Monday, August 8, 2011

Paige Patterson on Calvinism

Several years ago Dr. Paige Patterson spoke on Calvinism at the SBC Pastor’s Conference. An excerpt from Baptist Press follows:


Patterson began his segment by saying, to laughter, “The real question we are here to discuss today is whether or not you are here on your own free will."

He listed six areas in which he and Calvinists agree –- areas for which he said he has great appreciation. Calvinists, Patterson said: “usually lead very pious lives”; believe theology is important; generally are “very clear about the dangers involved in the charismatic movement; “understand the purpose of everything is to glorify God”; “never question the inerrancy of Scripture or the substitutionary atonement of Christ”; and “are crystal clear about the fact that salvation is by grace alone.”

But Patterson also said there are several areas of concern he has with “some Calvinists”:

-- the notion that if “you are not a Calvinist then you must be an Arminian.” He said he is neither.

-- the argument that “if you are not a Calvinist then you do not accept the doctrines of grace.” Patterson said, “I believe that salvation is by grace alone, and I'm not a Calvinist.”

-- the assertion that those who are not Calvinists don’t believe in the sovereignty of God. “I just happen to believe that God is sovereign enough that He can make a man totally free if He wishes to do so,” Patterson said.

-- “antinomian tendencies” present “in some Calvinists,” particularly on the subject of drinking alcohol. Antinomianism tends to overemphasize grace in relation to law.

-- a failure of Reformed pastors to be “completely forthright” with pulpit committees during interviews. “This is a concern not only about Calvinists,” Patterson said. “It is a concern about people who happen to be dispensationalists, like me. It's a concern about any position which you hold." There should be “full disclosure of what you believe and what you plan to do once you become the pastor of that church."

-- the “compassionlessness” for a lost world seen in “some Calvinists.” Patterson said what he “appreciate[s] so much about Dr. Mohler and many of my other Calvinist friends is that that emphatically is not true of them."

Patterson said he views the doctrine of election through the "foreknowledge of God." He also said he sees no biblical evidence for “irresistible grace” –- one of the tenets of Calvinism.

“If, in fact, men cannot resist the will of the Holy Spirit … then in fact salvation is coercive and a person does not have a choice about what he is going to do,” he said. "… I believe it is God's will that every human being be saved. I don't believe all of them will be saved -- narrow is the way, and straight is the gate.”

Patterson read two quotes he attributed to Presbyterian pastor R.C. Sproul: "God desired man to fall into sin. God created sin"; and "It is [God's] desire to make His wrath known. He needed, then, something on which to be wrathful. He needed to have sinful creatures."

“It is impossible to find justice in that by any biblical definition of justice," Patterson said. “… This makes God, in some sense, the author of sin.”

He listed several scriptural passages -- 1 Timothy 2:3-6, 2 Peter 3:9, Hebrews 2:9, 1 John 2:2 -- that he said support general atonement instead of the Calvinist tenant of limited (or particular) atonement. *

"To me, the references to the universality of the atonement are absolutely overwhelming in the New Testament," Patterson said. “… The Calvinist must fall back on the idea of two wills of God –- a revealed will and a secret will. The problem with the secret will, of course, is that it is secret and we cannot know about [it] at all. Not only that, [but] it pits the secret will in juxtaposition and over against His revealed will.”

Patterson challenged those in attendance, "My fervent prayer is that whatever your beliefs are about the sovereignty of God … you will join me in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
-from Baptist Press, June 13, 2006 by Michael Foust.

Dr. Paige Patterson is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Th.M. and Ph.D.), he is the author of a number of books, and was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was one of the key leaders in the Conservative Resurgence that brought Southern Baptists back to their historic commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible. Patterson serves as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas (

One additional quote:
“The current trend in Southern Baptist life to imitate the Reformed movement is a major step backwards and must be resisted.” -Dr. Paige Patterson, at SWBTS Anabaptist Conference, 2012.
[The Reformers fought against Believer's Baptism by Immersion and actually persecuted, tortured, and executed Anabapists and Baptists in the 1500s and 1600s.]

* The Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement says Jesus died only for the elect.  Non-Calvinists (or at least non-5-point Calvinists) believe in General or Unlimited Atonement.  Unlimited Atonement means Jesus died for the sins of all humanity; of course, only those who believe are saved. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 8, AD 2011.

Books on Calvinism, Predestination

Adrian Rogers on Predestination, Calvinism   

See Related Articles by clicking any of the "Labels" in this post, or by going to the lower right margin under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels). 

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