A Calvinist asked me this question, and my reply follows

“In his book, Dr. Rogers writes, “…I mean that by grace, God gave man the ability to believe the gospel or not believe the gospel;…(thus the person has real free choice)” (p1) If God were to “equally” enable each person to believe the gospel then all would make the same decision, either all would choose to believe or all would choose not to believe. If God enables people to believe the gospel but in an unequal manner (whatever that might be), then we can get the result that some choose to believe and some choose not to believe. BUT, this is election by God – the Calvinist conclusion that Dr. Rogers wants to reject. Grace-enablement necessarily leads to election in the Calvinist sense.”

My dear brother, I must admit that each time I read your comments regarding my position, I am perplexed indeed. Maybe I am communicatively challenged. If you have seriously read my book and draw the conclusions that you do, I doubt that I can say anything that will help (although I did so yesterday and now). It is one thing to disagree, but your path is quite different than simple disagreement.

  1. You have clearly misrepresented my position and the options available outside of Calvinism. I assume that you have done so unintentionally. God created man with a libertarian free will not a compatible will as Calvinists believe. When God by grace enables man to have a real choice, unlike Calvinism’s compatibilism, if man chooses to believe, he also could have done otherwise, and if he chooses to reject the gospel, he could have done otherwise. Thus, man is not only grace enabled to believe, but to also disbelieve with full knowledge. To wit, man is enabled and not caused.
  2. Total depravity is not incompatible with either Adam or fallen man being grace enabled to have a choice to believe or not believe. Please do not superimpose the entailments of Calvinism on me because it is absolutely unwarranted. Of course it would be if I accepted compatibilism, which I do not.

As long as you evaluate other views through the prism of Calvinism, you will always reach false conclusions about others’ positions because it is Calvinism that we reject; hence, of course our position is different. To argue that there is no position but Calvinism that can believe in biblically defined total depravity is symptomatic of the inability of some Calvinists to have serious soteriological discussions, thereby helping them and others.

Full article and comments are on SBC Today at http://sbctoday.com/2013/04/05/one-mans-suggestions-for-calvinists-and-non-calvinists-part-2/

A Calvinist response to an article I wrote for SBC Today

My disregard for Calvinism’s deterministic view of God’s sovereignty leaves a Calvinist to respond in the following manner, as if there is no option but God according to Calvinism.

His statement, “It may not be as pleasant to view God’s sovereignty in this way, but what is the opposing view…that God is unaware of who will be in hell? Or that no one will be in hell?”

My response: Neither of the two options that you offer is acceptable. God has always known who would spend eternity in hell. The vast majority of people will go to hell; further; the issue of how “pleasant” something is cannot enter into the conclusion.

Calvinists view God as sovereign over beings that can only salvifically choose as He predetermined that they could (compatibilism), whereas, non-Calvinism believes God is sovereign over beings who, before sin, could choose to sin or not sin, and after the fall can only choose to trust Christ by God’s gracious enabling work, but they can also choose to reject (libertarian). Trying to understand non-Calvinists through the prism of Calvinism’s compatibilism, causal sovereignty, etc., will always lead to misunderstanding. We reject the notion that God can only be sovereign over beings whose end is predetermined by their nature.

The option is a libertarian view of free will that means Adam could have chosen to sin or not to shin and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise. Fallen man is in need of a loving God who will provide everything including “grace-enabled” faith before he can choose to accept the gospel, but even grace-enabled, man can still reject. This is what the vast majority choose; hence, the discussion has nothing to do with and does not even come close to espousing universalism.

Full article and discussion is on SBC Today at http://sbctoday.com/2013/04/04/one-mans-suggestions-for-calvinists-and-non-calvinists/

A Calvinist asked me this question, and my reply follows

“If all men are under the same propensity to believe and under the same affects (sic) of the fall, what would make a believer better than a nonbeliever that he should choose Christ?”

1.         The issue is not that a believer is better (that idea may arise from viewing my position through the lens of compatibilism, which I reject). With a Libertarian free choice, it simply means that one can choose to believe the gospel or not believe the gospel, and whichever he did in fact do, he could have done otherwise. No one is better. They are not under the same  “propensity,” but rather have the grace enablement of God to have the same freedom to choose to believe or not believe.

2.         Extensivism believes (as would other approaches that do not accept Calvinism) that God created Adam with the ability to choose to obey or distrust God and disobey—such salvific choices do not exist in Calvinism. Of course, God knew what man with true otherwise choice would do, and that is why God’s sovereign choice to create such freedom included coextensively creating and providing redemption.

3.         I simply believe the Scripture is quite ubiquitously clear that God graciously offers the gospel to all unconditionally, but requires the reception of the gospel to be by grace enabled faith. Faith is not the reason for salvation but the means of receiving salvation. Man did not determine his fate by himself, but rather God determined (because of what is in God, i.e. perfect love, mercy, etc., and not what is in man) to create man with otherwise choice; hence, God sovereignly chose this path.

4.         I do give a host of Scriptures in my book. Others who neither claim to be Calvinist nor Arminian do likewise in their writings. There are several things that God does that I categorize as grace enablements. To mention just a few: we believe the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17) and the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11) and that God really does love His created humanity and both desires and provided for their salvation through grace enabled faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10) and provides a sufficient call to salvation to all who hear. Any freedom that man exercises redounds to the glory of God since He sovereignly created man as He did, and just as sovereignly chose to grant him to be sufficiently able to be delivered from his just dessert. Total depravity, biblically defined, does not require regeneration prior to faith. The necessity of that order is Calvinism’s embracing of compatibilism.

We simply believe that when Jesus came preaching the gospel (Mark 1:14-15) and calling on the hearers to repent and believe, that the gospel was good news to everyone because everyone to whom He spoke could be delivered from their just dessert by the grace of God. Further, that Jesus really desired them to be saved and believed they could be saved; therefore, Jesus had not helped develop a plan that excluded many hearers, which would not be good news.

THE TULIP: The Petals and The Sepals (leaves)

Before you make the TULIP your flower of choice, consider it in full bloom.

TULIP is used acronymically to succinctly point out the major emphases of Calvinism. I well understand that the use of the TULIP does not fully illustrate the depth and breadth of Calvinism. I do understand that some believe the acronym has outlived its usefulness. However, it still enjoys ubiquitous usage among Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. I find this to be particularly true among those seeking to explain Calvinism to people who may demonstrate some interest in understanding Calvinism or as a simple tool to convince young people of its biblical and systematic cogency. I am not considering this acronym in order to either portray Calvinism simplistically or inaccurately. Rather, I use it in the manner described by Roger Nicole when he said, “the five points provide a classic framework which is quite well adapted for the expression of certain distinguishing emphases of Calvinism.” ((David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented from the preface written by Roger Nicole (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co, 1963), 7.)) Continue reading →

Think About IT: Calvinism Confuses the Issues

Recently, a Calvinist asked me the following question in an all too  common fashion.

He asked, “Are you saying that for God to be the perfect sum of love He must offer the gospel to all men equally? To give each and every man ever born equal access to the Word?”

Here is my answer. To me, your question conflates two different issues. It conflates the issue of whether God grants to everyone who hears a real choice to believe the gospel or reject the gospel with whether everyone gets the same opportunity. Calvinism rejects the former (which I believe is biblically unwarranted), and I believe that places Calvinism in a position of inadequately demonstrating how that is perfect love, which opinion I base on their writings in systematic theologies and individual books on the subject. I believe that if Calvinism is true, if in eternity we are to stand on the precipice of hell, all could see how God was always perfectly just in not letting any sinners into heaven, but I do not see how that demonstrates that He is perfect love since He withheld even the opportunity to come to heaven.

With regard to whether everyone gets the exact same opportunity, my answer is no, since this is an actual impossibility in a time and space continuum. However, because everyone may not get the same opportunity does not equal some receiving an inadequate opportunity or no opportunity.

One Man’s Suggestions for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists

This article appeared in two parts on April 4th & 5th on SBC Today.

Although I no longer don the Calvinist label, I do continue to recognize the system of thought as an option within historic Christianity as well as Southern Baptist life. Further, I have no interest in personally attacking my Calvinist brothers’ and sisters’ devotion, piety, or love for God and His word, for I do sincerely believe that most Calvinists are truth seekers. I do not wish to expel Calvinists nor to be expelled by them from SBC life, but rather to suggest and take some substantive steps to help all of us know God better. I assume that is what the vast majority of those of us in this discussion truly desire; although, there is obvious disagreement in how to accomplish this quest.

In order to continue to move our discussions toward lucidity in both articulation and understanding of our various theological perspectives, I would like to suggest implementing the following ideas within Southern Baptist life. My suggestions are drawn from my life as a Southern Baptist, which includes both the perspective I gained in my years as a Calvinist and now my post Calvinist reflections. While I view my suggestions as necessary, I also view them as partial and modifiable. I believe that some of the steps should be implemented immediately, while others are clearly long term goals that may take years. I offer my suggestions with no more credentials than being a rather obscure but concerned Southern Baptist.

I trust that if we speak with grace and listen with humility, we can learn from each other. I do genuinely believe that if the following suggestions are not implemented, the future of the SBC may not be as bright as it could be; although, one may easily find sufficient grounds to view my suggestions dismissively since I do seem to have an extraordinarily unimpressive record as a prophet. As a Calvinist, I loved, respected and worked with those who were not, and now that I am no longer a Calvinist, I hold that same love, respect, and desire to work with those who are.

Please consider the following suggestions: Continue reading →

Think About IT: A Calvinist creates his version of my position, and then responds accordingly!

Read the following carefully. It is supposed to be a critique of my theological position found in my book Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist. Please note, this Calvinist and my brother in Christ says all of this without having read my book—this all comes from an interview of my testimony on sbctoday.com —and please note what he says I said, then go back and read the exact thing I said, and then if you want a lesson in rapid-fire ad-hominem arguments well, look no further. Enough said.

The following is an excerpt, and his full “critique” from Tuesday, July 17, 2012 can be found here. Continue reading →

An Apology to Dr. John Piper

The following is a copy of the letter that I sent to Dr. Piper regarding one of the quotes I used from him. I used the quote in a public way, and so in like manner is my apology.

Dear Dr. Piper,

My name is Ronnie W. Rogers, and I am writing to you in order to apologize and ask your forgiveness.

I most regretfully and inadvertently misrepresented a statement of yours in my book Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist. Please see quote at the close of this letter. Continue reading →

A Response to bloggers on SBC Today

As noted earlier, SBC Today published an interview with me regarding my book, Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, as well as a four part series on my chapter entitled “The Lamb’s Book of Life: who’s in and who’s out?

As you can imagine, there were many responses. The editor of SBC Today has been kind enough to allow me to respond to several bloggers comments that I think need a word of clarification or correction.

The site indicates that my responses will be published Saturday July, 27 2012.

Go to sbctoday.com