Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
September 30th, 2015 by Joel Watts

my answer to Spurgeon on the Gospel called Calvinism

Spurgeon near the end of his life.

Spurgeon near the end of his life. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m currently ensickened(c). But a Facebook friend tagged me in a post. This is from Charles Spurgeon:

“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.”

This is my response:

There is no greater sin than that which is exemplified by Spurgeon, who would set aside the Gospel of Jesus preached for 1500 years before Calvin and without Calvinism and to reject everything else but Calvinism as a sign of the Gospel. This requires a self-delusion so powerful that it cannot help but prove absolute depravity.

To suggest that God has predestined some and so on, is to misread Scripture, deny it the canonical narrative assumed between Genesis and Revelation — it ignores the narrative of exile and redemption, of particularism and universalism. It takes Scripture and makes it meaningless.

To suggest that the death of Christ is but for a select few who God has fore-chosen ignores the Gospel — that if Christ is lifted up, that is crucified, he would draw all to him… that Christ is the sign of God’s love for the entire world. It makes the death of Christ a sign not of love, but of abuse from a vengeful and controlling deity that is little more than Calvin’s father warmed over.

Thoughts?

I am reminded that the East found Calvinism so reprehensible that it labeled it a heresy.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

6 Responses to “my answer to Spurgeon on the Gospel called Calvinism”
  1. Scott Fritzsche says

    To be fair though, Spurgeon treated freewillers a lot more graciously than some of his colleagues, and also said the following:
    “The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once.
    I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that “it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
    I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure.
    Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism.
    That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.
    If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.
    These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
    – Charles Haddon Spurgeon from his sermon “Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility,” originally delivered Sunday morning, August 1, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens, London.”

  2. carlsamans says

    I have to believe both that God predestined some to salvation AND that all are drawn and can accept the gift of salvation. Both are Biblical. Who am I to say they contradict when they are both found supported in Scripture? I do know I don’t understand all that God is capable of with my finite mind, so I don’t have to fully comprehend it…. I do know it is possible that God knew (knows) who will accept the open to all invitation by Christ for salvation and so he extended salvation to them.

    If you think about it, I find a lot of things hardly contradictory when you remove the time thing, which man has a hard time with and God is outside of.

    One thing which makes it difficult, it when people think of pre-destination, they think exclusion. But that’s not what Rev 3:20 says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

    So why can’t we simply think that God pre-destined all who would ask him for salvation to be saved? Instead of thinking about it as denying salvation to some when they clearly deny if from themselves?

  3. Know More Than I Should says

    History will probably record that Calvinism, especially Second Generation Calvinism, was one of Christianity curious dead end spinoffs.

    For one thing, especially if one is a psychopath, it doesn’t matter how life is lived.

  4. “Our hope is living because Jesus Christ is alive! He is our High Priest. And He loves us in a way that we cannot even begin to understand. He loves us so much that He gave His life for us. He loves us so much that He is willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we will be in His Kingdom. We have access to the highest of all places. We have friends who have names and power so awesome that there is nothing greater.

    We do not need to fear what is coming because God is able to bring us through it. If we had to face it ourselves alone, there would be no hope for us.

    The apostle calls our inheritance “incorruptible” (verse 4). The contrast is being made between Canaan or Palestine and the Kingdom of God. Which is better?

    Lastly, it is “undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.” Kept can easily be translated “guarded,” “surrounded,” “hedged in.” God is watching out for us in a way that He is not watching out for this world. Because we are the apple of His eye, and because He is preparing us for something, Jesus Christ will faithfully discharge His duties as High Priest in our behalf. He is guarding us—protecting us—from the worst of what is going on around us.”John W. Ritenbaugh

    Visit:> http://christianreading.com/jmartins/

  5. It’s time we differentiate the Gospel/s in tune with Biblical Revelation:-

    “(I) – The Gospel of the Circumcision is the Good News in accord with the patriarchal promises, to restore the kingdom to Israel, embracing all the kingdoms of men under the whole heavens, with Messiah sitting on the throne of His glory in Jerusalem, and Israel a royal priesthood – kings to rule the nations, and priests to minister Jehova’s spiritual blessings unto them in the future inhabited earth.

    “(II) – The Gospel of the Uncircumcision is the evangel of the grace of God for which Paul was severed. It offers justification – God’s own righteousness – to the sinner, for faith obedience in Christ Jesus, apart from Law, forms, ordinances. Paul spoke of it as “the gospel which I am proclaiming among the nations” – “my gospel”.

    “(III) – The Mystery of the Gospel is the conciliation offered in the death of God’s own Son for reconciliation and peace. It was a secret hushed during the eonian times, until revealed through the apostle Paul for the present Secret Administration of Grace.

    “(IV) – A Different Gospel, which is Not Another, is an adulterated evangel, brought about by mixing the “Gospel of the Grace of God” with the “Circumcision Gospel” of the kingdom and zeal for the law, and holds forth a double anathema on man or angel who is guilty of preaching thus.

    “(V) – The Everlasting (Eonian) Gospel is the hour of judgment in the future day of indignation, calling on all those situated on the earth to fear God, and give Him glory and worship as Creator. It is a counter message to that of the false prophet which calls on mankind to worship the image of the wild-beast and receive the mark in their forehead and hand. It is contrary to all facts of revelation to propose the proclamation of such an evangel in this day of grace.”_ Adlai Loudy

    Please Visit:> http://christianreading.com/jmartins/

  6. “To suggest that the death of Christ is but for a select few who God has fore-chosen ignores the Gospel — that if Christ is lifted up, that is crucified, he would draw all to him… that Christ is the sign of God’s love for the entire world. It makes the death of Christ a sign not of love, but of abuse from a vengeful and controlling deity that is little more than Calvin’s father warmed over.”

    I think is odd that people who deny that Christ died for “the sheep” and that He said that “his sheep believe him and hear his voice” can’t explain the effectiveness of the death of Christ!
    Does Christ’s death save or potentially only “offers” salvation?
    In the other hand many so called Calvinists make the same mistake of anti Calvinists in understanding ELECTION, poorly referred to as merely “predestination”. They believe that the power and grace of God to save is dependent upon anything else than God’s Grace and the “secret counsel of His will” – a term hated by the anti-Calvinists that I know.

    Spurgeon (I am not a SPURGEONBOB SQUAREPANTS) said it exactly in the context that Salvation takes place exactly as Calvin proposes, which is the proposition that does not ignores narrative of exile and redemption.

    “…draw all men…” – Well, there are two things here that I want to submit: First, drawing all men may not signify salvation. Paul says that every knee shall bow… and confess Christ is Lord, but is that teaching universalism or an eschatological and terrible event of finding that Christ is Lord in as the rich man cried out to Abraham? Luke 16:22-23 (sorry to quote Luke…)
    The second thing is that I find it odd that people much better equipped than me to interpret the Bible (which is not so hard to find) fail to understand the meaning of the word “all” in the Bible. If all means “everyone without exception” than the Scriptures are full of exaggerations and half-truths. There are scriptures there the term “all” – such as Luke 7:29 where “all came to be baptized” but then in vs 30 it says that the “pharisees rejected the counsel of God…” Also Luke 21:38 saying that “all came early in the morning to the temple to hear Him”… – I can see the language critics screaming that “all the people” would not fit in the temple… and they will be right. So, again ALL does not mean “everyone without exception”. As these there are other scriptures where “all” is not necessarily “everyone without exception”. So, Calvinists do not deny, neither ever did Calvin, that Christ when lifted up will draw all men unto him.
    I do believe that there is a purposeful, an intentional, overlooking of certain Scriptures, which indeed in this case make Scriptures meaningless.

    Sadly most people only know about the caricature of a “predestination” doctrine and they label this caricature “Calvinism.”

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