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Spurgeon On Calvinism and Brainwashing

BrainwashSpurgeon 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, I was mowing my lawn when I heard this one.  Anyway, here’s Spurgeon commenting again on Calvinism & Arminianism during a sermon on Psalm 127. The last two lines just crack me up.

“The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism—though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject —are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this—it is possible you may not, but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven. He will make you right in your doctrines.” (From a sermon entitled The Peculiar Sleep of the Beloved)


18 Responses

  1. I would say a hearty amen to Mr. Spurgeon, but I do think that there are some Arminians who will retain their theology until AFTER they arrive in glory and then they will have to change it. :-) Or, maybe it will already be changed for them.

  2. Luke 18:11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Don,

    Which is you & which is Chuck? :)

  4. lol!

  5. That’s for you to decide. I have a sermon on this passage I haven’t preached yet. I have been thinking about it for almost thirty years. I find this one of the most convicting passages in the New Testament.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  6. Does he mention limited atonement/particular redemption anywhere in the context? If not, I wonder why he didn’t mention that explicitly. Perhaps he covered it with the phrase: “…and all those great truths which are called Calvinism.”

    For me, Calvinism just isn’t doing for me what it did in grad school. Maybe I’ve fallen from grace?

  7. I’m not sure I follow your second paragraph, Ted. Help?

  8. […] Spurgeon on Calvinism and brainwashing […]

  9. Sorry for the vague comment. What I mean is that I used to feel like Calvinism was not merely a good working system, but a decent (if not totally accurate) reflection of the total information that the Bible has regarding God’s person and his work in the world. It all fit in somehow.

    Over the last several years (at the same time that I have watched many friends identify themselves as Calvinists of one sort or another), I have had too many moments that I call “hermeneutical surprise”, places in Scripture that mitigated against a strict determinism (and sometimes any kind of determinism at all). I wouldn’t say that I don’t believe what I believed before regarding unconditional election, security, and other key doctrines that Scripture affirms, but I’m less satisfied with some Calvinists’ expressions regarding the nature of the atonement, the possibility of resisting grace (the data goes both directions on this one…), and some implications regarding the concept of total depravity. I had a tipping point (of sorts) several years ago when a Ph.D candidate (writing on the works of Jonathan Edwards) wrote that the idea that God might have willed for sin to exist isn’t as bad as denying God’s sovereignty over the world. When I asked him what he meant, he could see only the dangers of denying God’s sovereignty, and really couldn’t see the assault on God’s character that the opposite error produced.

    That’s a can of worms, I know, and I hope this post doesn’t generate anything further from the field. I have definitely become increasingly amused by the attitude that there are the informed Christians, the Calvinists, and the other Christians who are still awaiting that additional work of grace in their lives–their conversion to Calvinism. I’m not “anti-Calvinist” and doubt I ever will be (it affirms much of what the Bible teaches, after all), but I’ve become a lot less system-enamored the more I’ve studied the Bible over the last decade.

  10. Right on Ted, that is what I am trying to say in my attempts on this issue.

    BTW, my daughter tells me you are one of her favorite Bible teachers. She is a senior this year.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  11. Thanks for the kind note, Don. I should also mention that I know many Christians (some certainly as friends) who are fine Calvinists and who have never given the impression that they have a corner on the gospel or that they have everything figured out. As we all know, arrogance and humility reside on both sides of most theological debates (of course, one man’s arrogance is another man’s simple confidence, and one man’s humility is another man’s wishy-washy indecision!)

  12. It is exceedingly hard to be the publican, see my post above.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  13. Nice, Don. Aren’t you glad you’re not like other men—especially those self-righteous Pharisees?

    Ted, if what you’ve stepped away from is a “rah, rah” Calvinism that claims to have all the answers with a fresh-from-school confidence, I can definitely see that. There can be a “groupie” type mentality with all kinds of ideologies. On the other hand, if the issues is God’s sovereignty & the need for him to take the initiative in order for any otherwise incurably rebellious (and dead) sinner to come to Him, I believe that with all my heart. Call it whatever you want. My salvation is God’s fault, not mine.

    As for the discussion with the PhD candidate, it is a can of worms. However, attempts to defend God’s goodness by chipping away at His greatness will invariably have treacherous results, in my very ill-informed and probably not very humble opinion.

    I’ve put it this way: if you call me a Calvinist, I may ask you what you mean by the term. If you call me an Arminian, I may sock you in the nose.

    Glad for the discussion, fellas. Hope the scrubbing won’t be too painful for you guys. :D

  14. Second try… just delete this if the first one actually made it…

    Chris, it seems that you are mistaking my meaning. I don’t mean to suggest that I am anywhere close to the mindset of the publican. That’s why I say it is hard to be a publican, and why I said it is one of the most convicting passages in the NT.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  15. I was just giving you a hard time, Don.

  16. […] Greatness to (Presumably) Defend His Goodness September 1st, 2007 — Chris In a recent discussion on Calvinism, the issue of God’s role in the existence of evil came up. Though I admit that it’s a […]

  17. I wasn’t stepping back from “rah, rah” Calvinism, as I had never even taken the step of identifying myself as one in any sense. Nor was I driven away by the antics of some who do call themselves Calvinists (if I want to avoid the crazies, there’s no movement to join anywhere…) The change has been mental change from satisfaction with the system as a whole to dissatisfaction.

    I wholly agree that we must not chip away at a biblical understanding of God’s greatness to defend his goodness. Chipping away at his goodness or chipping away at his greatness are equally wrong.

    I do thank God that I am not as other men, prone to violent outbursts when assigned an inaccurate theological label. (-;

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