Article II: The Sinfulness of Man
“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.”
We agree every person has a sin nature, but we disagree on what that means.
Traditionalist: sin nature is defined as one “inclined toward sin” They then state that everyone who is capable of sinning will sin.
The traditionalist view is driven by a presumption that man has free will. This is to get God off the hook and make His judgments just. (They say if man doesn't have free will, how can they be justly held responsible).
However, how does this statement truly make anyone “free?”
In this view, every person is inclined toward sin. All who are inclined toward sin, will sin. As such, no one is truly capable of not sinning. So how are they free, and how does this make God more just?
The Calvinist position understands Eph. 2 -- we are all “dead in our sins.”
This is vastly different than simply being “inclined toward sin.”
A person is defined by a statement of deadness. If they have a free will, it’s only free in the realm of sin. In other words, they are free to express their sin anyway they choose-- but sin is their only option.
Another key passage is Rom 8:5-8. Five deadly facts about the unbeliever.
We deny their denial.
They say each person acquires their own personal guilt before God once they sin. This is in the face of overt biblical statements.
Rom. 5:18 “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”
There are two federal heads. Adam (and his sin) represents all of mankind. Christ (and His righteousness) represent all who are righteous.
In other words, every person inherits their guilt from Adam. In the same way, all who are in Christ inherit their righteousness from him.
This is representative language.
It offends Western rugged individualistic thinking, but it’s the biblical reality.
Article III: The Atonement of Christ
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.
Agree with the affirmation.
Many views of atonement - which seeks to answer what did the cross-work of Christ do.
Ransom, Christus Victor, Governmental, Etc.
Penal substitution means Christ paid the penalty of sin (penal), and He did it as our vicarious substitute. The understanding here is one of justice.
There is a judicial wrath, and justice that must be met, and Christ met that divine justice on our behalf.
We deny their denial.
If penal substitution means Christ actually paid that penalty, then how can God justly condemn anyone.
If justice has been met, then God would be unjust in condemning a person for their sin.
This is double jeopardy.
Some will then say we don’t go to hell to pay for our sin (e.g., Flowers) , as nowhere in the Bible does it say the purpose of hell is to atone for sin.
Fine. But then by definition of penal substitution, the Traditionalist can’t say they hold to a true penal substitution.
Either Christ actually bore the burden of our guilt, and therefore accomplished a real redemption, or He didn’t. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
The whole issue of penal substitution revolves around satisfying the penalty that results from guilt. If Christ truly satisfied this, then the only necessary result is an accomplishment and applying of that guilt bearing on behalf of a person.
Article IV: The Grace of God
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.
We agree with the affirmation on the surface. However, the whole thing turns on what they means by “Providing salvation,” which we already talked about in Article I.
We could keep this entire statement, but substitute “provide” with “accomplished and applied.”
We would also agree with their statement in the denial portion - that faith is not a meritorious work. Faith is a gift.
We deny the first part of this denial for reasons already stated.
A person is not free, according to the Bible (Eph. 2; Rom. 8).
They are only free to choose and live in the realm in which they exists.
There is no real debate about people having a choice. The debate is actually if you can make a choice that is contrary to your nature.
Realm of Adam or realm of Christ (Rom. 5).
Article V: The Regeneration of a Sinner
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.
This one is hard to discern on the surface, but the issue is: Does faith precede regeneration, or does regeneration precede faith.
The denial presumes that faith must precede regeneration. We disagree.
If a person is dead (Eph. 2) how can they “respond?”
Classic Arminian - prevenient grace. However, there is zero biblical warrant for PG.
Traditionalists deny PG.
They say you are inclined toward sin, and as such will sin. But built into this, then, is the presumption you can freely choose faith in God.
In reality, this is semi-pelagian, which is heretical.
We would call it “Fabley.”
In essence, they are saying a person is naturally able to respond to God’s offer of salvation, and in so doing becomes regenerate.
This is where systems of theology get slippery. They have to assume certain things, in order for their system to work-- and the major assumption here is a semi-pelagian one, which puts this in the category of heresy
We think guys like Flowers (who holds to this) understands the Gospel, but he’s just confused and a really bad teacher. If he was pressed, he could give the essence of the Gospel, but his understanding of how this all work itself out is bad (and vile).
It is a false view of God and his program of salvation, which means your worship of him is false.
The issue is worship, which is why these conversations are important.
Article VI: The Election to Salvation
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.
Vaguely yes, there is a corporate aspect to election. But not as they are trying to define and limit it.
The proof texts are telling here. Because there is no exegesis of the texts we are left with trying to figure out what a specific passage means in the minds of the authors of the statement.
Matthew 24:31 that proves nothing but ignores Matthew 22:14; 24:22 and 24 which speaks of the elect not merely as a vague group but of a group of individuals who are distinct from the unbelieving.
John 6:70 utterly and totally ignores the totality of Jesus’ argument in the prior verses. Not to mention not developing the whole idea of Judas being ordained to be the betrayer (John 17:12). Begs the question of could Judas freely not chosen to betray and therefore the Scripture not be fulfilled.
Romans 8:29-30 is a series of aorists. They are completed, not potentials. Likely trying to make “foreknown” as seeing those who are willing to believe across history.
They ignore the clear, though painful, truth of Romans 9:15-24 that is clearly individualistic.
In none of the passages given is there anything that argues for a group of people who chose Christ and therefore, on that basis, became the elect. The consistent teaching is that they believe because they are the elect.