Banner

"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Contributors

  • Rev. John Samson
  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

    top250.jpg

    Community Websites

    Monergism Books on Facebook

    Blogroll

    Latest Posts

    Categories

    Archives

    Ministry Links

  • « Late Great Planet Church: A Brief Review | Main | Book Review: The Infinite Merit of Christ, by Craig Biehl »

    Five Big Myths About Calvinism

    I speak for many when I say that I have not always embraced the doctrines of grace or what is commonly called Calvinism. Its actually unfortunate that a man's name is associated with the doctrines that came out of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin was not the first to articulate these truths, but merely was the chief systematizer of such doctrines. There was actually nothing in Calvin that was not first seen in Luther, and much of Luther was first found in Augustine. Luther was an Augustinian monk, of course. We would also naturally affirm that there was nothing in any of these men that was not first found in Paul and Peter and John in the New Testament.

    Even now, I have no desire to be a Calvinist in the Corinthian sense of the word - a follower of John Calvin, per say. Though I believe Calvin was a tremendous expositor of the Scriptures and had many great insights, I am not someone who believes he was in any way infallible. I am with Spurgeon who declared, "There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer - I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it." (C. H. Spurgeon, a Defense of Calvinism)

    In coming to understand these doctrines that are now so precious to me, I now realize that there were fortresses built in my mind to defend against the idea of God being Sovereign in the matter of salvation. Such was my total depravity! These fortresses were not made of stone and brick but of man made ideas – concepts that I believed Scripture taught with clarity. These fortresses did not come down easily. In fact, I believe it is a work of Divine grace in the heart not only to regenerate His people, but also to open hearts and minds, even of His own people, to the truth of His Sovereignty in election.

    There are many false concepts about Calvinism. Here are five that are very common:

    1. CALVINISM DESTROYS EVANGELISM

    I think some Calvinists do have an aversion for evangelism, and this is something that needs to be addressed whenever this tendency is seen, yet both historically and biblically, nothing could be further from the truth. It is quite easy to prove that the whole missions movement was started by Calvinists who believed Christ had His elect sheep in every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Romans 8 and 9 teaches election clearly, and Romans 10 tells us of the necessity of preaching the Gospel. How shall they (the elect) hear without a preacher? Romans 10 is in no way a contradiction to Romans 8 and 9.

    Divine election is the only hope of evangelism. No one we speak to about Christ is beyond hope, for God may well have ordained from all eternity that our conversation or preaching is to be the very means by which He would achieve His ends - the gathering of one of His elect sheep into the fold! What a privilege to be used by God in this way.

    Divine election should never undermine evangelism. In fact, the truth about election should cause us to continue to proclaim Christ, even when results may not come immediately. The concept of election should actually fuel our evangelism when mere human emotion wanes. We should remember that God has His elect sheep who will hear His voice and will follow Him when we preach the Gospel of Christ. So then faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

    Election is not a hindrance to evangelism. It simply explains to us why some believe the Gospel and why some do not. Jesus said to one group hearing Him “you do not believe because you are not My sheep” (John 10:26) and Luke explained the evangelistic results of the early church by declaring, “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

    2. CALVINISM APPEALS TO THE PRIDE OF MAN

    Sadly, some Calvinists do reek of pride and give off an air of being better than those around them, but such is a total betrayal of biblical Calvinism. If we recognize our total depravity or radical corruption, we understand that there was absolutely nothing in us that caused God to look down upon us to show us such favor. The only thing we can say in response to His electing grace is “Lord, why me?”

    Romans 9:11-16 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad- in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call- 12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

    "God intentionally designed salvation so that no man can boast of it. He didn't merely arrange it so that boasting would be discouraged or kept to a minimum - He planned it so that boasting would be absolutely excluded. Election does precisely that." - Mark Webb

    3. CALVINISM STUNTS HOLINESS

    I have heard this mentioned a few times recently and just scratch my head in wonder about it. One great example are the Puritans, who were strong Calvinists and yet were driven by a desire for holiness. But some see this as a contradiction in terms. Where they get this, I do not know.

    God Sovereignly elects some people to salvation but this in no way diminishes our responsibility to make sure that we who profess faith in Christ, actually possess the faith that saves. If you and I do have the real thing and not some fraudulent kind of substitute for the genuine faith that saves.. if we really have the real thing.. there will be evidence to show it. The Scripture, and true Calvinism, teaches us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. I find this to be the biblical mandate rather than simply recalling a time when we raised a hand or walked an aisle, which is what most Christians have been taught. The call to holiness is a call all true Christians will heed for without it, no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14)

    4. CALVINISM TEACHES THAT MEN ARE MERELY ROBOTS

    Calvinists believes in man’s will. Man always chooses what he most desires at the moment of choice. You are choosing now to read this sentence when there are literally billions of other sentences out there waiting to be read.

    Why do you read this sentence right now?

    The answer is because at this very moment, this is your strongest desire. It is impossible for you to be reading something else – right now anyway. And this will be the case until a stronger desire for something else (like answering the phone or taking a shower, or going for a walk) rises up in your heart. The heart and the will are inseparably connected.

    What we need is not “free will” but wills made free. This is because by nature our hearts only want independence from Christ. We love darkness rather than light. Jesus said, “No man CAN come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). Calvinists take these words seriously as well as Christ’s words in John 3 which tells that unless a man is first born again (or born from above) he cannot enter or even see the kingdom of God.

    "If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learnt Jesus Christ aright." - Martin Luther

    George Whitefield, perhaps the greatest Evangelist in church history once declared, “I hope we shall catch fire from each other, and that there will be a holy emulation amongst us, who shall most debase man and exalt the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the doctrines of the Reformation can do this. All others leave free-will in man and make him, in part at least, a Saviour to himself. My soul, come not thou near the secret of those who teach such things . . . I know Christ is all in all. Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to do of His good pleasure.” - Works, pp. 89-90

    "If the final decision for the salvation of fallen sinners were left in the hands of fallen sinners, we would despair all hope that anyone would be saved." – R. C. Sproul

    “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. Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    5. CALVINISM DIMINISHES THE GOD OF LOVE

    I think for many, this is the big one. They have a concept concerning the love of God that while very popular, is not particularly biblical. They believe (as I once did) that if God is love, he loves all people in just the same way. I believe God does love everyone in some sense, but He has a love for His Son which is greater than His love for demons, and a love for His sheep which is greater than His love for the goats. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Christ gave Himself for the church in a way He did not for Walmart or McDonalds. No one would ever say about a husband “wow, look at the way this man loves his wife, and the great thing about his love for her is that he loves everyone else’s wife in just the same way.”

    This is a truth that needs to be taught with great care because so many have false concepts stemming from being raised on inaccurate teaching about the love of God. We must be patient with such people when pointing them to the biblical texts. Some people think John 3:16 destroys divine election, but of course it does not. Yet a false concept brought to the Scripture text often confirms people in their opposition to what the Bible actually teaches.

    However we interpret the words, “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated” I think if we believe the Bible, we all have to admit that in some sense, God had a greater love for Jacob than He did for Esau, or else words mean nothing.

    John 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

    God, moved by love for His name and for us, sent His Son into the world to actually save elect sinners, not to merely try to do so. He went all the way in His love for us and did all the work in raising us from spiritual death by a work of supreme, matchless, measureless grace. Because salvation is of the Lord, all the glory for our salvation - absolutely all of it, goes to God alone. Calvinism affirms this.

    "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." C. H. Spurgeon

    Posted by John Samson on April 24, 2009 12:11 AM

    Comments

    Thanks for taking a humble and realistic approach to this.

    I love the truth that God does lay hold of what is His and He will draw His children unto Him. He claims us, not the other way around!

    Attn, I have written you before and would like to know is there any live in intentional community that is formed and established that I could move to so I can finally find the healing that I need so that I can go to be established in the direction that God wants and not just existing in this world. I am looking for a reformed calvanist intentional community that is sound and of good reputation and not one that is legalistic because they have decieved into beliving that saved them because they were better than everybody else. and therefore isolte themselfs because their really filled with fear and pride that work hand in hand to cloak each other and there by look real when they are not.please call me as soon as you can whoever you are 262-385-6557

    I still don't understand how Calvinism encourages evangelism.
    Our evangelistic efforts don't change the heart of God, decided before time. Our efforts serve only to bend the will of the unsaved.
    If their will has no part in salvation, then evangelism is a fruitless tactic.
    If God has His elect, there's nothing that anybody can ever do to change it. That includes evangelism, that includes sin. It includes the sin of fleeing from God, and the sin of failing the share the faith.

    "A controversialist once said, “If I thought God had a chosen people, I should not preach.” That is the very reason why I do preach. What would make him inactive is the mainspring of my earnestness. If the Lord had not a people to be saved, I should have little to cheer me in the ministry." - C. H. Spurgeon

    Very helpful. Thank you for re-posting.

    Blessings to you.

    Bradley,
    I think that Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer does an outstanding job of presenting a biblical answer to your very question. Every Christian would be helped by reading it.

    I'm the pastor of a small church and I will say this much at least: There are times when I so dispair over the hard hearts of people that I would completely give up hope and abandon my ministry if not for the doctrines which are called calvinism. Why? Because when I see people with stone like hearts against the gospel the only recourse I have is to remember that despite what I am seeing God has those who he will ensure come to Christ savingly. Thought I know it is not factual, I sometimes think that anybody who claims that calvinism kills evangelism must not be a minister. Because if they were a minister, they would surely know just how utterly bankrupt is any hope in people freely of their own goodness receiving Christ.

    Mr. Rieske:

    Having been involved in an evangelistic prison ministry for 14 years (with 90-95% of my fellows servants being non-Calvinists), my colleagues frequently ask, 'Why do you evangelize if you believe in predestination?" My response? "I evangelize BECAUSE I believe in predestination. Evangelization is the means ordained by God to bring the elect to Himself. Romans 8, 9 and 10 lay it out for us."

    "Oh. OK."

    Believe it or not, at forty years old in America, I had never heard the gospel of grace. When a Christian came by long ago I was amazed at his love and forgiveness having served a prison time ofr a bad crime. He was so very loving, so very happy and eager to tell me why! He left a light shinning through the bottom crack under a closed door as have few others before. Still i did not hear the gospel though I seen the light of it in another person. Years later in my great darkness and ignorance, I asked of God to do as he will and that I would be a J.W. or anything he desired me to do. Thats how lost I was and never knew or heard the gospel truth! God gave to me a great spiritual awakening filled with incredible peace though still in gret ignorance of the gospel! Than I heard it on the radio and found it the most amazing truth i had ever heard. Almost as though it were unbelievable that Christ would do that for any man.
    I knew nothing of truth and was taught was completely in contradiction to the truth as a J.W.! Everything in my mind was wrong regarding all the doctrines of a christians! Had i not been taught nor heard of the truth i would have never understood what had occured in me so to open my eyes.
    I have learned over the years through those who preach the gospel truths the things which have given to my mind better things. They have overturned my mind and made all my mind completely different as they have made even my speech and love and even thoughts of self correct.
    I cannot tell you how important it is to preach the gospel to the world!!!!!! It is incredibly important to those God gives spiritual eyes so to know. I so longed for to hear the truth, to know the gospel, its walk, its ways and even the hard things which came against my carnal flesh.
    If you need motivation to preach the truth and the gospel I will tell you it will save many christians many hardships in this life as they come to understand the truth behind Gods love dwelling in them. I so needed my entire mind renewed as my entire life was turned inside out and upside down without any knowledge of christ crucified. I was horribly hungary to know that while i had the ticket, i had no clue as to find the train which would carry me through this life and to the next. I so begged of local church's to show me the way in which i am going! Without knowledge of the truth and the simplicity of the gospel, i was in great straits and need! My entire life unbelievably was being turned inside up and upside down in every way and i knew not why though i rejoiced so much in the gospel and love of Christ! It carried me to this point where i am so glad somebody is teaching and spreading the gospel on the web! SO GLAD TO HEAR THE GOSPEL PREACHED AND TAUGHT!
    I so apologize to one responder long ago of this site whom i mistakingly insulted in great ignorance! The truth helps me to see many things of this life and world. It is beautiful to my feet!

    Bradley: >> I still don't understand how Calvinism encourages evangelism. Our evangelistic efforts don't change the heart of God, decided before time. Our efforts serve only to bend the will of the unsaved.

    Bradley, here's the thing, the Great Commission applies to ALL (Christian) theological perspectives without exception.

    Furthermore, the theological perspective that has come to be known as "Calvinism" was not an "invention" of Calvin, or even first thought of by Calvin. It was taught by Luther before Calvin (Luther was older, but a contemporary of Calvin's), Thomas Aquinas before Luther, Augustine before Aquinas, the Apostle Paul before Augustine, and by Peter and Jesus (in John) before Paul.

    When Charles Wesley (brother of John Wesley) criticized the great evangelist George Whitefield for "preaching Calvinism," Whitefield replied: "Alas, I have never read anything by the man [Calvin]; my doctrines I had from Scripture."

    In fact, you find the idea of "the elect" (also called "chosen" -- same Greek word -- eklektos) taught all through the Bible. God would be perfectly Just to condemn ALL of sinful, rebellious, Mankind without any hope of redemption (just as He did with 100% of the fallen angels). But God, to display His mercy, redeemed some of those deserving condemnation and death. As to WHY particular persons are chosen by God to receive His Mercy, Scripture is silent -- but none deserves Mercy because of any merit on their part. Some true Christians begin to worry about how can they KNOW they are among the elect -- if you have professed Christ as Savior, and the fruit of the Spirit in sanctification is present in your life, and you are persevering in the Faith, you need not worry.

    The reason Calvinists evangelize is, first and foremost, we are commanded to by Christ. Evangelism is an act of obedience. Salvation comes about by the "hearing of the Word" (the Gospel), in conjunction with (and not apart from) the New Birth, Regeneration by the Holy Spirit. No one will be saved apart from the hearing of the Gospel, and no one will "understand/perceive" the Gospel in any saving way without prior (or simultaneous) Regeneration by the Spirit.

    The whole context of Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus in John 3 is unregenerate Man's INABILITY to "see" the Kingdom of God (the word rendered "see" in English - in John 3:3 - is the Greek word horao, and means to "see with the eyes AND perceive with the mind"). Unregenerate Man's inability to "perceive" the Kingdom of God in any saving way is also made very clear by Paul in 1st. Corinthians 2:14, and by Jesus in John 3:19-20 where the "verdict/Judgement" of Jesus was: "Men/people" (Greek: anthropos - i.e. the whole of Mankind), "loved the darkness," and "does NOT come to the light." And there are many additional passages.

    Our evangelistic "charge," is NOT in anyway an effort to "change the mind of God," (or) "bend the will of the unsaved" (only the Holy Spirit can do that) but to preach/take the Gospel into all the world and watch in amazement as God's elect reveal themselves by responding to the "living and active Word." In other words, God has graciously included His redeemed sinners in carrying His plan of salvation to those elect who have not yet heard the Gospel. So "Calvinism" does not make evangelism for naught (as many incorrectly cast it), but quite the opposite. The Calvinist has complete confidence that of all who hear the Gospel message he proclaims, some WILL respond (the non-Calvinist cannot - logically - claim to have that conficence).

    It is not by virtue of "freewill" that Man runs to Christ as Savior, but by a "freed will" -- a will "freed" from slavery to sin (John 8:34) by Regenration. Just as a bird freed from the prison of its cage will freely fly to the heavens, so will Regenerate Man, freed from his slavery to sin -- willingly fly to Christ. This is what Scripture teaches.

    You said... "if you have professed Christ as Savior, and the fruit of the Spirit in sanctification is present in your life, and you are persevering in the Faith, you need not worry."

    That statement is so encouraging to know and hear. It says so much!! Also it helps encourage me when others think i've gone crazy or have taken the wrong cross upon me.

    "Under the gospel—the saints are God's first fruits; he claims them, accepts them, and will have them as his own." James Smith, 1862

    If that is so, than he must sanctify them all (me so much more than others) and many times with sorrows and groaning for the new creation to finally come and all be done and over.
    Your statement (Bruce?) gives me so much hope in this time of great need of grace to abound far greater than my sin seen in increase of its awfulness in the light of god! God, thank you so much for these folk whom you send! Why do i receive in the time of my worse need? Such encouraging words to my heart at a time of such great humbling sorrow! Pray gods grace super abound!

    >> You said... "if you have professed Christ as Savior, and the fruit of the Spirit in sanctification is present in your life, and you are persevering in the Faith, you need not worry." That statement is so encouraging to know and hear.

    ______________________

    You are welcome. Your post was encouraging to me as well.

    Something odd seems to be going on with the posts (unless there are two Bruces). The only post I have previously made is the one dated August 26, 2010 01:23 AM where I responded to statements by "Bradley" regarding Calvinism.

    The post following that one (which I referenced part of above) was not made by me, but was responding to some things I had written. Yet, the tag line on that post says it was made by "Bruce on August 28, 2010 12:14 AM" -- which was not me (it appeared I was responding to my own post, which I didn't).

    So in the future, I will use the name: Bruce427 -- in case there are two "Bruces" posting here.

    Post a comment

    Please enter the letter "c" in the field below: