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John 3:16 Conference: Message on Unconditional Election by Dr. Richard Land

Guest blog by Andrew Lindsey

Congregational singing: “Love Lifted Me”

Intro. by Jerry Vines.

Opening prayer by Dr. Chuck Kelley.

Before Dr. Land spoke, Dr. Vines made some comments regarding the messages. One major point that Dr. Vines sought to articulate was that to disagree is not to attack, and that he hope that points are clearly articulated without animosity.

Dr. Vines also made the following additional points concerning Total depravity:
“God, in his sovereignty has given Man the capacity to choose”… this capacity “has been effaced, but it has not been erased.” In Scripture, God commands Man to believe. The Philippian jailer said, “What must I do to be saved?” and Paul replied “believe.” God does not command us to do what we are unable to do.

Dr. Richard Land:
PowerPoint title:
Congruent Election: Understanding Salvation from an Eternal Now Perspective

“We must get our doctrine and theology from Scripture”… an inerrant Word does not contradict itself. We must seek to come to an understanding of Scripture and Christian doctrine that enables us to preach from all of God’s Word. I want to have a theology that’s as congruent with the totality of Scripture as I can possibly make it.

“I believe in all of ‘P,’ I believe in none of ‘L,’ but I believe in part of all the others.”

Southern Baptists have more similar than dissimilar in their understanding of Scripture. The exclusivity of Christ is one major example of agreement among Southern Baptists.

“I don’t want to offend my Calvinistic brethren, I just think they’re wrong.” Why would this offend? Calvinists have no problem saying I’m wrong.

Some Calvinists have tried to abscond our history, which is broader than they have presented.

John Leland, 18th century Baptist, “the preaching that has been most profitable to men” has been the doctrine of the sovereingty of God mixed with a little of what has been called Arminianism. [Source cited on PowerPoint.]

Dr. Sydney Anistrom, a Lutheran scholar, has described 18th century Baptist life as “a modified version of Westminster.” The modifications to Calvinism becoming evident in the New Hampshire Confession.

“They were giving altar calls in the 1750s… you may have read differently, but I have the records to prove it… they were giving altar calls in the 1750s.”

Quote from Baptist historian Robert A. Baker that there seems to have been a providential mingling of General (Arminian) and Regular (Calvinist) Baptists in the South. “The General Baptists provided emphasis on the necessity for human agency in reaching men with the gospel; the Regular Baptists added doctrinal stability and a consciousness of the divine initiative.”

There was a distinctive Southern Baptist soteriology, best articulated by John Leland, at least 70 years before there was a Southern Baptist Convention.

Yes, we have a Charleston tradition, but this tradition has always been the harmony to the melody of the Separate (revivalistic) Baptist tradition.

“I believe that election is consistent with the free agency of Man.” Calvinists, who were Presbyterians, got their doctrine of election off kilter because they were wrong in their ecclesiology wrong, identifying Israel with the Church.
Therefore, Calvinists fail to understand that there are two different types of election in the Bible:
1. Abrahamic election- God’s electing purpose in dealing with His chosen people, the Israelites.
2. Salvific election- God’s electing purpose to save individuals.

People have always been saved through salvific election, even those under Abrahamic election.

Three differences in these two types of election:
a. Corporate in Abrahamic, individual in salvific
b. Abrahamic to “special people” status, salvific to salvation
c. Abrahamic not connected to anything, salvific connected with foreknowledge (though not based upon foreknowledge) Romans 8:28-30 cited.

Disagreement noted with Norm Geisler, as Man’s faith is not a condition for God giving salvation. ‘God gave me saving faith and He has promised to keep me.’

1 Timothy 2:3-6a. cited. Calvinists say that “all” means some of all kinds, but that is not what the text says.

Cited C.S. Lewis’ “eternal now” understanding of God’s view of time as formative in his understanding of election. God views all of history as part of His present experience. God never learns anything; God is often disappointed, but He is never surprised. God knows the future perfectly, He knows our future decisions, He knows us better than we know ourselves. “Time does not have cognitive content for God.”

Quote from Herschel Hobbs, “The foreknowledge of God is based upon His omniscience.” God’s foreknowledge and Man’s free will are both asserted in Scripture.

Quote from Baptist Faith and Message (2000) “He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.” This means that the Baptist attitude is that God would not create people for the purpose of sending them to Hell.

Sections from BF&M 2000 on salvation and election were read.

Harry Ironside notes that Romans 9-11 is a parenthesis in which Paul responds to anticipated objections from the Jews; Abrahamic, not salvific, election is in view in these chapters.

3 charts were shown on PowerPoint to demonstrate Congruent Election: Understanding Salvation from an Eternal Now Perspective. These charts were very complicated and beyond my ability to explain them here. The major points of these charts are:
1. That God experiences the rejection of the non-elect as eternally present with Him.
2. God has always dealt differently with the non-elect than with the elect.
3. That people won’t be saved from God’s perspective is different than the idea that they can’t be saved.