December 17, 2012

Point of View: The Changing Landscape is Muddying the Waters

From the: The Hufhand Report: Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

I’ve been thinking about this for sometime. I think we are confusing a lot of people and complicating this matter of getting saved.  I keep getting comments from people that I’m being too caustic toward Calvinism.  Maybe so. However, the thing that concerns me, is not what comes first as it relates to the process in salvation.  My concern has to do with man’s depravity.  Is man totally depraved or isn’t he?  That’s the question.  Given that our creator God, in the beginning said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” after which, He reached down into the red clay of Mesopotamia and took a hand full of dirt and fashioned man in His image, then “He breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul,” how does all this figure in as it relates to us getting saved and going to heaven?  Let's begin with what is meant by His likeness and His image?  We know it was not His physical appearance, because “God is a spirit.” (John 4:24)  From what we can understand for other Scripture, besides all of His other attributes he is distinct in that He has intellect, emotion, and will.  He knows, He feels, and He acts.  This, I believe, is what God had in mind when He created man in His image, after His likeness.
That being said, what happened when Adam fell and became a sinner by nature?  We do not have to consult Augustine, or Plagius, or Arminias, or Calvin, or Zwingli or Wesley, or any of the modern theologians.  All we have to do is go to the first couple chapters of Genesis, and then study the Book of Romans and especially the first three chapters to realize that when man was put to the test to see if he would be morally and spiritually righteous or if he would be morally and spiritually sinful, he chose the latter.  So when he failed the test and ate of the forbidden fruit, he plunged himself, along with his wife Eve, and all of mankind into the darkness of depravity.  Adam died both spiritually and physically. In other words, he died to everything spiritual; he died to everything physical, which included, his mind, his emotions, and his will. Every part of Adam was affected, dramatically.  The likeness of God was taken from him.  Adam could no longer think like God; he could no longer feel like God; and he could no longer act like God. He died intellectually; he died emotionally; and he died willfully.  We all accept that he began to die physically, but to what extend did he die intellectually, emotionally, and willfully?  The Bible says that by “one man, sin entered into the world and death by sin, so that death passed upon all men.”  Cf. Eph. 2:1
       In order for us not to be identified with Augustine and Calvin, we have thrown the baby out with the bath water.  We claim to be neither Arminian or Calvinistic but rather to be Biblicists.  Then let’s be Biblicists. Our roots are not found in the theology of the Reformers; our roots are in the Bible, so let’s just believe the Bible. Let not dilute man’s depravity and rob God of His glory.  Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and he did that by dying a wretched and horrible death on the cross; He was buried and rose again to reverse all that happened in and through Adam in the garden.
       Paul makes it perfectly clear in Romans that man is totally depraved.  In studying the Scholastics of the 11th thru the 14th centuries, they combined the philosophy of Aristotle, the writing of the early church fathers and the dogma already laid down by the Catholic Church, and determined that altho’ man died physically and spiritually, which affected his body, as well as his soul, yet his intellect was unaffected.  In other words, he had the ability to reason things out logically, because his mind was unaffected by the fall. We as Bible believing fundamental Baptists reject that flat out. Up until this present controversy started, we all believed and preached that may is totally depraved, but now because “total depravity” doesn’t seems to be strong enough for Calvinist, they have added a new twist to it, by adding the word, “inability” to their doctrine of the fall of man.  That is, “man has no ability to do anything for himself.”
Somehow he has to be regenerated before he can exercise faith and believe.  This is all foolish thinking and a lot of nonsense.
From the very beginning of my Biblical studies, I came to understand that Man is totally depraved and at that time I had never even heard of John Calvin.  From simply studying the Bible I understood that man is depraved in his intellect; he’s depraved in his emotions and he is depraved in his will. When he sinned, he died spiritually, morally, and physically. The question comes, “By what means then does he respond to the free gift of salvation that is offered to him in Christ?”  Eph. 2:1 says, “You hath HE made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…”  Paul goes on to say in Eph. 2:8,9 “For by GRACE are ye SAVED thru FAITH AND THAT NOT OF YOURSEVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST.” Paul goes on to say in Titus 3:5, "It's not by works of righteousness which we have done buy by His MERCY that He saves us…."  I can accept that from start to finish, that salvation is all of God and nothing of man. Even the faith necessary to reach out and accept God’s free offer of salvation, is granted to us by God's GRACE and MERCY. We don’t have to understand all that transpires when a person gets saved; the trouble comes when we try to logically figure it all out. Listen folks, we simply have to accept it for what it is and get in on it.  If I understand what Jesus said in John 3:8, salvation is a mystery.  We don’t have to understand how God’s grace and mercy works in conjunction with our faith, granting us the forgiveness of our sins and saving us from eternal damnation, we simply have to experience it.  After all, how do you explain the wind?  So it is with getting saved.
       This isn’t Calvinism folks; this is Bible. Why don’t we just let God be God and let us be witnesses to the truth that man can be saved simply by repenting of his sins and accepting Jesus Christ into his life as His personal Lord and Saviour. This is what I was taught through college and seminary.  I see no reason to change now, simply because it has become controversial.  Winning people to Jesus is easy.  It is not complicated.  If people have enough sense to eat a piece of bread, they have enough sense to get saved, because Jesus is the bread of life.  Lets not make salvation hard, when God has made it easy.  Maybe, I’ll do more on this later.

Dr. Lawrence Hufhand

Related Reading:


  1. "...Even the faith necessary to reach out and accept God’s free offer of salvation, is granted to us by God's GRACE and MERCY..."

    This was a great article, and then he had to go an ruin it with that statement.

  2. I sympathize with the author's frustration over Calvinism's redefinition of biblical Total Depravity.

    That aside, the author states:

    "Why don’t we just let God be God and let us be witnesses to the truth that man can be saved simply by repenting of his sins and accepting Jesus Christ into his life as His personal Lord and Saviour."

    I'd be curious to know how Dr. Hufhand defines saving repentance. Does it, in his mind, mean "turn from sin" or does it mean "change of mind"?

    1. I've seen two wrong views of repentance that distort the Gospel. The first is simply thinking that "saying I'm sorry" or "I goofed" is sufficient, and the second is the more Catholic view, that we must do something to prove our remorse (like penance). Beyond that, whether you say it's "turning from sin, or "changing of mind" you begin to split hairs. If it's simply a change of mind, what does that mean? If the change of mind brings no turning from sin, is it a change of mind? Can one turn from sin without having a change of mind? Are you sure you want to die on this hill of distinguishing between these two? Wouldn't you rather die fighting the first two distortions I talk about than die fighting over the two you mention?

      The problem with Calvinism is not whether there are three or four or five points, but that they take five scriptural truths, and then analyze, define and dissect them to a point beyond which Scriptures teach us. It is this splitting of hairs that leads to Calvinism. I fear that this argument over whether repentance means a mental assent or a metaphysical turnabout to be the same sort of thing. Yes, there are unscriptural understandings of the concept of repentance, but these two aren't it.

      Now as to the question of whether or not faith is a gift... As a missionary, I've heard many people tell me, "I could never do what you do. I don't have your faith." What does that mean? I don't feel I have great faith. In fact, I'm quite the worrier, fearful personal naturally. I am also not at all a talented, gifted or even capable person. I'm definitely _not_ a people person, being quite introverted, and anti-social on my own. Yet God has put me here, and I do what I can. None of what I do comes from me, or from my abilities. Certainly I can't take _any_ credit for any faith I have. If you wish to credit me with great faith, then I would have to laugh. I don't have it. But my God is a great God who has done much, through or maybe in spite of me. Faith? mine? Or is that a gift also from God? I don't dare to presume to answer that.

  3. It is so true that regeneration does not precede faith. However, I fail to see how faith is the gift of God. To say so would be to approach a Calvinistic position. Also, I don't think there are so many mysteries concerning how salvation works as one might think. This is as long as we are careful about things like mind, emotions, will etc and don't get too caught up in extra-biblical reasoning or reading in things to the text like Calvinistic presuppositions.

    Plus, how is repenting of sins the gospel?

    Jim F

  4. To All:

    I appreciate your interest and comments. Due to various concerns I have very little time to interact at length right now. Gentlemen, See the following articles for additional reading.

    The Danger of Teaching That Faith is the Gift of God by George Zeller

    What is Biblical Repentance?

    Lordship's "Turn From Sin" for Salvation

    Representing the Lordship view of repentance, Nathan Busenitz (John MacArthur’s personal assistant) sees repentance as necessary for salvation. In addition, however, he defines repentance as “a change of allegiance” and includes a willingness to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. Nathan views repentance as a decision to stop sinning and start obeying.

    Lordship sees repentance as more than just a change in dependence. It is also a change of allegiance. It includes a willingness to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ…. Lordship Salvation defines sin as rebellion or ‘lawlessness’ (which is how 1 John 3:4 defines it). To turn from (or forsake) one’s rebellion is (by definition) to begin submitting.”

    If I truly hate my sinfulness, and am broken over it, I will be simultaneously inclined to stop doing it. And as I earlier pointed out, the inclination (or desire or willingness) to stop sinning is the inclination to start obeying. And an inclination to start obeying is a change of allegiance (from self to God).”

    Nathan’s definition of repentance (representative of the Lordship position) requires a lost man to be inclined (i.e., make a decison) to stop sinning and “start obeying” to receive the gift of eternal life. This is to tell a lost man that he must turn over a new leaf to be born again. Nathan’s repentance is telling a lost man that he must make a commitment to change his behavior, which is telling a lost man he must repent toward good works. I am certainly not suggesting that a lost man who thinks he can pray for salvation, while at the same time is determined to continue his sinful ways, can be genuinely born again.

    For the record here, and in my book, I strongly object to the reductionist Crossless gospel associated with Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society. Nathan’s repentance, however, demands a commitment for reformation of life to receive the gift of eternal life.

    Lordship Salvation’s repentance confuses sanctification (growth of a believer) with justification, (God declaring/making a sinner righteous). For Lordship advocates anything short of a commitment to obedience is not repentance, and would leave the lost man dead in his sins, no matter he believed about his guilt before God or the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An upfront commitment to the kind of behavior expected of a spiritually mature Christian to become a born again Christian is the Lordship advocates definition of repentance.