SBC Open Forum is Closed

This forum opened August 10, 2012, as an experiment to see if we could successfully, “empower the readership to post articles, drive the discussions, and turn a blog into an open forum.” It has been an interesting journey. But ultimately, we were able to achieve only an average of about 20 views per day. After 5 years, we had hoped for more participation, as well; but the interest in such a format just is not there.

SBCOPENFORUM.COM will remain up for viewing until the contract runs out on the domain name, at which point it will revert to SBCOPENFORUM.WORDPRESS.COM.

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sbc-open-forum-avatar2God made the world.

He did so with a purpose. A purpose besides just getting glory.

He wanted a people for Himself. A family. Hence He calls Himself Father. And all those adopted into His family are His children.

And in His infinite wisdom, He made a plan. The best plan. Possibly the only plan. The. Plan.

God is Holy and wholly Other than man.  He is infinite and we are finite. He lives in unapproachable light and no imperfection can abide there. And He is above all things and there is nothing beside Him. How can then He have a family where He might enjoy the fellowship of others? Continue reading

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Faith and Choice [part 3]


Let me start with faith since I didn’t finish with the whole story last time.

I said that we grasp spiritual truths by faith.  Even as worldly wisdom is acquitted by natural means, that being through the senses and through experience in this world, spiritual wisdom or godly wisdom is captured through spiritual means which include faith and spiritual experience.

Now we know this is true from the Bible. 1st Corinthians 5 tells us:

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Continue reading

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sbc-open-forum-avatar2Spiritual truths are grasped by faith.

We read from 1st Corinthians 2:

“Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. Continue reading

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sbc-open-forum-avatar2God is beyond our finite minds to grasp and comprehend for He lives in unapproachable light. The wonder of Him who created the universe with a word is beyond us. That He is one God yet three persons who each are God is unexplainable by our limited grasp of logic and truth. We simply have to take Him at His Word.

Speaking of that Word, we were given it by God, who stooped down to accommodate our limit-ness, and has chosen to reveal to us through that Word whatever it is that He wishes us to understand about Him and in doing so to scratch the surface of the wonders of His magnificent being. Through that given Word, we understand, by faith, that is by the Spirits revealing, many truths about God and creation and that includes ourselves that otherwise we could never grasp. Continue reading

Posted in Calvinism/Traditionalism, Indigenous Posts, philosophy, SBC Issues, theology, Uncategorized

Saved by the Blood of the Lamb

sbc-open-forum-avatar2Also published at SBC Voices

By Ken Hamrick

Throughout the Old Testament, a spotless animal was permitted to die in place of the sinner. Sin required death—either the death of the sinner or the death of an allowed substitute. No person in the Old Testament was qualified to be a sin sacrifice, as Jesus was, so animals were used as pictures to teach about the future Christ. These animals were, in various ways, pictured as being made one with the sinners in order to point to Christ being made one with believers. The first sacrifice was when God made clothing of animal skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, whose sin incurred their nakedness and need of clothing. This was such a beautiful picture of substitutionary sacrifice! Imagine them wearing the skin of this animal, which gave its life to pay for their sin. What a picture of union between sinner and sacrifice. The skin from the animal’s back was now on their back—they were walking around in its skin as if they had become the animal; while it had died for their sin as if it had become them. Continue reading

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Beyond Traditionalism: Reclaiming Southern Baptist Soteriology

Reposted from the archives…

By Ken Hamrick

[15,400 words…] In May of 2012, Eric Hankins published A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation[1]. It has created quite an uproar. The statement does not provide any real depth of argument, and my initial impression was that it was strongly leaning toward Arminianism, with the exception of eternal security. However, looking more closely into the views of Dr. Hankins, one finds that his earlier paper, Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology[2], is the basis for the recent Statement. Continue reading

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Should Christians Watch TV?

Should Christians watch

By Mark Corbett

I am hoping to start a discussion here on a topic which I believe is having a huge impact on us as individual Christians, as churches, and as a group of cooperating churches.  I want to talk about an idol that needs to be torn down. That idols is the misuse and abuse of all types of entertainment.  Hopefully the following thoughts and questions will be helpful.

Should Christians watch R rated moves or MA rated TV? How much TV should we watch? What should Christians look at on our computers, smart phones, and TVs?

My Testimony Regarding Watching TV

As a young married couple we owned a small TV set. This was a quarter century ago. Although the content on TV was nowhere near as graphic and explicit as it is now, as a young man I still found that the pervasive sexy images which filled television had a bad effect on my thought life. So I asked my wonderful wife if it would be ok with her if we threw our TV away. She graciously agreed to this. I was young and enthusiastic. I didn’t want our TV to cause anyone else to stumble. So I opened up the back, cut a key wire, and then threw our TV in the garbage can. We have not owned a television since that day.

Throwing away our TV was one of the better decisions I have made in my life. It was around that same time that the Lord called us to go overseas to share the gospel among unreached people groups. We never regretted not having a TV. Our daughter, Joy, never “missed” not having TV. We did carefully choose and watch children’s videos with her on our computer. Not having TV was good for her and good for us.

TV eventually crept back into my life. Continue reading

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A Story about Racism

Racism in the Church

By Mark Corbett

I thank God that the SBC continues to take a clear, public stand against racism in all forms.  We have come a long ways, but tragically there are still pockets of racism in our churches and roots of racism in our hearts.  I know.  I got hurt by it.  What follows is a slightly edited excerpt from an article which originally appeared on my blog. The story I share took place from 2011 to 2013.

I’ve seen lots of examples of racism. We saw some examples when my wife and I chose to move into an all black neighborhood for our last year at Seminary in Columbia, SC (the racism was not directed at us, our neighbors received us well). We saw examples of racism between different races during our fourteen years in Indonesia. They were literally killing each other. But we were not directly and personally hurt by those examples.

I lived with my family for 14 years in a Muslim majority nation. We constantly shared the love and truth of Jesus with our neighbors despite danger and opposition. Who would have thought that my family and I would suffer more from members of the church I pastored my first two years back in the US than we were ever hurt by our Muslim neighbors? But that’s what happened.

Before I accepted the call at that church I shared my vision with them in both writing and in person. One part of that vision was focused on overcoming racial barriers. Here is exactly what I wrote, except that I have changed the name of the church to simply “our church”: Continue reading

Posted in Christian Living, Indigenous Posts, SBC Issues, the local church, Uncategorized

Realism & Retroactive Identity in Christ

By Ken Hamrick

John Murray’s treatment of sanctification, particularly his essay, “The Agency in Definitive Sanctification,” makes some surprising inroads toward grasping the believer’s retroactive, realistic identification with Christ.[1] He does not go as far as to acknowledge that the reality of the spiritual union of Christ in the believer brings a title to all that Christ accomplished just as if the believer had accomplished it. Instead, he prefers to call it a mysterious “divine constitution.” But he does recognize the “tension” between the historical objectivity of Christ dying and rising again, and the fact of the believer subjectively dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ—and that the two are often spoken of in the New Testament as if they were one and the same events. The believer did not die to sin until coming to Christ in faith; and yet, the power of that dying to sin is firmly grounded in the once-and-for-all quality of Christ’s death—as if the historically objective death of Christ somehow became an historically objective fact of the believer’s life once he came to Christ […]

Read More at the Source:

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Realism & The Fall: A Response to Steve Farish

KH LogoAlso posted at

By Ken Hamrick

The Winter 2017 issue of The Founders Journal contains a brief, informative article on Original Sin, by Steve Farish, entitled, “The Fall Brought Condemnation and Corruption.”[1] To his credit, he does not present only the representationist “party line,” but also tries to present the realist side and its problems. This is commendable. But as a realist, I would like to engage Mr. Farish on some of his points. The realist perspective has much more to offer than he has presented.

From the start, Mr. Farish defines the realistic view in a way that no realist would: “The Realistic View […] understands Paul in Romans 5:12 to mean that all human beings were physically present seminally in Adam at the time of his sin […], so that when Adam sinned, all human beings literally and physically sinned in him.” The terms, “physically present,” and, “physically sinned,” utterly miss the point of the realistic view. All sides agree that our physical nature came from Adam. The hallmark of the realistic view is that the immaterial, moral nature of all men was propagated out of the substance of Adam in such a way as to deservedly implicate us in his sin; and this due to that nature having a real, participative presence in Adam. In short, that part of us that chooses whether or not to sin was not created “brand new” at our conception, but was created as a part of Adam and passed down to us. [2] This is also called the participative or Augustinian view.

Mr. Farish states, “Many Reformed theologians have recognized validity in some aspects of the Realistic View, but have seen the Representational view as the lead idea on these issues. They have historically found far more persuasive the Representative View.” The use of the term, historically, ought to carry with it an obligation to at least mention the historical change: how the Reformed Church began with a realistic understanding, and transitionedover two centuriesinto the representational view (or, federal headship) as it is today.  Louis Berkhof states: Continue reading

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Edwards, Necessity & Certainty: Part 1

by Ken Hamrick

This will be a series of informal posts chronicling my quest to understand and engage Jonathan Edwards on the ideas of necessity and certainty, and to establish where Andrew Fuller departed from Edwards’ view. In this, I’m seeking to expand the argument made in the paper, “Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles.”

Edwards defines necessity in the following way:

Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the FULL AND FIXED CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THINGS SIGNIFIED BY THE SUBJECT AND PREDICATE OF A PROPOSITION, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connection, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition or contrary effort be supposed, or no. When the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing, either substance, quality, act, or circumstance, have a full and CERTAIN CONNECTION, then the existence or being of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical sense. [1]

He treats necessity and certainty as the same thing Continue reading

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It’s Not Calvinism But Rationalism That Divides Us

by Ken Hamrick

Having debated Calvinism for many years, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of leaving to mystery that which can never really be figured out—a view espoused by many others before me. Such a position is disdained by both sides as something of a weak and anti-intellectual compromise. But arriving at this Antinomist position after thoroughly studying the issues is to arrive in strength, not in weakness. I’ve always argued from the middle anyway, previously confident in the power of reason to explain truth.  But unless the intellect is tempered by faith, it is a hindrance to real understanding; and only by faith can reason be humble enough to see its limits. Reason is just not equipped to take us beyond our finite, temporal thinking so that we can grasp the ways of the infinite, timeless God who transcends creation—that is faith’s role. Seeing that there is more to the equations involved in reality than the merely finite and temporal is also faith’s role. Accepting this, I find that I now have little interest in arguing with either side (which may be why the middle is so rarely heard from). As such, this article is intended to appeal to those who are not yet “sold out” to one side or the other, rather than to debate with those who are. The latter may strongly disagree, but I no longer feel the need to answer them beyond what is offered below. Continue reading

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Awakening to the End of the SBC

By Dr. James Willingham

All that has taken place on the nation level, the approval of homosexual unions as marriage, political correctness (which means no more free speech, etc.), the fines and law suits against Christians for their views on marriage, is but the precursor of things to come.  The end of jobs by computerization, automation, and robotics along with their removal to other nations for cheaper labor is also the indicator of a planned effort to bring down religion as a key factor in this land, any religion, except that which approves of the present PC views and practices.  And then there are the efforts of SBC leaders (so-called) who are supposedly trying to save the SBC mission programs by getting rid of the DOMs on the local level, followed by the state conventions, and after that the SBC (an expense, you know).  The result will be and is on the way to becoming the end of the programs for missionaries, the largest in history. Continue reading

Posted in Christian Living, Government & Religion, Indigenous Posts, missions, news, SBC Issues, the local church, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Awakening to Corporate Enmity

By Dr. James Willingham

It is obvious that the  corporations are behind or a significant factor in the PC movement.  Just consider their opposition to any law, local, state, or otherwise that seeks to restore the moral standards concerning marriage and other concerns (i.e. the ten commandments, the Bible in public schools, etc.). The opposition of corporations to the laws for marriage of man to a woman, etc., as in Indiana and Ohio must be noted.  The same happened in North Carolina.  One of the officials of IBM had a front page article in the local Durham paper opposing some law that affirmed the religious rights of believers and opposing the marriage of homosexuals along with other forms of the sexual revolution.  I dare say IBM hardly has room to talk on such venue.

Just consider the book, IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black, documents the 12 years in which IBM provided their punch card  computers to the Nazis in Germany which enabled the latter to identify, round-up, imprison, and exterminate a vast multitude of Jews and other people in the various countries of Europe. Continue reading

Posted in Christian Living, Government & Religion, Indigenous Posts, Uncategorized

Awakening to Second Class Citizenship

By Dr. James Willingham

Awakening to Second Class Citizenship will come as a shock to Christians and members of other faiths which do not buy the current requirements of political correctness.  Having studied Black History for many years, I can say that segregation and slavery were at their best feeble representations of little good and at their worst were horrors likened unto the place of eternal torment.  Years ago Blacks were required to walk out  into the streets, giving Whites the sidewalks.  And then there were executions of Blacks without a trial or, if there was one, it was a farce in many cases.  A White lady in Orangeburg, South Carolina summed it up as follows, “Mr. Willingham, when I knew that integration was going to occur, I chose to go teach in a Black primary school.  When I found out what segregation had done to the personalities of those little Black children, I cried.”

If the Supreme Court of the U.S. makes the decisions that favor the gay community they will come after all of our churches, our jobs, etc.  Consider what happened to the man in Oregon who owned a bakery and had children.  His bakery is closed.  At last account he was working as garbage collector, and the state was still hounding for the rest of the fine, while the people for whom he refused to do their wedding (due to their homosexuality) are also seeking the money which the court ruled he must pay them. Continue reading

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Awakening to Helps

By Dr. James Willingham

One of the items that the Puritans found to be of value was that of “helps.” By this they meant the writings of other ministers which could provide them with a wealth of insight in a text or a subject.  Such helps provided them with an amount of materials that they might be hard pressed to find and develop; they also gave them something on which to exercise their minds.

Recently, I received a book by Dr. Ed Wallen bearing the title, Leaving Darkland, published by Solid Ground Christian Books of Vestavia, Ala., January 2o16 ){Phone number: 205-443-0311). A foreword to the work was written by Dr. Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and General Editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture.  The book is of great value, and the foreword really adds insight and understanding to what the author has written. Continue reading

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Awakening to An Even More Complicated Future

by Dr. James Willingham

In my recent email edition of gizmag I found a startling fact reported, namely, New York University and some other schools has come up with a new algorithm which enables machines to learn as quickly as humans.  But then I surmised beyond that that it might well be true that we already have machines which can and do learn faster than human beings.

What that can mean for humanity, along with the robots, computerization, and automation that already has taken away most of the jobs, is we are headed for a complicated future.  Imagine trying to compete with an intelligent machine that can learn, think, and work faster than you and me ever could without a complaint, doing repetitive tasks 24-7 and having problems only a few times in twenty years before they have to be replaced. Continue reading

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Awakening to An Overwhelming Future

by Dr. James Willingham

I have a number of books in my library about what is coming in the future.  Now I do not read them like I read my Bible.  They are simply educated guesses, some good, some bad.  However, there are verses in the Bible which do suggest a future other than the usual gloom and doom, the key note in so many prophetic programs available to the general public in Christian Broadcasting.

There is also the problem that verses can be read from perspectives other than simple literal statements of facts.  One proof of this is to be found in Jonah 3 where the prophet says, “Forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” an unconditional prophecy of gloom and doom, if there ever was one.  And yet it did not turn out that way.  Contrary to what I have heard from some pulpits, Jonah did not say, “But if you repent, God will spare the city.”  He did not and He would not have said such a thing.  He was mad at God as chapter 4 indicates, because his prophecy did not come to pass.  In fact, he had an argument with God.  Imagine that: arguing with God!  He was also angry at God – even if he did not admit it.  “Do you well to be angry, Jonah?”  Who was the recipient of that anger.  Truth be told it was God. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Senior Years

by Dr. James Willingham

The senior years can come as quite a shock, when one had ill health and all that implies.  One reason why I have not written much lately has been that very fact.  In the last two months my wife was in the hospital twice, and then I felt like I should have been there several times during that period.  Seems like providence, while a welcome doctrine when it is favorable, has another side, when it involves hardship, pain, and suffering.  Life is a deuce mixture of the good and the bad.  Praising God for the good is an easy task.  Praising Him for the bad is another question, and yet it is precisely what the Christian Faith has advocated with its centerpiece being the cross of Christ.  There we see the most depressing, the most miserable, the most adverse providence possible, and it turned out to bring to pass the greatest good. Continue reading

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