Recently an article (page 8 of the 9/9 edition) appeared in my hometown’s local paper entitled Free to Choose or Chosen? The article, written by a long time devotional writer from the community, was a tirade of arguments made against a caricature of the Reformed faith. As I read the article my initial reaction was to disregard it because of its shallow argumentation and my frustrating familiarity with trying to reason with people steeped in the traditions of men. But the more I thought about it, the more I became burdened with the need for a voice of balance within my community.
For as long as I can remember, the only voices have been those who come against the truth of God’s sovereignty over salvation. Unfortunately these voices more often than not belonged to uniformed men who misunderstood the positions they attacked and mislead the people listening. In light of this, I decided to write 2 letters to the editor of each local paper.
The issues Vic sought to address in his article last week are ones that have been debated throughout church history and while it would be impossible to discuss such issues adequately in a short letter, I would like to address some of the many problems with Vic's statements. My hope is to encourage readers to prayerfully consider what God's Word says about these issues.
It's easy to see that Vic's statements are full of assumptions (far too many to address here). One assumption is that as one who embraces the Biblical doctrine of election, I consequently deny the truth contained in places such as Romans 10:9-13. This simply is not the case. This passage and those like it (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, etc.) are not a problem for me. I am thankful for these passages, I joyfully preach these passages.
The one who is faced with a real dilemma is not the one who embraces the truth of divine election, but the one denies it and writes or preaches in a way that pits the truth of God against itself.
There is no question that the bible teaches divine election (John 17, Romans 8-9, Ephesians 1, etc.). The question isn't "Does the Bible teach election" but instead "What does the Bible teach about election?"
The trouble with the arguments Vic and those like him employ is that they display unbalanced Biblical study and shallow at best consideration of these important issues.
The truth of my previous statement is seen in both how Vic has written and many pastors preach. Within both you will find no engagement with Biblical evidence that confronts their dogmatic claims.
I would encourage you to spend some time studying passages like Ephesians 1:1-14. Meet with your pastor, approach or write Vic and ask them to help you work through the truth of this text.
If anyone wishes to discuss these important issues with me further, my contact info is below. It is good for God's people to discuss His Word and I would love just that even if we have to graciously disagree.
Cobie L Tomlinson
Grace Baptist Church
The issues Vic addressed last week are important ones that have been debated throughout church history. While I know this debate won't be settled in a short letter, my hope is to be both a firm and gracious voice of balance. The point of my writing is not to win an argument but to challenge believers to examine what they believe and compare it with God's Word.
Those of Vic's persuasion are notorious for repeating the same shallow questions and objections over and over again. What does the Calvinist do with this out of context verse? If predestination is true then why evangelize or pray? Belief in election means you believe babies go to hell! I could unfortunately go on. These questions are easily answered and don't really engage with my position at all.
Vic asks what someone of my conviction does with Romans 10:13 as if that passage is a problem for me. I do with this text what I do with the whole of God's Word: I believe it. I proclaim it. I can assure you that this text and those like it (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2) are not blacked out in my Bible, but are studied along with the whole of Scripture.
In response to my brother Vic, I would like to pose a question that is a genuine problem for those of his conviction.
1. If what you believe about the death of Christ is true, (that is that Jesus' death did not save anyone actually, but only made salvation possible and dependent upon my free will choice) could God's plan of redemption have failed? Was there a possibility that no one would make the free will choice to come to Christ for forgiveness, thus making Christ's death pointless?
If you answer this with a no, it could not have failed, you are much closer to my position than you think and to your inconsistency I say amen. But if you are consistent and say yes, I find that both appalling, absurd, and at odds with the testimony of Scripture. It seems strange that the God who Scripture says declared the end from the beginning and accomplishes all His will (Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11) would send His Son to die a predestined, redemptive death (Acts 2:23) that could have failed to accomplish what He desired...
There is much that I would love to add to this article but do not have the room. In light of that I will be writing on these issues more extensively on my blog, the URL is below.
God Bless you Bro Vic,
Cobie L Tomlinson
Grace Baptist Church