Part 2 Eric Kemp and Flowers feeble attempt to respond to Sean Cole, Chris Date, Tyler Vela

I listed with great interest as I found this to be the most destructive, devasting and damaging engagement or discussion of Flowers Philosophy. Then I listened to Eric Kemp who I debated on John 6 who tried to convince me that there were at least 3 or 4 verbs in John 6: 37-77 that practically meant the same thing and were interchangeable. First time I had ever heard that attempt to get around the plain meaning of what Jesus’ was conveying in the immediate and surrounding text. But it was even more interesting to listen to Flowers and Kemp struggle to overcome the Godly Wisdom of these three men who I think clearly done damage to Flowers and Kemp’s position. 

Southern Traditional Baptist Theodicy
The same point is true of Southern Traditional Baptist Belief System. If you Flowers and Kemp believe that God has Infinite Foreknowledge. Unless your Open Theist Freind Brian Wagner has influenced you otherwise, Then you know there has been and never was a time that God has not known something from all eternity. So God always knew he would create the Universe and Humanity. Then there came a time when he DETERMINED to do so. Because God’s knowledge is infinite he knows past, present and future all at the same time. There has never been a time God has not known something from all eternity. His knowledge is limitless and Exhaustive. He does not have to look into the future to obtain or retrieve some information he did not know because that would mean there was a time he did not know something. So I am assuming that 

Flowers and Kemp are at least still Christian Orthodox when it comes to God’s Infinite Knowledge in knowing an individual’s free moral actions even before he created them from all eternity. So when God DETERMINED to create from ALL ETERNITY according to the Southern Traditional Baptist Faith and System of Belief. Flowers and Kemp know that GOD KNEW INFINITELY ALL THINGS THAT WOULD BE. EVERY AUTONOMOUS LIBITERIAN FREE WILL ACTION OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL THAT WOULD EVER EXIST. INCLUDING THE MURDERS, THE RAPES, THE INCEST OF LITTLE CHILDREN, murdering of unborn babies by the billions, homosexuality now legal with same-sex marriages, THE KIDNAPPINGS, THE WARS THAT HAVE KILLED BILLIONS. THE TORTURE OF PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE AND WICKEDNESS BEYOND IMAGINATION. BUT GOD CHOSE TO CREATE THE WORLD HE KNEW WOULD BE ANYWAY. Flowers even admits that God has this mythical fictional Libiterian Free Will and could have chosen not to create the world that he did. But God did DETERMINE To create this World Flowers according to His Infinite Foreknowledge. FRee moral actions cannot be different to God. If he knows infinitely from eternity what they will be. He is not like us waiting to see what others will do he already knew from eternity before anyone existed every free moral action they would make. But Flowers and Kemp?!?! Your Holy and Loving God did! This is the world he knew would be when he DETERMINED to create and knew every evil wicked action that would bring much pain, sorrow, and suffering. God created this world of wickedness and evil according to your system of Belief Flowers and Kemp. Is this a Thrice Holy God and a God who is All-Loving?!?! Then Your God who is omnipotent, Almighty, all-powerful, infinite in understanding could stop this extreme evil wickedness that I described partially above. Your God just sits on His figurative throne and watches as all the evil happens and does nothing. Your system of Belief Leighton Flowers and Eric Kemp has GREAT DIFFICULTY WITH THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND SIN. IT MAKES GOD THE AUTHOR OF EVIL AND GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION.

ReplyForward

Eric Kemp and Flowers feeble attempt to respond to Sean Cole, Chris Date, Tyler Vela

I listed with great interest as I found this to be the most destructive, devastating and damaging engagement or discussion of Flowers Philosophy. Then I listened to Eric Kemp who I debated on John 6 who tried to convince me that there were at least 3 or 4 verbs in John 6: 37-77 that practically meant the same thing and were interchangeable. First time I had ever heard that attempt to get around the plain meaning of what Jesus’ was conveying in the immediate and surrounding text. But it was even more interesting to listen to Flowers and Kemp struggle to overcome the Godly Wisdom of these three men who I think clearly done damage to Flowers and Kemp’s position. 
Israel was a sin, David did so and was grieved and confessed his sin to God and said he had done foolishly. Now I know you two say God does intervene at times in time and history to accomplish his will and purpose. But this goes against the very the things you object against what the Calvinist believes and these three men bring up in the podcast. That God moved David’s heart to Sin because he was angry at Israel. You cannot have it both ways, Flowers and Kemp. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE PARALLEL PASSAGE IN 1 chronicle 21:1 IT SAYS “SATAN MOVED OR Incited DAVID TO NUMBER THE NATION OF ISRAEL. IT WAS GOD WHO USED THE AGENCY OF SATAN TO CAUSE DAVID TO COMMIT THIS SIN. BECAUSE GOD WAS ANGRY AT ISRAEL. EVEN IN 1 chronicle COMPARED WITH 2 SAMUEL 24 WHERE IT SAYS IT WAS GOD THAT MOVED AND AND INCITED DAVID’S HEART WE READ IN I CHRONICLES DAVID WAS ALSO GRIEVED BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT HE HAD SINNED AGAINST GOD AND HAD DONE FOOLISHLY AND CONFESSED HIS SIN. So no, Chris Date is not Flattening things out by saying, God not only works out only just our Salvation but ALL THINGS (Universal, Absolute IN A Complete sense, All-Compassing) according to the Council of His Will.) He does not have to enter time to do these things, Flowers. God transcends time. Yes, he is omnipresent. But he is not actively working sin in the hearts DIRECTLY WORKING SIN or making people think a thought or make choices with their creaturely freedom directly always. There may be some instances where he moves the hearts of other nations to hate Israel and to go to war with them when they did not want to. But even then I would say he used a second cause or agent to make this happen. just AS HE USED A LYING DEMON OR SPIRIT AT ONE TIME IN SCRIPTURE God uses a lying spirit, a second cause, a second agent to commit the sin of lying. But God is not the author of Sin or anyway guilty by association. 1 Kings 22:19-23 – Then Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”   God uses a lying spirit, a second cause, a second agent to commit the sin of lying. But God is not the author of Sin or anyway guilty by association.

Soteriology101: In The Spirit of Love I Listened To What I Believe To Be The Most Devastating and Damaging Blow to the Views of Leighton Flowers To Date: By Sean Cole, Chris Date, Tyler Vela

I listened to this podcast with much intersest as these three gentlemen hit areas of contention and questions that I have had with Flowers philosophy for sometime. They also went beyond that and quite deep into what Flowers is saying and I think exposed much of his misinformation and contradictions. It will be interesting to see if Flowers pushes back on this and what he has to say.

I also hope there is a future debate with Flowers and two people of his choosing and Pastor Sean Cole, Chris Date. Tyler Vela.

Click the link below and listen to your questions answered that you have been asking for sometime or things that you have known to be true about the teachings of Leighton Flowers really expounded and clarified by these three gifted men of God.

https://www.seancole.net/media/439635-1763083-1913329/problems-with-provisionism-a-friendly-dialogue-with-tyler-vela-and-chris-date

Leighton Flowers Continues to Expose His Ignorance on the Doctrine of God’s Divine Election Part 2

We continue with the ignorance, misunderstandings and misrepresentations of Dr. Leighton Flowers concerning the Doctrine of Divine Election.

The next statement he makes in his article on “Three Things You Should Know About Election” is astounding and shocking and is not at all orthodox,

Flowers says and I quote:  “God could have just forgiven Abraham of his sin debt because his faith merited it.”

Flowers actually says “that Abraham could have merited his forgiveness. I declare to you that God can show no one forgiving grace or mercy unless their sins have first been punished in Jesus Christ.  It is judicial.  It is through Christ punishing the sinners sin that God can legally show forgiving grace and saving mercy to the believing sinner.  No one’s faith alone apart from what Christ accomplished on the crossed can merit Salvation.  It seems to me that Flowers goes back and forth from Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism.  SO GOD COULD NOT JUST HAVE FORGIVEN ABRAHAM OF HIS SIN DEBT BECAUSE HIS FAITH MERITED IT.

Dr. Flowers comes close to redeeming his above statement in his next comment but does not tie them together rightfully but leaves them confusing and ambiguous.

He states and I quote:  “Even though Abraham believed in God he still had a debt that he could not pay. God graciously chose to pay that debt through the sacrifice of His Son, without which no one would be saved.”

I agree with what Flowers says above and emphatically say that is the reason God of forgiveness was able to show mercy to believing Abraham. As Flowers rightfully says God graciously chose to pay that debt through the sacrifice of His Son, without which no one would be saved.  I agree.

Flowers then quotes Sam Storms again:

  1. Divine election is not merely corporate, but also of individuals.

Whereas it is true that Christ is himself the Elect One, and whereas it is true that the Church is the chosen or elect people of God, individuals are themselves chosen by God to believe in Christ in order that they might become members of the church. In other words, God didn’t simply choose the church. He chose the specific individuals who would comprise the church.

St0rms is right on in his God-given wisdom of Divine Election.  A perfect statement of Divine Election.

Flowers then makes a quote that gives me some information of the Traditionalist understanding that I did not know and I want to represent them correctly.

Flowers says and I quote:  “The Traditional view does not deny that election includes individuals. It is a gross misrepresentation of our view to suggest otherwise. Traditionalists teach God has chosen believing individuals for salvation whereas Calvinists teach God has chosen to irresistibly turn certain individuals into believers by supernatural means so as to save them”

I would say that that is a pretty Good distinction (although it does not tell the whole story of the Reformed view) of how both the Traditional Camp and the Reformed Camp both believe God saves individuals.  I would say this though, salvation is supernatural no matter what, So I would hope that the Traditionalist would believe that Salvation belongs tot the Lord and one being born again by the Spirit of God and converted to Christ by faith is a supernatural work of God the Holy Spirit.

Next Flowers gets into some deep false teaching and I quote:

Storm’s view makes God responsible for man’s choice to humble himself and repent in faith. This is not the biblical teaching, however. Again and again scripture tells you to “humble yourself” so as to be justified and exalted (Lk. 18:10-14; 1Pt. 5:5-6; Is. 66:2; Jm. 4:10; Ps. 18:27). Not once does the Bible say that God will irresistibly humble you and cause you to willingly repent in faith. If you wait for God to irresistibly humble you then you will be too late, because that won’t be until the final judgment when he makes every knee to bow (Rm. 14:11).

This has been the one ideal that Dr. Flowers has hung his hat on and that being the wicked evil sinner who hates God and is hostile to Christ and loves sin and takes great pleasure in it (John 3:20, Rom.8:7-8) can humble himself without the power of the Holy Spirit at anytime

1 Samuel 2:7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Humbling oneself would be a thing pleasing to God which Flowers says the wicked sinners is able to do who hates God with a hatred of hostility.  The wicked sinner would kill God if he could instead of humbling himself.  Sinners are humbled under the mighty hand of God.  I Samuel 2:7 says God HUMBLES AND HE EXALTS.

Romans 8:7 -For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

God’s law commands repentance from everyone with exception which implies humility.  But we read in Romans 8:7 that the mind of the wicked evil sinner that is set on the flesh is hostile to God’s law, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

Romans 8:8 – Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Does Flowers not know that humility pleases God, but God’ Holy Word emphatically says that those wicked evil sinners still in the flesh cannot keep the law or do anything pleasing (that includes humility) to God. This humbling we are talking about is a spiritual humbling toward one’s salvation that would be pleasing and acceptable by God.  That evil wicked sinner is not able to do according 1 Samuel 2:7 and the other verses I have mentioned. Most of the verses Flowers mentions on humbling oneself are for Christians which they have the capacity and ability to do as they  through the process of sanctification and grace in Christ cooperate with the Holy Spirit.  This is a very Pelagian leaning by Dr, Flowers in my estimation.

Flowers continues quoting storms and His understanding of election, I now quote Flowers again:  “On a related note, this glorious act of God’s grace in electing some is unto eternal salvation and not simply to temporal service. Paul gave thanks for the Thessalonians because “God chose” them “as the firstfruits to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:13).”

Very well said by Storms in my opinion.  I want to quote the verse in mentions at the end of His comments.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 -But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Now let’s see what problems Dr. Flowers has with what Storms has said here.

Flowers says and I quote:

Here Storms addresses the “election to service” perspective, which teaches that God has chosen certain individuals to serve a noble purpose in His redemptive plan (like His choice of the apostles or prophets). But, by this argument, Storms seems to imply that Traditionalists holding to this perspective do not also affirm God’s election of individuals to salvation. As stated above, however, Traditionalism does affirm that God has elected to save whoever humbles themselves and repents in faith.

Flowers must remember that the wicked sinner does not want to humble himself and cannot humble himself apart from the miracles work of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:20 Rom. 8:7-8——1 Samuel 2:7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.

And Flowers must remember that it is God who grants repentance so that one can escape the snare and lie of the devil who hold the wicked sinner captive to do his will. (Notice in 2 Timothy 2:25 below it says PERHAPS God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, The word PERHAPS means MAYBE OR POSSIBLY SOMETHING NOT GUARANTEED. BUT LIKE HUMILITY, REPENTANCE IS GIVEN BY GOD TO THOSE WHO CHOOSES TO GIVE IT TO.

2 Timothy 2:25 -correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

Then Flower mentions Faith forgetting that Faith is a gift also given by God.

2 Thessalonians 3:2 -and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

Romans 10:17 -So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

If faith comes to a person by hearing the word of God that would mean there was a time he did not have this supernatural gift of faith.

We also know that Hebrews 11 says “that without faith it is impossible to please God” which once again implies there are many evil wicked sinners without faith because it comes to them by hearing the word of God and enlightened within the Spirit of God. The word of God by itself is not sufficient to save,  That is why the Bible talks about the glorious ministry of the Holy Spirit and we must be born again by the Spirit of the living God.

Flowers says next and I quote:

The fact that God has ALSO chosen certain individuals, like Paul, for the noble cause of bringing His inspired message to the world, does not change this truth. In other words, Traditionalists are not arguing that God has EITHER chosen some individuals for salvation OR for service, but that he has BOTH chosen individuals for salvation AND for service. We just do not believe God makes this choice arbitrarily (and before you object to the term “arbitrary” please look it up in the dictionary and explain how the unconditional choice of God described by Calvinists does not perfectly match that definition).

I have no intention to enter into the senseless discussion of the noble cause.  Why are the Jews not preaching that noble cause today and it is primarily the Gentiles.  The basic idea and theme was that Christ was to be born through the seed of Abraham. This noble cause is a false teaching that is to be rejected as man-made theology.

I did look up the definition of “arbitrarily” and reject to Flowers forced use of it here in his accusation of the Calvinist. The definition said that arbitrarily is not based on any reason or system. How does Flowers know the mind of God that God has no reason in His election of certain individuals to salvation and passing over others.  The Scripture says “it is according to the good pleasure of God’s will.”  God’s will was involved so their was a reason, a purpose, although not known to Flowers or the Human mind but I know “God works all things according to the council of His will” and will not the judge of the earth do right.”

Then Flowers quotes Storms again and ask you to read an article for context:

Storms continues,

After the Gentiles heard the gospel preached, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

I have read the context of this over and over and over.  I have read all sides and perspectives of this, and only those who do not want it to say what it plainly says are the ones who twist and turn and read into it that which is not there.  The word “disposed” just will not work which has been proven by Highly Trained Scholars.

The Traditionalist and all the non-Calvinist do their best to rid themselves of what this verse really says.  At one time a non-Calvinist said that the rendering of Revelation 13:8 of the ESV was a bit on the disingenuous side of the Calvinist, I say the same thing here, a verse that is strong and easily understood, that the Calvinist has to play scriptural gymnastics to try and get around it is being somewhat disingenuous.

Just noticed the believing comes after, “the many were appointed to eternal life”

Leighton Flowers Teaches Salvation Without Jesus. Here’s the Video and Commentary. BY NEWS DIVISION · PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 23, 2018 · UPDATED FEBRUARY 24, 2018

Leighton Flowers is the Director for Personal Evangelism and Apologetics for Texas Baptists, an adjunct professor of theology at Trinity Seminary and hosts an anti-Calvinism podcast, called Soteriology 101. Flowers has made a name for himself, challenging God’s sovereignty in various internet forums, from blogs to a webcast. He is also heavily involved in the anti-Calvinism Southern Baptist organization, called Connect 316.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Flowers doesn’t know or understand soteriology. Last year, Flowers invited a Universalist to speak at a conference for Texas Baptists, and continued to affirm him as a Christian, even after immense criticism. Now, Flowers himself is espousing Universalism – or at least a variance thereof – and claims that not only is the Pope a Christian, but that God might save people who die before they are able to hear or embrace the Gospel.

Flowers did the Google Hangout, which is provided below, to defend Billy Graham from criticism regarding his own assertion that Pope John Paul II was in Heaven, and Flowers similarly claimed that the Pope was a believer in spite of denying Sola Fide and trusting in his own self-righteousness. Then, Flowers argued that people can be saved “based upon what light they know” and that God might very well “give grace” to save people BEFORE they hear the Gospel.

Using Cornelius as an example of a God-fearing Gentile who had been given grace to believe in Judaism and further faith to believe in Jesus once the Gospel was provided by Peter, claimed that if Cornelius had died even before he confessed Christ or heard the Gospel, God still would have saved him. Flowers said at the 46.30 mark in the video:

Would God show Cornelius grace even prior to when Peter showed up with the Gospel? Of course…why…of course He would. He obviously showed him enough grace to send him the Gospel. Why wouldn’t He show him enough grace to save him if he perished prior to hearing the specifics of Jesus’ work? Again, I don’t think that’s unreasonable and that’s not beyond orthodoxy to hold to that worldview.

You can see Flowers deny the exclusivity of Christ and teach a potential Universalism at the 46.30 mark.

An individual asked him a question at the 49:43 mark, “Do you think a minimum thought, or understanding for salvation,  is ‘There is a creator God, I need to be saved or need salvation and I cannot save myself, and I need the Creator God has some way to save me’?” Flowers responded, “Yes. To some degree.” Flowers then drew from the story of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 19 and hypothesized that because the tax collector went to Heaven, today, people may be saved without knowing Jesus.

You can see my response to this below.

Jesus’ Parables as Judgment: A Response to Leighton Flowers’ View of the Purpose of the Parables

via Jesus’ Parables as Judgment: A Response to Leighton Flowers’ View of the Purpose of the Parables

Jesus’ Parables as Judgment: A Response to Leighton Flowers’ View of the Purpose of the Parables

You can view a PDF of this post here: “Jesus’ Parables as Judgment: A Response to Leighton Flowers’ View of the Purpose of the Parables”

Professor Leighton Flowers has recently written an article titled, “The Messianic Secret,”[1] wherein he explains his understanding of the purpose of the parables.  According to Flowers, the reason Jesus spoke in parables was to prevent the Jewish people from coming to repentance and faith, so as to bring about the crucifixion, otherwise the crucifixion would not have taken place.  While I will not address every single point and Scriptural reference in his article – and I don’t necessarily disagree with everything he says in the article – I do want to respond to a few of his key points.  Before I do so, however, let me first briefly explain my understanding regarding the reason Jesus spoke in parables.

Why Jesus Spoke In Parables

I believe the primary reason Jesus spoke in parables – though I do believe there exists a two-fold nature to the purpose of the parables – was to enact a form of judgment on the Jewish people.  Let us give consideration to Matthew 13:10-17 in making this point:

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

To these close disciples of Jesus – those who had ears to hear and eyes to see – the parables were a means of explaining the kingdom of God.  To those who did not have ears to hear and eyes to see, but hardened their hearts at the teachings of Jesus, the parables were a means of judgment, confirming them in their rebellious way.  Note that Jesus explicitly says that he speaks in parables “because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”  He does not say that he speaks in parables so that they won’t see and hear and understand; it’s that they already don’t see and hear and understand. Verse 15 makes clear that the people’s hearts had already grown dull, that they had already closed their eyes, otherwise they would see and hear and understand and turn and be saved.  But that is not what they wanted.  Note, the parables did not harden the people or prevent them from understanding so that they would not repent and believe (and otherwise thwart God’s redemptive plan).  Their hearts were already hard, and they had already failed to understand the truth of Jesus and his redemptive mission.  John MacArthur’s words are spot-on:

While the parables do illustrate and clarify truth for those with ears to hear, they have precisely the opposite effect on those who oppose and reject Christ.  The symbolism hides the truth from anyone without the discipline or desire to seek out Christ’s meaning.  That’s why Jesus adopted that style of teaching.  It was a divine judgment against those who met His teaching with scorn, unbelief, or apathy.[2]

MacArthur goes on to explain this two-fold nature of the parables:

In short, Jesus’ parables had a clear twofold purpose: They hid the truthfrom self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him, while the same parables revealed truthto eager souls with childlike faith – those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  Jesus thanked His Father for both results: ‘I thank You, father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight (Matt. 11:25-26).[3]

Two final points need to be made before moving on to consider some of Flowers’ points.  First it is important to keep in mind that Jesus did not always teach in parables.  There are plenty of times in the Gospels where we find Jesus teaching in a more straight-forward and didactic manner (e.g. Mk. 1:14-15; Lk. 4:14-30).  The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the best example of this.  Even though it concludes in a brief parable, “the substance of the message, starting with the Beatitudes, is delivered in a series of direct propositional statements, commandments, polemical arguments, exhortations, and words of warning.”[4]

Second, there are times when Jesus used parabolic language – the use of provincial imagery meant to communicate a spiritual truth/reality – and the intent was not to hide the truth, but to reveal and clarify the truth.  Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman are good examples of this (Jn. 3-4).

In summary, Jesus used parables to teach those with ears to hear and eyes to see, as well as to confirm those with hard and unbelieving hearts in their rebellion.  The parables were not used to keep people from repenting and believing, because the people were already unrepentant and unbelieving.  Further, Jesus did not always teach in parables, but often taught in a straight-forward and didactic manner.

Responding to Leighton Flowers

Early on in the article Professor Flowers references 1 Corinthians 2:8-9 in support of his perspective.  I find this very interesting, considering the context in which this passage is found.  First, let’s look at Flowers’ words and then I’ll respond:

As the Apostle Paul noted, “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8-9). Jesus knew that had they believed in Him before the right time then they would not have crucified Him. Therefore, the Lord graciously taught in parables “to those on the outside…so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:11b-12).

In essence, Flowers is asserting that God actively blinded or hid the wisdom of his redemptive plan from these rulers so that he could bring about the gospel – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  This, however, is the exact opposite of the meaning of the text.  Paul is not addressing the concept of hiding the truth, but of revealing the truth.  The truth was hidden from them, not because God was actively hiding it from them, but because they themselves did not understand it (i.e. a spiritual inability to understand the things of God).  It’s not that the truth had not been made known to them, but it’s as Paul goes on to say, these things are revealed by God through the Spirit.  We understand these things because we have received the Spirit of God (vv. 10-13).  So why did the rulers not understand this mystery of God?  Because God was actively hiding it from them?  No, it’s because “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (v. 14).  This point is all the more striking when we consider the fact that Paul just spent numerous verses speaking of the unique/effectual call of God’s chosen people (1:17-2:5).  To make this a general call is to flip Paul’s teaching on its theological head, stripping it of all its polemical and pastoral power.

Further, in regards to Flowers’ reference of Mark 4:11-12, Mark basically quotes several Old Testament passages that speak of the people’s hearts already hard, their eyes already unseeing, their ears already plugged, and of the need for God to give them an understanding heart, seeing eyes, and hearing ears (Deut. 29:4; Jer. 5:21; Ezek. 12:2).  In short, it is a word of judgment on the people.  Flowers seems to think that this passage undercuts the concept of the inability of man and God’s effectual calling.  It does no such thing.

Here is another example of Flowers’ understanding of the purpose of the parables:

Jesus is not attempting to persuade everyone to come to faith in great numbers as we see following Pentecost when Peter preaches (Acts 2:41). Quite the opposite seems to be the case, in fact. To accomplish the redemptive plan through Israel’s unbelief, we see Jesus actively instructing His apostles not to tell others who he is yet (Matt. 16:20; Mark 8:30; 9:9).

In other words, Jesus used parables in order to prevent the vast majority of the Jews from repenting and believing, because if they did so, then they would not have crucified him.  Again, Flowers’ attempt here is to undercut the concept of the moral inability of man and God’s effectual calling, while putting forth his perspective of judicial hardening.[5]  Is this actually what we find though?  I think not.

First, the fact that Jesus went around preaching repentance and faith, sending out his disciples, and identifying himself as the Messiah at times, disproves Flowers’ first assertion (e.g. Mtt. 4:17; 10:5-14; Mk. 1:14-15; Lk. 4:15-21; 10:1-12).

Second, the reason Jesus hid his identity was not to prevent the vast majority of Jews from repenting and believing so as to accomplish God’s redemptive plan of the cross, but to prevent the Jews from attempting to carry out their false concept of the Messiah – a ruler of an earthly kingdom who would free them from Roman suppression.  Even his close disciples were confused about the Scriptural witness of the Messiah (Mtt. 16:21-28).  It took Jesus’ supernatural ability to open the minds of the disciples so that they could understand the Scriptures (Lk. 24:44-47).  So Flowers is correct to assert that it was for the purpose of bringing about the redemptive plan, but he’s in error to think that the crowds would have repented and believed in him if his true identity had been broadcasted.  It’s at this point, regarding the fact of Jesus not broadcasting his identity as Messiah and Jesus’ use of parables, that Flowers seems to conflate the two.  He says the following:

Moreover, Jesus purposefully speaks in parables in order to prevent the Jewish leaders coming to faith and repentance (Matt. 13:11-15; Mark 4:11-13). When great numbers began to believe Jesus was truly prophetic, notice how Jesus responded: “’Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself” (John 6:14-15). Earlier in the same gospel we learn that “many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them” (John 2:23b-24a).

Flowers seems to be asserting here that the reason Jesus spoke in parables was to conceal his identity as the Messiah.  Yet, the parables were primarily about the nature and expansion of the kingdom, not the person and work of Jesus.[6]  Further, John 6:14-15 only confirms the point that Jesus hid his identity as the Messiah, not to prevent the Jews from repenting and believing, but to prevent them from attempting to carry out their false ideas of the Messiah’s mission.  Lastly, Flowers seems to be implying that “Jesus would not entrust Himself to them” has something to do with Jesus concealing his true identity and speaking in parables so as to prevent mass conversions.  This is not the case, however.   Rather, Jesus did not entrust himself to them because he knew their hearts (Jn. 2:25), which means he knew their true intentions and motives.  This again confirms that Jesus was preventing them from attempting to carry out their false view of the Messiah’s mission, not that he was keeping them from truly repenting and believing.  Needless to say, this paragraph by Flowers is somewhat muddled, and it seems that he may be mixing categories.

Conclusion

The purpose of the parables is not so much on the subject of the ability/inability of man, but on the providence of God to accomplish his redemptive purposes in the way in which he ordained them to be accomplished.  It cannot be overlooked, too, that Jesus did not always teach in parables.  It would certainly seem that, for Flowers’ interpretation to hold water, one would have to conclude that he always taught, or at least primarily taught, in parables.  Yet, this is simply not the case.  What is more, Jesus hiding his identity as the Messiah is not the same thing as Jesus teaching in parables.  Flowers seems to conflate the two, which causes some confusion regarding his point and perspective (in my opinion at least).

The primary purpose of Jesus teaching the people in parables was to confirm the unbelieving Jews in their rebellion.  It was a form of judgment on the people.  To those with ears to hear and eyes to see, however, it was a means for Jesus to communicate the truth of his kingdom.

[1] Flowers, Leighton. “The Messianic Secret”. https://goo.gl/ze8jtm. Accessed on January 3, 2016.

[2] MacArthur, John. Parables (Thomas Nelson, 2015), xix.

[3] Ibid., xxi. Emphasis is his.

[4] Ibid., xxi.

[5] Note, judicial hardening is not a concept that contradicts Calvinism.  Judicial hardening is a biblical concept.  Flowers has repeatedly stated that Calvinists believe that mankind is born judicially hardened.  This, however, is not the case, and actually mixes categories.  What Calvinists believe is that mankind is born with a sin nature due to their federal head – Adam.  This means that we are born with corrupt hearts, and therefore our desire from our youth is that of wickedness (this takes various degrees and forms).  We do not desire the things of God; we are enemies of God and by nature children of wrath (note, man is not morally neutral).  This does not mean that man is as wicked as he can be.  By God’s common grace the world of men continues to thrive in its institutions with relative progress (though man’s work continues to be tainted by corruption and sin).  Throughout redemptive history God may judicially harden a nation (or individual) for his redemptive purposes (e.g. Pharaoh and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt).  Judicial hardening, however, and the state in which man is born are not the same thing.

[6] Of course, the kingdom of God is established through the redemptive work of Christ, but this is not overly clear in his parables, which primarily focus on the kingdom itself.