Why Every Self-Respecting Baptist Is A Calvinist, or, Vice-Versa

That’s just my lame sense of humor in the title to this post. The real title might be something like;

How Calvinism Makes Me A Baptist

We’ll simply follow the TULIP acrostic and briefly look at how each of the points affect my view of Baptism.

Total Depravity- All men inherit a sin nature from their parents, which has been inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve, and water baptism cannot take it away. Instead, it is removed by Christ’s atoning death and resurrection as we are united with Christ by faith, which is symbolically shown through water baptism.

Unconditional Election- God has chosen certain people to salvation, not based on any foreseen merit. Baptism does not profit an unbeliever as regards his election by God, making him more likely to ‘be saved’. Instead, baptism is given to the Church as a confirmation of God’s election of those who believe.

Limited Atonement- The effectualness of Christ’s atonement is limited to only those who believe. Baptism is a sign of that atonement. Baptism should be just as limited as the atonement is.

Irresistible Grace- The Holy Spirit effectually calls out all that the Father has chosen. As we have noted in Acts 2:39, baptism is commanded of all those whom are called out by God.

Perseverance of the Saints- All whom God has chosen are kept by God and persevere in faith towards Him. Baptism is the sign of the promise that his elect will be saved by Christ’s death and resurrection. Baptism should be reserved for those who have been placed into God’s preserving and protective grace.

In summary, all those who have been baptized by the Church into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should be as close as possible to the same people that have been baptized into Christ by the Spirit.

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19 Comments

Filed under Baptism, baptist, calvinism, TULIP

19 responses to “Why Every Self-Respecting Baptist Is A Calvinist, or, Vice-Versa

  1. Good points. You’re right, though, a Presbyterian could make his own list like this. He’d be wrong, of course.

  2. I see you’re copying MacArthur–sort of. Nice touch in the title, made me laugh.
    TULIP leads me to a consistent Calvinism–which includes covenant theology-which includes paedobaptism.

    But it still includes believer’s baptism for those not baptised previously. With some modifciations I could agree with what you’ve written–in fact I agree with what you wrote on Total Depravity–without modification, although I would define a word or two slightly differently.

    I pointed out on another blog one of the reasons both sides in this debate see things so clearly is that we look at the same things with different presuppositions and so I can affirm your first point–but it will not mean the same thing to me as it does to you.

    Before I was a paedobaptist I wasn’t a staunch credbaptist either–I hadn’t really decided either way. I was baptized as a Roman Catholic as an infant, and as a member of an independant church (we had a joint service with an Associated Gospel Church). My main reason for this second baptism was because I rejected the RC baptism as being baptized into the wrong covenant, not the typical Baptist reason–that I was an infant. At the time I had different presuppositions than I do now–and we all have presuppositions. Mine changed to firmly paedobaptist–this change accompanied learning more about Reformed theology, not merely stopping at TULIP.

    But if I’m wrong–I still have a valid baptism according to Credobaptists.

    Thanks for posting this kind of stuff though. I like reading opposing views that are rpesented fairly and don’t feel obliged to misrepresent or insult my views.

  3. Pilgrim,
    Thanks for your attitude! If our views can’t stand up under scrutiny, then they’re not having, are they?
    Here’s a question for you;
    Do Presbyterians recognize R. C. baptism? Besides the Federal Vision people?

  4. Naturally, I disagree with Calvin’s systemics. But, let’s push things a bit.

    Baptism, as you infer, and I agree, doesn’t prove anything, but it’s definitely something that needs to be done. However, you come very close to claiming that a believer is completely regenerated with a new nature. If that were so, he would then have a Pre-fall nature and not have a dispostition to sin. If that were the case, that person would and should, logically, be able to live a perfectly sinless life.

    Otherwise, how can a Calvinist KNOW they are one of the elect? Wouldn’t the only evidence be that of faultless perserverance? By what other standard do you define perserverance? Me-thinks that would mean a Elect person would live a pretty blameless life, evidencing the scripture “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 ESV) I don’t find evidence that our nature is completely changed, although it is remarkably changed by conversion. Else why do we experience the struggle between spirit and flesh. Temptation has no power unless it is attractive to a baser nature, wouldn’t you agree?

    It obviously isn’t proven by one’s works, exorcisms or even miracles performed by that person, since “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:22-23 ESV)

    On the other hand, there are those of the Methodist and other holiness persuasions who believe in a second work of grace which also removes the old sin nature, but at a later stage. And they are of the Arminian persuasion.

    I personally don’t buy the total depravity thing or there would be no good at all in the world except that done by the Elect. That is self-evidently false. Even unbelievers are known for doing good to others, especially to strangers, out of compassion, which is a form of love. And we know where love comes from, so a totally depraved person cannot possess any.

    I’m becoming more convinced that God’s ways are so far above our ability to explain them or even begin to understand them, that I think we almost insult God by trying to develop these systemics. Paul repeated the same basic themes many times and yet we still debate what he meant. So, I find T.U.L.I.P. to be very similar to a creation of man called the Tower of Babel. I wonder if God doesn’t purposely confuse our efforts to pigeonhole what He IS.

  5. NWProdigal,

    I’m going to pull your comment up on the front page this afternoon and talk about it. Thanks!

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  8. “Do Presbyterians recognize R. C. baptism?”

    Some do, some don’t.
    Those that do, usually do so on the basis that it is done in the name of the Trinity and/or the Reformers accepted it.
    Those that don’t use the same or similar reasoning to waht I hold to. That is since in the Presbyterian view baptism is connected to God’s covenant with His people and the RC gosepl is different, RC baptism is not batism into the same covenant. Baptists are baptizing to the same covenant because we share the same gospel.

    The official PCA position is that is up to each congreagations’ session (the pastor & elders) as to how they handle it. My personal view is that if a former RC wished to join our congregation I would ask why or why not in terms of being baptized again. I would want to help them work through the implications if they had not done so already. But I would reccommend they be baptized. (Although since we sprinkle–soem Bpatists would not accept that, while others would.)

  9. Wes

    Prodigal,

    Why does it surprise you that depraved man can do what is ‘right’? Jesus himself said “do not you, being evil know how to give good gifts?”.

    “Good” can fall into two categories.

    1) Objectively, Innately good. Only God (said Jesus) falls in this category.

    2) Subjectively, relatively good. (ie: good neighbor, good friend, good parent, good citizen) Meaning having some praiseworthy qualities.

    Every action, no mater how noble-seeming, if done for the incorrect motive, is sin. (“whatever is not of faith is sin”)
    Any action or attitude done for reasons which are contary to glorifying God are sin. Unregenerate man is hostile to God, therefore, NONE of his actions (however noble they may seem) glorify God.
    Thus, even *sacrifices* made by the unregenerate are repugnant to God.
    What better word than depraved would describe a man whose every action is repugnant to God?

    God’s goodness is extended to the just and the unjust alike. He shows mercy to sinners. He grants that their depravity to be limited. Not unlike how he restrained Pharoah (unregenerate) from sinning against Abraham & Sarah.

    btw, original topic: I concur with TULIP (as I understand it), and lean toward “believer’s baptism” for reasons already covered above.

  10. Wes,

    I am NOT surprised there is good done by unbelievers. And I don’t agree that everyone does good for the wrong reasons. Some people have faith that isn’t quite a saving faith. They believe there is a God and that He expects us to be good to our fellow man. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ”
    (Hebrews 11:6 ESV) Not every unregenrate is hostile to God. And I speak from personal experience. I respected God, feared God and knew I was deserving of death before I became a Christian. It took a while for me to come to a point where God gave me faith to believe Christ died for me. I was seeking, but not quite there yet.

    You are correct that any good we do as unbelievers is repugnant to God. But even as believers our righteousness is like filthy rags, so how can you say an unbeliever’s good acts aren’t honored by God if a person does it out of the goodness of their heart?

    If God grants that the unbeliever’s depravity is limited, why is that? Isn’t it so “that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him…(Acts 17:27 ESV) ?

    Thanks for the challenging response!
    I’m still waiting to know how a Calvinist KNOWS they are one of the Elect?

  11. NWP–that’s missing the point to ask how a Calvinist knows they are one of the elect.

    The Bible tells us we can know we are saved. That’s all it’s saying.

  12. Wes

    I’m confused as to how you believe there can be partial (?) faith.

    I disagree that not every unregenerate is hostile to God.

    Romans10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    Peace with God means an end to the emnity between creature and creator. If we have not received Christ, and are unregenerate, we are by nature, children of wrath.

    If we have faith, (however much or little) we have become pleasing to Him. Real faith can only be in him.

    It is possible to have a counterfeit of faith. I recall the wilderness when Israel demanded the golden calf be made that they may worship the god who brought them out of Egypt. This was a god of their own making which they approached on their own terms. This is as far from faith as night is from day.

    Faith is either Saving faith, or it is Not faith at all.

    Jesus spoke of sheep and goats, but he had no 3rd category.
    He separated into his right and his left, but left none standing between them.
    Wheat / chaff… (I think you get the point.)

    As for hostility, Jesus said that you are either FOR or AGAINST. You gather or scatter. You cannot be mostly for but partly against.

  13. Wes

    That should read romans 5.10.

    As the righteousness of the elect, I do not suppose I have any righteousness to offer.

    I have only such righteousness as I have received from Christ.

    I have only such (good) works as He has prepared for me beforehand that I may walk in them.

    this IS grace.

    Limit of depravity? Because He is the same God who sends rain on the just and the unjust and His mercies endure forever.

    I know I am elect, because I trust Him with nothing added or taken away as sufficient for the reconcilliation of myself to God. I have received peace with God, and joy. My sin no longer prevents my drawing near to God. I take pleasure in glorifying God. I am secure in examples from scripture such as John 10.14 (this is not a complete list, but it is a beginning of how I know)

  14. NWProdigal

    Well said Wes!

    I once heard a Calvinist preacher go throught the 6 or 7 tests of whether you are saved or not. And I agreed with every point.

    I guess what it boils down to is I know I am an elect because I see the witness of my changed affections, my love of the truth, my ability to believe God hears me, that I care about people who don’t know God, and love to fellowship with people who call Jesus Lord. My biggest disagreement is over the prospect that one can ultimately lose their salvation, although I believe it can only occur through direct rebellion or complete dishonesty. There are just too many references to falling from grace (if we are saved by grace and we fall from it, what else could that mean?) and admonishments to hold fast to what we have.

  15. NWProdigal

    I should add that I do not take credit for any of the things that have changed in my life. God gets all the credit.

  16. Wes

    I’ve sometimes wondered about the topic about falling from grace.

    Could it find a paralell in the letters to the churches, namely “you have forgotten your first love?” or in Paul’s letter to Galations (3rd chapter).

    Could it be referencing the human tendancy to “supplement” God’s work in us and lean on our own strength rather than His?

    If so, this could be an indictment of our unwillingness to be sanctified, rather than an example of gaining and then losing salvation.

    As I have said, I haven’t examined this topic so closely as to have come to a conclusion, and am speaking as a “layman”.

  17. NWProdigal

    Ditto, Wes.

    I have said it would be great if I could actually believe in eternal security, but there are too many warnings such as those where Christ says branches that do not abide in Him will be cut off and burned up. Some say He’s talking about non-elect persons, but I don’t buy that since they couldn’t even begin to abide in the vine, much less become a branch.

    From the ESV Bible:

    (Matt 24:13) But the one who endures (present tense) to the end will be saved (future tense).
    (John 15:4-6) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
    I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
    If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

    (Romans 11:21-22) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

    (2Ti 2:11) The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

    (Romans 2:7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

    The key words, to me, are “by patience in well doing seek”…”for immortality”

    I DO believe that we are eternally secure as long as we “keep the faith” which to me, means, continue to please God because: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
    (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

  18. Wes

    My concern with this interpretation is that those who endure to the end, if it were by some act of theirs, would have occasion to boast against those who did not. (and scripture is plain that we will have no occasion for boasting.)

    This, to me, comes uncomfortably close to works, and appears to run counter to such verses as “author and finisher of your faith” and “…and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

  19. NWProdigal

    I admit, Wes, that it’s hard for me to reconcile “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”(John 6:37 ESV) with “and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. ” (1 Corinthians 15:2 ESV)

    We have Jesus saying He will not cast anyone out who comes to Him, but Paul says IF and “believed in vain”.

    And of course the plain language of “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.” (Luke 8:13 ESV) says these BELIEVED for a while and then fell away. I can’t comprehend anyone believing and not being saved when Jesus says”and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26 ESV) Unless of course, the key word here is “LIVES” which makes it conditional, does it not?

    I guess, for me, the biggest stumbling block is how so very many people seem to consider eternal security a guarantee they can live any way they want to and God will save them. I also know some who say, if that person is truly saved, they will be a new creature and won’t feel that way at all. I guess that’s why Jesus said we would be able to tell the true ones from their fruit, eh? Because the fakers cannot live Godly at all.

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