Cornerstone Magazine convened their first ever conference on a warm Saturday March 30th day at Woodside Chapel in Fanwood, New Jersey. An estimated 110 attendees from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Canada took in the conference whose theme was “So Great Salvation: God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility.” The speakers were David Dunlap from Florida and Mark Kolchin from New Jersey. David Dunlap, who authored “Limiting Omnipotence,” commenced with an introduction to Calvinism, looking at its roots dating back to Augustine in the early 5th century, tracing its precepts from Calvin to the Westminster Confession. Convened in Holland by the Dutch Reformed Church, the Synod of Dort (1618-19) established the five points of Calvinism to address Arminianism some 50 years after Calvin’s death. Mr. Dunlap addressed the weaknesses of both Arminianism and Calvinism, showing how a Biblicist view harmonizes God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. He closed by looking at why Calvinism is growing today as well as looking at key verses that respond to its first tenet, “Total Depravity.”
In the second session Mark Kolchin, editor of Cornerstone Magazine, looked at the similarities and differences between Calvinism (explained through the acronym TULIP) and Arminianism, also proposing a Biblicist view that sufficiently addresses all five points. Mr. Kolchin expounded on many verses that teach God’s sovereignty (ex. Eph. 1:11), others that teach human responsibility (ex. Acts 16:31), as well as explaining verses that teach both (ex. Jn. 6:37; Acts 2:23).
Mr. Dunlap launched the afternoon sessions proposing four attitudes that one should have: God has given all an ability to have faith; God loves all and wants all to be saved; Christ died on the cross for all; and all believers are eternally secure. He expounded on common verses that Calvinists bring up such as John 6:37, 43-45. He also looked at the biblical meaning of key terms such as “chosen” and “elect,” and spoke on corporate election (ex. Israel, the church). He also demonstrated how election never refers to salvation but instead relates to service, rank, and privilege. He closed with four exhortations: be familiar with Calvinism; have good reference books to refute Calvinism; have literature to give to young people; and develop a local church position paper on Calvinism. Mr. Kolchin began the fourth meeting addressing in detail the five points of Calvinism. He counteracted “Total Depravity” by looking at men such as Cornelius and Zacchaeus, who though spiritually dead, could still seek God and hear His voice. He tackled “Unconditional Election” demonstrating that God is longsuffering (2 Pet. 3:9) also looking at verses such as Acts 13:46-48 and John 5:39-40 in the light of the claims of Calvinism. He dealt with “Limited Atonement” explaining verses that showed that Christ died for all (1 Jn. 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Cor. 5:14; 2 Pet. 2:1). “Irresistible Grace” was refuted by key verses such as Matthew 23:37, Mark 10:21-22, Acts 7:51, and 2 Corinthians 3:16. He closed by counteracting with scripture the final Calvinist point, the “Perseverance of the Saints” (Rom. 8:15-16, 33-39; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:4; Jn. 17:12), demonstrating that neither Calvinism nor Arminianism adequately addresses the issues of assurance of salvation and the eternal security of the believer.
The day closed with a panel discussion where George Ferrier asked questions to both speakers that were submitted during the day by the attendees. We thank Woodside Chapel for hosting the conference and providing a wonderful lunch. We also thank Robbie Youssef of Axios One International for live streaming the event which can now be viewed on Cornerstone Conferences YouTube channel at bit.ly/SoGreatASalvation_CSC2019. Thank you as well to Alan Coburn for hosting a Gospel Folio book table where books on the day’s topic such as John Lennox’s “Determined to Believe,” David Dunlap’s “Limiting Omnipotence,” Dudley Ward’s “Programmed by God,” and Bob Wilkin’s “Is Calvinism Biblical” among others could be purchased. To God be the glory. The Cornerstone Magazine Committee