Whosever Will: A Review Essay -- By: C. Fred Smith

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 07:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Whosever Will: A Review Essay
Author: C. Fred Smith

Whosever Will: A Review Essay

C. Fred Smith

C. Fred Smith (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

Calvinism has become an increasingly important but divisive issue among Baptists. Churches have divided over it, and it has led to no end of “bull sessions” among seminary students, who endlessly debate divine sovereignty and human free will, limited atonement, irresistible grace and related issues. It is in order to set forth a biblical as well as theologically sound perspective on these issues that David Allen and Steve Lemke offer this book based on papers delivered at the John 3:16 Conference held at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia in November 2008.

After an excellent sermon by Jerry Vines, the book is divided into two parts. Part One offers a critique of each aspect of the TULIP, the “Five points of Calvinism.” Sometimes an alternative way that the doctrine may be understood is offered, but other writers demonstrate why a specific doctrine is unbiblical and should be rejected. Part Two considers various doctrinal and practical questions that Calvinism raises. These are considered in light of theology, biblical teaching and concern for the life of the churches.

Jerry Vines’ sermon on John 3:16 sets a tone for the series as a whole. Like the essays that follow, the sermon is theologically and biblically rich. It is a solid exposition of the passage, chosen because of the “Whosoever Will believe in Him” clause. Thus, it is indicative of the direction of the essays themselves which will challenge the Calvinist idea that the offer of salvation is not made genuinely to everyone. The idea is challenged in this collection from biblical, historical, and theological directions, and the reader is left in the end with no doubt that, according to the solid testimony of Scripture, the offer of salvation is to everyone, the offer of salvation is genuine, and the offer of salvation is to be presented to everyone by Christians everywhere.

Part One: Taking On The Tulip

Paige Patterson

Paige Patterson takes on the doctrine of total depravity and recasts it in the light of the biblical teaching. A wrong understanding of total depravity led to the misunderstanding that created the TULIP. By correctly setting forth what the Bible does and does not teach about depravity, Patterson highlights the host of problems that extreme Calvinism inevitably encounter when the doctrine of depravity is falsely construed.


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