Thursday, June 15, 2006

Notes: Mohler-Patterson Election Dialogue

Though you can get the audio and listen for yourself, here are my notes from the first session of the Mohler-Patterson Dialogue on Election held June 12, 2006 at the SBC Pastors' Conference in Greensboro:

I. Patterson spoke first:

He first stated that he admires Calvinists for the following reasons:

1. They live pious lives.
2. They think theology is important.
3. They recognize the dangers with the charismatic movement.
4. They see man’s purpose as giving glory to God.
5. They affirm inerrancy.
6. They believe in salvation by grace alone.

He then listed his concerns:

1. Some Calvinists believe all non-Calvinists are Arminians.
2. Some Calvinists believe all non-Calvinists do not accept the doctrines of grace.
3. Some Calvinists say that non-Calvinists do not believe in God’s sovereignty.
4. There are antinomian tendencies among some Calvinists (e.g., in the area of alcohol use).
5. Some Calvinists are not honest with pulpit committees when seeking churches.
6. Calvinism can breed a lack of compassion for the world.

Then he outlined why he is not a "Dortian Calvinist":

1. Irresistible grace makes salvation coercive.
2. Universal atonement is "entirely too compelling."
3. Bible links salvation and foreknowledge.
4. He desires to see God as good and just.
5. Calvinism is the death knell for evangelism.
6. Calvinism is a "system"; Those who embrace part must embrace all (infant baptism; Calvin’s views on church and state, etc.).
7. Cannot accept double predestination (He cited Calvin here as saying God created some for salvation and others for damnation).

In final comments he noted:

1. It is God’s will that every human being will be saved, but not all will. He cited 1 Tim 3:6; 2 Peter 3:9. He rejected Calvinist view of secret and revealed will of God.

Further cited Isa 53:6 and John 1:29 as evidence of atonement that is "potentially universal." He added: 1 Tim 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2; Matt 23:37; John 4:10.

2. The Bible says we are to persuade men. He cited Paul in Acts "persuading" men to believe in Jesus.

He ended by saying that at the Judgement he will stand before God. If Calvinism is right he will hear: At least you made the effort though wrong. But if Calvinism is not right, he will hear: Well done.

II. Mohler spoke next.

He began by noting that were it not for the conservative resurgence, we might be here debating the ordination of homosexuals to ministry.

He asked: "Am I a Calvinist?" and answered, "Yes. I believe in the doctrines of grace, or Calvinistic soteriology."

But he said that no one can be drawn against his will to Christ. He said he does not believe in the fictitious person who is saved against his will.

He referred to those who differing views on salvation working together like Wesley and Whitefield; Spurgeon and Moody.

He cited reasons we are all Calvinists:

1. The analogy with the doctrine of inerrancy. God inspired Biblical authors to write scripture without abusing their will.
2. We affirm the substitutionary atonement.
3. We believe in the unconditional omniscience of God. Some believe more; some less, but all believe.
4. We all affirm the perseverance of the saints. "We are not Nazarenes."
We are inheritors of a common history in which the majority affirmed the doctrines of grace. What binds us together is agreement on the need for the "well meant offer of the gospel."

Next he addressed hyper-Calvinists.
He said that though there are some Calvinists who are hyper, there are not many hyper-Calvinists!

He noted there is a tendency among Calvinists to be argumentative, to have a "debating personality." He said it is not healthy to have people who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism but who will not drive across the street to share the gospel.

He affirms "Whoseover will" but sees it not only as a potentiality but as a reality.
The second fictitious person he cites in this debate is the one who wants to respond to Jesus but who is denied. There is no such person.

We must be eager to "persuade" like Paul. All are Calvinists because we believe in prayer. When we send out evangelistic teams we do not say, "Good Luck!" No. We pray for God to open eyes and hearts, so men will believe.

III. Question and Answer.

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