Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In Defense of "Calvinism"

"Calvinism", I admit, is not a term with which I am entirely comfortable. I am not 100% content with identifying myself too closely with any human teacher, lest I fall under the rebuke of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul against fruitless divisiveness in passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-4. For this reason, and due to the fact that there is so much misunderstanding concerning the term, I virtually never self-identify as a "Calvinist". On the other hand, because the subject comes up so often within Southern Baptist life, I have- over time- found myself using the term "Calvinism" fairly often. And I would defend the word "Calvinism," on certain occasions, as a useful and appropriate theological shorthand to describe a set of beliefs drawn out from the biblical text. In this sense, "Calvinism" is similar to the word "Trinity," which is also a word not found in the Bible, though the concepts underlying the word are found throughout Scripture.

While listening to a cassette recording of a past Southern Baptist Founders' Conference, I heard this insightful explanation of why we sometimes use the term "Calvinism" as a label for our beliefs on what the Bible has to say concerning the Gospel of Grace:

We believe that Calvinism is the Gospel in its purest expression. We could rightly call it "Paulinism," but what Christian would not call their doctrine Pauline? We could rightly call it "Augustinianism," but Augustine developed his understanding of the Doctrines of Grace in a context that was not so aware of the necessity of the doctrine of justification by faith. And so we call it "Calvinism," because not only does it have the great Pauline and Augustinian doctrines of justification by faith, but it also sets these within the context of imputed righteousness as our only standing before God as set forth in the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. (S.B.F.C. Tape Library, "The Biblical Doctrine of Accomodation" by Tom Ascol (sbf055), afterword by unknown speaker [believed to be Dr. Thomas Nettles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary])
And the above quote is in agreement with Charles Spurgeon in his famous "Defense of Calvinism", when he said:


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.
I sincerely hope that the quotes cited in this blogpost are helpful to anyone reading this post, if you find yourself thinking on or discussing "Calvinism."

-To the glory of God alone.

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