Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
SOME ANTI CALVINIST WEB PAGES BRIEFLY REVIEWED
BY COLIN MAXWELL
I did not become a Calvinist until about two or three years after I was converted to Christ. My post conversion background was Fundamentalist but not Calvinistic. It was not without a struggle that I came into Calvinistic views. Personally, I like to discuss these things graciously with those who take an opposite view. My experience is that bitterness can usually be found on both sides of the divide. I do not knowingly misrepresent the other side. Any mistakes or misconceptions are immediately corrected. Since there are hundreds, if not thousands, of web pages out there, I cannot obviously review them all. I do not undertake to review those who attack these doctrines from a non evangelical Christian point of view. I will content myself to trying to correct those misunderstandings both believed and propagated by real Christians. The judgement of charity demands that I treat such as misunderstandings - I would hate to think that any real Christian would resort to deliberate misrepresentation.
In these brief reviews, I do not undertake to point out every error or misrepresentation in the page nor even answer them. Such would  take too long and  mean that if I omitted to mention any, it would be taken for granted that I believed them to be the case. If your site is reviewed here, you might like to take on board the criticisms and especially correct any misunderstandings. I am always happy to change my review if and when the case warrants that I do so.
The common one that will be seen to crop up is the total omission of any mention of the Calvinistic belief that man's inability to believe and the consequent damnation of the impenitent is on account of sin. If you grasp this, then it will save you going off on a tangent that the god of Calvinists is a blood thirsty monster. Some of the questions asked in these sites are worth asking. "Why do Calvinists evangelise?" is a sensible question. (Answer:See 7 reasons why Calvinists evangelise) But it is one thing to query whether evangelism is consistent with our belief that God will infallibly draw in His elect - it is another to state that "Calvinists don't believe in evangelism" It is statements like this along with some of the more crude forms of ignorance peppered with words akin to blasphemy that benefit no one.
CH Spurgeon was very charitable towards those who held to non Calvinist views, but at times he found it hard to contain his righteous indignation when speaking of some who opposed these doctrines. At the opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, he said:
"The most infamous allegations have been brought against us, and sometimes, I must fear, by men who knew them to be utterly untrue: and, to this day, there are many of our opponents, who, when they run short of matter, invent and make for themselves a man of straw, call that John Calvin and then shoot all their arrows at it. We are not come here to defend your man of straw — shoot at it or burn it as you will, and, if it suit your convenience, still oppose doctrines which were never taught, and rail at fictions which, save in your own brain, were never in existence." (7:550)
My Review:As the reviews below will show, I am not a big fan of David Cloud. In this page on his website, he publicly endorses Dave Hunt's book on Calvinism, "What love is this" Mr Cloud here gives us quote after quote from Dave Hunt, evidently in agreement. I comment on each of these quotes. A number of things bother me about this page. Dave Hunt makes the totally amazing statement: "There is no escaping the fact that in Calvin's entire Institutes of the Christian Religion there is not one mention of God's love for the lost!" (p. 151) Any one with a copy of the Institutes does not have to look far to see that this is a total fabrication. Wrapped it all in definite language will not intimidate any one from checking. That Mr Cloud repeats these allegations without checking them shows to me a willingness to repeat anything about Calvin that detracts from him. Another point with special interest to the matter below re: the free offer…on this page Dave Hunt gives a quote from Calvin affirming the free offer of the gospel. Mr Cloud dutifully repeats it…but still maintains on another page that Calvin denounced it. Doesn't any one check these things?
David Cloud: Calvinism Debate Who is the real enemy?www.wayoflife.org/fbns/calvinismdebate.html
My Review:Although he professes to have read Iain Murrays excellent book: Spurgeon vs Hyper Calvinism, Mr Cloud fails to adequately distinguish between Calvinism and Hyper Calvinism. He does acknowledge some good elements which flow from Calvinism and avoids some of the more silly statements that Calvinists are fatalists or do not believe in evangelism. One main blot on this article is the amazing statement that John Calvin denounced the free offer of the gospel. This is based on one statement Calvin made which actually concerned the result of gospel preaching - as opposed to its scope - and which is torn from its context. (The very next sentence affirms the free offer) Despite some email correspondence with proof to the contrary, this untrue allegation has been allowed to stand. A useful exposé of "quick prayerism" appears at the end of this article. However as Spurgeon observes, Calvinists cannot preach the sermons which lead to such practices :-) Click here for my full review of this article.
David Cloud: I reject TULIP theology
My Review:A short article where Mr Cloud quotes from a selected part of the Westminster Confession of Faith on the Decrees of God. Unfortunately, by leaving out section 7, he fails to tell the whole story and so presents a caricature. The edited out paragraph reminds us that those who are ordained to dishonour and wrath are thus dealt with for their sin, to the praise of his [God's] justice. The WCF section on the Last Judgement (Ch. 23 section 2) affirms the same truth. Men are damned because of sin…nothing else. Also in this site, Mr Cloud peddles the idea that Calvinists do not believe that the grace of God can be resisted. This is not so. The Bible and our own experience teach us that it can. We do believe, however, that there comes a time in the experience of the elect, when the call to salvation is effectual. Mr Cloud is right to say that it does not detract from the Sovereignty of God when God gives man - although I would use the word allow - the potential to resist Him. He is wrong to say that Calvinism is wrong to attempt to reconcile God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. As Spurgeon said long ago…we do not try to reconcile friends who have never fallen out. Of little value.
Does All mean All?
The Danger of teaching Christ died only for the elect:
My Review:Both these pages are extracts from the writings of one George Zeller, Middletown Bible Church, CT 06457 but evidently endorsed by Mr Cloud. They contain the classic non Calvinist arguments re: the unlimited nature of the atonement i.e. that Christ died for elect and reprobate alike without any distinction. This means that Christ purposed to save those who would finally reject Him, actually took their sins on His own body to the tree, paid the price in full of their redemption, satisfied the divine anger and justice, presumably rose again for their justification - although they were never justified - and sees His sovereign purposes frustrated because their sin out-bounds His grace. In all this…the Saviour is still meant to see the travail of His soul and be satisfied. I think not.
Both pages quote the same incident of an ex-Calvinist who looks at all the Scripture evidence … and concludes: "If Christ really did die for all men then I don't know how the Bible could say it any clearer than it does." How true! The point is a good one - not easily dismissed by the Calvinist who does not desire (as alleged in these pages) to force Scripture into his neat theological system. Click here for some difficulties regarding Unlimited Atonement. Jay Adams is quoted - although we should always look up the full quotation as there appears to be a tendency among non Calvinists to carelessly misread what some Calvinists are actually getting at - as denying that the Christian Counsellor cannot tell any unsaved sinner that Christ died for him seeing He died only for His own and they are known only to God. I simply declare that Christ died for guilty sinners and every last breathing sinner may conclude himself among that number if he comes to Christ. There is no reason why any sinner may despair on this matter. We are not guided by the secret decree of God, but by the clear declarations of His word and the offer of the gospel is for all men and the warrant to believe is to extended to elect and non elect alike. This was the position of Calvin himself and also of Calvinists in general. The non Calvinist seems to take the worst possible application of these thoughts, whereas the Calvinist will happily press home the promises of God which are offered to the "whosoever" to every man in accordance with the Bible command: Mark 16:15 etc.,
The statement that Christ's death is sufficient for all and efficient for only those who believe is also held by Calvinists. Calvin himself was quite happy to quote and endorse it (Comments on 1 John 2:2) Finally…Zeller quotes Sir Robert Anderson quoting Horatius Bonar in regards to the "alls" of Scripture. It ought to be pointed out that Bonar believed in Particular Redemption. It is easy to dismiss the Calvinist argument over the word "all" as semantics. Let the non Calvinist go through his concordance and he will soon be forced either into the "limited all" camp in some matters or into blatant "Universalism" in the other. He himself will have to learn to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) and run the risk of being aligned as a user of semantics.
CLICK HERE FOR OUR PAGE ON WHY DAVID CLOUD IS NOT A RELIABLE CRITIC OF CALVINISM
Mark Huss: Four Implications of Calvinism
My Review:A complete hatchet job by Mark Huss on Calvinism. All the usual rubbish like Calvinists are fatalists…don't evangelise or pray etc., the Calvinistic god is a monster etc., Complete rubbish from beginning to end. Worse still…he repeats himself extensively near the end. Useful only if you want your sanctification and patience sorely tested. I refute him point by point.
James Crumpton: For the Lily
My Review:Mr Crumpton does not give us any references or quotations, relying instead on his own flawed misunderstanding of what Calvinists hold. He seems to believe that although Calvinists deny man's ability, we also deny man's responsibility. (Calvinists believe in man's total responsibility) He implies that Calvinists believe that people were arbitrarily assigned in unconditional election to Hell or to Heaven before the foundation of the world. This misrepresents Calvinism's belief that while salvation is all of grace…damnation is all of sin. He totally misunderstands what Calvinists mean by the perseverance of the saints. If you really want your Calvinist faith challenged…avoid this page. At best, it is superficial.
J.K. Fulbright: Why I am no longer a Calvinist
My Review:One would assume Mr Fulbright, having professed Calvinism, would be able to state our case fairly. This is not to be. He propagates the thought that Calvinists believe that we are saved against our will - which we don't. We believe that our hearts being renewed, we come willingly to Jesus Christ. Also propagates the view that Calvinists do not evangelise or pray with passion. Can any one spare a Church History book? He confuses Hyper Calvinism with real Calvinism. Perhaps Mr Fulbright believed these things he shares with us. If so, I'm glad that he has abandoned them…but if so, he was never a Calvinist. A very disappointing site from one who, on his profession, should know better.
Fundamental Baptist World Wide Mission Position on 5 point Calvinism
My Review:Short sharp statement of policy. Makes some of the usual silly statements i.e. Calvin taught that man is a robot etc., and get mightily confused over Calvinism and man's responsibility Brands Calvinists as heretics and believers of damnable heresies. So there you are. God greatly blessed with revival the preaching of damnable heretics like Spurgeon - an article of this damnable heretic actually appears on this site - & George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards etc., However our friends have a big problem. These folk - like myself - are firm believers in the Authorised Version and in their site they hasten to assure us that the translators of the Authorised Version were superior people etc., True! … but to quote David Cloud most of them were Calvinists! So you can be a damnable heretic believing all of those horrible Calvinistic things and still be - again to quote the site - a person fit to translate the word of God? Does nobody ever sit down and check these things? I think we are a bit short here on consistency. We take up this matter of the Calvinists who translated the AV elsewhere.
David Kirkwood: The Five Points of Calvinism Considered
My Review:Mr Kirkwood starts out to refute John Piper on Calvinism. He usually states the doctrines true enough - since he quotes Piper - but then takes flights of fancy i.e. If this is so, then it is not too strong of a statement to say that Calvinists believe that God causes people to be born again against their wills, because they would never and could never have chosen to be born again otherwise. Yet this is too strong a statement. It is totally false. Likewise on the issue of the free offer of the gospel - which we believe - we are accused of making Jesus and the Father liars. We are accused of making God the author of evil etc., yet our doctrinal statements make it clear that we do not. The "Monster God" issues comes up again, only this time with the adjectives immoral, repugnant attached. We are wrongly blamed as to robbing man of his responsibility. Another poorly researched tirade.
Craig Ledbetter: Some serious Questions for Calvinists!
My Review:Brother Ledbetter is a good friend of mine and an encouragement to me in my ministry. He pastors a neighbouring church in Blarney, Co. Cork. His article is succinct, getting to the heart of the matter very quickly. He blissfully avoids those more outrageous allegations which some of the sites above seem to glory in. He asks questions rather than makes statements which is a fair way to go about it. However, he does blot his copy book at the end by giving his summary of John Calvin's belief. I quote: Calvin - "Ye are, or ye are not already chosen to be born again! So don't worry!" (this is not a quote, but a summary) As can be seen from my "Serious Answers to Serious Questions" web page, Calvin never took this position and the two quotes given from Calvin's commentary on Isaiah 55:6 and Matthew 11:12 specifically challenge those who would sit back and do nothing. I think it is a pity that Calvin gets loaded with things he never believed. Many of the questions asked, although valid, are easily answered. Man deserves nothing but damnation for his sin.
Craig Ledbetter: The Forgotten Five Points of Calvinism
My Review:Although appearing on Brother Ledbetter's site, linked from the above page, this piece was contributed by Jeffrey D. Nachimson. It consists of five quotes from Calvin, although there are no references given to enable us to examine them for ourselves i.e. whether he actually said these things or in what context he did so. Had this page been entitled, the 5 forgotten points of Calvin (as opposed to Calvinism) then this review would never have been written. The first quote concerns Calvin's acceptance of Amillennialism. It is hard to know why this should be considered a belief of all Calvinists, when many Calvinists are pre-millenialists and others are post millenialists and reject Calvin's view on this matter. Also, there non Calvinists who embrace the Amillennialist position. The second point is a quotation concerns Calvin's threat (which he saw carried out) to have Sevetus killed if he ever came to Geneva. I have never met a Calvinist yet who agreed with Calvin on this matter. At best, we can only try and explain the somewhat brutal age in which Calvin lived, but we cannot and have no desire to excuse him. If all Calvinists ran around threatening to kill those rank heretics who crossed our paths, this so called "forgotten point" which we are meant to embrace might be held against us. But we don't and therefore it is difficult to see why it should be added to this page and under this title. The third point concerns a quote from Calvin about predestination to hell. One quote, even if it were referenced, is insufficient to give the full story of what Calvin believed. We can all snatch out quotes and leave them stand alone in the shame of their nakedness. This is neither honest nor helpful nor glorifying to God. In the 3rd Book of the Institutes and the 23rd chapter, where Calvin deals with this complex matter of reprobation, we read the following words: "Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of damnation in the corrupt nature of humanity - which is closer to us - rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God's predestination."( 3:23:8) Calvin believed, as do Calvinists, that men are lost in hell because of their sin. No man is in hell who does not deserve to be there. The fourth point concerns Calvin's belief in infant baptism. But again, like his Amillenialism, this belief is rejected by many other Calvinists e.g. those of Baptist persuasion (see the 1689 Baptist Confession) and embraced by non Calvinists. John Wesley believed in the baptism of infants. Again, why this should be included as forgotten point of Calvinism (as opposed to Calvin) is a mystery. The fifth point concerns Calvin's view that the sacraments have the same office as the word of God to offer and set forth Christ and in him the treasures of heavenly grace. No comment is made here to inform us what Mr Nachimson supposes this to mean. I can only hazard a guess that he supposes that Calvin believed that saving grace is conveyed through a sacrament. However since it is basic knowledge that Calvin, as a Reformer, fought a long running battle with Rome over this very matter, then this can hardly be the case. When we break bread, we do "show forth the Lord's death" (1 Corinthians 11:26) and likewise in baptism, we "show forth" the truth that believers have died in union with Christ etc., Calvin was anxious to preserve the spiritual import of these sacraments (or ordinances as some prefer to call them) and subsequently said what he did.
Overall, not a particularly helpful page on the Calvinism issue. Three out of the five issues raised are hardly relevant, while the one on reprobation consisted of a single quote which fails to credit Calvin with the belief that men are damned in hell purely on the basis of their sins and not an arbitrary decree. The last issue re: the role of the sacraments is just left there with no comment, but once it is explained by Calvin's overall position, it contains nothing but what every Christian, Calvinist or not, can say "Amen!" to. I think the idea behind this kind of criticism of Calvinism is that Calvinists are blind followers of John Calvin and want to dot all his "i's" and stroke all his "t's" This is not the case. That we admire John Calvin and hold with John Wesley * (that's right) that "Calvin was a great instrument of God; and that he was a wise and pious man" (although, like Wesley, we abhor his treatment of Sevetus) we do not deny. But we only admire him and don't mind too much that we are branded Calvinists because we believe that by and large that he was very Biblical in the things which he taught. We only follow Calvin inasmuch as he follows Christ. Beyond this fundamental condition we steadfastly refuse to go.
* Comments made in: some remarks on "A defense of the preface to the Edinburgh edition of Aspasio Vindicated." Wesley's Works Volume 10 page 418
Baptist Fire Recommends (February 2000)
My Review:This page recommends the book Calvinist Paths Retraced by Samuel Fisk. However, the ignorance of the reviewer shines through in the very first sentence! I quote: "This editor has often wondered why most books on Calvinism take the hyper-Calvinist (5 point) position." As mentioned above, when a man cannot tell the very basic difference between a Calvinist and a hyper Calvinist - then he is in no position to speak on the subject of Calvinism. I trust that the book reviewed manages to do so. The reviewer also caricatures the Calvinist response to lost souls with the words ("Hey, we can't change anything--it's all predestined!") This might cause a few sniggers among his non Calvinist friends, but that's about it. The only reason why I am reviewing this page is the amazing statement he makes below. Wondering why few non Calvinists can produce scholarly books to answer the Calvinists, he comes to the conclusion - with the help of a few preacher friends - that "most Bible believing preachers are so busy doing house to house evangelism that they rarely have time to write books! Calvinists, on the other hand, seeing no urgent need for evangelism ("Hey, we can't change anything--it's all predestined!"), are able to devote large portions of their ministry to writing on the subject." So there you have it. The Calvinists are in their study writing books - the non Calvinists meanwhile are evangelising the lost with the gospel. Yes…I smelt a rat too! Are we not talking here about a scholarly book? Yes we are…but the difference is: "Thankfully, Samuel Fisk found time to write Calvinist Paths Retraced. Drawing from over 300 sources." Are we to assume that he was content during his time in the study to let sinners go to hell…or is that just the reserve of the Calvinists? As the man said - you need brains to be smart.
My Review:I was asked to review this particular page by a believer in New Zealand who is "becoming very tired of the misinformed attacking the truth." However the writer is not attacking Calvinism as such...more outlining his perception of the failure of the Reformers. Here he makes a couple of amazing statements that the Reformers had no evangelistic burden for Roman Catholics or the Jews. Our page on Calvin the soulwinner will ably refute this...at least as far as Calvin is concerned. Many souls were converted to Christ both in Geneva and in Scotland through straight gospel preaching. Spurgeon's famous saying confirms this: "John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England once again." Since its central theme is wrong, then not a great website.
My Review:This URL was passed unto me by a Reformed Presbyterian with the comment that he found the Calvinistic content of the site "to be comprehensive; unconvincing, but comprehensive nonetheless." There are quite a few pages on it and I have not examined them all. (These things take time!) In none of the pages which I read over was there any of the rather silly statements so beloved of others i.e. Calvinists do not evangelise or that the Calvinistic god is a monster etc., The writers (both converted RC's but still outside any formal fellowship) supply plenty of Bible verses which they assume will demolish Calvinism but they work on the assumption that 1) Calvinists do not believe in the responsibility of man....2) our doctrine of limited atonement means we believe in a limited invitation to sinners... 3) We do not believe that men can resist the grace of God. These are false perceptions which make their arguments of no effect. In their exposition of various texts, they assume that if God commands something, then man is necessarily able to perform it. In their definition of the 5 points of Calvinism, they omit (as many do) to say that Calvinists believe that man's inability to perform stems from his own sinful heart. They consistently argue that believers can lose their salvation - a natural outcome of the freewill position. I noticed quite a few pages given over to a detailed exposition of Romans 8:29-31 position. Again the inability to understand some of the more basic Calvinist beliefs mars what has the potential to be a challenging site.
My Review:This URL was passed unto me with the comment by a pastor. The site itself does not have much Calvinistic content, mainly an article on Romans 9 which is answered by James White and the debate between Norman Griesler and James White. I looked at his reviews on various anti Calvinist books. It didn't help his cause much to read the following comments on Dave Hunt's offering: What love is this? "Interesting reading, and much better and more accurate than Calvinists like to admit." I have commented on Hunt's effort elsewhere, but I tend to take the line...if you think Hunt has done a good job answering Calvinists, then you deserve each other :-) Sorry...I just can't take Hunt seriously anymore.
My Review:D.A.Waite restricts his attention here to the doctrine of Limited Atonement and sets about the usual pattern of looking at all the universal verses and insisting that they must mean "every last person in the human race" Which creates problems as documented elsewhere. His treatment of Isaiah 53:5 gives us an insight into the difficulties the Christ-died-for-every-last-sinner folk must struggle with. The sinner might be healed with Christ's stripes...but that doesn't mean that he is justified etc., Never saw that one before. Sometimes it is the surprise of the novel that keeps us looking at different sites. Even John Wesley in his notes accepts the orthodox interpretation, commenting: Healed — By his sufferings we are saved from our sins. He tries to redefine those of us who believe that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for the whole world but effectual only for the elect as only thinking we believe in Limited Atonement. Apart from the fact that we can speak for ourselves - thank you anyway! - it shows that Mr Waite fails to recognise wherein Calvinists limit the Atonement. It is he who is "mixed up" - not us. We do not limit it's sufficiency (and it is this which allows us to make a free offer -another basic Calvinist belief) but we limit its intention. Mr Waite believes that those of us who believe in Limited Atonement are heretics and preachers of another gospel as described in Galatians 1:8 Since Mr Waite is better known (and better appreciated) in his role as a defender of the superiority of the AV, I take up these last comments elsewhere. He indicates that perhaps in the future, he will open up the subject of Calvinism again, but before he does so, he might be better revising this particular effort with a bit more research. Another case of what a non Calvinist thinks we believe rather than a thorough attempt to find out from recognised Calvinist sources what we do believe.
My Review:Nothing new in this effort by Paul Freeman. Standard fare in the not-too-deep John R Rice tradition. States the "all" and "every man" passages to affirm unlimited atonement etc., Perhaps non Calvinists should take time to show us Calvinists why "all" and "every man" etc., must mean every last sinner ever born i.e. all without exception rather than all kinds of or all without distinction. This is where the crux is and stating just some well known and equally loved and equally used Bible verses will not in itself convince us that we are in the wrong. No mention that Calvinists believe that men are lost because of their own personal sin. Until this is grasped and stated, we get the impression that the non Calvinist critic is chasing his own tail. Little point showing us those verses which teach that men can resist the grace of God since this orthodox Calvinist belief. I take up this matter elsewhere as a result of seeing this particular web site. It gets a bit messy in places e.g. when the writer has Calvinists telling sinners that they "cannot believe" As if that is all that the Calvinist tells sinners. It would be more accurate (and therefore truthful) to state that Calvinists preach that men cannot believe in and off themselves but that they can believe through grace (Acts 18:27) and that they should cry out unto God. This is a whole different scenario from the rather lopsided situation which Mr Freeman is trying to paint for us. The article ends with a suggestion that if your church isn't evangelising…then it might be that the dreaded five points of Calvinism have been embraced. Don't be waylaid by "purposely evasive answers" by your Bible teacher! If you miss this particular article …don't feel cheated or hard done by. As we say… unfortunately standard fare.
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