Dear Don: “Calvinism Is the Gospel.”

My friend Don Johnson has a complaint:

“Funny… to hear some bloggers talk you would think ‘gospel’ = ‘Calvinism’. Odd, eh?”

Actually, Don, here’s the funny part—or the odd part, depending on your perspective. My reading of that post just happened (or, perhaps, was sovereignly ordained?) to shortly precede my reading of this bit from none other than Charles Spurgeon, who, though not a blogger, seemed to get the gospel:

Spurgeon“I have my own private opinion, that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism. Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith without works; not unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor, I think, can we preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation, after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that. We preach Christ and him crucified in a different fashion, and to all gainsayers we reply, “We have not so learned Christ.” (emphasis mine)

Nice timing, eh? Touché.

Disagree with me at your own peril, friend. Doing so has put you at odds with Chuck (twice), John Owen, Matthew Henry and other prominent dead men. Ha!

(You’ll notice that I graciously omitted the Apostle Paul. You’re welcome.)

(HT: Mark Dever)

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19 Responses

  1. Who needs Spurgeon, Owen, Henry, Edwards, Whitfield, etc. when you have Finney and Dave Hunt?

    That is good stuff from Spurgeon. I know that there are many who love the Lord deeply and are no intellectual slouches who would firmly disagree with his statement, but I believe that it is right on.

  2. Speaking of dead men, I’m reading John Wesley on Perfectionism. So it’s not like famous Arminians haven’t written things, too.

    (Gulp.)

  3. So, does this mean that according to you (and Chuck) that those who do not hold to Calvinism do not preach nor hold to the Gospel – or that the definition of Calvinism has so morphed today that it no longer means what it once did? Even though I strongly disagree with Wesley, etc., it would be an error and disengenous to say that he did not preach the Gospel.

    Is not good old brother Spurgeon doing the same thing in this quote that most of us deplore on the internet – purposely misrepresenting the positions of those who disagree with him?

    Frank

  4. You’re a funny man, Chris!

    I recognize that I am in disagreement with many men. So was Athanasius.

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. How esoteric! I hate missing out on a good arguement/discussion just because I don’t know enough about the subject (so why let that stop me now). Is the sticking point with Calvin all the election/predestination stuff? Wasn’t he pretty instrumental in the Reformation? I reckon that’s what Spurgeon is talking about.

    I kinda viewed the “elect” as those ones that God knew from the beginning of time would accept Christ. Christ died for all, but not all accept His sacrifice, and God always knew who would exercize their free will even before they accepted Christ; so they’re “preordained.”

    I don’t know how close that is to Calvin (probably not very), but he got eternal security, depravity of man, grace, atonement, and other stuff right when most in the church (small “c”) seem to have stuff all fouled up.

    Ok guys… educate me! :)

  6. Brian,
    I’m just sitting here laughing as you’ve brightened my day with your comment. It’s been cloudy and rainy here all day and that was a very sunshiney comment.

    I have seen Spurgeon’s comment before and I agree with what he said and how he said it. However, I do know quite a number of Arminian friends who truly are saved. I know that there are also a probably very large number of people who hold intellectually to Calvinism or the doctrines of grace as some call it, and are strangers to grace.

  7. Hi Frank,
    I don’t think Spurgeon was purposely misrepresenting other points of view. I think he made it pretty clear in the beginning of the quote by saying, “I have my own private opinion . . . ” He did make it public, but was saying that for himself, that is what he believed and taught.

  8. Frank, Bryan, et al:

    Don’t expect me to clean up the mess. I just plan on quoting Chuck and walking away. :) I’m just the instigator.

    In the meantime, if Don wants to go a few rounds with Chuck, more power to him.

  9. Mike (Goldfuss?)
    Glad I could be of assistance.

    I chalked much of this up to “My ways are higher than your ways” some time ago and usually don’t think about it (unless there’s a particularly interesting discussion going on).

  10. Chris,

    Nice! Reminds me of a friend in college who lobbed an M-80 into the middle of a card game (Uno) and ran outside laughing while the rest of us dove for cover.

  11. Well, I’ll come out of hiding for this much, not that I think a few scribbled paragraphs will resolve this issue. However:

    I think of this matter quite often. Bottom line: the fact that I’m saved is entirely of God. That is a humbling matter that drives me to worship and motivates my obedience.

    Do I believe in man’s free will? Absolutely. All men freely choose to reject God (Rom. 3:10-11). You want freedom? We’d all be damned. Seriously. Absolute freedom = reprobation.

    Fortunately, God’s grace intervened and opened my eyes to the glorious Gospel—His fault, not mine. (2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Acts 11:18; 16:14; et al) If he hadn’t, I certainly wouldn’t have believed or repented. Indeed, I couldn’t have (Eph. 2:1; I Cor. 2:14; et al)

    The result of these truths in the Scriptures? God receives all the glory for salvation. Mankind is humbled. Christians are comforted. (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; Romans 11:33-36; I Cor. 1:17-31; et al)

    Joking aside, these are precious and practical truths. If the “C” word gives you a rash, don’t use it. I often don’t. But the doctrine of salvation entirely of God’s grace should be embraced and celebrated, not debated.

  12. Amen to everything about your post Chris. I was too tired to try to explain anything last night and didn’t have any gumption to do it. You are, after all, the one who opened the thread, so thanks for putting that in there. :-) I agree with your last sentence: “The doctrine of salvation ENTIRELY of God’s grace should be embraced and celebrated, not debated.” To Him be the glory, both now and forever, Amen.

  13. […] I have my own private opinion […]

  14. Chris and Mike,

    I believe we are in total agreement. Salvation is a miracle of God and I don’t pretend to understand everything about it, which is why I accept what is written in the Bible and don’t spend too much time anymore trying to figure out the elect/predestination stuff. My brain just isn’t big enough. I’m afraid if I finally did understand it I’d forget my name or where I live or something.

    I also liked your comment about “Absolute freedom = Reprobation.” Hear hear.

  15. Spurgeon once said, “Arminian perversions, in particular, are to sink back to their birthplace in the pit.”

    However, as a biblical Calvinist, he was equally adamant in opposing hyper-calvinism, urging the free offer of the gospel to all in his hearing. Dallimore states a good balancing view in the following quote in his bio of Spurgeon:
    “[He] recognized that the human heart is set against God and that so severe is the nature of sin that unregenerate man ‘will not’ and ‘cannot’ come to God of himself. Man is lost in sin, and such is his condition that he can no way help himself. Yet Spurgeon found assurance in knowing that Christ on the cross accomplished the full salvation of all whom God would call, and that God makes unwilling men willing ‘in the day of His power.’ He regarded himself as responsible to preach the gospel to them all—‘to every creature’—and to do so as zealously as if the outcome depended entirely on himself. He knew that ‘salvation is of the Lord’ and that as he went on with the mighty task he could be confident that the Word would ‘not return void,’ but that God would use it to bring about the salvation of souls.”

    Anyhow, my 1.5 cents on “Chuck the Calvinist.” I always think his doctrinal belief must be explained in light of his evangelistic fervor in preaching. Read his classic “The Soul Winner” for some great encouragement.

  16. […] Dear Don: “Calvinism Is the Gospel” […]

  17. I’m a 5 pointer…

    ’nuff said!

  18. Though this post was essentially made to razz a friend, I do think the statement with which I ended an earlier post is true: “the doctrine of salvation entirely of God’s grace should be embraced and celebrated, not debated.”

    This was brought home to me again today as I read Dr. Michael Barrett, one of my favorite Calvinists. He’s addressing God’s sovereign choosing of believers from I Corinthians 1:4 and following.

    “Rather than making God’s gracious choice of sinners a matter of controversy because we can’t figure out how God’s choice and man’s choice fit together, or because we think it unfair that God’s choice of sinners was not universally inclusive, let us simply rest in the wonderful truth of it. Let us just stick to and not stray from what the Bible says. In contrast to theologians, the Scripture never speaks of God’s electing sinners as a matter of controversy and never sets God’s choice in opposition to man’s will. On the contrary, divine election is presented as the cause and foundation of every spiritual blessing. Even if we cannot comprehend it completely (and nobody can), let us accept the truth of it. Let its reality generate within our hearts assurance, joy , and humble gratitude. It is a vital part of the good news of the gospel without which we have no hope. According to Paul, God’s choosing us to be His adopted children is just one portion of ‘the riches of His grace which He has lavished upon us’ (1:8, my translation). By nature we are the children of wrath; by grace we are the sons of God. What a blessing that is!” (Complete In Him, 169-70)

    Amen.

  19. […] August 28th, 2007 — Chris Spurgeon gave me a good chuckle last week. Shockingly (or not), he did so by taking aim at Arminians. Now, I don’t go looking for these things.  In fact, […]

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