
NT Wright
Gordon Fee
Scott McKnight
David Baker
William W. Klein
Grant Osborne
Robert Shank
David A. DeSilva
Bill T. Arnold
John Oswalt
Brian Abasciano (he helped with this list)
Ben Witherington III
Thomas Oden
C.S. Lewis
Craig Blomberg (not A or C, but probably leans slightly more A)
Craig Keener
Jack Cottrell
Gerald O. McCulloh (edited * “Man’s Faith and Freedom: The Theological
Influence of Jacobus Arminius”)
James Luther Adams (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)
Russell Henry Stafford (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)
Geoffrey F. Nuttall (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)
Roger Olson
Dale Moody
Paul Copan
James D. G. Dunn
Jerry Walls
Joseph Dongell
Clark Pinnock
Donald M. Lake
William G. Witt
A. Skevington Wood
Vernon C. Grounds
Terry L. Miethe
Richard Rice
John E. Sanders
Fritz Guy
Klyne Snodgrass
Robert Picirilli
F. Leroy Forlines
Matthew Pinson
Stephen Ashby
Chuck Smith
George Bryson
Greg Laurie
William Lane Craig
Billy Graham
Adrian Rogers
Michael Brown
Leonard Ravenhill
David Wilkerson
Bruce Reichenbach
David J. A. Clines
William G. MacDonald
James D. Strauss
C. Stephen Evans
Paul R. Eddy
William J. Abraham
A. Philip Brown II
Derek Prince
Jack Hayford
Gene L. Green
Gareth Lee Cockerill
James Leonard
John Wesley
Chrarles Edward White
Anthony Chadwick Thornhill
Aaron Sherwood
B.J. Oropeza
David Lewis Allen
Steve Lemke
Adam Harwood
Jerry Vines
Paige Patterson
Richard Land
Malcolm Yarnell
Bruce A. Little
Robert W. Wall
G. Walter Hansen
Philip H. Towner
Adam Clarke
Ravi Zacharias (?)
Paul Ellingworth
William G. MacDonald
James Strauss
Philip Towner
John Wenham
Gary Habermas
Nigel Turner
Max Turner
Peter Cotterell (?)
Michael Brown
David Jeremiah
Dave Hunt
J. W. MacGorman
E. Y. Mullins
Herschel Hobbs
W. T. Conner
Frank Stagg
Fisher Humphreys
Bert Dominy
Ken Keathley
Norm Geisler
Alister McGrath
David Bentley Hart
Mike Licona

See also the list of Traditional Statement signers at www.connect316.net

366 thoughts on “Our Beliefs

  1. Are you able to recommend a church in Houston, Tx. that utilizes expository preaching / teaching, that rejects contemporary music and is Gospel centered. Usually, this is a combination that is only found in a Calvinist setting.
    John Trimm

      1. Why do Calvinists/Reformists always use the New American Standard Bible 1995? Are some of the Scriptures worded differently as to help the cause?

      2. Hello Thomas,
        I was not aware they use that Bible.
        But the reason you suggest is quite common and comes part and parcel with human nature.
        When you listen to a person – in this case a Calvinist – quote a scripture -watch carefully to see what words they remove and replace with their own words.
        What you will notice is they have simply reworded the text to make it conform to their doctrinal teachings.
        The fact that they can so easily alter the text to conform to their doctrine doesn’t bother them at all because the practice is part of their doctrinal social structure.

      3. I was not aware of this. I use the NASB extensively but am not a Calvinist. My understanding is that their favorite translation is currently the ESV.

      4. I wish someone would answer John’s question, as I have noticed the same thing. It’s the reason I’ve even considered the Reformed faith, not that I have accepted it.

        Non Calvinists tend to be unserious, shallow, and sometime downright goofy, if you’ll pardon my saying so, and all over the map concerning morality. I saw one guy at VBS chasing a girl with a spray bottle of water saying “You’re a lost sinner, and this is the Holy Spirit”. I halfway expected lightning to strike the man.

        This is but one of the strange, and silly things I’ve seen over the years in SBC churches that I doubt I would ever see at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley.

        I suspect many have been DRIVEN into the arms of Calvin because of these things.

        Please understand that I’m not meaning to insult, but to express real problems I and others like John are having with contemporary pop culture Christianity.

      5. Hello Brian,
        I understand!

        Years ago – Regent College released all of Dr. Gordon Fee’s seminary lectures into audio format and I purchased every one of them I could get my hands on. They were highly insightful and provided a perspective of serious Biblical scholarship.

        They still sell many of those lectures today.
        However, unfortunately, the prices for them have gone up significantly.

      6. In response to John’s question:

        If I understand right about John’s comment he wants to know why non-Calvin tend to be “unserious, shallow, and sometimes down right goofy.” He also states “one guy at VBS chasing a girl with a spray bottle of water saying you’re a loss center, and this is the Holy Spirit.”

        The first thing I noticed about Calvinists and yes my pastor is one (he’s a good guy even though we disagree on many theological issues), is that they believe God is all controlling, they’re not sure why God picked them before creation, and there is nothing you can do to earn salvation, but they always seem to be looking at your works and judging you.

        Christians sometimes called traditionalist and I do consider myself to be a traditionalist, believe the text of the Bible. I do not follow a bunch of old men in the 1500s trying to tell me I need to interpret the Bible like they want me too with their doctrine that goes against scripture.

        Going back to John’s question, Christians should be extremely happy, thankful, and having fun or “goofy” with the children at VBS well illustrating the importance of the Holy Spirit. Christians try to support each other in love, laughter, fellowship, and teaching. Our heavenly father has the same attributes and that is why we are also created with them.

        I don’t know much about Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, but all the attributes I stated above should be Evident in that church. If it’s not, and again I don’t know that church, you need to find a non-Calvinist church so that you can grow properly in the Lord. Don’t let anybody take away the joy that you have in Christ

      7. Hello Thomas and welcome

        I appreciated your comments.
        One thing you stated about Calvinists – I found very insightful – because many people are not insightful enough to identify the psychological consequences of the Calvinist belief system.

        They [Calvinists] always seem to be looking at your works and judging you.

        The reason for this behavior pattern with Calvinists is 3-fold:

        1) Per the doctrine – the Calvinist has a god who creates/designs the vast majority of the human race – specifically for eternal torment – for his good pleasure. So the Calvinist has a god whose intentions for the beings he creates is for the most part malevolent, and to a very limited part benevolent.

        2) Per the doctrine – Calvin’s god’s intentions for believers follows this same pattern. He gives the MANY within the Calvinist fold a FALSE SENSE of election – while giving the FEW within the Calvinist fold a TRUE SENSE of election. Thus the MANY within the Calvinist fold represent a portion of those who have been created/designed for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

        3) Per the doctrine – the Calvinist is granted NO CERTAINTY of whether or not the divine intent for himself is benevolent or malevolent.

        Based on those 3 aspects of the doctrine – the Calvinist struggles internally with dread and doubt – concerning which is the case for himself.
        The natural human response to that situation – is to look for INDICATORS of the divine intent for every individual.

        So the Calvinist reads the behavior patterns of his fellow Calvinists – looking for INDICATORS of that one’s future destiny – the same way people read tea leafs looking for indicators of one’s future destiny.


      8. I started responding but I dictate my messages on my iPhone and the wife turned up the volume on the television so I had to go to another room and I might’ve deleted what I dictated, sorry.

        The guy didn’t think Christian should be happy and joyful. They seem to be very controlling. About two weeks ago we had a guest speaker come, and of course he was a reformist. In his public talk he put down Catholics and traditionalist. They’re always looking and judging people to see if the Calvinist thinks that they’re saved. I hope the guy that was on your blog doesn’t lose the joy he has in Christ.

        They have so many holes through the theology. They believe that God picked them for an unknown reason and picked everyone else to go to hell. Then they say he is a loving God. God created all of us with common sense and that reasoning has no common sense at all. all they have to do is look at Ephesians and some of the other scriptures and it tells Christians why God pick them. It’s because they excepted Christ. That is what he foresaw. That’s another thing they constantly say excepting something is works. They always have a funny way of redefining words into definitions that do not make sense (they’re wrong).

        I commented earlier. I think a month ago about my pastor who is a Calvinist (Reformist) well I finally had a meeting with him and basically what he told me is his theology is what helps him to get to the gospel. Basically, it’s not how you get there as long as you get there. Super nice guy, very intelligent, but whenever I brought anything up it just didn’t register. I think there’s like a brainwashing that goes on when you go to a Calvinist school. I don’t know how to explain it because how can you believe in the things that they say when they don’t make any logic.

        I want to thank Dr. flowers for his YouTube channel and his two books God‘s provision of for all and the Potter.

      9. Hello Thomas
        I would ask you to try a simple test.

        As you are observing Calvinists of any stripe – I would ask you to look for indicators of DOUBLE-THINK.
        The outward expression of DOUBLE-THINK is going to be DOUBLE-SPEAK.

        So your primary observation will be statements which are essentially DOUBLE-SPEAK statements


        William Lutz, an American linguist on DoubleSpeak:
        “Doublespeak is language designed to make the unpleasant appear pleasant, the unattractive appear attractive, or at least tolerable.

        Doublespeak is not a slip of the tongue or a mistake in use of language. It’s exactly the opposite. It is language used by people who are very intelligent, and very sophisticated in the use of language. And know that you can do an awful lot with language.

        Doublespeak is not a matter of subjects and verbs agreeing; it is a matter of words and facts agreeing.

        Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said or left unsaid, and what really is.
        It is the incongruity between the word and the referent, between seem and be, between the essential function of language—communication — and what doublespeak does — mislead, distort, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.

        Double-speak works by taking advantage of the inherent implicitness of meaning conveyed through everyday language.

        It takes advantage of the fact that normal everyday language use is fundamentally cooperative.

        Doublespeak exploits these principles to do just the opposite: to appear like honest communication while actually hiding facts which are disturbing to the individual.“

  2. Thank you for responding back. My church was a traditional Baptist Church. Got a new Paster two years ago. Him and His wife are very nice people and the church voted him in. He never said anything about being a Reformist until about 9 months ago. He is attempting to change everything reformed. He gives a sermon that sound good, but I am now catching the Calvinist words in it. The rest of the church does not.

    I will probably end up leaving. I have brought up that when a person adds or takes away from the Gospel it becomes a different gospel and thus a false gospel. If a person believes that they were saved before Jesus Christ died on the cross or a person can not accept salvation. It becomes a false gospel.

    1. I would suggest that you confront the Calvinistic doctrines and demonstrate from your knowledge of Scripture why they cannot be accommodated in a Bible believing Christian congregation. It will be unfair to simply walk away from the church without outlining your well reasoned objection.

      1. I would not suggest that myself.
        The Calvinist pastor will play the role of the spider and you will play the role of the fly.

        Calvinism entails a very long tradition of a well developed expertise in DOUBLE-SPEAK

        If you are not prepared – and keenly discerning of exactly how to identify it within his statements – you are guaranteed to be deceived by it..

        And it takes time to understand the underlying doctrine – and how the Calvinist hides the doctrine behind a mask of word games

        Over the centuries numerous non-Calvinist authors have recognized this.
        And today we have Non-Calvinist pastors in denominations actually begging Calvinist pastors to stop using dishonest language.

        Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely
        “Calvinist and Non-Calvinist do not share the same meaning of words….. Remember, Calvinism is merely the invoking of associative meaning, not real meaning. By ‘not real’ I mean that the meaning is destroyed in the overall thought of the clause or sentence.
        For, of course, at one level the Calvinist understands the general meaning of words. But when he strings them together in such a way that it forms an idea that is false”

        In other words – the practice involves using language that is designed to mislead.
        In order to not be misled – you will have to have an intense understanding of the aspects of the doctrine which Calvinist language is designed to hide. And without that familiarity you’ll be a drift in an ocean of highly evolved word games.

        He will twist you around his finger in 50 different ways you didn’t even see.
        And over time – as you start to get glimpses of the misleading language – if you share what you are seeing with others – you will be branded as having a rebellious spirit – and you will end up leaving anyway.

      2. Noted thanks. I think it all depends on the depth of one’s conviction on the errors advanced by the Reformed group and their grasp of Biblical theology. A trained pastor or scholar who is familiar with Calvinism will obviously discern the doctrinal errors no matter how semantics are engaged in concealing the tulip weed. What I meant to say is that walking away quietly wont be helpful. Other innocent and less discerning members of the congregation will suffer under the doctrinal deceptions. I agree with you that some teachers can be brutal if one is ill prepared in contending with them.

      3. Thanks Ezekiel!
        I totally understand

        Personally however, I would’t send a soldier into a battle which guarantees he’s simply going to get slaughtered.

        And yes I agree with you
        A scholar – Jerry Walls for example – who has a keen understanding of Universal Divine Causal Determinism – which is the underlying foundational core of the Calvinist system – would know exactly how to respond to the various language tactics and how they work to paint false pictures.

        As a matter of fact it was Dr. Jerry Walls who said: “If Calvinism didn’t depend so heavily upon misleading rhetoric – it would probably die in two years”

        And Dr. William Lane Craig said: “The Calvinist unfortunately and yet consistently fails to enunciate the radical distinctions of his belief system”

        So yes – the scholars understand the reality of the situation.

    2. Hi, Thomas,
      I would also suggest that if you are going to confront this, that you would first go to your new preacher privately. Go prepared, find out what he actually believes, try to reason with him and convince him of the truth from the scriptures, for his sake. This is probably going to involve more than one visit, but, in the end you might have to spell out what can’t be taught from the pulpit. And if he won’t listen to you in terms of not preaching his doctrines, then bring one or two other trusted witnesses with you, perhaps even one or two of the elders if you have them. If he listens to them, great, but if not, then ye bring it before the church. At least by then ye will have a fuller knowledge of where he is coming from.
      But, one way or the other, ye will still have to ask yourselves, ‘does the church still have a right to know who this man is, and what he represents?’ The approach I have outlined above might be the best way to minimize the possible damage here. It’s still early days, he has not rooted himself too deeply yet. You don’t want to be dealing with this 10 or 15 years down the road when the damage would be much greater. As we say over here, “a stitch in time saves nine.” But all of this is just my suggestion if you decide to confront this.

    3. I am in the midst of a pastoral confrontation myself — not over Calvinism, but over different matters. I agree with Aiden that you should first go privately to your pastor and ask a simple question: “are you theologically reformed?” If he answers affirmatively, then you approach your elders. It is their job to hold him accountable — not yours. You simply first ensure that you are walking on solid ground, not conjecture and assumptions, regarding his foundational theology.

      Once you have confirmed his beliefs, and assuming he confirms he is a Calvinist, leaving quietly without confrontation is not really Biblical in my opinion. It is being a peaceKEEPER instead of a peaceMAKER. You have an obligation to speak the truth in love as a Christian. First, if your church has a published statement of faith, and it is not Reformed, and it is not subject to revision on such a profound level as Reformed vs non-Reformed theology by the pastor, then I would first ask those that interviewed him whether those questions (“are you Reformed in your theology?”) came up during the interview process. If not, lesson learned: ask them in the future. If they did come up, and he answered evasively or opaquely, that too is a problem that must be addressed. Or if they came up, he answered truthfully, and was hired anyway, that too is a problem — not with the pastor but with your board.

      Pastors that quietly creep in unaware to bring Calvinism into churches is becoming more and more of a problem. I encountered it just this past weekend where a friend related a story about leaving an AofG church in the area for a variety of reasons. Among the reasons was that the young pastor described himself as a “Reformed Pentecostal”. And by that he meant theologically Reformed — not just “a cleaned up and redeemed sinner.” I was frankly shocked that he had made it into the pulpit because the AofG statement of faith is emphatically not Reformed. It made me very curious as to their vetting process. I am also concerned about those seeking pastoral jobs who aren’t more up-front about such beliefs in non-reformed churches such as Foursquare, Calvary Chapel, AofG, etc. If you are Reformed you know you are Reformed. Keeping that “under the hood” borders on deception. Not asking during the interview process borders on negligence.

      1. If you approach him with the question however – be personally prepared for him to not tell the truth – and be prepared for the congregation headed for a split.

        It happens

      2. It certainly does happen. But if it has to be dealt with, then the sooner the better seeing that he has not being there that long. Don’t wan’t to give time for the leaven to leaven the whole lump. The question in my mind is why aren’t the Elders dealing with this issue now that he has publicly admitted to being Reformed? Why leave it to this young man? — (he sounds like a young man to me). And, if the elders are not bothered about this preacher’s admission, then that group is already in trouble.

      3. I concur. The sooner this tulip weed menu is removed from the congregation’s stable of spiritual food, the better.

        My view is that a mature and well well instructed Christian congregation is more likely to summon its collective resolve in fighting heresy. The residual haemorrhage will be considerably low. For a congregation that still feeds on milk, false the teachers will easily drown them in heresy, hands down.

        This is where the distinction lies…

      4. Maybe his congregation doesn’t have an eldership yet, mine doesn’t. But I can tell you now that if a preacher came into our congregation and somewhere down the road admitted to being Reformed, the men would have a meeting with him and sort it out quickly. Even before we brought it before the congregation we would have consensus among the men who are the ones who make the final decision in the absence of elders. If we left it on the long finger the collateral damage would be huge.

      5. Thanks, Br.d, let’s hope we can keep it that way. But the hardest ones are when the wolves grow up among you – they are the ones that cause the most collateral damage.

      6. Yes – I remember a split in which two brothers came into a Non-Calvinist church at the same time.
        The church currently had no pastor.

        Those two became hyper zealous over all of the church activities
        And the other people appreciated their zeal and it didn’t take long before they became elders

        They then wanted to search for a pastor – and conveniently enough – had one they highly recommended.
        They then manipulated the pastoral search rules – not allowing any questions to be asked about Calvinism.
        Low and behold – the pastor they recommended just happened to be reformed.

        At first he told the congregation his theology was a secondary issue and should not divide anyone.
        But what he was actually doing was identifying members whom he could pull over to his side.
        After having accomplished that – he began to make life miserable for those who would not accept reformed doctrine
        They left

        And he and the two elders got what they wanted from the beginning.

      7. I suppose the lesson is that we have to be on the watch for wolves, even among elders.

        Matthew 7:15-20
        15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

        Acts 20:29-31
        29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking [h]perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

    4. Has he clearly confirmed he is Reformed or are you surmising?

      Does your church / denomination openly embrace or reject that theology?

      Those two questions should guide you. It is then a matter for the elders to deal with. If he lies or is evasive, that is frankly cause for immediate dismissal. It sounds as though adequate due diligence was not done 2 years ago and now the congregation is paying dearly for it. Yes, a split may ensue but there is always a risk that when you lovingly confront, it will not be received. It doesn’t relieve the elders, however, from their obligations to hold the shepherd accountable.

      1. Mrteebs
        Has he clearly confirmed he is Reformed or are you surmising?

        In a casual conversation – tell your pastor that you love Dr. Flower’s youtube videos about Calvinism – and then watch his body language.

        BTW: Thomas

        If you are not familiar with Dr. Flower’s Youtube videos on Calvinism – you might find them highly helpful.

        You’ll start to get a taste for what I’ve been describing concerning Calvinism’s strategical use of misleading language.

  3. I concur. The sooner this tulip weed menu is removed from the congregation’s stable of spiritual food, the better.

    My view is that a mature and well well instructed Christian congregation is more likely to summon its collective resolve in fighting heresy. The residual haemorrhage will be considerably low. For a congregation that still feeds on milk, false teachers will easily drown them in heresy, hands down.

    This is where the distinction lies.

    I reckon that Calvinism is one of the stealthiest of Gnostic soteriological constructs in Christian history. They are heavily tinged with confusing but well choreographed philosophical suppositions that easily escape prudence of the ordinary pew Christian.

  4. hallo Dr. Leighton flower, my name is Tommy, i am from indonesia. my english is not good, i wish you can understand what i say. i am a non-calvinist, i dont believe God had predestinate some people to go to the heaven and some to the hell, but how we can understand what John say in John 10:26
    “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
    some calvinist said that a person don’t believe in Christ because he is not Christ sheep not because he have free will, what do you think of that verse? tq Dr Leighton Flower

    1. Hello Tommy and welcome
      Dr. Flowers – due to his busy schedule – is not here regularly to interact with posters.
      You may more readily find him on Facebook if you are an FB user.

      As to your question concerning Calvinism – I hope you don’t mind if I provide a little information that will greatly help you to understand it.

      The underlying foundational core of Calvinism – and what separates Calvinism from its alternatives – is Exhaustive Divine Determinism.

      The idea is of a THEOS who at the foundation of the world – before creatures are created – determines what the state of nature will be – for every instance in time.

      And this includes the state of every human being’s nature at every instance in time
      So every nano-second of man’s nature is 100% meticulously predestined to come to pass infallibly.

      Therefore in Calvinism – if a person’s state of nature is that they believe – it is because that state of nature was meticulously determined.
      And since every human impulse is 100% meticulously predetermined – the human has no say in the matter of anything he will think, say or do.

      Humans in this case – have no say in the matter of anything concerning themselves or concerning anything external to themselves.
      Every impulse and perception which comes to pass within the human brain – does so infallibly
      And thus – all impulses and perceptions which come to pass within the human brain are totally irresistible to the human.

      So whatever the human “will” is – is also 100% meticulously predetermined *FOR* each human and not *BY* that human.
      In this case – man is said to have free will.
      But he is granted no say in the matter of what his will will be.

      That should help explain to you a great deal about how the Calvinist interprets scripture.
      For the Calvinist – all scripture interpretation – must conform to that understanding.

      Once you understand that underlying foundation – you then can understand how the Calvinist interprets any verse in the Bible.


  5. Do you guys know of a simple to use study book/workbook that introduces new believers to the Bible, Christianity, God, Jesus, and salvation. I know the watch tower has for Jehovah’s Witnesses ( I don’t recommend It) or “Foundations of Faith” by John MacArthur, but without the Calvin junk.

    I think this would be a good tool when witnessing to other people.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hello Thomas Farrell and welcome

      I think we’ve had this question before.
      Brian – had a recommendation – lets see if he pipes in here.

      A book that I know of which I believe is very valuable is Gordon Fee’s “Reading the Bible for All its worth”


    2. You can also try the study guide and 10-part video series “Foundations of Faith” by Rick Renner. The videos are on YouTube and 30-min each. Guaranteed TULIP-free. 😉

    3. Hi Thomas,
      We have an online Bible Correspondence Course that people can download. But I think you can order them as well if that suits better. It’s called “Know Your Bible.” If you want to have a look just type in churchofchrist.ie and click into “online resources.”

      Here are what the lessons are about:
      Lesson 1 – Distinguishing between the Old and New Testaments
      Lesson 2 – Sin and the blood of Christ
      Lesson 3 – Salvation
      Lesson 4 – The New Testament Church
      Lesson 5 – Denominationalism
      Lesson 6 – Baptism

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