In this episode Kurt speaks with Dr. Leighton Flowers, author of The Potter’s Promise on soteriology (the study of salvation).
What do you meme?
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a pleasure to be with you here on another fine sunny Saturday. We’ve had a few of those the past several weeks which has been nice here in downtown west Chicago, Illinois at the Defenders Media Offices, and we’ve got a great show for you today, but before we get around to that I’ve got just a few announcements. We had a couple of winners for the giveaway last week. The way you go to enter for the giveaway, we’re going to try to start doing this each week, is just to share the livestream that we’re playing right now. Just share the video. If you’re maybe watching this video on Facebook after the fact, that’s okay, just give is a share anyway. This week, here’s what we’re giving away. We are giving away Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant And Extreme by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, compliment of Baker Books. We’re giving away one copy here and again all you have to enter is to share the video on Facebook that we’ve got on our Veracity Hill page. If you haven’t already you can like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and also, if you have a chance, if you’re a long time listener of the podcast, take a moment if you would and give us a review on iTunes or whatever your podcast outlet might be. Give Veracity Hill a review. We’d love to sort of help raise the exposure that way and tell a friend about the show as well. I hope that you’ve liked the content that we’ve been putting out week after week and there’s a variety of topics that we have from more core theological doctrines such as soteriology which is what we’re talking about today, the study of salvation, to more lighthearted stuff, to economic issues on capitalism so there’s just, a number of different perspectives out there in the world. There’s a variety of topics, but all these things we do, we talk about these things and I know some ministries, they shy away from talking about political issues. While we don’t talk about candidates, we want to talk about political issues from time to time because all truth is God’s truth. There’s not an inch of the planet where God doesn’t say that it’s His. It belongs to Him. So when we can discover political truths, like ethical truths on things that should not happen in a society, even in a pluralistic society, when we discover ethical truths on economics, these are things that we want to defend and to talk about.
To be honest with you, the more our culture becomes divisive over political issues, I think the more important it is that we learn to talk about these issues instead of just avoiding them. If we avoid conflict, that’s only going to make the division worse. Instead we should be able to learn to talk about these things. That’s a rant to start the show. If you want to have your voice heard, you can give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Did you know you can also text in to the show? Just text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and once you do that you can send me comments, suggestions about the show, or guests if you have questions for them. I’ve got our texting program up here right now so if you text me right now I will in fact get that so again just text the word VERACITY to 555-888. I believe that does it and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to past episodes, you can check those out at the website Veracityhill.com or if you’re a subscriber on iTunes or Google Play you can download all those past shows as well.
Today we are talking about the doctrine of soteriology and that’s a big word, but what it is is basically the study of salvation and we’ve talked about salvation and different doctrines on the show before. In fact last week we were just talking about the atonement and models of the atonement, but a few months back we had a show on Calvinism. We’re going to be talking a little bit about Calvinism today and reviewing that and to help us flesh out some of these doctrinal positions, I want to welcome our guest onto the show. Dr. Leighton Flowers. Thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Leighton: My pleasure Kurt. Thanks for having me.
Kurt: Great. Thanks. And for those of you who haven’t heard of Dr. Flowers, he is the author of The Potter’s Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology and he is also the director of Apologetics and Youth Evangelism for Texas Baptist and so he’s got a podcast called Soteriology 101. You can check that out at soteriology101.com. You can read more information about Dr. Flowers there, about his work, and check out the podcast as well which I am humbled to say I was a fine guest on the show I guess several months ago now. I guess I’ve got to come back on sometime soon huh?
Leighton: Absolutely. You’re always welcome.
Kurt: Before we jump into your book. Let’s take a look at the big picture here. We’ve got this word soteriology. What does that mean? How does it apply to the types of conversations that you find yourself having these days?
Leighton: Actually, soteriology is the study of salvation and the way I look at it is I can’t think of a more important subject in the world when you really begin to think about it, the subject of our ability to have a relationship with the God of the universe and to know that we have eternal life. I can’t think of something more valuable to spend your time talking about and so yeah, there are a lot of questions with regard to this salvation, how we are saved, what we are saved from, what does it mean to say I have been saved. When we talk about salvation are we talking about something that we did back we did when we were, like for me, when I was seven years old, walked an aisle, said a prayer, was baptized. Is it bigger than that? Is it something that really affects our lives forever? Is it something we really should own as C.S. Lewis said? Christianity is either the most important thing or not important at all. What it can’t be is just mediocre. It can’t be just something that we treat that is a kind of lukewarm thing. I think that’s what Revelation is kind of talking about. It’s an important subject because if it’s true, there cannot be a more important thing than our Christian faith and our relationship with our creator.
Kurt: And this of course has been a question that Christian thinkers have been asking themselves over the centuries. How is it that I am saved? There’s sort of the objective worries. How is it that the atoning work of Christ can save humans, but then there’s also the subjective worry. How is it that I personally am saved? Dr. Flowers. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but theologians have sort of dealt with this Latin term, ordo salutis, which means the order of salvation. Here thinkers have come up with different models over the century for how it is that the subjective person is saved, so how is it that we know, what is the order there? What does God do? What does man do? What do these terms of justification and sanctification come in? What is the nature of man? All these issues are dealt with with that Latin term ordo salutis. Before we get into more specific, I want to ask you about your doctoral research, but before we get into that, what are some of the ways, the scopes that people have gotten into ordo salutis? I know that’s kind of a broad question but take with it as you will.
Leighton: Well, there’s a lot of controversy over that. What happens first? What does God do? What is God responsible for? What are we as humanity responsible for in the process of conversion? Those are all deep questions that have a lot of theological baggage that have kind of been added on over the centuries when you really think about it because there’s so many different definitions of even the term regeneration for example. So many people throw that word around as if it’s been used one particular way throughout Christian history and it hasn’t and the way for example even John Calvin used the term regeneration, it’s very different than most five point Calvinists use it today.
Leighton: And concepts of what are sometimes referred to as pre-faith regeneration, where often times Calvinists will explain one is regenerated or born again unto faith. In other words it is through regeneration or being made anew, giving a new heart, that one can come to confess in Christ and believe in Him. I believe that’s kind of putting the cart before the horse to say we have to be given a new heart in order to admit that we have a bad one. I think that we have to humble ourselves and confess our need for God and His regenerative work and in doing so, by humbling ourselves, by returning home from our pigsty so to speak, then and only then will God choose to bring new life as I think John 20:31, aptly states, he has written these things, speaking of the Gospel, he’s written these things so that we may believe and that by believing we may have life in His name, and so the ordo salutis issue is what happens first. We all agree that God initiates the process of salvation. He came to seek and save the lost. He sent Christ. That’s an initiative work of God. He sent the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to the world. That’s an initiative work of God. He sent the powerful Gospel truth, a double-edged sword that pierces not only through bone and marrow, but sword and spirit. It’s powerful, it’s the power of God unto salvation, that’s an initiative work of God. We all agree that God initiates the process, the question becomes, is ultimately that initiative work sufficient to enable a lost person to respond in faith to His appeal, the Gospel appeal calling us to reconciliation to God? I contend that it is. I believe that the Gospel, God’s Word, is always sufficient to establish the purpose for which it is sent, and the purpose of the Gospel to all people, is to make an appeal, to call people in repentance to faith. It’s our responsibility to put our trust in Him. And so the ordo salutis for the traditionalist like myself, the non-Calvinistic traditionalist from the Southern Baptist worldview is that God initiates the salvation process by bringing the Gospel via His Holy Spirit power and in doing so enables us to respond to that revelation so as to be saved.
Kurt: That’s interesting. You talked about how you’ve made this great distinction just now. You talked about how it’s for God’s purpose and then you specified what that purpose was, how the purpose for all people to hear the message that they might repent, something along those lines, and that reminds me in the classic Calvinism/Arminianism debate, which is this a part of, the traditional Southern Baptist view here that you’re advocating, fits in there and it might be distinct from Arminianism and that’s why you’ve got a label for it that’s used, but it reminds me here of this part of the debate where often times you always hear one person say, “Well, in my understanding of God, God always gets what God wants,” and I agree with that. It’s just that we can’t beg the question. We can’t beg the question, what does God always want? Does God want to meticulously determine everything that occurs on planet Earth or does God always want His creatures to exercise their freewill and to be in a truly free, loving relationship with Him and so I appreciate the nuance that you gave there about how it’s specific for His purpose.
Leighton: I hear that quite often, for example a lot of times a Calvinist will quote Psalm 115:3 that says, “God sits in the Heavens and does what He pleases” and then kind of end there almost like, “Well that proves Calvinism.” God does whatever He wants to do. I always look back at them and say, “Well of course, God does what He wants to do. The question is what does He want to do?” Did He want to create a world like C.S. Lewis said with automatons, or does He want to create a world with free moral creatures and with real responsibility and verse 16 of that same chapter actually says the heavenlies belong to God but He’s given the Earth over to man, which seems to indicate this concept of human autonomy, that there is a way in which God has given over to the principalities and the rulers of this dark world a sense of autonomy and freedom of choice and that’s our theodicy in fact. That’s how we explain the problem of evil. That’s how we understand why God has created the world the way that He has so that there’s true love and relationship worth having and though there are obviously still mysteries within that, contained within all that, it’s still essential to understand the basis of all our soteriological worldview.
Kurt: Yeah. Maybe we’re already jumping ahead of ourselves here. We’ve talked about, we’ve kind of thrust ourselves into this debate, but maybe we’ve got to review quickly here what Calvinism is. Before we get into that let me just remind people, if you’ve got comments or questions, you can give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. You can text me. Text the word VERACITY to 555-888, and we also have the Facebook livestream running up here today, so if we’ve got comments or questions, I’ve got it here in front of me so go ahead and type your questions out or your comments and we’ll be happy to talk about and clarify anything, maybe where Leighton and I who, we study theology, and so maybe we both know what each other means, but maybe you don’t know what we mean when we say something, so you want us to clarify. Go ahead and just comment there. We’ve got a number of people that have joined here watching online so thank you for watching. Leighton. Calvinism can be summed up by the TULIP. Maybe that’s a good starting point just because it’s an easy acronym. I don’t like to talk about what I, I don’t believe this. I don’t affirm that. Really, we should talk about the things that we do believe, but maybe the TULIP serves as a good starting point for us right now. So Calvinism, at least in terms of how it pertains to Ordo Salutis, would affirm the TULIP. What is the TULIP?
Leighton: Yeah. It’s a fairly historically recent development of, like you said, an acronym that helps people summarize a soteriological worldview and even Calvinists contend with some of the different letters and they like to rephrase to give it more clarity, and it’s impossible for, especially either one of us, to really represent Calvinism rightly because there’s many different forms of Calvinism.
Leighton: It’s not one monolithic group. Even Calvinists, some are four-pointers or some would say four and a half-pointer or three and a half-pointer.
Kurt: Yeah. I’m a half-point Calvinist.
Leighton: Exactly. A lot of people don’t like the labels and don’t even like the acronyms, but in general, and again I’m trying to be as general as possible to include as much underneath that Calvinistic umbrella as I can fairly, and we do want to represent Calvinists fairly and to recognize there’s different types of Calvinism. There’s supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism and sublapsarianism and if you want to get into that, good luck. Just google it and start reading. They get pretty hairy, but again, just the broad concept is basically, the concept of the T is referring to total depravity, and most of us even as Southern Baptists would affirm the concept of depravity, but where Calvinists go further than we would go is in the concept of inability, where mankind is completely incapable, morally speaking, of coming to faith in Christ through the Gospel presentation unless they’re first regenerated. That’s what we’re talking about earlier with the ordo salutis, so a person who’s totally depraved in the Calvinistic worldview is someone who is fallen to the point that even they can’t respond to God’s own appeal to be reconciled from that fall unless they’re first made alive and regenerated and that’s a concept of total inability.
Kurt: And so earlier the illustration you gave us is that Calvinists would say that God has to give us sort of the new heart or the new will even before we can ask for it.
Kurt: Because if humans are totally unable to do this because they’re in such a depraved state then there’s nothing we can do at all. It’s not that, and a fine distinction here is, it’s not that for people that would disagree with that view, we don’t think that we’re earning our salvation, but we do think that we have a role, a part to play in the salvific process by accepting a gift.
Kurt: And that is distinct because I think for the Calvinist, this idea that well, if humans were so good to even humble ourselves in the first place to recognize it, that that would somehow earn our salvation, I think that’s a misconception out there. Okay. Sorry. Continue on the TULIP.
Leighton: Yeah. I really do believe the T is kind of the foundation and I think even Calvinists will admit that it’s the foundational point on which the rest of the entire systematic is kind of built, and that’s why whenever you really understand the distinction between depravity and the concept of moral inability as I think presumed wrongly by Calvinism, I really think the rest of the system kind of tumbles under the T because once you establish human responsibility and that we haven’t lost our ability to respond to God Himself because one, God’s going to send sufficient revelation because we’re not just talking about the nature of man here. We’re also talking about the nature of revelation. In other words, does God bring a message that’s sufficient to enable someone who’s lost to respond in faith to that message and I believe He does, and therefore when one doesn’t, it’s not God’s fault. It’s not because God has withheld some kind of grace that that person needed. It’s not because God has rejected Him and therefore they’re rejecting a God that’s first rejected them. It’s not that God hated them first and therefore they hate God. No. God has provided what is needed and has graced them with the sufficient revelation so that they stand without excuse and I think total inability within Calvinism really gives back the very excuse that Paul took away in Romans 1 and following and so when you go through the TULIP, you kind of, we’ve already kind of touched on two points actually. We’ve touched on the T and the I which is not in the right order obviously, but irresistible Grace, if we can jump ahead, is that regeneration we just mentioned and so ultimately what the Calvinist says is that because somebody’s born totally incapable morally speaking of responding in faith to the Gospel, God must do something. What does He do? He irresistibly graces them or effectually calls them or regenerates them. In other words He brings a new heart and so that they want to come. Calvinists aren’t saying that people are trying to get to Heaven and can’t and they’re striving to be Christians and they can’t. What they’re saying is that they don’t want to be Christians. They don’t want to follow God. They’re enemies of God and they hate everything about God and the only way they’ll ever want to come to God is if God changes their wanter. R.C. Sproul talks about our wanter is broken and God has to change your wanter to make you want Him. That’s what irresistible grace does. It changes the wanter. Go ahead.
Kurt: Right. And so for the I there, the choice when given the option to accept the gift of salvation, for the Calvinist, the choice is just so good that they wouldn’t choose otherwise, but really they also think that you can’t choose otherwise, that you can’t turn it away whereas for non-Calvinists such as Arminians or traditionalists, even Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, the vast vast majority of Christians, believe that it is a gift that can be turned away and rejected, but for the Calvinist, that gift cannot be rejected so the I really touches upon that. You really get the sense of freedom here, at least for how the Calvinist might mean freedom. It means something a little different than the way most other people mean it. That’s not to say poor judgment on this issue right away. Maybe the Calvinists have the correct view of freedom, but that’s a very important point to recognize because I don’t want people to miscommunicate because sometimes in these discussions both sides will say “I believe in human freedom.” Of course. We need to be more precise and particular with our language for how we are drawing these distinctions, these differences, because people do mean different things when they talk about that word freedom.
Kurt: We’ve got the T and the I. Keep going.
Leighton: The typical Calvinist is also a compatibilist typically meaning that if they say “Absolutely. I believe a person’s free.” What they mean by that is a man is able to do what they want to do and men act in accordance with their nature or their desires and it’s like Dr. Braxton Hunter with Trinity, I think he says it well, is that you can do what you want. You just can’t want what you want. In other words, your wanter is broken. In other words you’re born in a condition where you will only want to reject God and you’ll only want to do things that are selfish and sinful ultimately, and therefore you can’t want the things of God and so you’re acting freely in accordance to your nature and your desires, but the nature and the desires are ultimately determined by your creator within those giving circumstances which are also equally determined by your creator, so it’s a form of a hard determinism. It’s just a way of saying that mankind is so determined that ultimately by the creator is responsible and culpable for his actions because he’s doing what he desires to do.
Leighton: And there again you get some nuances to that, but go ahead.
Kurt: I would agree with you. I think that it is a distinction without a difference because when you read Calvin, there’s a certain section, and I don’t have it in front of me, but he talks about how the mind of man is so entirely alienated from God that he can’t do anything but what is wicked. The total sense that man on his own cannot do anything good and Edwin Palmer in his book The Five Points of Calvinism also talks about this. He says that unregenerate humans can do certain goods, but only when you understand what that good is and it’s a relative good because objectively it’s nothing else other than evil and sin, so it’s fascinating that you get this distinction, but I don’t think there’s much of a difference because ultimately it is the same thing substantially, but continue.
Leighton: Yeah. Absolutely. When we have people who are then, you’ve got the T, people are born in this total inability, this depraved condition. You’ve got certain individuals who are irresistibly or effectually regenerated, graced, but who are those people? Those are the people who have been chosen and that’s where you get to the U, the unconditional election, and what Calvinists teach is that before time began, God chose for no apparent reason, what I mean by that is no known reason to us, what I think is by the true definition of arbitrary an arbitrary choice, and a lot of Calvinists don’t like that terminology, but if you look up the word arbitrary in Webster’s dictionary it means to make a choice without any outside influence, so a dictator would make an arbitrary choice because he’s making a choice that’s totally completely for his own pleasure and without any outside consideration at all, but the word arbitrary has a negative connotation because oftentimes we think of dictators making arbitrary choices and therefore Calvinists don’t like to paint God in a negative light by calling it an arbitrary choice and I understand that, but by the strictest definition of the word arbitrary, I can’t think of any other word to describe it. It is a choice without any outside consideration. It’s an unconditional choice meaning that there are no conditions outside of God Himself that decide, that ultimately determine, who He chooses to give this irresistible grace to.
Kurt: The Calvinist would say that it’s all for His glory or it’s a great mystery.
Leighton: For His own pleasure.
Kurt: They just don’t know what the reason is and sometimes I wish that people, when they’re stuck in a tough spot, I hope that they would just say “I don’t really know.” Maybe it’s for these reasons. It’s true. God has His reasons for doing the things that He does and sometimes we don’t know why He does those things and so in apologetics, there’s a phrase called skeptical theism which refers to the fact that we simply don’t know why it is that God would allow some action, so that deals with the problem of evil, but maybe the Bible talks about a different perspective, that God doesn’t exactly choose individuals without regard for their choices, but before we get further into that, we’ve got a couple other points here, the L and the P.
Leighton: Yeah. Those He’s unconditionally chosen before time began, His elect is what they’re referred to, these are the chosen ones of God, that He doesn’t look through the corridors of time to decide who’s going to choose based on what He sees in them. A totally completely unconditional choice and therefore those He’s chosen and effectually regenerates or irresistibly graces, He also pays for their atonement. In other words, He sends Christ to pay for them. Calvinists would also agree with most of us with the satisfaction of the atonement, the penal satisfaction view of atonement you spoke of in your last show, most Calvinists would hold to that view and therefore the elect need to be substituted for, and therefore Christ came to die for His church, His sheep, His elect, His chosen ones, and no one else, and that’s what He came for. That’s the strictest form of the particular redemption, some of them refer to, or a limited atonement, that the atonement is for those especially elected people who before the foundation of the world, those are the ones He came to die for. That’s the L from the TULIP. Go ahead.
Kurt: On the L, that’s contrasted with some people who would like to think that Christ’s atoning work is at least sufficient for all if all would believe, that they might believe, whereas for the Calvinist, they don’t quite think that. They don’t think that you could say that Christ has died for the sins of all people, every people, only the Elect. Is that right? Is that a fair assessment?
Leighton: Yeah. The argument that many Calvinists erroneously make is that if Christ died for everyone then everyone would necessarily have to be saved, because that would be universalism. In other words, if Christ really came to die for everybody, then everybody’s debt would be paid for, there would be no reason for anybody to go to Hell because after all he’s paid for everybody’s debt so that they would all go to Heaven. The problem with that is that view is a very commercialistic kind of view. In other words, it’s not considering the fact that it’s not just a debt that has to be paid but that we’ve committed a crime. The difference would be like if you and I went out for a meal that’s fine, the restaurant’s not going to care if I pick up your tab or not, but if you go to the local bank and you rob the bank and you take off and then I go pay the bank what you robbed, you’re still going to be on the wanted list. They’re still coming after you. You’ve not only got a debt to pay, but you’ve also committed a crime and so what we need to understand within atonement is you’re not only talking about a debt being paid, you’re also talking about the fact that you’ve broken God’s Law. You’ve committed a crime and so there’s more than just the payment of a debt with regard to atonement and so what we talk about is a provisional atonement meaning that it is provided for the whole, but it only benefits the part, and so the perfect example of this is the one that Jesus uses when He talks about the serpent that’s lifted up in the desert. The serpent was lifted up for the snake-bitten Jews to be healed from venom. So you know that if they were bitten by a snake themselves, they look to the serpent for healing and they were healed. That was a provisional atonement. Provision for healing. It was provided for the whole nation, but it only benefitted those who actually looked to that serpent in faith and in the same way, Christ has provided for the world as many texts clearly indicate, that He died for the world, that He’s the savior of the world, that He’s a propitiation for our sins and the sins of the world, and so the Scriptures are very very clear and this is probably the reason that the L is the most controversial point within the Calvinistic doctrine and many Calvinists, four-point Calvinists, Amyraldians, what they’re referred to as, and even some who hold to a lower form of the particular redemption than some higher views like the John Owen view of the limited atonement, that’s a huge controversy even among Calvinists. Intervarsity did among Calvinists over the L of atonement because of this very reason. They recognized throughout Israel’s history there has always been provisional atonement, an atonement provided for the whole that only benefitted those who actually did what God told them to do, the blood on the doorposts of the door, look to the serpent for healing, those are provisional views of the atonement.
Kurt: Let’s jump to the P quickly because we’ve got to take a break, but two minutes, let’s do the P here.
Leighton: Yeah. Perseverance of the Saints is pretty much just a flow from the rest that just says God has bought and those God has chosen, that He will seal them and He will certainly save them to the very end. In other words they will persevere. There are some Arminians who reject that concept that mankind can actually lose their salvation because of sin. There are other Arminians that say, no, you can’t accidentally fall out of grace or accidentally lose your salvation, but you can step out or renounce.
Kurt: Forsake. Yeah. Renounce.
Leighton: You can forsake it and leave your faith and then there’s the more traditional Southern Baptist view that I hold to, that those who have gone out from us, they’re revealing they never really were of us meaning you’re revealing the genuineness or the lack of sincerity of a faith if it doesn’t last. In other words, true love as defined by Paul in 1 Cor. 13 is it does not end. It continues and therefore we would say in the same way, genuine faith does not end and therefore you’re proving your faith not to be genuine if you were to leave it, and so that’s just different views of how you talk about the whole once saved always saved, which I really think should be reworded, if saved, always saved, so if you’ve truly been reborn then I believe you won’t become unborn again, that you could, and again I have a lot of respect for people who disagree with me on this view. I understand where they’re coming from. I understand that there’s passages that give real warnings about examining your faith because I really do believe those are warning passages that we should heed because we can’t assume that the four soils of the Scripture, you can’t assume you’re the good soil. You’re called to examine your faith and examine your heart to see if you truly pass the test, if you’re truly in the faith, if you have a genuine and lasting and enduring faith.
Kurt: Good. I’m glad we found a point where we actually disagree with one another. It’s always good to know that you don’t agree perfectly with someone.
Kurt: Good. Alright. We’ve got to take a short break but afterward, I want to talk about your past. You used to be a Calvinist lo and behold and then you spent some time studying different Southern Baptist approaches to Ordo Salutis, to soteriology, so we’ll talk about those as well after this break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors and I’m here today with Dr. Leighton Flowers and we are discussing soteriology and soon enough we’ll get more into his book The Potter’s Promise. Of course, some of the things we have been talking about, but before we continue that discussion, It is time for my favorite segment of the show and Chris’s least favorite part of the show….
Kurt: It’s What Do You Meme? Our first one today, we’ve got two that we’re dealing with. The first one is a political meme and those that are following here on the livestream can watch it and we will put this image up on the web site as well. You can see here there are six different images of presidents and their wives and the caption for this photo from this Facebook page says, “This one really tells you everything you need to know about Donald Trump.” Here Donald Trump is the only one who is far ahead of his wife coming down Air Force One. The reason why this was selected as a meme for the show is I want to talk about photo journalism because I’m sure, I am sure that we could find pictures where the president has come down first and the first lady is coming behind him as opposed to side by side. I think we need to be really careful about how we interpret and react to photos that we see and I see a lot of people here on this Facebook page where this was shared, they just kind of, they’re immediately taken aback about, “How dare he!” yadda yadda yadda, and I think it’s really important that we stay calm and access and realize and we think outside of the image itself because as I’d mentioned, there are likely photos here where the president has gone ahead of the First Lady and those pictures could have easily been used for this meme so the point of photo journalism is that we need to be aware of what we’re viewing because photos can be very selective and they can be inconsistently published. You don’t see everything that the journalist takes. You only see what they want you to see. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad. We always have a bias and sometimes those biases are good and sometimes those biases are bad and so we need to realize that and part of my purpose for talking about political things on the show is that I want people to not just go along with party politics because parties have all been changed, the issues have all been changed. Really we want to focus on the issues. That’s what we need to focus on and if you really want to win people over, we shouldn’t play party politics because we need to talk about these issues and convince people what we think about some particular issue. Sometimes the camps don’t fit so neat and nice. At any rate, that’s the first meme here and for the second meme here we’ve got an image of John Calvin and Superman and so I’m going to bring Leighton in to talk about this one here. Leighton. Tell me about this meme. We’ve got Calvin, is this a kryptonite to Superman? Tell us what’s going on here.
Leighton: Yeah. I think sometimes Calvinists have the impression that Romans 9, almost like Psalm 115:3 that we referenced earlier, that God sits in Heaven and does whatever He pleases, it’s almost like they feel like it’s a slam dunk. I felt that way when I was a Calvinist. I felt like nothing you could about Romans 9. A matter of fact, when I was in a preaching class and I was given the opportunity to read a chapter, we were practicing reading in front of the group, and I got up and guess what I read. I read Romans 9 as a young Calvinist because I thought, “Hey. All I have to do is read this thing.”
Kurt: The text says this and therefore that.
Leighton: Exactly. There’s no way around it. You’ve proved Calvinism if you just read Romans 9 and I think that kind of certainty that many Calvinists, especially young restless Reformed type Calvinists feel because they have not studied the various views throughout church history, very intelligent and respected people have held to with regards to Romans 9 and even the variant views among Calvinists, for example how even John Piper contends with Douglas Moo and John Scott on several points throughout their interpretations of Romans 9. Once you begin to see the in-fighting among Calvinists over certain verses, you being to become a little less dogmatic about how you’ve interpreted it for years and you begin to approach it with a little bit better, I hope, a little bit better objectivity and to say there are various ways in which people have understood this chapter and it doesn’t have to be kind of this idea, that, oh no, if somebody pulls out Romans 9 then I have to concede to Calvinism because there’s no other possible answer.
Kurt: That’s a good point. Before we continue getting further into the details on Romans 9, you talked about how you were a Calvinist and you used this passage for that defense. Tell us a little bit about your background. You used to affirm the TULIP, but what happened and then also I want to learn more about your doctoral studies so tell me about that too.
Leighton: Sure. Yeah. I was raised in a typical Southern Baptist church and some people would say, you used to be an Arminian until you became a Calvinist. Once new Calvinists say “I used to be an Arminian.” The truth of the matter is you’re probably nothing before you became a Calvinist. In other words, you did not really have a soteriological structure or systematic in place. That’s where I was. I was a young man. I had not really studied Romans 9 or Ephesians 1. I had not studied the doctrines of election or predestination to any extent that I understood what they meant historically or otherwise and so I was first introduced in college to passionate preachers who were very very good at what they do, like John MacArthur and in fact I went to school with Matt Chandler and he and I were mentored by the same pastor and so me along with several other young men started reading MacArthur together and R.C. Sproul’s book, The Chosen By God. I remember sitting down and reading it one sitting in my dorm and I just became a full-fledged five-point Calvinist over the course of just a couple of weeks out of reading some of these Calvinistic authors and kind of bought into it and my church actually happened to be just totally separate from that. My church back home in Wiley happened to be going through a church split over this very issue. There was a Sunday School teacher that was pretty prominent in the church who was teaching Calvinism and the pastor and the staff were not Calvinistic so they confronted him and he ended up leaving the church and taking a lot from his Sunday School class and kind of a good portion of the church with him and started a Reformed Baptist church there in Wiley. But at that time, I was coming back to intern with the youth pastor when that was all happening and I was kind of a closet Calvinist at the time and so I at least had enough integrity to go to the youth pastor and tell him the truth about what I believed and ended up leaving the church. They asked me not to serve on staff holding to those views and so I ended up going to that Reformed Baptist church. My older brother who was married at the time with kids, he was also Reformed in his views as well and we went and became a part of that new Reformed church. It was emotional. We’d had a lot of friends there. We’d grown up in that church. My parents were part of that church and they’re not Calvinistic and you can imagine the torment they were having to go through with both their sons going through this church split and everything else and people referring to him as heretics and all these kinds of things and the difficulty of that for them and they handled it very very well. Looking back on it now as a parent myself, I admire them all the more. The churches that used to handle that, they ended up going to a different church altogether that was totally separate from everything so they wouldn’t have to get mixed in it all, but we went through for ten years, a good decade of my life, all through college and my seminary years as well. I held to five-point Calvinism. I had John Piper come to some of our events. Matt Chandler, like I said we were friends, and I’ve had him speak at a lot of our events. Still today, my best friend in the world is Calvinistic. My brother is still Calvinistic leaning as far as I know and I get along with them just fine. We just disagree on this issue, but over I guess about ten years of being a Calvinist, in my early 30’s I was reading from A.W. Tozer. A.W. Tozer was a Calvinist because he was smart…
Kurt: well-versed in theology. Yeah.
Leighton: Yeah. Passionate. Talked about the glory of God a lot and all that kind of stuff and so I just assumed he has to be a Calvinist and C.S. Lewis, I was the same one. I just thought C.S. Lewis was a Calvinist because he was intelligent in apologetics, and so I assumed both of them were Calvinistic and when I came to read and discover they weren’t, I had kind of in my brain at least in that point I kind of relegated all Arminians, I kind of saw them all become like Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or Bill Hybels. That’s kind of where I categorized all the theological Arminians who were not Calvinists of the world, that they’re practitioners, good people, mean well, they’re happy, love Jesus, but they’re just not real deep. They’re not going to really think about stuff. They’re not going to really have a robust deep theological worldview, and that’s kind of the way I just thought of Arminians and non-Calvinists together. I just didn’t think they were very deep thinking and there was probably good reason for that. That’s what in a lot of ways I’d been exposed to for most of my life is that the Calvinists were really, seemed to be robust deep thinkers who were very exegetical in their teaching and very deep theologically and talked about the glory of God. They seemed to be more concerned about what God thought than what the seeker thought, and there was a lot about me that thought, “We need to be more concerned about what God thinks than what this seeker thinks coming into our churches,” and so there was a big part of me that was drawn to Calvinism because it was weightier and meatier and admitted something and it was serious, and so when I was exposed to people who were very serious about the Christian faith like C.S. Lewis and like A.W. Tozer who did not side theologically with Calvinists….
Kurt: Yeah. All of a sudden Calvinism didn’t seem as strong.
Leighton: Yeah. It just made me go, “Okay. Then why would they not accept it? It’s obvious. Romans 9 right there! You don’t see it? What’s wrong with you people?” It led me to at least objectively say, “Okay. What’s the other side think? Scholars. What do the other scholars who have rejected Calvinism? What is their actual view?” I just had not been exposed to it yet, and I had debated in high school and college and so it had been kind of drilled into me in taking both the affirmative and the negative of every point of debate and so that skill kind of forced to kind of drop my biases and really understand the perspective of my opponent and that’s what started kind of a three year journey of me studying the differing views and I didn’t leave Calvinism right away. I was very secure in my Calvinism and I was very emotionally attached to it. It was kind of a brotherhood that I had developed with friends and I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong about something and I held on to it for a very long time and even after I came out of Calvinism in my early 30’s, it wasn’t until I was probably 39 or so that I finally kind of came out so to speak to say, “I’m not a Calvinist any more.”
Kurt: Was that before or during your doctoral studies?
Leighton: It was kind of my doctoral studies is kind of what outed me in a lot of ways, of being a non-Calvinist. I’d kind of gone silent about it. When I was a Calvinist I was pretty vocal about being a Calvinist, especially with my Calvinistic buddies….
Kurt: Tell me something I don’t know.
Leighton: Yeah, but when it came to starting my doctoral studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, it was a passionate issue for me just because having gone into Calvinism and then back out of Calvinism again, all the study that I went through on that, I had volumes of stuff I’d already written just in my own notes and my wife was just getting onto me saying, “Leighton. You’re writing all this stuff. Why don’t you go get a degree for it?” I just had pages and notebooks full of all these things that I’d written from reading these scholars and reading through Arminius himself and reading back through the Puritans and some of these teachers and the back and forth between the differing views among Calvinists on different issues, why they didn’t agree with each other on atonement? All these different things and just writing them myself and starting to type stuff out myself and just convinced, you need to go get your doctorate degree and actually use this stuff that you’re doing on the side as just your hobby. A lot of people have normal hobbies like fishing and stuff. My normal hobby’s reading Bonhoeffer. I’m weird. I don’t know why. I just enjoy theology stuff and so I went back and got my degree and I chose to write on this particular stuff because I think of my own experience and what I learned in the process.
Kurt: Yeah. Sure. And so as you were studying you encountered more of what’s called this traditionalist soteriology. The traditionalist referring to a traditional, and correct me if I’m mistaken here since you’re much more learned in this area than I am, this is the traditional Southern Baptist view and if that’s correct, tell me more about this view. What makes it distinctive? I know you talked a little bit about that towards the beginning of the show, but go ahead and rehash those things out.
Leighton: Traditionalism is kind of the category that’s landed on us for whatever reason. A lot of Calvinists get offended by us even using the term because it sounds like we’re trying to say that Southern Baptists started as non-Calvinist and have always been non-Calvinist and that’s not the case. There’s been streams of both Calvinists, particular Baptists, and general Baptists, the non-Calvinist, throughout the stream of the very beginning of Baptist history and you can go back and forth, “Well our group is bigger than your group,” Or “We have more in this year than that year.” Well who cares? You know. That’s not really the issue. It’s just a label that’s kind of stuck to say over the last 100 years or so this non-Calvinistic view has been the predominant view among Southern Baptist scholars and pastors, the Herschel Hobbs, Adrian Rogers, kind of soteriological perspective that God loves everyone, genuinely desires everyone to be saved, genuinely calls all to be saved and has provided atonement for all people, that Jesus loves the little children of the world means every little child….
*Kurt and Leighton talk over each other*
Leighton: Yeah. It means that there’s true provision and true opportunity that anyone can genuinely be saved because provision has been made for every man, woman, boy, and girl, and that generally has been the acknowledged soteriological worldview of most Southern Baptists of at least the last 100 years, so just like I would say, “Hey. This Sunday I’m going to the traditional service.” It doesn’t mean I’m going to the worship service that looks just like the church looked like in 1865. It’s saying that I’m going to a church service that’s traditionally like my parents and grandparents and the most people that we have known in our lifetimes. They have believed this. And it’s what I still hold to it today and I don’t just hold to it because my parents held to it. I hold to it because I have actually studied the Scriptures and I really do believe that the Scriptures support this particular soteriological perspective.
Kurt: Alright. Tell us a little bit more about your book The Potter’s Promise, which, shall I do a plug here, you can get on Amazon for $15 in paperback or if you’re one of those digital ereaders you can get it on Kindle for $6 and I’ll hold it up here for the Livestream, The Potter’s Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology. So tell us what’s the book all about?
Leighton: It’s a summary of my doctoral work. Ultimately what it ended up being because my doctoral dissertation was talking about within Southern Baptists, the rise of Calvinism within Southern Baptists, the soteriological alternatives to Calvinism among Southern Baptists over the years and so I give my own testimony from moving from Calvinism into the traditional perspective much like what I’ve just told you about, more details obviously in the book, and then I go through different things within my life that really convinced me that Calvinism wasn’t true like in chapter 1 I talk about the Potter’s character, what kind of God is it that we’re glorifying? It’s all about the glory of God absolutely, but what kind of God are we glorifying? Are we glorifying a God who exalts Himself at the expense of His creation or a God who ultimately sacrifices Himself in order to bring glory, sacrifices Himself for creation thus revealing Himself as glorious so there’s a real distinction within the character of God from both perspectives because I really do believe the traditional perspective honors the character of God as a loving God and a God who’s provided for all people and desires all people. So He’s not disingenuous in His offer or His appeal for reconciliation. He genuinely wants reconciliation and the only reason that anybody perishes is as Paul says, because they refuse to love the truth so as to be saved. It’s not because God refused them or God doesn’t love them or didn’t provide enough revelation for them to respond. It’s because they have rejected that which God has provided through Christ and so understanding His character really helped me to see God from a whole different perspective when I began to shift out of Calvinism. Talking about His elective purposes, understanding from chapter 2, the Potter’s choices, understanding it’s not just election singular, but elections, plural. It’s not just one choice. I think the Calvinists have done a really good job of thinking election is about God’s one choice to save a certain group of people before the foundation of the world.
Leighton: That’s not what the Bible teaches.
Kurt: The Calvinist wouldn’t even necessarily say certain people, but that election is about the specific individual being chosen for eternal salvation and I draw that distinction for the sake of those that would affirm corporate election, that God chooses the group, but doesn’t necessarily foreordain or predetermine the individual to eternal salvation. Sorry. Continue.
Leighton: Right. I would just clarify on that within the corporate view. As a matter of fact, I’d heard, I remember distinctly hearing in seminary about the corporate view of election and I remember thinking to myself as a Calvinist, “Well corporations are made up of individuals too” and I would dismiss the corporate view of election with that one little statement as if that just did away with the corporate view of election. The corporate view of election is not negating the concept of individuals being involved. It’s just saying that the individuals are only associated with the elect as they are associated with the elect one who is in Christ, so in Christ through faith, you are a part of the elect group, the elect body, and so individuals aren’t being neglected. The individual is included in Him through faith. It’s just that He’s the elect one and thus we’re talked about as an individual insomuch as we’re connected to Him, Jesus Christ. Once I understood the elections of God, that God’s chosen a nation, God’s chosen individuals from that nation, like His servants, the apostles and prophets, and He has chosen who they will take the Gospel to, first to His own people and then to the highways and byways, the good and evil alike, and then finally who He’s going to permit to enter the wedding banquet. That is, those who are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. There are four choices right there. Four elections if you will, the election of the nation, the election of the individual servants who were going to bring that message, the election of who He sends the message to, and then fourth and finally, the election of who He permits entrance into the banquet and so when you confront those things together and you treat them all as if election’s one thing, you get the muddled waters of what I think the five-point Calvinistic system has kind of imposed upon the text instead of drawing distinctions between when God’s talking about for example, His choice of His apostles, His calling out of His apostles, and His even convincing of His apostles to take the message to the Gentile world. Those are all part of His elective purposes because God has elected Israel to bring the message to the rest of the world and He keeps His promises. He always accomplishes what He sets out to accomplish and so the point I like to make is, I use Jonah as a great illustration of this, and this really helped me to kind of understand this better, is that Jonah didn’t want to take the message to the Gentile people. He didn’t want to take the message to the Ninevites, so he runs from God, so his freewill is to run from God. That’s what He wants to do. But God always keeps His promises and He always makes sure that His message is delivered even if his messengers are unfaithful in the process. So what does He do? He uses persuasive external means, a storm and a big fish, to convince His messenger to take the message to the Ninevites. But here’s the big point right here. This is the point of contention that a lot of Calvinists just don’t see because they’ve worn the Calvinistic lenses so long they don’t see it I don’t believe. I didn’t see it for a long time, and that is this. Proof that God uses external persuasive means to convince His pre-chosen messengers to take the message to the rest of the world does not prove that God uses an inward irresistible means to make certain people believe that message. It just simply does not follow, and what Calvinists I think have wrongly done is read the New Testament narrative and have read into those texts that talk about God calling out Paul for example or choosing His apostles for example, selecting them and entrusting them with His truth while He’s up in Heaven, and they use that as a narrative to prove a systematic theology to say that God chooses who’s going to be saved and who won’t.
Kurt: Yeah. And even then the examples you gave of prophets and apostles, that choosing isn’t necessarily for eternal salvation. It’s a choosing of a different type, a different sort.
Leighton: Right. They’re elected to carry out a particular purpose. Pharaoh was elected. A lot of people don’t realize that. Pharaoh’s elected. Some people hear that and go “Pharaoh can’t be elected” because when they hear the word elected they automatically think, “Oh election is to salvation.”
Leighton: No. Pharaoh was chosen for a purpose. He wasn’t chosen for a salvific purpose. He was used in his rebellious condition as a rebellious man. He was used and chosen in his rebellious condition to bring about the Passover and so God elects people for different reasons for different times. It doesn’t mean that He has elected who will or won’t be saved before the world begins and that’s what I think Calvinists have just wrongly read onto the text and they’ve just kind of a reductionism, where they’ve reduced all the concepts and understanding of Biblical election down to just one thing, God’s choice of individuals before the foundation of the world to be effectually saved, and it just muddles the water of what true Biblical election’s all about.
Kurt: Good. Alright. Let me finish by talking about this. The illustration of a potter. Right? Surely you pick that because the potter and the clay analogy we see there in Romans 9, and it’s nowhere else in Scripture. Right, Leighton?
Leighton: You would think it’s only right there. It actually is quite a few times throughout Scripture as you well know.
Kurt: Right. I was setting you up there. One of the main passages that I think Paul is drawing from there in Romans 9 is from Jeremiah 18 where God talks and uses this illustration of potter and clay and what’s interesting about that passage specifically is that it’s about corporate conditional responses to God’s message whether a nation would repent or if they wouldn’t and about how God would modify even the intention that He has for that nation and what I find so fascinating is how some people, they almost go against the basic teaching of Jeremiah 18 and say don’t you think God knew exactly what people would do? Sure I do, but that still doesn’t mean His plan wouldn’t be modified because they might think that the plan is set in stone, and so they almost have to reject the plain teaching here in Jeremiah about how the plan would change, but at any rate that’s Jeremiah 18 and also what I find interesting, Paul himself uses the analogy of a vessel.
Leighton: 2 Timothy 2.
Kurt: That’s right. 2 Timothy 2 and let me read it for those who are listening. But in a great house there are vessels not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. Some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, here’s the key, therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master prepared for every good work. Basically, Paul says here, the vessel can clean itself so I think if we’re going to interpret Paul’s theology altogether, systematically, you have to reconcile Paul’s use and imagery of the vessel in Romans 9, with the same way that the vessel is used in 2 Timothy, and when you do that I think that might cause some issues for how some interpretations of Romans 9 are had.
Leighton: Absolutely. I would also add to that when it comes to the Potter and the clay is asking yourself the question, “In Paul’s mind”, because in hermeneutics you’re trying to ask what is in the mind of the author? In other words, what is he trying to communicate? But he’s talking about Israel. All through Romans 9 he’s talking about how if Israel has rejected their own Messiah has God’s promise failed? Has His word failed? And he’s answering a question by using an illustration talking about this lump of hardened clay? Who is he talking about when he’s talking about a lump of hardened clay? Well who’s grown hard? The Israelites have. We know this from many other texts throughout the New Testament. Peoples’ hearts have grown hardened, and so this hardened lump of clay which is Israel, that’s what he’s referring to, and when we understand the hardened lump of clay is referring to Israel, just as Jeremiah is referring to the same lump, then you understand where the tension is vs. the way the Calvinists have interpreted the lump of clay is to mean all of humanity and that out of all of humanity God has certain people that He has chosen to be saved and the rest who He has chosen to harden, vs. our understanding is that Israel has become hardened, generally speaking, because of their own choices and their rebellion and their self-righteousness, and just as Acts 28:27 says, they have become calloused, otherwise they might see, hear, turn, and understand and I would heal them, therefore I will take the message to the Gentiles and they will listen. So the contrast there is between those who have grown hardened to the revelation of God as Israel had and therefore God is using them in their rebellion despite His patience for these objects, despite His love and longing for this Israel nation. He’s held out His hands to them all day long. He’s using them in their rebellion to bring about the redemption of man through Calvary and the ingrafting of the Gentile people and so when you understand that context, when you understand who the lump of clay is actually referring to in the mind of Paul, then there’s no reason for Calvinists. There’s no reason for the Calvinistic conclusion at all.
Kurt: Good. Leighton. We could go on and on and cover a number of different passages, but we’ll have to bring you on for another episode at some point.
Kurt: Leighton. Thanks so much for joining us on the show today. It’s a pleasure to have you on and to chat theology with you and I know we tend to hold to a sympathetic view, although I’m glad we discovered one point where we might disagree so maybe we’ll talk about that next time.
Leighton: That’d be fine. Any time, brother.
Kurt: Great. Thanks so much. God bless. You.
Leighton: You too. Bye Bye.
Kurt: Alright. So you can get The Potter’s Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology on Amazon.com and a number of other websites published by Trinity Academic Press and if you want to hear Leighton more, he’s got his own podcast. Soteriology 101. Check out soteriology101.com. It is now with great pleasure that I click this button.
Kurt: I love how he does the “aaah” at the end. That is the mail bag jingle. Here we’ve got a question from Nick. He writes, “HI, Kurt. I was listening to your podcast today where you were talking about the moral argument. When I read Mere Christianity awhile back, I found that argument really interesting, but struggled to understand the existence of an innate human moral code as concrete evidence for the existence of a creator. What is your response to the argument that an atheist may hold that human morality is something that has evolved in the same way that they might say the human race has physically evolved?” He continues, “I don’t mean that in the microevolutionary sense of modern Western morality vs. whatever other morality we might point at past or present. I’m talking about the same fundamental moral questions that you referred to in the podcast. Murder. Rape. Etc. An atheist might argue that as the human brain evolved so did the sense of morality that humanity shares and therefore the moral argument is no proof of the creator than any other argument connected to human design. Love the show and hope to catch up soon.”
Nick. Thanks so much for writing in. By catch up I think he’s referring to the episode a couple of weeks ago where I delivered that talk at a church in Richmond, Illinois. Nick. To your question, I think it’s really important to point out how for the atheist, if we’re positing that morality is just sort of an evolutionary byproduct then at that point the evolution, sorry, the morality we’re talking about is strictly subjective. It still is just within the persons. There’s nothing outside of ourselves and so there’s nothing that tells us that we ought not murder or that we ought not rape. Heck. Look at the animal kingdom. The animal kingdom just does what it is and you see rape and murder in the animal kingdom and you think nothing of it because they’re animals. Well, if naturalism is true, then the same goes for us. We’re just evolved animals and evolution, there really is no objective ought, so we’re not talking about objective morality. We would just be talking about subjective morality and of course subjective morality can change from time to time, generation to generation, and different cultures value different things and so then we couldn’t even be a cultural criticizer or analyst even because they’re just doing what has happened as a result of evolution. We can’t make those sort of claims and we can’t even make those claims upon our own society. We couldn’t say that moral reformers are performing good actions. The minority is always wrong, but these sorts of things strike against our sense of the moral code, the objective moral code. If you hold to a minority position and you really think it’s right, that attests to the sense that we have of an objective morality. That something really is wrong even if the majority of people disagree with me on that. When we do that, we’re reaching to something beyond ourselves and that’s something that the naturalist, the atheist, cannot do. They can’t reach beyond themselves. They can’t reach beyond the human experience to understand morality. That’s how I would respond to that specific point of the moral argument, but I would encourage other listeners to go back and listen to that episode if you haven’t, because I deal with a number of different atheistic perspectives on morality there, but Nick, thanks again so much for your comment and question and hopefully I’ve answered that correctly, at least to the best of my ability. If it’s insufficient in your opinion, go ahead and write back to me. I’d love to see what you think and we’ll keep the conversation flowing, but thanks again for that comment.
That does it for our show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and partnerships with our sponsors. Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and this week new, Ratio Christi. They’ve got this great TV show called Truth Matters. You can go ahead and check that out. If you want to know how to get there, just go to Veracityhill.com, scroll down to our sponsors, and click on the logo there. I want to thank the tech team. Chris. Thanks so much for the work that you’re doing, and to our guest today, Dr. Leighton Flowers, glad that we could discuss soteriology, the study of salvation, and I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.