Paul's Passing Thoughts

ACCC Typical of Protestants Who Don’t Know What Protestantism Is, But New Calvinists Do Know What a Protestant Is; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 6, 2016

tanc-vol-1The American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) confirmed a resolution on New Calvinism at its 75th Annual Convention October 18-20, 2016. The resolution was articulated by Pastor Dan Greenfield and posted here. Part one of this evaluation can be read here. What is our primary thesis? New Calvinism is a return to authentic Protestantism and is causing controversy among evangelicals because Protestants are more confused than any other religionists in the world. Greenfield’s post is low hanging fruit in regard to the issues at hand, so let’s get started. Greenfield begins his post this way:

“In September 2006, Collin Hansen reported for Christianity Today on a new religious movement of professed Christians who took a renewed interest in Reformed theology. At that time, Hansen called the movement ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ (YRR), but later he termed it ‘New Calvinism’ and claimed that it was a ‘revival’ of biblical Christianity. By 2009, Time Magazine declared New Calvinism to be one of the ’10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,’ and since then, the movement’s popularity has increased. All of this success seemed to validate Hansen’s claim of another spiritual awakening.”

It’s interesting to note that TANC Ministries was the first to document the true contemporary history of New Calvinism in “The Truth About New Calvinism” (TANC Publishing 2011). At first, we were the go-to source for information on the movement until further research revealed that New Calvinism is, in fact, a return to the real deal. Protestantism had indeed lost touch with its true gospel because of the integration of Americanism. Few want to hear that message and our research is now avoided like a plague accordingly.

The integration of Americanism created a contradiction between how Protestants function and their intellectual testimony. This is why New Calvinism has all but taken over the church completely in a short span of time: the church has always been functioning New Calvinism; the movement is merely recalibrating the church and syncing its function with the intellectual confession. This was somewhat explained in part 1.

But this is what evangelicals do to cover for the embarrassment of getting it wrong for over 200 years: they compartmentalize the Protestant religion into so-called “secondary issues.” You know, the whole, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” thing. Some nomenclatures are, “Reformed,” “evangelical,” “Calvinism,” 1-5 types of Calvinism, “Neo-Puritanism” which couldn’t be a bad thing because it has the word “Puritan” in it, etc., etc., etc.

Let’s get something straight: “Reformed” is, you know, the “Reformation” which produced “Protestantism” which was fathered by Luther and Calvin who fathered the Puritans who came to America and started a European church-state which incited the American Revolution resulting in Protestant Puritanism being integrated with Americanism which fathered the Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Pentecostals, etc., etc., etc., but it is all the same stuff when it gets right down to it. Ok, so, the Baptists disagreed with Luther and Calvin’s position on baptismal regeneration; so what? They kept the same progressive justification. So, the Congregationalists disagreed with the Puritan/Calvinist form of church government; so what? They also kept the same progressive justification gospel.

What is really going on is total confusion because Protestants have little grasp of what Protestantism really teaches. Also, Protestant history taught in Christian schools and in homeschool curriculum is rank propaganda that would even make the Chicoms blush.

So here we go with the whole well-traveled Collin Hansen historical focal point. Am I saying that Collin Hansen has supplied historical cover for Protestantism? That’s exactly what I am saying. Supposedly, New Calvinism is a contemporary movement and its father is John Piper. And gee whiz, Piper has true Reformed theology all wrong. Not so. John Piper has Reformed theology exactly right. And trust me, I say this regardless of the fact that I don’t like him at all.

In contrast, the real father of the movement is a Seventh-day Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead. He started a Reformed think tank dubbed The Australian Forum which was launched in 1970 and came out of the Progressive Adventist movement (which was based on Luther’s soteriology). His rediscovery of Protestantism’s progressive justification and Luther’s “alien righteousness” turned Adventism completely upside down.

The fact is, the Forum was invited to the hallowed halls of Westminster Seminary in the latter 70’s to inform the who’s who of Reformed theology about what Protestantism really is. They listened, and the rest is contemporary church history. And be sure of this: the Reformed movers and shakers are aware of this scandalous cover-up in the name of Collin Hansen’s rewriting of contemporary church history.

And why are they covering it up? Because it totally blows up “historical precedent.” Historical precedent? More than 500 years after the fact the Protestant brain trust didn’t even know what Protestantism is; an Adventist had to re-educate them. Ouch. Right, the “Scandalous Gospel” indeed.

In his article, and typical of the ongoing propaganda, Greenfield bemoans New Calvinism’s penchant for integrating popular culture with Reformed tradition. He cites the go-to guy for this, Peter Masters who pastors the famous London Metropolitan Tabernacle formally pastored by the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon. Ironically, Masters doesn’t have a clue in regard to what Spurgeon really believed, but John Piper certainly does.

What’s wrong with syncing present culture with original “truth”? Nothing in my book. Greenfield cites two of the most prominent issues Protestants have with Protestants who really know what Protestantism is. Like Masters, Greenfield bemoans…

It is known for being culturally progressive and flaunts itself as such. In its worship, preaching, and evangelism, New Calvinism embraces popular culture, a man-made system of customs which is incapable of bearing the weight and gravity of the Gospel. TGC authors, in particular, blog about “redemptive” elements they supposedly have found within Hollywood films, and YRR evangelists in the vein of Tim Keller (TGC cofounder) integrate pop culture in their community outreaches, hoping to gain a better hearing from their unregenerate audiences. YRR leaders also endorse “worship music” composed by modern, pop-rock hymnists and “holy hip-hoppers” / “Reformed rappers.”

This exposes Greenfield’s (and Masters’) omni-typical misunderstanding of authentic Reformed historical-redemptive hermeneutics (HRH). Most Protestants like Greenfield and Masters believe this to be an interpretive method for Bible reading and is used alongside the historical-grammatical method (HGH) with the HRH being like, you know, stuff about the gospel. Not so. According to authentic Protestant orthodoxy, HRH was demanded in interpreting reality itself. Original Protestant orthodoxy demands that ALL of reality be interpreted through redemption in the form of a metaphysical narrative written by God. And, all HGH interpretations must come to a redemptive conclusion. Of course, this goes hand in hand with predestination. All of reality is a pre-written story or narrative written by God. This is the interpretation of reality seen as a narrative written by “the force,” “the universe,” “gods,” or in this case, God Himself.

So, why not use popular culture to reach the culture? After all, whatever culture is doing was written into the script by God and is a picture of redemption to begin with. If one truly understands what it is to be Reformed, this makes perfect sense.

Secondly, Greenfield and Masters bemoan the New Calvinist hobnobbing with Catholics. Good grief; this also displays an egregious misunderstanding of church history. Neither Luther nor Calvin ever left the Catholic Church. Note, “Reformation.” They sought to reform the Church, but never left it. Note, “Protestantism.” They protested what was going on in the Church, but they never left it. Note: and this is NOT even ambiguous church history; both Protestants and Catholics claim Saint Augustine as their Doctor of Grace. You can’t even make this stuff up; Protestant pastors will rebuke Catholicism as a false gospel and also cite Augustine regarding orthodoxy in the same sermon. A child can even see the blatant contradictions. Sometimes I think the only difference between church and asylums is social etiquette.

What was the real issue that sparked the Protestant Reformation? Augustine, the undisputed Doctor of Grace for the Catholic Church was an avowed Neo-Platonist. Again, this is not ambiguous church history. The institutional church was founded on Neo-Platonism and its orthodoxy is the integration of Scripture and Platonism. Luther and Calvin were rabid followers of Augustine. In the 13th century Catholicism began to embrace the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas who integrated Aristotle’s philosophy with Scripture (Thomism). By the 16th century the tension between the two schools of theology within the Catholic Church escalated into the Protestant Reformation. The whole Protestant folklore concerning the Five Solas ect. is egregiously disingenuous on every level.

In reality, authentic Protestantism only has a problem with half of the Catholic Church; the Thomism part, and far less with its Platonist/Augustinian roots. This is what’s behind New Calvinism’s acceptance of Catholicism.

Now, in addressing Greenfield’s objection to the cultural and Catholic issues we skipped an in-between paragraph concerning “Neo-Kuyperian postmillennialism, an eschatological position which claims that God has given His Church an institutional social mandate to redeem culture and promote social justice to help usher in the kingdom.”

We will address that in the next part.

paul

ACCC Typical of Protestants Who Don’t Know What Protestantism Is, But New Calvinists Do Know What a Protestant Is; Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 4, 2016

ppt-jpeg42People who know me, and happen to want to see an article posted on the TANC ministry blog only need to send me an article written by a Protestant bemoaning New Calvinism. That will do it every time. Look folks, even suicide bombers know what they believe and why they do what they do. Nothing is more uncommendable than claiming to be something and not knowing what it is.

We are greatly indebted to New Calvinism. First, its ill behavior brought attention to its claims, and proper research reveals that its claims are absolutely true. No, no, no, I do not hate New Calvinism because if not for this movement, I would still be a Protestant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s troubling that Protestants believe a false gospel; yet, they have the dubious distinction of being wrong about what they are wrong about. Few religions fit this category. Nevertheless, what New Calvinism reveals offers a grand opportunity for real revival.

The article is written by a Dan Greenfield:

“I am an undeserving sinner saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, a happy husband, proud father of 6 great kids, pastor of Orwell Bible Church, Executive Secretary of the American Council of Christian Churches, and member of the Ohio Bible Fellowship.”

The article is in conjunction with an edict by the ACCC denouncing New Calvinism. Right here, out of the gate, let’s take Dan’s bio and demonstrate his authentic Protestant false gospel which is also New Calvinism. Right, while denouncing New Calvinism, Dan is a New Calvinist which is also authentic Protestantism. Um, excuse me, different preferences for music and worship style doesn’t change that. This is soooooo typical of Protestants; while believing the same gospel that you believe, you are a heretic because you watch R rated movies, listen to Pink Floyd, and don’t wear a jean skirt down to your ankles.

Let’s now take Dan’s bio and demonstrate his New Calvinism that he is denouncing which is also authentic Protestantism. Dan says, “I am an undeserving sinner.” That is present tense. Ok, so, what is the biblical definition of a “sinner” in the B-I-B-L-E? Right, an unregenerate person. Dan is an unregenerate saved person. Yep, that’s orthodoxy plain and simple. We hear it all the time: “Justification is a legal declaration.” Hence, you are ONLY declared righteous while yet a “sinner.”

Let’s continue. So if Dan is still a sinner presently “saved by grace” does this mean Dan continues to need grace because he is still a sinner? Sure it does. And we hear that all the time. But hold on. What kind of grace is being spoken of here? Answer: “saved by.” So, does this mean that Dan, still a sinner who sins, and saved by grace, needs ongoing salvation for present sin? Sure it does. But would Dan also attest to once saved always saved? Probably. Is progressive salvation stated in the Protestant confessions and creeds that he claims to defend against New Calvinism? Absolutely. How can this be? Answer: because Dan, like all Protestants, is very confused.

If grace saved you because you were a sinner, and you are still a sinner, do you still need the same saving grace? Does 2+2=4? But we still sin don’t we? That won’t be answered in this first part, but it does bring up another question. If we still sin, that would be a violation of the law, right? So, is that justification “apart from the law?” No. But doesn’t the B-I-B-L-E say that we are justified apart from the law? Yes. But if Christians are not still under law (another biblical definition of a lost person) does that make us antinomians? No. We will get to all of this, but am I saying that Protestant orthodoxy defines its followers according to a biblical definition of the lost? Absolutely. And I am sure you would agree; that’s a really bad idea. Protestantism defines “under grace” as “under law” because it is a false gospel and classic justification by works. If you need ongoing grace FOR SALVATION, what do you have to do to keep the grace flowing?

Lastly, for now, and like Peter Masters, Dan disavows John Piper’s Christian Hedonism while attesting to it. Dan states that he is a sinner, and is happy about it. That’s Christian Hedonism which is based on the Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. Christian Hedonism is merely a valid twist on the Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. Praise music, non-cessationism, and joy as a confirmation of re-salvation are merely the logical outcomes of Mortification and Vivification as stated by orthodoxy.

The rest of the article written by Pastor Dan is conveniently arranged for point by point rebuttal. It is a litany of historical error and factual contradiction. That is what will be addressed moving forward.

paul

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 29, 2016

Originally published January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help Tim Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

Spurgeon’s False Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 30, 2015

SpurgeonMeme Post #4

Where to start in all the ways that this meme contradicts Scripture and denies the new birth and true gospel? Let’s start with a few blatant contradictions.

Our faith does NOT rest. Our faith WORKS through love (Gal 5:6). Faith is a GIFT, but that doesn’t mean we don’t put the gift to work. In fact, the belief that our faith doesn’t work suggests that we must continue to keep ourselves saved through “rest.” Spurgeon, like most lying Calvinist heretics, held to the Reformation’s Sabbath Rest Salvation. It holds to the idea that the Old Testament Sabbath rest is New Testament sanctification and we must continue to live by faith alone in our Christian lives to keep ourselves saved. This, according to Calvin, happens through receiving continued forgiveness for “present sin” through church membership.

And remember, Spurgeon once said that Calvinism isn’t “just a nickname,” but “is the gospel” itself.

True faith doesn’t rest–it works. There is no true love in a faith that rests.

Secondly, the Bible makes it clear that we grow spiritually through obtaining knowledge; what’s up with the idea that knowledge doesn’t define who we are as believers? Frankly, I don’t care how many people think this guy is a spiritual icon–you know, kinda like the Bereans who held Paul accountable to Scripture.

Thirdly, the idea that who we are doesn’t point to the legitimacy of our faith and is therefore not a resting faith contradicts a vast number of Scriptures and Hebrews 11 in particular.

Fourthly, how we feel is most certainly important because the Bible says that faith not working in love will cause the believer to be full of fear.

Why is it ok for Spurgeon to blatantly contradict Scripture? Because Baptists have a longstanding tradition of being man-followers, that’s why.

Furthermore, note that we supposedly rest in the idea that who we are is NOT who Christ is! HUH!!!! Say what???? If Jesus is your big brother because you are literally born into the same family, you had better be like Him or you aren’t born again (see 1John).

And finally, note that we rest in what Christ has both DONE and is DOING. This is the Reformed doctrine of Double Imputation. It teaches that Christ came to secure our salvation by both dying for sin and keeping the law in our stead. It teaches that justification is based on perfect law-keeping rather than the new birth. Jesus could die for us because He lived up to the standard of the law, and presently keeps the law for us if we are “resting” in what He has “done and is doing.” This is a blatant contradiction to Galatians chapter 3. This is the very idea that Paul is refuting in that chapter.

This makes the law a co-life-giver with God and promotes an additional seed (offspring), but their is only ONE SEED (see Gal 3). In essence, Paul was arguing that this very idea makes the law a fourth member of the Trinity. And in fact, Calvinists state this openly when they say that “the empty hand of faith presents the doing and dying of Christ to the law and the law is satisfied.”

So, instead of God electing the means of salvation, Christ dying to end the law, and the Spirit fulfilling “The Promise” of resurrection and baptism to Abraham and Christ, we now have that added fourth element of the law being the standard for justification instead of new birth obtained by faith alone in The Promise. The contrary view of this meme keeps the so-called believer under law rather than under grace, and that’s supposedly ok because Jesus keeps the law for us.

But this also keeps the believer from performing the purpose of the law for sanctification, faith working through love. Instead, we must rest because Jesus is the only one that can keep the law perfectly as the law supposedly gives salvific life when fulfilled. In contrast, the Old Covenant kept sin captive until Christ came and ended it. The law was ended by Christ’s death in regard to its ability to condemn, and we are now free to serve the law in regard to love (Rom 7 and Heb 6:10). The Old Covenant still holds all sin captive that is committed against it (“all sin is against the law”) until a person believes in Christ resulting in the law being ended for condemnation and the person being set free to “use the law lawfully” (1Tim 1:8ff.) for purposes of loving God and others. Those who do not believe on Christ will be condemned by the law, but there is “NOW NO condemnation for those in Christ.” Rather, true believers are free to fulfill the law in aggressive love for God and others (Rom 8).

For the outcome of Spurgeon’s “rest” see the Parable of the Talents.  Resting in love that Christ supposedly fulfills for us evokes this response from Him: “You lazy, wicked servant.”

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help the Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

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