Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: I Still Have Not Changed My Mind

On a regular basis I am asked about my views on Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, Calvinism and Arminianism. Sometimes the question asked is, in light of all the talk, blogging, conferencing, etc., “Have you changed your views on any of the relevant subjects?” There is an easy answer to that question: No. My views of these important biblical doctrines are the same as they were in 1988 when Paige Patterson hired me to teach at Criswell College. They are the same as they were in 1992 when Paige Patterson hired me to teach at Southeastern. They are the same as they were in 1996 when Al Mohler hired me to teach at Southern. And, they are the same as they were when I was called to be the president of Southeastern in 2004. My Systematic Theology Notes are available at danielakin.com for anyone to freely access. They will bear witness to my claim. And, in April 2006 SBC Life invited me to write an article showing how we might navigate this theological minefield while being true to Scripture, faithful to our BF&M 2000, and finding a way to cooperate together for the glory of God and the good of the nations. I still believe the article charts a way forward, and so I share it again for review and critique. Of one thing I am certain: we will either find a way forward together or we will find ourselves vanishing into obscurity. May the way be forward!

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  2. dr. james willingham   •  

    There is a theory of creative dissonance, developed by Paul Halmos in his work, The Faith of Counsellors, somewhat like, perhaps, to Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance. What we are dealing with, it would seem to me, from more than fifty plus years of reflection, that the two aspects of God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility are like poles, electric perhaps or magnetic, necessary to produce a field or a tension in the human mind which enables the believer and practitioner of the faith to be balanced, flexible, creative, magnetic, and constant. I first arrived at that understanding in the early 70s and wrote papers on the matter at the Univ. of S. Carolina and SEBTS along with a Master;s thesis in Amereican Social & Intellectual History. It was always interesting to me to find out after the fact that on Jan.29, 1975, I was the speaker in Chapel, one who believed like the man who proposed and then led Southern Baptists to found Southern Seminary and whos theology of Calvinism is reflected in the Abstract of Principles which is really rather related to the Sandy Creek Baptist Confession of 1816 which Basil Manly (sr) as clerk of the Assn had a part in as a member of the commitee chaired by Luther Rice the Father of Missions to Southern Baptists. O and that date, Jan 29, 1975 was the 177th anniversary of the birth of Basil, Sr.(born Jan. 29, 1798, about 3-4 miles north of Pittsboro). While taking a class in preaching under Dr. Theodore Adams, I preached a sermon on Roms.9:13, The Hardest Invitation. We are invited to receive God who does not think like we do, love like we do, or act like we do. It was interesting to read in Dr. Eusden’s intro to Ames’ Marrow of Divinity in the Seminary Library in 72-73 that Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage. That led to the interesting finding that all of the Five Points of the TULIP acrostic are doctrines of invitation to be saved on God’s term. I would later learn that there is such a technique in counseling as the therapeutic paradox. For 40 years (ever since the Fall of ’73, when I addressed the pastors’ prayer meeting of the Sandy Creek Assn. on the subject of A Great Awakening) I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening, one that would win every soul on earth and continue for a 1000 generations and reach millions of worlds (if man is permitted to go into space, and I think he has already), thanks to the limited atonement views of Dr. John Owen in his The Death of Death in The Death of Christ and Andrew Fuller in his Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. I think we need the Gospel of Sovereign Grace, because John Newton summed up the situation so admirably in his hymn, Amazing Grace….that part about “that saved a wretch like me.” Also Sovereign Grace is the theology of the Baptists before the Reformation (and I am not a Landmarker), but the the roots of Baptists as John T. Christian insisted do go back before the Reformation. Witness the Lollards. Also note that the church of Philadelphia was still in existence in the 1600-1700s vide Gibbon’s Decline, and the Roman Inquisitor after the Waldensians in the 1200s noted that they had a church in Philadelphia and Constantinople. The Lollards were dying for the doctrines of grace before John Calvin was ever born, much less born again. Rvery truth is an invitation, a paradox, designed to empower the helpless sinner to respond. Our problem is our fear of such truths. Have you read Spurgeon’s devotions for Aug. 6 and Dec. 24 in which he prays for the conversion of the whole earth? And why not start a series of prayer meetings like those proposed by Jonathan Edweards in his Humble Attempt which recorded about 100 prophecies/promises which were pleaded by Carey and Fuller and Rice and others in the launching of the Great Century of Missions as well as in seeking the benefits of the Second Great Awakening?

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