Hi again, Joe. You said, “Though MANY may have followed God unto salvation where is your Scriptural evidence that ALL did? You failed to see the national-covenantal structure of what was happening here. A general reading of the rest of the O.T. reveals what? I would suggest reading the rest of the O.T. to see if in fact ANYONE did fall. Your definitive statement: ‘I assume that no one fell’ is contrary to Scripture.”

The Bible does not identify who was in the group or how many were in the group. It is speaking in general terms. The people were challenged by Elijah, and the people responded. How is my statement (“I assume that no one fell”) contrary to Scripture? Scripture does not definitively say what individuals in this group did after 1 Kings 18.

You said, “By your philosophy they ALL entered into Spiritual Equipoise and then SOME denied Christ.”

I never said that anybody in that group in 1 Kings 18 denied Christ. If all the people in the group ultimately, finally committed themselves to God, then all of them were saved.

You said, “Thus you deny the doctrines of Irrisistible Grace, Salvation by Grace alone, etc.”

I do deny the doctrine of irresistible grace, but I do not deny salvation by grace alone. I fully agree with Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

You said, “This is the first time that I have seen an embracement of orthodoxy that did not accept salvation as an essential doctrine!”

I do accept salvation as an essential doctrine.

You said, “One who asserts and teaches salvation by works embraces false doctrine!”

I agree, but I do not assert and teach salvation by works.

Joe, the heresy and false teaching issue were discussed on the Founders Baptist discussion board recently. Propadeutic, who has posted on the Highway board in the past, is a very intelligent and tactful five-point Calvinist student at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. You might find the following comments by Propadeutic helpful:

“Arminian views are false in the same sense that belief in a pretrib rapture is false, or that an exact 4004 B.C. date for creation is false, or that the pronunciation of YHWH as Jehovah is false. Arminianism is not true. However, we usually reserve the term ‘false doctrine’ for teaching that directly opposes the clear teaching of the Bible on matters of essential importance to the integrity of Christianity. The term ‘false teacher’ also implies that they are teaching it out of disrespect for the Bible, lack of love for God, and/or malicious intent toward their followers.

I find it helpful to break issues down into several categories:

Essentials - what no Christian with any understanding of the Bible will deny. [basic orthodoxy]
First-level issues - what churches need to agree on to cooperate in an association/denomination (‘like faith and practice’) [well-ordered churches]
Second-level issues - what a congregation should be agreed within a local church [important non-essentials]
Third-level issues - issues that should not be a barrier to cooperation on any level.

For example, I consider the deity of Christ an essential, believer's baptism a first-level issue, the plurality of elders a second-level issue, and the date of creation a third-level issue. Since Calvinism and Arminianism are entire systems, different stances within each system (and in the middle ground) may fall at different levels.

Also, within the SBC we see very few 5-point Arminians. (The only such pastors I've ever met are now CBF.) People who believe we can lose our salvation are not in accord with the BFM and can therefore not be missionaries or teach in our seminaries. If they slip through by dishonesty, they could do so just as easily in any denomination.

Do 1, 2, 3, and 4-pointers necessarily consciously deny the truthfulness of the Bible, the unique and infinite knowledge, power, and authority of one immutable, self-sufficient, transcendent, triune God, His moral righteousness, God as Father of His people alone and Creator of the universe, human moral responsibility, salvation by grace rather than by works, Jesus' deity, incarnation, atonement, and resurrection, or the promise of His physical return?

No. Not at all. As Calvinists, we argue that our answers to the 5 points are more consistent with the power of God, salvation by grace, and the biblical presentation of the atonement. I know from experience that misunderstandings of certain verses can blind people to the inconsistency in the Arminian positions. But to accuse SBC leaders, including those whose hearts I've gotten to know, and myself a few years ago, of teaching a different gospel or being false teachers by not being 5-pointers is extremely uncharitable and unbiblically divisive.”

Propadeutic quoted Dr. Nettles, a five-point Calvinist professor at Southern (and my favorite professor when I was at Southwestern Seminary in the early 80s):

“Alas, too few theologians of any system have taken the care to prioritize doctrines. They deal with which doctrines are true, but they fail to say which doctrines are essential, which are important non-essentials, and which are of more nuanced consequence.

The only one that comes to mind is Tom Nettles of SBTS (also prominent in the Founders Conference). From my class in Baptist History, in response to a question of whether Arminian Baptists were heretics:

Nettles: I think we need to raise the bar for ‘heresy,’ reserve the word for essential matters like the doctrine of God or what a man must do to be saved. Otherwise you have people who are at the same time heretics and faithful preachers of the gospel, which is a contradiction. Smyth and Helwys were in error. Wesley was even more seriously in error. Arminianism is untrue; probably the best word to use is ‘aberrant.’ But I don't think its nature warrants calling it heresy, or calling Arminians false teachers. That hurts our credibility. It also deprives us of very useful words to identify anti-Christian teaching within the church.

Student: What about apostasy?

Nettles: Well, I...the Arminian teaching on apostasy may bring us pretty close to the line. But I do want to make clear that most of the more Arminian Baptists in our Convention don't believe in apostasy.”