Friday, July 08, 2005

Johnny Hunt and Election:

On Monday, June 20, Johnny Hunt spoke at the 2005 SBC Pastor's Conference. I have found this one link from James White's webcast. If you listen from the 17:06 mark until the 18:00 mark (a real short clip), you will hear for yourself what Hunt had to say (you'll need Real Audio).

By the way, aren’t you grateful that there’s hope (listen to me carefully; it’s important that you understand this, Convention) that there’s hope for everyone in Jesus. Everyone, everyone, not a select group, everyone. Someone says, “Pastor, do you believe you’re the elect?” I sure am and everyone that gets in is elect and He’s elected all of us. I believe everyone can be saved. Anyone can come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Someone says “I don’t think you ought to preach like that.” Well, I just hope nobody gets saved that’s not supposed to. I’m serious. WE’D BETTER GET AWAY FROM THAT AND GET BACK TO THE BOOK AND INVITE EVERYONE TO COME TO CHRIST. JUST PREACH IT, INVITE EVERYBODY. TELL EVERYONE.

Where to begin? First, this post is NOT about Hunt. Anyone could have said these words at any meeting and I'd say the same things. This post is about the gospel. It is about the message. It is about doctrine.

1) Everyone that gets in is elect and He's elected all of us? Let's try to follow his thinking: if you get into heaven you are the elect. Yet, God has elected all of us. So then, all are getting in? I am sure that Hunt would deny this but this is what he said - very emotionally and very passionately. Perhaps Hunt meant to imply that "all of us" meant all of the pastors who were in the audience that day. That sounds like the only way to avoid being labeled a "universalist."

He's elected ALL of us? How can you explain Paul's words in Romans 8:33, where he writes, "
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?" If God has elected all of us, that there are no charges brought against ANY of us. And to Hunt, "us" means "everybody that has ever lived, is living or will live."

He's elected ALL of us? How can he explain Jesus' words about the future, where the Christ says in Matthew 24:31 that "
he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." So, God will gather ALL OF US and take us to heaven in what seems to be a Rapture?

He's elected ALL of us? How can you explain Paul's words in I Corinthians 1:18, where he writes "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The cross is foolishness to one group of people and power to another. It appears God is dealing with two separate groups of people here. He is not dealing with a single large group that is made up of ALL of us - the elect.

Paul goes on to say a few sentences later that
"Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Again, we see two groups: Jews and Gentiles who don't believe and a single group that does believe - Jews and Greeks who are called. How does that apply? Read below the words of Christ recorded by John the beloved.

2) Anyone can come to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Really? That is not what Jesus said in John 6:45 - "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." Jesus said only certain ones come to the Father - those who are drawn to Him. Does God draw everyone? If that is the case, then Jesus says that "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day." Let's put it all together - the only ones that come are the ones that the Father gives to the Son and calls to the Son. All those who are called/given WILL come. All those who come WILL be saved. If Jesus calls all, ALL will come and ALL will be saved. This is the clear, obvious and unavoidable conclusion of Hunt's message.

3) We'd better get away from that and get back to the book and invite everyone? Can Hunt or anyone else show a true Reformed theologian or minister who believes otherwise? I'm not talking about hyper-Calvinism, which is sub-Christian and heretical. I am talking about true biblical calvinism, the kind Paul teaches in Ephesians and Romans and John teaches in his gospel. The Calvinist believes in sharing the gospel with all. Why? Because the Calvinist does not know who the elect are.

You might ask, "Why share at all if whoever is going to get saved is going to get saved no matter what you do?" Well, first of all, the one who asks this question reveals a woeful ignorance of the doctrines of grace. Second, the same argument can be leveled against the free-will theist. Consider this: you believe that God is omniscient and knows all things in the past, present and future (because He transcends time and simply because He is God). Therefore, we must believe that God knows infallibly right now who will or will not be saved in the years to come. He knows perfectly the final number of the saved. That number must be a finite and definite number. Now, if God knows "John Pagan" will never be saved (even with his almighty free-will acting apart from God's own "sovereign" power), there is no way that "John Pagan" can be saved unless God is WRONG today about that actuality. So, why would you witness to "John Pagan"? For the same reason I would - God told me to and I don't know what God knows.


Bruce Roberts said...

From these excerpts from the Convention, and your criticism of them (no insult intended there), it seems that one would find it difficult right now to determine what a Baptist is (this is in relation to my repsonse to the Falwell article). I think I'll just stick with Christian and believe what the Bible says. I can't really explain things theologically, but I absolutely believe what the Bible says completely.

Wes Kenney said...

I would just point out that you are inconsistent in your first point of argument, in that you say in the first paragraph of your argument, Perhaps Hunt meant to imply that "all of us" meant all of the pastors who were in the audience that day.

That is clearly what Hunt meant by that statement, because, as you point out, to mean anything else would make him a universalist, and of course you don't believe that to be the case. No person who believed that would bother sharing the gospel with anyone.

But you then go on to write four paragraphs as if you really do believe Hunt is a universalist, when he clearly meant "all of us" in the context of the room full of pastors to which he was speaking. Now while it is possible that some in that room were not truly born again, Hunt necessarily assumed they were.

Your arguments are well reasoned and well written, but many of them are based on an assumption of something that simply was not said.

Jeff A. Spry said...

Wes, that may be true but can you prove that is Hunt's argument? That seems an assumption on your part as well. If that is what Hunt meant, he was very careless in his language. The tone and rhetoric of the rest of his message indicates that he has a very low view of election.

Also, granted that is what Hunt meant - would you be willing to grant that the same meaning is implied in some of the "all" texts of Scripture?

What about 2 Peter 3:9? Peter is writing to "those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours." Then in Ch 3, there is no indication of a change in audience and Peter writes consistently to "you" and "us" and "dear friends" while at the same time referring to "them" and "they" and "scoffers."

Now, in the verse in question (v.9), Peter writes that the Lord is "patient with YOU, not wanting ANYONE to perish but EVERYONE to come to repentance."

What do you think of this argument: Peter is referring to that same audience throughout? Any of you? Everyone of you?

Wes Kenney said...


I appreciate your taking the time to reply. I agree that Hunt chose his words poorly, not realizing that they would be taken from that context in which he surely meant, as you recognized, to refer only to those to whom he was speaking. I think it would be fairer to say that Hunt has a low view of limited atonement, which leads him necessarily to an altogether different view of election, not necessarily a low one.

As to 2 Peter and to this discussion in general, I don’t deny that there are good arguments to be made from Scripture. But in these chapters I see several things that could be seen to argue in very different ways. If ‘all’ refers only to believers, then 2:1 must argue against perseverance as well as limited atonement:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.

2 Peter 2:1 (HCSB)

In order to avoid those conclusions, ‘you’ cannot be inclusive in that way. If the Master bought them, how could they bring destruction on themselves, unless bought is seen as general. I just don’t think that “you” can be used that way here and still support the argument you make, and I would say the same for 3:9.

Ultimately, while I can’t for myself affirm limited atonement, there are passages which lead me to say that my brain just isn’t big enough to contain all of God’s truth. I humbly submit myself to those things I clearly understand, and diligently study those things that are not yet clear in my mind. And I continually thank God for folks like you who are helping, Proverbs 27:17 style, in that process.