Calvinist, Tullian Tchividjian, explains: “The gospel is not a command to hang on to Jesus; it’s a promise that no matter how weak and unsuccessful our faith and efforts may be, God is always holding on to us.” (It is Finished: 365 Days of Good News)
Of course, Jesus does hang on to the believer, as per John 10:27-30. However, it seems that Calvinists wish to turn the gospel into veiled references of Irresistible Grace and Secret Election.
Steven Hitchcock explains: “As far as what the gospel really is to the Calvinist, which is his election, we find that what the Calvinist preaches is not so much an offer to sinners, and certainly not that God loves them, but rather, an in-house idea to those already saved that God has saved them, in such a way, that He has even caused them to believe. This in-house idea of an absolutely done-for-you salvation is the gospel to the Calvinist.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.74, emphasis mine)
Hitchcock adds: “The evangelical gospel has been swallowed up by a vague superintending grace of God that comes upon passive sinners, in which faith is inconsequential.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.65, emphasis mine)
Indeed, that is the “Monergism” of Calvinism. Passive sinners, subject to Total Inability, receive an Irresistible Grace, resulting in the byproduct of saving faith. Faith, then, is not the decisive factor, but grace is the decisive factor, that is, a grace that is an absolutely done-for-you, Irresistible Grace.
One Calvinist explains: “So if I give GOD all the glory for my salvation, then I’m unsaved? If I think that I was not good enough to save myself, but that God had to do it for me, I’m unsaved?”
No one of reputation is saying that, and this is just posturing. For all I care, Calvinists are free to believe that God caused them to believe, and that God loved them so much that He gave them an Irresistible Grace, and that, in and of itself, would be harmless, but where the real harm arises is when the Calvinist’s logic is then factored towards others, and here is an example of the damage:
Calvinist, Jay Adams, cautions: “As a Reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, for they cannot say that. No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died. But the counselor’s task is to explain the gospel and to say very plainly that God commands all men to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ.” (Competent to Counsel, p.70, emphasis mine)
This is the resulting by-product of the Calvinist doctrine of a Limited Atonement. What he is saying is that the Gospel is not an offer, but just a command, which only the Calvinistically elect will obey, through an Irresistible Grace. However, the glaring error is that God would be commanding (again, not an offer) that the alleged non-elect submit in repentance to a Savior who was never their’s to begin with.
Former Calvinism, Steven Hitchcock writes: “The Evangelical Calvinist is forced to compartmentalize the gospel in two contradictory ways. On the one hand he must assert that God personally and genuinely invites every non-Christian to respond to the gospel while on the other hand his Calvinism necessitates the assertion that God does not really will the salvation of all. Countless sermons by those on either side of Calvinism have emphasized a particular understanding or dogma while failing to present the actual promise that is to be personally felt by the hearer. It must be a matter of focused attention that it is for every person, that the hearer is to know that the message of the gospel is for him or her personally. The gospel preacher is an Ambassador making a personal appeal to the hearer that the good news is to be personally owned. Therefore, the preacher must have the confidence that God Himself does truly want every person to turn to Christ in faith and he must not be uncertain because God may have secretly willed to not saved them.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.74, emphasis mine)
Jacob Arminius writes: “The Gospel says, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). But this doctrine declares: ‘that God so loved those whom he had absolutely elected to eternal life, as to give his son to them alone, and by an irresistible force to produce within them faith on him.’ To embrace the whole in few words, the Gospel says, ‘fulfill the command, and thou shalt obtain the promise; believe, and thou shalt live.’ But this [supralapsarian] doctrine says, ‘since it is my will to give thee life, it is therefore my will to give thee faith,’ which is a real and most manifest inversion of the Gospel.” (Arminius Speaks, p.49, emphasis mine)
In other words, the Bible says, believe and you will have life, whereas according to the inverted Gospel of Calvinism, have life and you will believe, insomuch that according to Calvinism, only when a person has life, through preemptive regeneration and an irresistible gift of faith, can one believe and be saved.
The apostle Paul states: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1st Corinthians 2:2)
That statement sets aside theology, and places Christ Himself at the rightfully preeminent place, but not so fast, according to Calvinists:
Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, states: “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” (A Defense of Calvinism, emphasis mine) Spurgeon adds: “I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, ‘You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.’ My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.” (Spurgeon’s Sermons, emphasis mine)
This is a Calvinist’s imagination of Irresistible Grace in action. This is the Calvinist’s Gospel.
Spurgeon explains: “I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor 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 do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; 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 once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.” (A Defense of Calvinism, emphasis mine)
In other words, the gospel amounts to the 5-Points of Calvinism, and anything apart from Irresistible Grace is necessarily a salvation of works and conditions, and is thus a heresy, per Charles Spurgeon:
Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, writes: “And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer?” (A Defense of Calvinism, emphasis mine)
Speaking of Arminians, Spurgeon, says: “The say, ‘No, Christ has died that any man may be saved if’ --and then follow certain conditions of salvation.” (Particular Redemption, emphasis mine)
“Conditions” such as what? Conditions such “believes in Him” as per John 3:16? With Calvinism, unless one professes Irresistible Grace, the result is necessarily works.
Based upon the comments from Spurgeon, it seems that he is saying that unless one is preaching Limited Atonement and Unconditional Election, one is not preaching the gospel, which reinforces his view that Calvinism is the gospel itself.
Calvinist, Jeff Noblit, states: “Any preacher...who dumbs down the depravity of man...is not preaching the true Gospel. That’s not the Gospel. It’s not clever; it’s wicked. It’s dooming men’s souls and leading millions to false assurance.” (Calvinism: A Cause for Rejoicing and Concern)
So did the apostle Paul, at Acts 17:24-31, fail to truly preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”?
John Calvin states: “If we are not ashamed of the gospel, we must confess what is there plainly declared. God, by His eternal goodwill, which has no cause outside itself, destined those whom He pleased to salvation, rejecting the rest; those whom He dignified by gratuitous adoption He illumined by His Spirit, so that they receive the life offered in Christ, while others voluntarily disbelieve, so that they remain in darkness destitute of the light of faith.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.58, emphasis mine)
One Calvinist at oldtruth.com explains: “A wonderful friend of our family once commented that coming to understand the Doctrines of Grace was akin to a type of salvation within salvation.” (oldtruth.com, emphasis mine)
However, the salvation described at Romans 10:9 doesn’t mention anything about conversion to Calvinism: “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Another Calvinists states: “My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity....” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
Some Calvinists have proposed an answer:
Sovereign Grace Church states: “Must a person believe ‘the doctrine of election’ to be a Christian? The answer is yes, as surely as one must believe and accept God’s grace to be a Christian. To cut election away from grace is to have ‘grace’ which is no grace. To cut election away from the gospel is to have a ‘gospel’ that is no gospel, for a gospel without grace is another gospel from the Biblical message (Galatians 1:6-10).” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
“To cut election away from grace is to have ‘grace’ which is no grace.” Warning: Circular Logic. You cannot base your conclusion on an unproven, assumed assertion, namely that biblical grace in any way includes Calvinistic election. In other words, you cannot assume Calvinism in order to prove Calvinism.
John Calvin cautions: “Let us heed the simplicity of Scripture with more attention and respect, in case our over-ingenious philosophizing leads us, not to heaven, but rather, to the bewildering labyrinths of the depths beneath.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol. III, James and Jude, p.331, emphasis mine)
Indeed, Calvinists ought to heed Calvin’s own warning about philosophizing, and stick with the biblical definition of the the Gospel, as Paul outlines at 1st Corinthians 15:1-11, as well as at 1st Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
So Calvinism is an essentialy aspect of Christianity or the Gospel. This is how Calvinsts have created a cult for themselves. It really is a theological cult, and the opposition is you. You are not one of them.
1st Timothy 3:16: “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
If the Apostles were early Calvinists, then wouldn’t you expect the “common confession” of the early Church to have featured the alleged “essential aspects of the gospel of grace and truth”? So where is the proto-Calvinism? That’s what I want to know. According to leading Calvinists, Calvinism is the essential aspect of the Gospel, if not THE Gospel itself, as per Charles Spurgeon.
I think that a Calvinist would have to say that the principles of Calvinism were already so deeply ingrained into the early Christian Church culture that there was simply never really a need to systematically outline the 5 pillars of Calvinism in a “common confession.”
Note that the only mystery in this verse is the mystery of godliness, and not of an eternal secret, unconditional election to predestine some individuals to salvation and others to damnation. No total depravity, no irresistible grace, no limited atonement, no perseverance of the saints given here.
1st Corinthians 15:3-5 is considered by many to be the earliest creed of the Christian church: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
So here is how I infer that a Calvinist might frame it: “This common confession shows us how much of a ‘given’ God’s sovereign work of election was to the early Church community. They did not have to expand or explain its meaning.” (A similar quote was given by a leading Calvinist of today, and so I’ve adapted it to this situation, in order to try to represent the Calvinist perspective.)
The reality, though, of the early Church, was that freewill was, instead, the “given,” and determinism was the outside, heretical theology of the Gnostics. Ironically (according to John Chrysostom of the early Church) the Gnostics had used the same biblical proof-texts that Calvinists also use today, and the early Church used the same biblical proof-texts that Arminians also use today.
So why were the Apostles (and the early Church) so different from Calvinists of today? Why the disconnect? To allege that there is no disconnect, requires the inference that it was already so well understood, and I believe that Calvinists can and will make this inference, because if Calvinists can infer a “secret will” into any text of Scripture where it is expedient for the Calvinist, then why not at 1st Timothy 3:16 as well?
Here is a Blog discussion on this point.