Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not Bots

There is a great deal of discussion and not a little debate within Southern Baptist circles these days about the fact there are those within the denomination who hold to a Calvinistic soteriology. It is primarily an intramural debate among brothers and sisters in the faith and need not be a cause for division. The primary sticking point seems to be the U in the TULIP acronym: Unconditional election based on the sovereign will of God (the Calvinistic position) vs the Arminian viewpoint that the human will is free to decide whether or not to follow Christ.

The essential default argument made by many on the Arminian side is that the sinner must be free to choose whether they will accept or reject the gospel; otherwise they are nothing but (drum roll...) ROBOTS! (cymbal clash).

So let's explore that "robot" argument in light of what Southern Baptists believe. The June 14, 2000 Baptist Faith and Message can be affirmed by both Calvinists and Arminians (or more accurately, 4-point Arminians; some Arminians insist the 5th point is optional). In it, the P in TULIP is unequivocally upheld:

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and
sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall
persevere to the end.

So why won't the believer fall away? It is because God won't allow it. He exercises His sovereign will and His omnipotent power (John 10: 29; Romans 8: 31-39) to ensure that the believer perseveres.

Has the believer become a robot? Certainly not. Believers are the only truly free humans. Yet they are a new creation, they are God's workmanship created to walk in the good works He has prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2: 10). And they will do this, because it is God's will that they do.

So the question for the (4-pt.) Arminian is: If the saint is not a robot after coming to faith, yet remains in the faith because of God's sovereign will directing the will of the believer, then why would the unbeliever be called a robot when God draws the unbeliever to faith in Christ through the Lord's sovereign power?

We are saved by grace. We stay saved by grace.