Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Calvinism's "Comeback" and the reformation we need

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As Pastor Leap noted in a comment on the previous blog entry, Christianity Today's current (September 2006) issue [EDIT: it is now online here] has a cover story on the resurgence of reformed theology among the rising generation of American Christians--especially pastors and church leaders. Collin Hansen does a good job describing this reformation movement and highlights some of the men whom God is using in significant ways to fuel its flames.

The article documents what a few people have been saying for the last few years: we are in the early stages of real reformation. Reformed theology certainly is foundational to this reformation, but what is happening should not be dismissed or superficially assessed as simply more people becoming Calvinists than in previous years. From my vantage point God is raising up a generation who are weary of an American evangelicalism that is insipid at best and in truth is more committed to America than it is to the evangel. As Joshua Harris, pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland is quoted as saying, once it is accepted that "it's not about us, it's about God's glory, it's about his renown ... that's the first step down a path of Reformed theology."

Interestingly, theologian Roger Olson, a self-described "genuine Arminian," makes this comment about his Reformed counterparts: "A lot of us evangelical Arminians agree with them in their criticisms of popular folk religion....I agree with their basic theological underpinnings--that doctrine is important, that grace is the decisive factor in salvation, not a decision we make." My own experience confirms this. Give me a warm-hearted, Wesleyan Arminian any day over the typical, non-descript, atheological evangelical that has dominated American conservative Christianity for the last 50 years. And by all means give me that person over an ungracious, belligerent Calvinist.

There are some statements in the article that are sure to raise eyebrows if not blood pressures. For example, Hansen calls "the [sic--he doesn't get the importance of the definite article!] Southern Baptist Theological Seminary" a "Reformed hotbed." Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is quoted. Unfortunately, his "white paper" from 2005, that has been rather vigorously debunked on this blog previously (here, here, here and here), is quoted. Dr. Lemke is further cited in what I can at best say is an unfortunate way. If the summation and quote are accurate, then any hope that I had from our previous exchange (see the links above) is completely dissipated.

Hansen writes:
Lemke doubts that Calvinism has yet reached its high-water mark in the SBC. But he is no fan of this trend. Baptism and membership figures, he said, show that the Calvinist churches of the SBC's Founders Ministries lack commitment to evangelism. According to Lemke, the problem only makes sense, given their emphasis on God's sovereign election. "For many people, if they're convinced that God has already elected those who will be elect ... I don't see how humanly speaking that can't temper your passion, because you know you're not that crucial to the process," Lemke explained.
Love hopes he was quoted wrongly. But experience makes me think otherwise. The canard about Founders churches and evangelism has been addressed very decisively. Lemke has better information than he had when he wrote his white paper. He should know better. What we "Founders types" lack is not a commitment to evangelism but a commitment to shallow evangelism that thinks you can save a soul for $48 dollars a month or results in vastly more "converts" that show no signs of life than those who do. We do stand against the kind of evangelism that fills our churches with unregenerate members. But we do not stand against biblical evangelism. Neither did Whitefield, Spurgeon, Boyce, Judson, Carey or Edwards (to name but a few). The fact that Lemke cannot understand how one can believe unconditional election and remain passionate about evangelism tells us far more about him and his theological understanding than it does about evangelical Calvinism. Furthermore, for him to think that because he is not "crucial" to the process of salvation he must therefore be less passionate about evangelism is a serious indictment on his understanding of grace and love.

The article that Hansen has written is well worth reading. It should encourage all who long for spiritual and doctrinal reformation in our churches. By God's grace, such reformation is happening. May God be pleased to cause it to increase.

50 comments:

Stephen A Morse said...

Are we to see in this kind of article a softening of the blatant attacks against calvinism in the mainstream SBC? Is this a recognition, if not some kind of acceptance of calvinism at the table of evangelicalism (or even of our convention)?
Could this and even the drastic change in direction of "The Great Debate" recently be a result, in some way, of the demonstration of grace and at least charity we saw in the Mohler/Patterson conversation in Greensboro?

I am encouraged that at least we are seeing more opportunities to expose our churches to the truth of what we actually do believe - maybe!

GeneMBridges said...

"For many people, if they're convinced that God has already elected those who will be elect ... I don't see how humanly speaking that can't temper your passion, because you know you're not that crucial to the process,"

A. Actually, the reverse is true. I know I am crucial to that process, because God has also decreed the means, not just the ends. That's basic Calvinism. Why doesn't Dr. Lemke understand this?

B. I've always found this objection rather ironic, because its usually the ones that like to throw out the "hyperCalvinist" label who say it. Isn't it just the least bit strange for them to object to the fixity of election while believing God elects based on foreseen faith? Isn't the number just as fixed? For that matter, if you root a call to be converted in something like the atonement, then you're the mirror image of the hyper-Calvinist, because you're saying that unless God seconds your call from the pulpit by providing some sort of assurance to your audience, it isn't valid; ergo you tell them things like "We're all elect," or "Jesus died for you." Functionally, that's no different than the hyperCalvinist who says his hearers to to search for a warrant to believe.

It's sad to see the uncritical thinking that still pervades the seminaries.

anoninva said...

"I don't see how humanly speaking that can't temper your passion, because you know you're not that crucial to the process,"

How untrue! I have witnessed to people in the past when my understanding was more arminian and as of late, as a calvinist. The difference is this: now I have confidence in God's electing grace and the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. I share and God will work as He sees fit. Before, my understanding was that my methods, my timing, my logic, my scripture knowledge and memorization, and my winsomness were all critical and if I failed at any one or all of these points, and the person didn't agree to accept Christ, then he or she was doomed and I was a complete failure. What a heavy burden! Believe me, there is much more motivation (and confidence) in sharing Christ now, as opposed to the past when I felt it was all on me.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

A great reason to purchase the latest issue of CT!! Thank you, my Brother.

I am glad you quoted Olson. If you decide to read his latest book being released in Oct, I think you find it even more interesting still. One little goody he offers is the thorough-going 39 theological stripes plus two to none other than C.Finney. Why? Olson tags him a semipelagian who preached dispicable error. Interesting indeed.

Have a gracious evening and a peaceful sleep. With that, I am...

Peter

scripturesearcher said...

When I was a child, I liked childish things but now things are different - including my reading material. I no longer read comic books (including CT) because it is no longer the solid, biblical, and dependable magazine it once was.

Thank you for confirming my decision.

GUNNY said...

It's interesting to see the mainstream of Christian media publicly recognize what we've perceived all along, that there is a resurgence of Calvinism.

Of course, we first saw this March 26, 1997 with Dr. Estep's article about (Reformed) doctrine leads to dunghill.

I'm encouraged that we're encountering opposition and publicity. It's encouraging to see that we're perceived as a threat. If we were an insignificant portion of the population, they wouldn't bother with us.

That doesn't mean that "attention" will likely get any better, but it's bringing some of these issues to the surface where there can at least be the potential for genuine dialog.

At the end of the day, isn't that one of the things we long for, a fair shake and the absence of misrepresentation?

I'm not a regular reader of CT, but curiosity might get the best of me and I might have to score a copy.

irreverend fox said...

I'm a 28 year old church planter, funded in part by NAMB. I'm a 5 pointer. Nearly HALF the church planters that I know are funded in part by NAMB are about my age and are 5 pointers.

There is a revival of reformed theology taking place amongst young missional pastors in our convention that is noteworthy.

You all might not like our dress, piercings/tattoos, our style of music or our generally informal approach, BUT, the soteriology of many of us is full blown reformed.

Elias said...

Fox, you are absolutely correct my brother. There is something to be said about the younger generation if we are to talk about "Calvinism's Comeback."

I am a 30 year old reformed Interim Pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Southern California who was raised SBC by my Pastor dad who has NOT Calvinist in the least. He didn't even know what it was until I introduced it to him at the age of 25 while reading Edwards and Spurgeon on my own.

Today he has a strong conviction for the sovereignty of God and understands the doctrines of grace. The only point in Calvinism he has trouble with (as do I somtimes) is Limited Atonement.

Christopher Redman said...

The revival fires of reformation are burning. Pray to God that it will be fanned into an unstoppable inferno!

The truth shall set you free!

Nathan White said...

Tom,

Your quote of Joshua Harris was right on. After all, who cares if Calvinism makes a 'comeback', if the God-centeredness that this theology demands does not. Certainly not I...

Let us not be Calvinists in confession only, but also (and most importantly) in practice.

SDG

johnMark said...

Thanks for the briefing, Tom. I was planning on getting the magazine anyways, but now I will make sure I get it.

Blessings,
Mark

Elias said...

That's a nice picture of you and your wife Mark, thanks for sharing it with us.

Are you guys newlyweds?

Jeff Fuller said...

Thankfully there are many more Calvinists stepping up to the plate and making the practice of evangelism as critical as the theology of it!

I thank God for all of you who are living proof that Calvinists make good evangelists!

--Jeff Fuller
The Reformed Evangelist Blog
www.reformedevangelist.com

Moyali said...

"The revival fires of reformation are burning. Pray to God that it will be fanned into an unstoppable inferno!"

When you say "reformation", do you mean that you seek to sway non-Reformed Christians to Calvinism?

If the majority of people in the SBC are not, and do not wish to be, Calvinists, then why is it so important to make them Calvinists? Does this affect their ability to be Christians?

It seems to me that it would be more strategic to just let Baptists keep being Baptists, since their theology results in missions, evangelism and many other good things.

Once Calvinists have made the Baptists into Presbyterians, what will they really have accomplished?

johnMark said...

elias, yes, we've been married a year this August. Thanks for the compliments and for asking. She makes the picture.

moyali: I don't recall anyone saying the mission is to make non-calvinist baptists into calvinists. Did you read Tom's post where he quoted Roger Olson? Or where he stated, "Give me a warm-hearted, Wesleyan Arminian any day over the typical, non-descript, atheological evangelical that has dominated American conservative Christianity for the last 50 years."

Also, baptists and calvinists are mutually exclusive positions. They weren't in the founding of the SBC, today nor will they be tomorrow.

I am not calling for all baptists to be calvinists though I would not complain if the resurgence grows. I would just like to hear more expository preaching with strong biblical doctrine. An encouragement to study doctrine/theology in the pew. The challenging folks to grow spiritually by challenging folks to stretch themselves and study the bible more in depth.

I don't want to hear just John 3:16. I want to hear John 3:16-18. God may not have a wonderful plan for your life. God does however have a wonderful plan for the afterlife for those who believe. He also has a terrible plan for those who don't believe.

Blessings,
Mark

Joe Specht said...

We could call for all to become "Founders Types." Or how about "Foundersists." I think I like that better than Calvinists. It's time to update our "isms."
At any rate thank God for His work especially among the young men He has shown His power to.
Also I guess by not realizing it Mr. Hansen has confessed his lack of passion for evangelism.

irreverend fox said...

I agree with my brothers,

I have ZERO interest in converting SBC'ers to calvinism.

I'm concerned with the conversion of sinners to Christ.

I pray that God will continue to empower me to preach the gospel in the "Synagogue" and in the market place, as Paul did in Athens. I pray that God saves the elect and then elects some more.

God has grown us to about 80 or so "members". Of those 80 or so, at least 65 were not transfers...they were unchurched and most of them had been so for years. Of that 65, at least 50 and almost no knowledge of God and have since been converted by Christ.

I know we still run less than 100, but I don't messure things that way. I look at the 50 new borns in the last year or so and I MARVEL at God's sovreign hand. We've seen more than 50 professions, but roughly 50 have bore fruit (they've stuck around to be discipled).

Oh, by the way, 90% of our fellowship falls under the age of 40.

All of this with no alter calls. Our methodology is fairly plain. I preach the gospel (I preach, I don't give talks), we are busy and intentional in evagelism, when lives are changed people naturally witness and invite and bring their friends along and we engage in culturally relevant worship.

No bells, whistles, band (no live music at all, just three singers), strobe lights, dancing girls or hot air baloon rides.

We are in NE Ohio, far from the Bible belt. Wadsworth is 65-70% "Roman Catholic", or so they claim.

I'm not seminary trained either. In fact, I'm a highschool drop out actually (I just have a paper that says GED).

I don't care how inconsistantly an SBC church preaches about grace, I would prefer they weren't inconsistant, but you know what I mean. I don't lose sleep over it. I rejoice that Christ is preached. I'm proud to work with the SBC, I'm proud of the CP and I love the guys in my association. They have to love me...even if I'm a Calvinist!

Christopher Redman said...

Fox,

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's encouraging to hear how God is working through the gospel truth to change people, churches, and communities.

Blessings,
CR

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. A,

My dear wife and I are hosting a young pastor and his wife for dinner tonight. Our DOM (not a Calvinist) realized we both are and said, "You two need to get together!" We have been able to help each other quite a bit with challenge and encouragement. I'm realizing that it's not quite as lonely out here for Calvinists as I thought it was.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Ched said...

"What we "Founders types" lack is not a commitment to evangelism but a commitment to shallow evangelism that thinks you can save a soul for $48 dollars a month or results in vastly more "converts" that show no signs of life than those who do. We do stand against the kind of evangelism that fills our churches with unregenerate members."


Hearty Amens.

C. T. Lillies said...

I never thought the idea of a Reformation of the SBC was about stamping everyone into the mold of Calvinist. I've always thought it was the real and true idea behind the word revival. It's thrown out from the pulpit Spring and Fall but it really means "Boy we need to do something about our attendance--I know! We'll make everyone feel guilty for a whole week!" The reality of it is, though, until folks get into their Bibles and until pastors start feeding them good doctrine and they begin to want it its not going to happen.

I am afraid that those Strange Baptist fellows are right, to a certain extent. Some of this new Calvinism may just be a fad.

Moyali said...

"The purpose of Founders Ministries is the recovery of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the reformation of local churches. We believe intrinsic to this recovery is the promotion of the Doctrines of Grace in their experiential application to the local church particularly in the areas of worship and witness. This is to be accomplished through a variety of means focusing on conferences and including publication, education, pastoral training and other opportunities consistent with the purpose."

The above quote is from the statement of purpose of the Founders Ministries, right?

And the Founders group is almost exclusively concerned with Baptists, right?

So it seems that the goal of some or most people here must be to move Baptist churches to Calvinist (aka Doctrines of Grace) theology.

A few of you are saying that this is not something you're interested in doing. But am I wrong in thinking the Founder's organization exists for that purpose, or is there something that I'm missing?

Nathan White said...

“I have ZERO interest in converting SBC'ers to calvinism.” [this a summary of several comments]

How can we say this if we believe that the Bible teaches these doctrines? Do we have no interest in seeking the truth? If we believe it but don’t fight for it, then we don’t really believe it, do we?

I’m still trying to figure out things among the reformed SBC crowd:

We all want a reformation, but only some are willing to step on toes. I am sure thankful that Martin Luther didn’t take this approach…

We all want a reformation, but only some will actually admit what they really want: a Calvinist reformation. I think we should be completely honest about our intentions.

We all want a reformation, but some just do not see the root issue to almost every problem in the SBC: an incorrect knowledge of who God is and how He works in salvation (Calvinism again).

We have absolutely no hope for a true reformation in this convention unless the doctrines of grace, which include a correct understanding of the nature of God, are embraced by the majority.

Yeah, there are many good Christians that are Arminian. There are many good things in the Arminian side of the SBC. But, Arminianism as a whole has an incorrect understanding of God’s essential nature. And when your doctrine of God is wrong, there isn’t a deeper foundation that can be corrected.

We can put a band-aid on the external issues (as some are trying to do), or we can go for the cure: a return to a correct understanding of God's nature, God's sovereignty, man's condition, and a pure gospel message (Calvinism as a whole, once again).

SDG

Andrew said...

"Give me a warm-hearted, Wesleyan Arminian any day over the typical, non-descript, atheological evangelical that has dominated American conservative Christianity for the last 50 years. And by all means give me that person over an ungracious, belligerent Calvinist.
"


Amen, Brother Tom. :-)

Elias said...

I have friends who are Arminian and what I have come to realize in my many conversations with them about Calvinism is that most will probably never come to understand it.

The fact of the matter is there will always be Arminians in the SBC. I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is the constant misrepresentation of the Calvinist position by Pastors in the SBC.

With the resurgance of Calvinism, my hope is for the misrepresentation to stop and for Calvinism to be respected as a legitimate doctrine among our Arminian counterparts so that the average church member be given the opportunity to explore this doctrine with an open mind.

sola veritas said...

Reading the constant criticism of Calvinism and its lack of zeal for evangelism becomes very tiresome.
As a member of an SBC church that is not reformed I am indeed exposed to evangelism that uses invitations, asking Jesus into their hearts, etc. I could give you many examples of numbers of decisions that have been reported and yet we never see these individuals again. I say all that because I have a desire to learn how evangelism is practiced in a reformed church. I also realize that the heart of evangelism is proclaiming the gospel as given in scripture and relying on the Holy Spirit to bring the individual to salvation.
I guess my question is how do you become aware of someone who has been converted?
I hope I don't sound foolish in my question, it's just the fact that I'm not in a reformed environment so all I see it what I outlined above.

irreverend fox said...

sola,

you will know them by their fruit. Do they have evidence of the fruit of the Spirit? Do they have a desire to be baptized? Do they demonstrate a contrite heart? Do they crave pure spiritual milk/meat? Do they speak in tounges? Ok...that last one is a joke.

No one can judge a mans heart obviously. But we can judge fruit to some degree. God is the only judge that matters, His judgements are true. At the end of the day it is probably impossible to actually count converts, only God knows for sure. But walking down front is not a new testament test of conversion or repentance.

Joe Tolin said...

Remember my brothers, the Gospel of the human free will is no Gospel at all. The Good News is that Jesus came to save sinners not that Jesus came so sinners could save themselves.

What must happen is for preachers to stop the nonsense of "decisional preaching" and start proclaiming the glorious Trinitarian Gospel that our great God uses to draw sinners to Himself granting them repentance and faith. The Bible teaches this so lets not be ashamed of it. The Gospel needs no repair but rather the understanding of the Gospel by many who claim to preach it.
I heard just this week an SBC evangelist tell a crowd that they "needed to come and invite the Lord into their lives." Did he or any lost person understand the Gospel. I think not.

Joe

Christopher Redman said...

I'm sure that Jerry Grace will be thrilled to know Calvinism is spreading rapidly. Someone should send him a copy of CT.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Moyali,

I think no one is answering you because it feels like you are baiting us, trying to get us to say something you plan to use against us later. If that is not your intent, I apologize, but that's what it feels like from here.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Moyali said...

"I think no one is answering you because it feels like you are baiting us, trying to get us to say something you plan to use against us later."

Are we in some kind of war here? That is the whole point of my questions. Jesus was not secretive or fearful about disclosing the agenda of the gospel. There is no room for stealth tactics amongst Christians.

One should be secure in one's convictions, present one's intent honestly to anyone who asks questions and not worry about whether or not what one believes is right will be used against one. Don't you agree?

There's something worse than having people disagree with your goals and that is to have people perceive you as being so defensive that that you have started dissembling.

I'm not, by the way, a secret agent or a person of any consequence, so I don't really have an intent. I'm strictly curious.

Tom said...

Moyali:

I have not been hesitant to address your question, just preocuppied with life beyond the blogosphere. You accurately quoted the purpose of Founders Ministries:

"The purpose of Founders Ministries is the recovery of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the reformation of local churches. We believe intrinsic to this recovery is the promotion of the Doctrines of Grace in their experiential application to the local church particularly in the areas of worship and witness."

I believe (and many join me in this belief) that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been largely lost to a vast number of Christian churches in our day. That, of course, goes hand-in-hand with they widespread unhealthy church life that also seems prevalent in our day. Thus, Founders Ministries is committed to reformation--the recovery of the Gospel and the biblical re-formation of local churches.

We believe that intrinsic to such recovery and reformation is the recognition or rediscovery of the doctrines of grace. Where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is recovered there will be a reawakening to the grace of God in Christ. Granted, this does not mean that everyone who knows and loves the Gospel will necessarily be a 5 point Calvinist. But it does mean that those who know and love the Gospel will not fight against the proclamation of God's sovereign and gracious work of salvation of real sinners. Those who love the Gospel may not all express it the exact same way, but they all will rejoice at magnification of God's grace and glory in the Gospel.

I think of it like this. My goal is not to get people Calvinized but to get them conquered by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As they grow in this grace and become saturated in it, their appreciation of the doctrines of grace emerges as a by-product.

I have never seen a new convert grow weary of hearing about God's grace nor get angry at God's sovereignty. But I have seen many grow spiritually by learning more of both.

Nathan White said...

Tom,

Great comment. Just in case my previous comments were misunderstood (maybe by Moyali), I agree whole-heartedly with your summary here.

SDG

Forest A said...

Moyali,

Just to speak a little furthering regards to your question. True revival only comes when the gospel is preached in its fullest sense. That is, when the dead, sinful state of man is taught and the glorious grace and sovereignty of God is proclaimed.

Sometimes, when a person is converted to Christ they are immediately enraptured with a sense of awe for His majesty. Others, while they may be converted, still have eyes that are focused more their own person. It is only through the true preaching of the gospel that the latter will ever be able to lift their eyes to the Glory of the Almighty. One could make the lengthy argument supporting the statement of Spurgeon, “Calvinism is the gospel…” but I will just make one point. God uses the truth of Total Depravity (done by the proper preaching of the law) to cause men (pre-conversion and post) to fall on their backs and look up at His majesty. It is when man realizes the depth and breadth of his sinful state that he begins to have the capacity to understand the fullness of the grace of God and properly worship Him as He ought to be worshiped. I believe this is what the Founders mission statement means when it says “…the promotion of the Doctrines of Grace in their experiential application…” (correct me if I am wrong, Tom). It is not that one goes to the pulpit and preaches on the 5 points. Rather, we have been so overcome with the grandeur of God’s grace that and we see that grandeur displayed so simply in these five points that when we preach the true and full gospel the truth of Calvinistic soteriology overflows from our heart with joy. This is not to say that one can not truly worship God without first being a Calvinist. Nor is it to say we ought to take our eyes off the needs of those around us in order to fully focus on Christ. But how are we, who have tasted of a fruit so sweet that words can not express, supposed to refrain from trying to help others taste of that same fruit?

Tom Bryant said...

Thanks for the information about the article.

I am neither a "5 pointer" nor an arminian. I am much closer to 5 than I am to one. :) But I think the reformation that is coming is not just among those holding to the reformed doctrines.

There are lots of non-calvinists who are also concerned that the doctrines of salvation have been so diluted to the point that they are an innoculation against salvation.

Tom said...

Tom:

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have several friends who are not convinced Calvinists but who share a common passion to see the superficial, man-centered, watered-down evangelism that dominates in our day exposed for what it is and replaced by biblically faithful proclamation of the crucified and risen Christ as Lord.

Thanks for posting your thoughts.

C. T. Lillies said...

We all want a reformation, but only some will actually admit what they really want: a Calvinist reformation. I think we should be completely honest about our intentions.

Yup. That about sums it up.

There are a wide range of outcomes, though if folks take the kind of stand for which you are calling. Do we want to see a fragmented Convention? Of course not and it could be that won't happen. Do we want to see a Convention that finally has "accepted Jesus as Lord as well as Savior?" Certainly. And it might just happen. Perhaps we'll see all the members of the the Executive Board and all the Seminary Presidents and their staff and all the other folks who serve everywhere repent in sackcloth and ashes and acknowledge God's Sovereignty in all things. I don't think thats whats going to happen though. We've already gotten a glimpse of a Baptist reaction to a small dose of Reformed theology with this Resolution#5/sufficiency of scripture debacle. What do you think is going to happen when you bring in the nukes? Man doesn't really have a choice, Yes he did mean "Before the foundation of the world" yes election really does mean God picked and not you. You all know more about this stuff than I ever will. Just think about it before you throw down the gauntlet.

On the other hand we don't want to be guilty of allowing our brothers to languish in sin as the price for peace.

Jeremiah 6:14 (NASB)
“They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.

Much Grace
Josh

slmayes said...

The following quote from Spurgeon is a classic on the relationship between the Gospel and Calvinism:

In his work, "A Defence of Calvinism," [Spurgeon] states unequivocally:

[T]here 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. 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.

Copied from www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?41

Barry Wallace said...

I'm a little late to this conversation, but I agree with earlier comments that it's not accurate to say, even as a committed Calvinist, that we are not crucial to the process. If God ordains the means as well as the end, then the means He uses--our preaching and praying and yes, even our persuasion--are in fact crucial and indispensable.

I think that's confirmed by the way Paul urgently seeks to "persuade" (a strong term implying strenuous effort and forceful argument) men to be reconciled to God (see Acts 18:4; 2 Cor. 5:11).

Greg B said...

Guys, if you have 0 interest in converting others to a more Godward view of the church, the Bible and the world, I wonder why you are here. We must look to the lost and to those who may not be at the same time.
Greg

Scott Hill said...

Elias, where in So Cal are you?

Tom, 3 thirty year old church planters who are 5 pointers and Southern Baptist. I too believe the CT article is correct.

Elias said...

Riverside (about 50 miles SE of L.A.).

How about yourself, where are you from?

Jason Dale Crowder said...

Lord, send us a modern reformation! We are in need of it.

kradzo said...

Just a question for you guys that I feel is related to the comments regarding "Calvinism" and "Evangelism."

How do you pray for the lost?

~ Jesse ~

Tom said...

Kradzo:

"Lord, save that man; open His eyes to see Christ. Convict him of sin, righteousness and judgment. Convince him of his helplessness and hopelessness without Christ. Change his heart. Grant him life. Enable him to believe the Gospel. Speak with the voice that raises the dead and call him from spiritual death to life. Make him restless until he comes to rest in you through faith in Christ. Display your power and grace in his life. Glorify yourself by saving him."

These are just a few seed thoughts for direction in praying for the lost.

IN HIS NAME said...

Tom,

How do they think their name's got into the Lamb's Book of Life if you were not one of the Elect of God the Father's, God the Son's, God the Holy Spirit's predestination of them before the foundation of the world.

Love
Your Brother in Christ

kradzo said...

Tom,

Very succinct! One of the questions I ask people who deny election is how they pray for the lost. I ask them if praying for God to move people to believe is intrusive. One even made answered similar to your response. My response was, that sounds kind of Calvinistic! :-)

Larry said...

This is an interesting article and so are the comments related to it.

Let me assure you young folks that the adoption of the doctrines of grace is not a phenomena particularly reserved for the young. I was a 57 year old Southern Baptist Minister with "Calvinist negative" blood. If I had spoken much about the doctines, I would have had nothing positive to relate. After all, "Calvinism Kills Evangelism." Or so I had heard. With the intent to preach one message on "The Perseverance of the Saints," I began to study. What resulted was a series of seven messages on "God's Sovereignity." I learned more about the Doctrine of God in a few short weeks, than I had learned in the previous twenty-five years. It is amazing to me the number of people I meet or hear about, who knew little about these truths, suddenly having a revelation similar to this.

I am old enough to remember the Jesus Movement of the early sixties. An important scripture for many of us was John 1:12, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God." We thought we were finding God. And we thought it was easy. We never stopped to think that He was finding us. (See my Bible Study on John 1:11-13 at http://rightuprightnow.blogspot.com.)

Whether we understand it or not, we are what we are by the grace of God. Reform is not a youth movement. It is a God movement. A few days ago, I was asked by my son who is in a federal prison for drug related crimes, "Dad, Did I tell you about my dream?" I replied, "No, tell me about it." "My dream, he said, was about the 'discipline of the deity'." It sounded like a strange subject for a dream. He continued, "In my dream, I learned the extent to which God will go to make Himself known to me, and what He will do to restore me to Him."

The same process has occurred in many of us as God enlightens more and more to this truth. For this reason, and for no other, the "reformation we need" is coming.

Zane said...

Can we just have the truth without affixing a man's name to it? Calvinism sounds a lot like: I am of..., I of... Is Christ divided?

Calvin, btw, didn't even want a grave marker.

DZ Anderson
House Church Network

David B. Hewitt said...

Great insights!

As usual, Dr. Tom, I have appreciated your comments immensely.

I truly believe the "5 points" as they are often called is a matter of discipleship. When people get into the Word and grow closer to Christ, see how evil we are and how gracious God is, these doctrines come out quite nicely.

I've never figured out those who are so opposed to them unless what they are believing is really a misunderstanding of them.

Oh well, may God continue the Reformation back to the truth of His Word by His grace!

SS, SF, SC, SG, SDG,

DBH