Thursday, September 12, 2013

Adrian Rogers on Freedom, Depravity, and Salvation by Choice

Adrian Rogers speaks of man's ability to choose good.
In this short video commentary, Teth examines the teachings of Southern Baptist, favorite-son Adrian Rogers. As usual some of Rogers affirmations are good, but it is not long before Rogers begins asserting philosophical conjecture that is completely out of line with the testimony or scripture regarding man in his natural state. A biblical examination of Dr Rogers’ perspective is both revealing and embarrassing for those who would promote a “salvation by choice” soteriology. Teth commentary is provided below.

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The host starts off by asking Rogers why God allows evil in the earth?

Do you know, that’s a great question and I’ve seen today that more people are perplexed with that question, the problem of evil, than the problem of science. When I, when I, uh, started in the ministry, people were talking about evolution and whether or not man was created. They’re not that interested in that question today. They say, “If there is a God how could he allow, for example, what happened in, uh, New York City, on September the 11th. How could God allow the atrocities of war and the devastation we have in the world today? What about the problem of evil? And people have a little syllogism: before God there was nothing, God created everything, evil is something, so God created evil, so God must be evil. That’s a faulty syllogism. (Adrian Rogers)
Ok, so far so good. Let’s keep listening…
When God made the devil, the bible says in… and by the way God created the devil. The devil is not self-existent as God is. Only one [is] self-existent – that is God. When God created Satan he created him in perfection. (Rogers)
Rogers is correct on these assertions – God made the devil, thus the devil is not self-existent. Only God is self-existent. And Satan was created in perfection. All of that is true – but here’s a word of wisdom to the discerning – those who promote doctrinal error very frequently lure you in by promoting a half dozen truths on the front end. These affirmations are then used as a sort of Trojan horse such that you let your defenses down. Let’s keep listening…

Rogers: Man Has Perfect Freedom

God did not create evil. God created a perfect being. Uh, in Ezekiel Chapter 28 God said of Satan, “You were perfect in beauty.” Uh, “and the day that you were created you were perfect.” He was created, created in perfection.  God did not create evil, he created a perfect being. But now listen, he gave that perfect being perfect freedom. (Rogers)
Without further qualification of what is meant by “perfect freedom,” I am unable to affirm this statement. Any valid definition of “perfect freedom” as it applies to Satan at the time of creation would have to be something less than “absolute freedom.” By this I mean that freedom is always limited by the confines of one’s own nature. For example, Satan did not have the freedom to become God because his nature is less than that of God.  It follows that his freedom was not absolute freedom. All that said, apart from establishing a clear definition of what Rogers means by “perfect freedom” it is impossible to affirm Dr. Rogers’ statement. It is interesting to notice how the interviewer is drawn in by the superficial appeal of Rogers’ assertion. Buyer beware – this is the moment of first theological slight-of-hand.  God’s people should not be drawn in by what merely “sounds good” or “sounds right” – we are to test everything and "hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21) 
Why did God give the angels freedom and why does God give us freedom? (Rogers)
Wait a minute. Rogers has gone from the assertion that Satan had “perfect freedom” to now asserting that angels and man have freedom. Again he does not define this “perfect freedom” but we can be sure of this – any freedom is freedom to function within the confines of one’s own nature (Romans 3:10-18). Man’s nature was changed in the fall, thus the confines of his freedom was likewise changed in the fall. (Romans 5:12) It follows that the freedom man had in creation is different from the freedom he finds himself with after the fall. A different nature as a result of the fall means that man’s freedom is now confined by a different domain than it was at creation. So to make an unqualified implication between Satan’s freedom prior to the fall and man’s freedom after the fall is at best short-sighted and at worst spiritual malpractice. It is also important to note that Rogers provides not a shred of biblical evidence in support of his assertions. 
Because God wants worship and God wants love. (Rogers)
If God wants the worship and love of all of humanity, then God is not very good at getting what he wants, because it is evident that numerous people have no love for God whatsoever. The bible’s testimony is that “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” (Psalm 110:3) Either God’s power didn’t work in many instances, or God’s intent was not to have the love and worship of all of humanity.

Rogers: Freedom Required for Man to Choose Good

Now, if God made me where I were not free, I could not choose to do evil and correspondingly I could not choose to do good. (Rogers) 
This is all philosophical speculation with no basis in scripture. The bible does not teach that fallen man can “choose to do good” as Rogers asserts.  It teaches that, “there is none that doeth good, no not one”  (Romans 3:12) and that “there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11). Since the bible’s testimony is that man CANNOT do good, Rogers’ statement regarding man’s freedom to choose good and evil is likewise defeated. Stated more plainly, since fallen man cannot choose good, he is therefore not free in the way that Rogers asserts.
If I cannot choose not to love God I can’t choose to love God. (Rogers)  
The bible’s testimony is that fallen man is enmity with God and that such are incapable of pleasing God. (Romans 8:7-8) It follows that man CANNOT choose to love God.  That Rogers fails to see this is astonishing given his familiarity with scripture. Then again, he’s not using scripture to make his case here – he’s using vain philosophy that is completely disconnected from the bible’s testimony regarding man’s condition after the fall. Just to make this perfectly clear – if one does not rightly understand the effect of the fall on all of Adam’s progeny (Romans 5:12) they have absolutely no business preaching the gospel – none whatsoever – irrespective of some good affirmations they may make.
If I can’t choose to be loyal to God, I cannot choose to be disloyal.  I would only be an inanimate object, a robot, or whatever. (Rogers)
Again, this is pure conjecture on his part without a shred of scriptural evidence to support it. The bible is clear on two points:  fallen man cannot choose to be loyal to God (Romans 3:10-18) and thus fallen man is in a state of perpetual rebellion. (Genesis 6:5, 8:21)
So God created a being perfect in wisdom and perfect in beauty and that being chose to sin. Now, what is the highest good? The highest good, the greatest commandment is to love God." That is the greatest commandment. This is the first and great commandment. Therefore that is the highest good – to love God. (Rogers)
Here Rogers returns to affirming truth but notice how he uses this to buttress an utterly unrelated point of pure philosophical conjecture – namely that man must have freedom to choose good and evil. The fact that loving God is the highest good has precisely nothing to do with the following assertion…

Rogers: Salvation is by the Choice of a Fallen, Evil Creature

Well in order to love God, I have to have a choice. And so God gave us the choice that we might attain the highest good. (Rogers)
What choice would fallen man make? (Romans 3:10-18)
  • Would he choose righteousness? No, there’s none righteous (v10). 
  • Surely someone would? No not one. (v10)  
  • Would he choose to understand God’s truth?  No, there’s none that understandeth. (v11)  
  • Would he choose to seek God? No, there’s none that seeketh after God. (v11)  
  • Would he find his way to God? No, they are all gone out of the way. (v12)  
  • Would his choice profit his eternal soul? No, they are together become unprofitable. (v12)  
  • Would he choose to do good? No, there is none that doeth good. (v12)  
  • Surely some would? No, not one. (v12)  
  • Would he choose to confess Christ? No, their throat is an open sepulcher. (v13) 
  • Surely it’s not that bad? With their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips. (v13)  
  • But if they would just confess Christ… How can they when their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness? (v:14)  
  • But can't they could run to Christ for refuge? No, their feet are swift to shed blood.  
  • But they could turn to Christ as our way of peace? No, the way of peace they have not known.  (v17)  
  • But they could turn to God in fear and repentance. No, there is NO fear of God before their eyes.  


Dr Rogers – the testimony of scripture is crystal clear – man is incapable of choosing good and thus our salvation is ever and only the result of the sovereign, electing, redeeming, regenerating purpose of God and is “not according to our works” but “according to his mercy.” THAT, Dr Rogers, is the gospel truth, and your doctrine is found to be at great variance with it. I would encourage bible believers who are being taught this type of Southern Baptist nonsense to spend some quality time with Paul’s testimony regarding man in his natural state found in Romans 3:10-18. It is the complete undoing of this threadbare philosophy that men like Rogers promote.
And Satan had that choice and he blew it – he ruined it through pride. (Rogers)
And fallen man is likewise in a state of ruin. Perhaps the Psalmist said it best – “The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God – God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10:4) Rogers assertion that man can choose to love God runs headlong into the brick-wall of scripture which clearly states that the unregenerate have no thought of God. Dr. Rogers’ philosophical assertions are impossible to reconcile with the bible’s testimony regarding the condition of fallen man. (Romans 3:10-18) Indeed, Dr. Rogers - how can a man choose to love a God that the bible says he has no thought of? 

He can’t. 


  1. This was an excellent commentary on some really bad doctrine.

    1. Thank you, brother. I am literally surrounded by friends and neighbors who believe this teaching. I love them and I do not doubt that they love the Lord, but their doctrine is very far out of line with the teaching of the word of God.

      God bless,

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

      God bless,