Sunday, February 17, 2013

R. G. Lee on Calvinism

R. G. Lee (AD 1886-1978) was pastor of Citadel Square Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina, First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee (1927-1960). He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and authored numerous books. Lee was a conservative leader in the SBC. He was very evangelistic. Many of his sermons were published in the Sword of the Lord. I had the privilege of hearing and meeting Dr. Lee. Back in the day my preacher dad, Joe Brumbelow, called him, “The greatest living preacher.” Lee’s most famous sermon was, “Payday Someday.” 

Recently someone has referred to R. G. Lee numerous times as having been a 5-point Calvinist. I have no doubt Lee was a Calvinist, but what most would probably refer to as a Moderate Calvinist (or perhaps today a Traditionalist or a non-Calvinist, the descriptors vary). From the direct quotes below, it is obvious that Dr. R. G. Lee was not a 5-point or Strict Calvinist. Rather than Limited Atonement (Jesus died only for the elect), Dr. Lee believed Jesus died for all mankind. He could look any man in the eyes and say, Jesus died for you.

“Wonderful inclusiveness here, in the outstretched and encircling arms of the Christian Gospel - ‘to everyone.’ Nobody excluded. Everybody included.” -R. G. Lee, The Name Above Every Name, Christ for the World Publishers, Revell; 1938.

“There is no ground for boasting. The beggar who puts forth his hand and takes the gift can claim no credit. Believing is not in itself a virtuous act, a meritorious effort by which the sinner earns the favour of God. No, all boasting is excluded by the very freeness and simplicity of salvation which at the same time excludes all excuse from those who refuse or neglect it.” -R. G. Lee, The Name Above Every Name, Christ for the World Publishers, Revell; 1938.

“Just as there is universal guilt among men, so there is the universal offer of salvation from God…Repeatedly God declares that sin is universal, that no one escapes. Repeatedly, too, God declares the atonement to be universal. That does not mean that salvation is universal, for many will not be saved…God has done His part for man’s salvation, but man fails or refuses to do his part. That is the sum and substance of all excuses and objections. Man’s free and wicked will is the only barrier in the way of his salvation.” -R. G. Lee, God’s Answer to Man’s Question, Zondervan; 1962.

“Jesus died for all (2 Corinthians 5:15), gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6), tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9), and would have all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3,4). God put the iniquity of all on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6), wishes all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), does not wish any to perish (2 Peter 3:9). God’s grace that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11). God teaches that whosoever believeth shall not perish (John 3:16).” -R. G. Lee, God’s Answer to Man’s Question, Zondervan; 1962.

On 2 Corinthians 5:21, “Meaning what? Meaning that on the cross Jesus became for you, for me, for every man, all that the holy and just God must judge that we, through faith in him, might become all that God cannot judge.” -R. G. Lee, Heart to Heart, Broadman; 1977.

“Jesus, by the sacrifice of Himself, could redeem as many fallen worlds as God has stars in His Heaven - because the infinite merit of the Son of God atones for the sins of the whole world.” -R. G. Lee, Great is the Lord, Christ for the World Publishers, Revell; 1960.

Some of my dad’s most prized possessions were his books by Dr. R. G. Lee. I would recommend any preacher, young or old, to get every book you can by Robert Greene Lee.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, February 17, AD 2013. 

Update Note:  Some have also claimed W. A. Criswell as a 5-point Calvinist. 
This is not the case, as seen in: 
Calvinists recruit W.A. Criswell to their cause by Peter Lumpkins

Books on Calvinism, Predestination

Paige Patterson on Calvinism
Adrian Rogers on Predestination, Calvinism
Francis Wayland on Calvinism in 1856
Traditional Baptists (Non-Calvinists) Of 1840
More articles in lower right margin.


  1. My brother David,

    Thankz for the quotes, my friend. Very helpful. I linked to this piece this AM. Together with some Calvinists' attempt to brand W.A. Criswell as their "kind" of Calvinist, a quick view of the historical record proves otherwise...


    With that, I am...

  2. Thanks Peter.
    I loved your quotes by W. A. Criswell a while back.

    I hear you've got a book about Calvinism coming out soon. Can't wait to read it.
    David R. Brumbelow

  3. Thank you for the good posting, David. And thanks for letting me put it on my own blog spot.

  4. Bruce,
    Thanks. And you're welcome. I appreciate you putting this on your blog.
    David R. Brumbelow

  5. Thanks Bro. David -- he was a prince of preacher's!
    Ron F. Hale

  6. Ron,
    Thanks. I agree Robert G. Lee was a prince of preachers.

    I've been pleasantly suprised at the number of views of this article.

    The number of views is largely due to it being pointed out by
    Peter Lumpkins,
    Bruce K. Oyen,

    Thanks to all.
    David R. Brumbelow

  7. Anybody that would suggest that R.G. Lee had any leanings at all toward Calvinism never had the opportunity to meet or talk with him.

    My dad grew up at Bellevue under the preacher of Dr. Lee, In Dec, of 1973 when our then home church, First Baptist of Gulf Breeze, Fla., was holding dedication ceremonies for our new sanctuary, Dad was arrange for Dr. Lee to come down to preach at one of the services.

    The next morning I had the opportunity to go with Dad when he took Dr. Lee to the Pensacola airport for his flight back to Memphis. There was some controversy in our church about Calvinism or the doctrine of predestination...whatever you want to call it.

    I was sitting in that terminal just before sunrise when Dad asked Dr. Lee what he thought about the doctrine of predestination in regards to God handpicking who will be saved and who will be lost. With a sly grin on his face, Dr. Lee looked my dad right in the eye and asked, "Jimmy Dickson, didn't I teach you better than that?"

    If you had shared that moment you would no doubt know that Dr. Lee believed John 3:16 was written for every man, woman, boy and girl that ever lived, but it is their choice to believe.

  8. You will be hard pressed to find any Calvinist that believes God picks who will be saved and picks who will be lost.

    For the Calvinist only affirms that it wasn't him who put breath back into his lungs...but God alone. That it wasn't him who chose God, but rather God alone.

    What we will affirm is that every sinner that ends up in hell, did so out of the freedom of his own will. And that is precisely the problem...a Will absent of God's intervention, does what it pleases and suffers the fate it deserves.


What do you think?