Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tim Conway's NeoCalvinism Examined

NeoCalvinism is an increasingly popular form of Christian irrationalism in the evangelical marketplace today. This theology has been promoted by the likes of John MacArthur, John Piper, Paul Washer, Al Mohler, Steve Lawson, along with a host of others with whom they are loosely affiliated. We believe that NeoCalvinism is particularly dangerous because it teaches that a correct understanding of doctrine is only achieved when one embraces contradictory precepts, and that though the matter cannot be logically reconciled, it is, none-the-less, the rightly divided truth of scripture. On this point we want to be very, very clear: We are certain that this ludicrous claim of NeoCalvinism is every bit as devastating to our ability to reason from the scriptures as is the claim that the scriptures are not inspired. For the purpose of this blog, we will define NeoCalvinism as any theology that attempts to embrace the following three precepts:

Three Precepts of NeoCalvinism - A Combination of Truth and Error

  1. The atonement of Christ is particular in nature – Christ died for the elect. (TRUE)
  2. The gospel is a well-meant offer of salvation to ALL of humanity, even though Christ admittedly did not die for all of humanity. (FALSE)
  3. Eternal salvation involves both the sovereignty of God as well as the responsibility of man. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in eternal salvation cannot be rationally explained but the bible teaches them both and we must “balance” the two concepts if we are to understand the truth. (FALSE)
While this list is by no means a comprehensive statement regarding NeoCalvinism’s beliefs, it is sufficient to demonstrate the irrationalism embedded in its very core. In this video we find Pastor Tim Conway wrestling with these issues from a NeoCalvinistic perspective. Before we embark on a biblical analysis of his teaching we should start by making the following disclaimer:


FIRST:  We do not question Pastor Tim’s sincerity or his profession of faith. While we believe that what he is teaching is in error, we find many examples of God’s children brokering in false ideas from time to time in the word of God.

SECOND:  We do not doubt that there are a great many people who believe the contradictory precepts of NeoCalvinism as taught by Pastor Tim, but who are none-the-less blood-bought children of God, who are bound for glory based on the work of Jesus Christ alone. Eternal salvation is not based on how well we score on some theology test, but rather is based solely on the sovereign grace of God alone. Given that we see through a glass dimly, we believe that there will be a great many in heaven who embraced erroneous and self-contradictory theological notions while here on earth.

THIRD:  We believe that it is important to confront these false beliefs because the promotion of nonsense is not the promotion of biblical truth, and because a proper understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints, which includes the utterly monergistic nature of our eternal salvation, is enormously profitable and instrumental in the peace, comfort, and enjoyment that a child of God may experience in this present life. To ask God’s people to embrace contradictory precepts is to embed the leaven of doubt in the minds of believers in a way that inevitably breeds doctrinal instability among the flock by proselytizing others in error. 

And so we present our commentary in the vein of James 5:19-20, that it may correct those who are in error, and in so doing hide a multitude of sins. Let’s listen to Pastor Tim as he speaks regarding the NeoCalvinistic belief that our eternal salvation involves both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility…

Gospel "Offers"

If you come to a conclusion that telling folks the gospel is an empty offer you come to a conclusion that Jesus Christ never came to, Paul never came to, none of the followers of Christ ever came to. (Tim Conway)
It is certainly true that neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor any of the other followers of Christ in the bible came to the conclusion that the gospel is an “empty offer.” In fact, they never came to the conclusion that the gospel is an “offer” at all. Neither will you find any instances of them referring to the gospel as an “offer.” This is because the gospel is NOT an offer of salvation to all of humanity. The gospel is not a quid-pro-quo wherein all of humanity is given an opportunity to obtain eternal life provided they meet the condition of faith. 

According to the apostle Paul, the gospel is that “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; that he was buried and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.” (I Cor 15:3-4). That is not an offer – it is a proclamation of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of his chosen people (Matt 1:21). It is attended by the assurance that those who believe this good news have eternal life (John 6:57), and they shall never perish (John 10:28) along with the admonition to walk in obedient discipleship (Acts 2:40, John 14:15).

The gospel cannot be a well-meant offer of salvation to all of humanity, because there is no way to offer a finished, particular, effectual work to all of humanity. Failure to understand this point is perhaps the most prominent error in evangelicalism today. Before one sets about the business of making “gospel offers” to people, they would do well to answer the fundamental question – What did Jesus Christ accomplish at Calvary? Did he die to save his people from their sins, or did he die so that all men could be savable? A sober and correct answer to that question pours a bucket of cold water on the Gospel-Offerism that is dominates modern Christendom.

Carnal Conclusions?

And the reason that men and women come to those conclusions based on the sovereignty of God is because they come up with their own carnal conclusions about what the sovereignty of God means. (Conway)
The “sovereignty of God in salvation” means that salvation is the result of God’s decision and it is based solely on God’s actions. This is the very definition of monergism – the work of one. That is not some “carnal conclusion.” It is an unassailable fact of language and word definitions. People correctly arrive at the conclusion that the sovereignty of God in salvation eliminates man’s involvement because words have meaning. If God is utterly sovereign in salvation then salvation is a monergistic work, and there is no way to make man in any way responsible for a monergistic work of God. So rejection of notion that man is responsible in his eternal salvation is not some “carnal conclusion” as Conway states, but rather an unavoidable logical reality based on the very definition of God’s sovereignty in salvation and the notion of monergism. 

The only carnality here is found in those who would press the daft notion that the so-called “monergistic salvation of God” requires the responsible actions of man. That is a notion so categorically false that it is painful and embarrassing to have to point it out. If one is allowed the liberty of defining monergism as synergism, then there is absolutely no limit to what man can make the bible say. Indeed this is nothing short of asserting that when Paul says we’re saved “not according to our works” (II Tim 1:9) that what he meant was that “we are saved in accordance with our works.” This assertion is so evidently false that it requires the radically mind-numbing context of modern evangelicalism to find an audience sufficiently vapid and void of sound thought to embrace it.

Feeling the Balance of Scripture?

Look, if you’re not keeping your nose in the scripture all the time and feeling the balance of scripture, and checking your own conclusions by scripture all the time, you will land in error. (Conway)
The conclusion that we believe needs “checking” is the assertion that the monergistic work of eternal salvation requires the responsible actions of man in order for eternal salvation to come to pass. Again, that is a statement so evidently self-contradictory and erroneous that it seems silly to have to point it out. Such is the sad state of affairs in Christendom today. Monergism is “the work of one” not “the work of two” and if our salvation is in any way dependent upon man’s responsibility, then it is undeniably synergistic by definition. 

We certainly affirm the need to study scripture, but here Conway refers to the “balance of scripture.” This is NeoCalvinist code-speak for paradox, mystery, or antinomy. I want to make this point as bluntly as I possibly can so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding. In my experience, when a NeoCal theologian makes reference to “balance” what he is saying is,

“I am about to plop-down an enormous logical contradiction in the middle of my theology and insist that you accept it as biblical truth. Because my position is utterly irrational by definition, you will find me both unable to substantiate it with a coherent and logical argument from scripture, as well as highly agitated toward anyone who endeavors to point-out my folly. I use the term “balance” because it sounds more sophisticated than admitting that I have a bald logical contradiction in the middle of my theology. I find that those who would never accept the notion that their beliefs are “illogical” are far more receptive when the self-same ideas are instead cast as requiring “balance” for proper handling. Though my position is admittedly irrational, I will none-the-less insist that it is, in fact, the right answer, and will characterize any efforts to explore my irrational position as prideful and arrogant attempts at using “man’s logic” to understand God’s truth. In so doing I will be invoking a theological trump-card – namely that I will reason from the scriptures up until reason no longer supports my assertions, at which point I will invoke fiat irrationalism and insist that this is the height of Christian piety and right division.” (TETH paraphrase)

That is a very strong statement, but it has been my honest observation, and it has been born-out time and again both in-person as well as in numerous online interactions with NeoCalvinists. Their allowance of “antinomy” in their theological system is a cancerous error that undermines the notion of reasoning from the scriptures and as such is every bit as dangerous as denying either the inspiration of the word of God. Stated another way: There are numerous evangelical pastors who will tear you to shreds over the mere suggestion that some portion of the word of God is not inspired, (and rightfully so) because they know that once the smallest portion is called into question, then all of it is in question. Yet none of them seem to recognize that asserting that some portion of God’s revelation is irrational has precisely the same effect. The moment we embrace irrationalism, where does it end? How do we know that “Christ died for our sins” means precisely that and not “Christ did not die for our sin?” To embrace logical paradox is to undermine any appeal to reasoning from the scriptures and in so doing completely undermines the bible as any revelation from God whatsoever. 

The NeoCal on the one hand claims that God is sovereign in salvation and that salvation is a monergistic work of God alone. With this much, we heartily agree. If the NeoCal stopped there, we would have little objection on the matter. But the NeoCal goes on to also claim that man is also responsible in the matter of eternal salvation as well. Think about this for a moment – salvation is a monergistic act of God alone, but somehow, inexplicably, in a way that we are unable to grasp, we are also responsible in the matter of eternal salvation. Now to the extent that man’s responsibility is required, the matter of monergism in eternal salvation is destroyed. This is the unavoidable logical ramification of their assertion for anyone who is unwilling to allow the defining of terms by their own antonyms.

Since these two assertions are so evidently in direct contradiction to one another, NeoCal soteriology refers to them using terms such as “mystery”, “paradox” or “antinomy” and insists that the proper way to handle the matter is not to question either assertion, but rather, to believe them both by “balancing the two.” But contradictory precepts cannot be balanced. There’s no way to affirm a square circle or a bright-white darkness. If something is square it is not round, and if something is bright-white it is not darkness. Why is this? It is because words have meaning and apart from recognizing and adhering to this fundamental tenet of language, all the inspired revelation found in the word of God collapses into a worthless pile of irrationalism, irrespective of whatever manner of “balance” one might employ to make sense of it. If we are allowed to reject this fundamental notion upon which all language is built and upon which all revelation either stands or falls, I submit that one can make the bible say literally anything they want it to say. If we are afforded the interpretive liberty of defining terms by their own antonyms we would find it no difficulty to assert that when the bible proclaims that nothing can separate us from the love of God, its actual meaning is that something can separate us from the love of God. That approach to the word of God should be roundly, soundly and thoroughly rejected by every professing Christian.

So to “balance” these two evidently contrary assertions of the sovereignty of God in salvation and the responsibility of man in salvation is nothing short of calling a bald logical contradiction the rightly divided word of God. That, brothers and sisters, is complete hogwash, and it should be roundly and thoroughly rejected by all of God’s people. I can think of nothing more at odds with the Lord’s assertion that “the scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35)

Right Division

The correct way to handle contradictory precepts is to reconcile them through right division.  In many instances, right division is that process of comparing scripture with scripture, precept upon precept, line upon line, which reveals that one of these so-called “precepts” is incorrect and must be replaced with a correct understanding of the word of God in order to arrive at a proper understanding. And so it is in this instance. The assertion that “man is responsible in eternal salvation” is categorically false because by the time a man ever commits a spiritually responsible act, he is already in possession of eternal life (John 5:24) and thus his act had nothing to do with how he obtained eternal life.
You will either say it’s a valid offer therefore God is not sovereign, or you’ll say God is sovereign therefore it’s not a valid offer. (Conway)
Again this likewise presupposes that the gospel is an offer – a quid-pro-quo opportunity for eternal salvation conditioned on faith. The gospel makes no such offer. The gospel is the proclamation of the finished work of Christ on behalf of His people. It is attended by the assurance that those who believe this testimony HAVE eternal life and they shall never perish, and the admonition to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedient discipleship.
And, you have to… neither are proper conclusions. (Conway)
That’s because error is embedded in the question to begin with. One must extract oneself from the false idea that the gospel is an “offer” in order to understand the nature of the gospel message. But I digress… This statement is followed by a number of good affirmations with which we would agree, but ultimately gives way to the same error at the end. Let’s listen…
The proper conclusion is this:  are men depraved, through and through, naturally? Yes. Is God sovereign? Yes.  Is salvation of the Lord? Yes. Is it impossible for man to come unless the father draws him? Yes. (Conway)
So far so good…

Are All Men Bidden to Come to Christ?

Are men bidden to come? Yes. (Conway)
It is true that SOME men are bidden to come. (Matt 11:28)  But to imply that ALL of humanity is bidden to come is simply not true. In the scriptures we find those who are “bidden to come” are consistently referred to as “the laboring and heavy laden”, the “thirsty”, and the “willing”. For one to prove that all men are bidden to come to Christ one will have to prove that all men are “laboring and heavy laden” under the relentless demands of the law, that all men are “thirsty” for spiritual things, and that all men are “willing” to come. This is evidently false by any reasonable observation, but it is established by the fact that the word of God plainly states that man in his natural state “will not seek after God” and has “no thought of God.” (Ps 10:4)
If they come will they be saved? Yes. (Conway)
This is true based on the previously established precept that it is impossible for man to come unless the father draws him. It is true because “coming to Christ” is an evidence of drawing, not because it is a requirement of salvation dependent upon man’s responsibility.

The Doctrine of the Self-Herding Sheep

Are they responsible to come and be saved?  Absolutely they are. (Conway)
This statement places the responsibility for the gathering of the herd, not on the Shepherd, but on the sheep. If salvation is monergistic, that is “the work of one”, as all NeoCal’s will admit, how then does one find room to squeeze in some measure of human responsibility? Stated more plainly, how do you ask man to actively and responsibly participate in a monergistic act of God? The answer is obvious, the moment you figure out how to allow man to participate actively and responsibly, you have destroyed the concept of monergism in the process. That’s because the notion that man is in any sense responsible for his own salvation is an out-and-out denial of monergism in salvation, plain and simple. The NeoCal theologian asks his followers to swallow this denial of monergism by invoking the concept of "balance." He is asking you to on the one hand affirm monergistic salvation by God, provided you define such “monergism” as involving the responsibility of man. Stated more plainly it is asking you to define monergism as synergism – which is nonsense of the highest order. It is a classic case of having one’s cake and eating it too. Brothers and sisters, men may call that “balancing the word of God” all they want, but it is nothing short of peddling self-contradictory nonsense as gospel truth. To insist that one must embrace two concepts so evidently contradictory, is just addled thinking, not the rightly divided word of God. When one defines their key terms by their own antonyms, they’re selling snake oil, not promoting the faith once delivered to the saints.

Atonement Considered Apart from its Intended Purpose

Does the scripture speak as though there is sufficiency in the atonement that if they come they will find it sufficient to save them and wash them of all their sin?  Absolutely.(Conway)
I’m not aware of any passage of scripture that speaks of the sufficiency of the atonement as an abstraction from its intended purpose. This type of talk runs rampant in NeoCal circles, but sufficient but efficient theology is demonstrably false, because there is no such entity as atonement independent from the purpose of God. Such an ”atonement” simply does not exist, because the atonement of Christ is the very product of God’s purpose. Apart from God’s purpose in saving his people there would be no atonement.

Let me put it this way, if the atonement is said to be “sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect only”, then it is insufficient for the non-elect for want of efficiency. That point is unassailable and it is the complete undoing of the “sufficient but efficient” tommyrot that is being peddled in the Christian marketplace. Given the inseparable nature of the provision and purpose of the atonement, it can be well-said that apart from efficiency there is no sufficiency. Any lack of efficiency is an abject lack of sufficiency. 
If men don’t come is it seen to be criminal? Yes. If they don’t come, their inability is they love their idols more. There’s only one thing that keeps men from coming to Christ, it’s because they’re wickedly married to their sins. (Conway)
True enough, but our brother here fails to realize that Christ purchased the elect’s regeneration as part of the covenant of salvation. Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that this is yet another way in which the atonement is insufficient for the non-elect – it is insufficient because it did not purchase their regeneration. The apostle Paul taught, “And because ye are sons God hath sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6) This point bears repeating. If the atonement of Christ did not make a provision for one’s regeneration, and it undeniably did NOT for the non-elect, then it is not sufficient for their vital salvation in time. Apart from that provision, man is insufficiently equipped to perform the repentance and total commitment that the Lordship Salvationists soteriology requires of them to obtain eternal life. It follows that any appeals to universal sufficiency in the atonement are nothing short of legacy Arminian soteriological noise that drowns out the clear signal of salvation by covenant found in the word of God. It is an erroneous theological accommodation intended to support their soteriology of conditional gospel offers which require the responsible acts of men in order for salvation to transpire – all of which is deceptively packaged as monergistic salvation by sovereign grace.

Total Depravity = Total Irresponsibility

That is what scripture says. And they are so guilty, God is gonna throw them into hell and punish them for their rebellion and their crimes against him and their refusal to come. (Conway)
It is true that rebellion will damn many. But it is grace that eternally saves those who are spared, not human responsibility in any measure. Indeed the teaching of total depravity is nothing short of the teaching of total irresponsibility. It is for this reason that salvation is monergistic and totally by grace, apart from ANY human responsibility – because the totally irresponsible are incapable of producing responsible acts apart from betraying the “totality” of their fallen state. This is an absolutely unavoidable dilemma that destroys any assertion that salvation is in any sense the result of man’s responsibility. 
If men will believe then the condemnation of God will not hang over their head and they will most certainly be saved and if they will not believe it’s because they will not believe, and Jesus says, “You will not come unto me, that you might not… that you might have life,” and because they won’t come they will perish in their sin and they will be held responsible and that is what scripture says. (Conway)
We agree that men will be held responsible for their sins. No argument there. But the question is – are men eternally saved in any part based on man’s responsibility. If they are, then salvation is synergistic by definition because it involves God’s part and man’s part and that is action involving two working components – the very definition of synergism. The NeoCal insists that while man’s responsibility is involved, that salvation is none-the-less monergistic. That is just complete hogwash. Perched high-atop their two-wheeled contraption they proclaim, “Behold my unicycle.” One may call such a system of salvation “monergism” all they want, but doing so underscores their folly to any rational observer.  It’s really just an exercise in commandeering the terminology they want to use, and then defining it in a way that is completely inconsistent with its actual meaning.

The Gospel is Actual Reconciliation Proclaimed, not Potential Reconciliation Offered

And we are to take the gospel forth and tell men to be reconciled to God based on the sufficiency of the atonement and all things are ready and if they don’t come the master of the house is gonna have every reason to be angry and his anger will burn on them right to the pit of hell. And that’s what scripture teaches. (Conway)
The gospel is the message of reconciliation accomplished by Christ at Calvary, not a message that if you will do something God will accept you as reconciled.
And in the end, is there an elect people of God? You better believe there is, but nobody’s ever excused because they’re not elect. (Conway)
True enough, but perhaps more to the point - no one is ever excused because they exercise responsibility, because total depravity is total irresponsibility. To suggest that man’s responsibility is involved in his eternal salvation is nothing short of making salvation a matter of works rather than a matter of monergistic grace.

Salvation Based on the Required Compliance of the Totally Non-Compliant

Sinners are addressed in scripture as sinners. Who if they will lay down the weapons of their rebellion, and they will surrender into those merciful arms of Christ, they will find salvation. (Conway)
How does a totally depraved, utterly irresponsible man find the will to lay down his weapons of rebellion when his carnal mind is enmity against God? If he can do so, he is not totally depraved, and if he is totally depraved he is clearly unable to comply with this requirement. Moreover, where do we see an offer of salvation extended by the Lord Jesus Christ in these statements? “Ye are of your father the devil?” “Who shall save thee from the damnation of hell?” 

This is just more old-line, Arminian, well-meant-offerism tarted-up in NeoReformed duds. It bears no resemblance to the gospel proclamation that Jesus got the job done and those who believe this testimony HAVE eternal life. 

The Atonement Did NOT Supply Faith to All Men

And many do hear and they repent and they believe and they are saved. And if they don’t hear, scripture says it’s because they won’t hear they won’t come, they won’t believe, because they love the praise of men, and they love the field and they love the ox and they love the wife, therefore they are unable to come. (Conway)
And why is that? It’s because are not elect, they are not sons, thus their regeneration was not purchased by covenant. If the atonement did not purchase their regeneration, then it was insufficient to supply them with the faculties of repentance or faith required to obtain eternal salvation in Conway’s Lordship Salvation scheme.

The Atonement Lacks the Purpose of Saving the Non-Elect

And it condemns men for not coming and it puts the finger right on the fact that it is there wickedness that they are personally responsible for. Men are criminal because they will not come. Their hearts are adverse to God. They hate God, that’s why they do not come.(Conway)
True enough. But why do some come? Is it because of responsibility? Surely not given what was just said here. It is because the father has monergistic mercy upon them. And what of the non-elect? They do not come because there was no saving purpose in the atonement for them. This is yet another way in which the atonement is insufficient for their salvation – it is insufficient because it lacks the purpose of saving them. 
That is not an excuse that is valid before God. That is a crime that will be punished with the severest… every bit according to justice. But it is severe justice because it is such criminal activity that you know not the depths of. You sin against God, they are heinous crimes, and that is how scripture deals with it. The fault is laid in the lap of men who refuse to come. (Conway)
Mankind stands guilty before they ever refuse to come. (Rom 5:12) It is true that man is responsible for his own damnation, but he is utterly irresponsible where the matter of his eternal salvation is concerned.
We can be grateful to God that he overcomes the hardness of our heart. And he softens it. And he gives us the ears to hear. (Conway)
And why does he do such things?  “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6) This is yet another way in which the atonement is insufficient for the salvation of the non-elect. It is insufficient for their salvation because the provision of crying, Abba, Father is made for those who are sons, not to those who are not sons, all of which was purchased through the atonement of Christ – since all spiritual blessings are found “in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:1-3)

Moreover, does God overcome the hardness of hear and give ears to as a result of the responsibility of man? “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof but cannot tell whence it commeth or whither it goeth.” (John 3:8) Clearly not.

The Totally Irresponsible Do NOT Exercise Responsibility

We can thank God that he doesn’t leave us all just to love our sin and go to hell. And the thing is, everybody that does go to hell, they got what they wanted. They love their sin and all God did was leave them to have what they love and nobody’s going to fault God in the end. God left them to have what they wanted. They wanted their sin and God let them have it. (Conway)
This is true, but no totally irresponsible, totally depraved person ever exercises responsibility to extricate themselves from the condemnation they deserve. Men are ever and only saved by an act of God alone – period, end of story.

The Bible Teaches Man's IRRESPONSIBILITY in Eternal Salvation

We need to balance out the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man and in the end how you make it perfectly fit – scripture doesn’t try. (Conway)
Ironically, that’s true too. Scripture doesn’t try to make God’s sovereignty and Man’s responsibility in our eternal salvation “fit” because any attempt at reconciling these clearly contradictory notions would be the very height of folly. The bible doesn’t attempt to reconcile these two notions because it simply doesn’t teach man’s responsibility in eternal salvation. If it did it would be teaching salvation by works, and salvation would be no more of grace. The bible teaches man’s irresponsibility in the matter of eternal salvation and in so doing upholds the notion of utterly monergistic salvation by God alone.
And where scripture is silent, you know what? – there are a lot of people who just think they have to give it an answer. But the thing is there are certain things that scripture does not answer for us. (Conway)
The issue that salvation is by monergistic grace is abundantly attested to in the scriptures and the notion that it is the result of Man’s responsibility is explicitly and abundantly refuted.
And where it doesn’t answer, we don’t need to feel compelled to have the answer.  But we can see both sides of this reality. (Conway)
Here is more of the BALANCE that NeoCals invoke. I must admit, I’m compelled to have the answer that is found in the word of God – that our salvation is “not according to our works” (II Timothy 1:9) and “not by works of righteousness which we have done.” (Titus 3:5) and “by the obedience of one.” (Romans 5:19)  We have the answer, brother Tim, and the answer is that salvation is utterly monergistic and has nothing to do with man’s responsibility whatsoever.

Salvation by Covenant Undermines the WMO

And I guarantee you there is not emptiness, in the… look… Jesus Christ wept for sinners.  Jesus Christ said, “I say these things that you might be saved. (Conway)
He also said that he would “give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” (John 17:2) Do we believe that Christ accomplished the giving of that gift to all those named in the covenant of election?  If he offered eternal life to any others, he was certainly doing so outside the mandate given to him by his heavenly father. The truth is Jesus said a lot of things like, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33) and “Ye are NOT of my sheep” (John 10:26).
The Father is seen extending his hand to a contrary people all day long, bidden to come, come unto me. Who did he say that to? (Conway)
The first statement was made to Israel, God’s chosen people in the old covenant. The second statement was made to the “laboring and heavy laden.” In neither instance is this statement made to all of humanity. It follows that neither of these statements supports the notion of the well-meant offer of salvation to all of humanity, because God most certainly did not purpose to save all of humanity (John 10:11), neither did Christ die for all of humanity (John 10:26), neither does he offer salvation to all of humanity (Matthew 23:33, John 8:44).
The invitations are many, there are a multitude in scripture. I mean, nobody is gonna go to hell, for a lack of the most affectionate pleas. (Conway)
The NeoCals are big on this issue of “eternal salvation by plea” but it is not taught in the scriptures.   While Pastor Tim says that “nobody is gonna go to hell, for a lack of the most affectionate pleas,” I would rather prefer that “many will end up in hell for lack of any affectionate atonement on their behalf.”

God's Love... For a SON

You remember… I dealt with this. I mean how is God portrayed, as the prodigal is coming within sight of his home? The father is portrayed as one who runs to receive the son. We didn’t… that’s not a contrivance of my imagination and Charles Spurgeon’s.  That is how God reveals himself. (Conway)
Yes. It is how God reveals his love - for a son! Until one understand the distinction between sonship (which results from election) and discipleship (which results from obedience) one will never understand the utterly monergistic nature of our eternal salvation, nor the synergistic nature of our discipleship.

That's where I have to part company with the Lordship Salvation camp. If man is dead in trespasses and in sins (Ephesians 2:1) and regeneration is a passing from death unto life (John 5:24) that precedes the exercise of faith in time (I John 5:1), then man is not in any way, shape or form, responsible for his eternal salvation. A salvation that requires the responsibility of man is one that requires too much to save any of us, offered by a savior who provided too little to get the job done.


If you find yourself perplexed by the nonsense doctrine of NeoCalvinism, I want to encourage you by passing along the truth that there are people who believe in the absolute sovereignty of God in eternal salvation, who see this as all our hope and who proclaim that the gospel is liberty to the captives (Isaiah 61:1), not the possibility of liberty to the responsible.

We invite you to visit the Primitive Baptist Church. 


  1. Refreshing to see a Calvinist like you who will freely proclaim the atonement actually accomplishes salvation. Given the implied Arminianism in the 'well-meant offer' it makes you wonder why they so criticize the whole package.

    1. “Refreshing to… you who will freely proclaim the atonement actually accomplishes salvation.” (DavidC)

      Thank you for the kind remarks. The term “gospel” is thrown around quite liberally in Christendom. In virtually every instance, this “gospel” is the offer of a potential salvation for all of humanity contingent upon some manner of response, rather than the proclamation of an accomplished salvation for God’s chosen people accompanied by the assurance that those who believe this message are among them (John 6:47). Such "gospel offers" distort the nature of the gospel message by either implying a saving universality in the atonement (as you state), or ignoring the inconvenient inconsistency - namely that particular redemption makes extending a gospel offer to anyone outside the covenant of salvation an exemplary act of insincerity. The logical dissonance of that latter position is the epicenter of NeoCalvinistic theology.

      “Given the implied Arminianism in the 'well-meant offer' it makes you wonder why they so criticize the whole package.” (DavidC)

      I agree. In the final mix NeoCalvinism is really no different than Arminianism. Both systems require the “responsibility of man” in order for salvation to transpire. Arminianism is just more forthright about it, IMO.

      “…a Calvinist like you…” (DavidC)

      I am a Primitive Baptist. We are not Calvinists though we do share some beliefs in common with them. I describe some of the differences between PBs and the popular strains of Calvinism in my article “Why Primitive Baptists are NOT Calvinists” (http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2013/12/why-primitive-baptists-are-not.html). Those remarks must be understood in light of the almost insurmountable difficulties associated with using the term Calvinism (http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2013/01/calvinism-is-red-herring.html).

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment. May God bless our studies and understanding.


  2. I greatly enjoyed Tim on the Carol Burnet Show in the 1970's.

    This seems a real change of direction in his career! ;)

    1. Brother Hugh,

      You're not the only person who has reached out to me to make a Carol Burnett Show reference in regard to this post. :) Having been raised on that show, it took a great deal of personal resolve to resist the urge to call this blog post "Dorf on Calvinism."

      God bless,

  3. This hypercalvinst's article contradicts with what Jesus said. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." God gave and people respond with faith. Don't add your humanistic imagination into the word of God.

  4. Thanks for taking a moment to interact with my blog. You make a number of statements that I'd like to provide commentary on:

    PG: This hypercalvinst's article contradicts with what Jesus said. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

    TETH: You make this statement but you provide no logical support from scripture to support ot. Without providing that, you are making unsubstantiated assertions, not reasoning from the scriptures. I'm interested in understanding why you believe this article contradicts the Lord's teaching that he gave a gift, to a people, for a purpose (John 3:16) You might find the following link helpful in defining my position on that important and often misunderstood text of scripture:


    PG: God gave and people respond with faith.

    TETH: Consider the following questions - Is faith the gift of God? Yes. Faith is undeniably the gift of God (Philippians 1:29, Ephesians 2:8-9). Do all men have faith? No. All men have not faith (II Thessalonians 3:2). Once we establish the biblical truth that faith is the gift of God that not all men have, your theology would seem to be on the ropes. Do you believe that those who have not been given faith have the ability to respond in faith? If all men have not faith, and faith is the gift of God, and the response of faith is required for eternal salvation in your system, then it is apparent that salvation is not intended for all of humanity as a matter of logical necessity. Can you defend your position with a logical argument from scripture? I am willing to listen, but I suspect that you will either choose to ignore the issue, or your argument will resort to irrationalism as an ersatz explanation of your fiat "truth." The former would be an indication that your position is not so well-founded as you likely believe, the latter would be proof-positive that NeoCalvinism is a form of Christian irrationalism even as my blog correctly demonstrates. I'm willing to listen, you have the floor.

    PG: Don't add your humanistic imagination into the word of God.

    TETH: I am extremely transparent with respect to the biblical precepts employed in this analysis, using explicit scriptural references to substantiate those claims. You are at liberty to regard this as "humanistic imagination" if you so choose, but I believe it would be far more profitable to engage with the arguments I've set forth against NeoCalvinism with what you believe to be the scriptural arguments against my position, with the same degree of transparency and reference. This is a golden opportunity for you to demonstrate why you believe my position is "humanistic imagination" for all to see, directly beneath my article. You have my full and undivided attention...


  5. Funny how this video gets the single one that seems to be preaching out of his own lust/ignorance to bash others that follow scripture. Next time get a Paul Washer's video, or Lawson's, and examine them. Straw man indeed.

  6. David,

    First off, thanks for stopping by and for taking a moment to interact with my blog via the comments section. You make a few comments and I'd like to provide some feedback...

    DP57: Funny how this video gets the single one that seems to be preaching out of his own lust/ignorance to bash others that follow scripture.

    TETH: I'm not entirely sure what to make of this comment. It seems that you are saying that I have picked out Tim Conway, who you imply is a singular example of a modern Calvinist (NeoCal) preaching out of lust and ignorance, as a means of lashing out at other NeoCals who do not exhibit the Conway's error. This is not my intent and the doctrine that brother Conway promotes is likewise promoted by a host of other "Calvinistic" ministers such as Washer and Lawson. His teaching is not some isolated example that bears no resemblance to other Lordship Salvationists, but is a pretty good example of the doctrine that they all teach with respect to the WMO and the sovereignty/responsibility combination they insist is required for eternal salvation.

    DP57: Next time get a Paul Washer's video, or Lawson's, and examine them.

    TETH: I have not done a critique of a Paul Washer video, but I have commented on a number of his YouTube videos and I do have a video commentary in the works. As for Lawson, I have done several critiques of his doctrine all of which are available both here on my blog as well as on my YouTube channel. I invite you to check them out. I believe that in so doing you will find that his doctrine and Conway's are incredibly similar, as both of them are disciples of John MacArthur's Lordship Salvation theology.

    DP57: Straw man indeed.

    TETH: Apart from bringing forth a case in support of that accusation it is nothing more than an unsubstantiated assertion. I am willing to hear you out on the matter, please feel free to share why you believe I have misrepresented either Tim Conway or NeoCalvinism and I will gladly respond.

    Thanks again for taking a moment to interact. Your interest in spiritual things is encouraging in this Laodicean age.

    May God bless our studies and understanding of His word,

  7. It seems as Paul said...we look through a dark glass...

    Jesus did pray for His disciples that they would be one as He is with the Father and the Father IN HIM. Yet .... We try to battle things out and want to be the Head instead of Jesus. There are some folks that don't want to debate as that looks like foundation faith shaking moments. I don't buy into Calvinism, neocalvinism or Armenianism. I have been bought by Jesus.
    I think we could all learn from the entire Word as it is God breathed and useful for training in righteousness as well as rebuke and correction.

    There are some folks that don't like the idea of Lordship as there seems to be a take away from His being a Savior by grace so that we don't work for salvation. Or boast in ourselves... Yet we we're created FOR good works...Not saved by our own works...but By JESUS' work on the cross.
    There is a working out your own salvation. (God doesn't want us to hit the gym 24-7 as the war we fight is a spiritual one...can't fight it in the flesh)
    The point I'm trying to make is the relationship of God to man....is just that. If it is His desire that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance....and the gospel that saves instead becomes a prechosen select few that go into the narrow gate as the pre chosen many that take the wide path to destruction....where did the free will come? I get that sometimes our will isn't all that freeing. If the Son has set you free....you are free indeed!

    God knows the end at the beginning...we don't. It would be a hard thing to have a relationship with any human being that it was their way or the highway with every single matter of the day... And yet we also know that we shouldn't look at God as a tyrant and a control freak..as He is Just and trustworthy and faithful and holy. He does forgive for His own benefit. His forgiveness is crucial and our willingness to let Him lead is crucial for us as we don't want to cause a. Christian to stumble as well as lead a child to sin....or look like a hypocrite. No one likes to be rebuked... This is the issue I have with the prosperity gospel that seems to build up the human in carnal blessings and tell them there is no condemnation in Christ and to skip sanctification all together. There are too many changes in the interpretation of God's word and yet it will not return void. Jesus did say there would be trouble in the world....yet He has overcome it! I pray that we can all come to being more Christ like...as that will help folks not to be too confused as we tend to want to lead....and yet how often do we fail when it isn't Jesus they are following ...but a doctrine of man...

    1. There are a lot of statements made in this response, some of which I agree with. However, having read this several times, I don't understand what the main point of this comment is. Perhaps if you took another pass at clarifying what you're trying to say, I'd be more able to comment.


  8. I read a couple of chapters of this book, but it may take me the rest of the month to finish it.