Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email:email@example.com
A review of David Cloud's article:
"The Calvinism Debate: Who Is The Enemy?"
By Colin Maxwell
I like the tone of Mr Cloud's article, although I disagree with some of his conclusions and certainly with his alternative interpretation upon some passages of scripture. It is an advance upon some sites - including those linked from thewww.wayoflife.org site itself. One thing which I enjoy is friendly debate with fellow Christians who take opposing views to mine. It sharpens the mind and it encourages the heart even to see others dig deep into that great unfathomable mine of scripture to support their views…even if (in my opinion) they draw wrong conclusions. At least they have gone to the right place and have a desire to learn. Perhaps I can be like Aquilla and Priscilla and expound unto them the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:26) Indeed…they might even be an Aquilla and Priscilla unto me. Mr Cloud's article is in dark blue. My comments are in [red brackets] I want to maintain the friendly tone. It is refreshing.
Note…this site was slightly revised on 8th January, 2002 but, sadly, nothing of any substance was changed. I have emailed Mr Cloud appropriately.
THE CALVINISM DEBATE: WHO IS THE ENEMY?
December 12, 2001 (David Cloud, copyright 2001, Fundamental
Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368,
866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org) - Calvinism is a theology that was developed
by John Calvin in the 1500s. He developed this theology in his Institutes of
Christian Religion, which subsequently became the cornerstone of Presbyterian
and Reformed theology. It is also called TULIP theology.
A Summary of TULIP Theology
Total Depravity: Man is totally corrupt and dead and cannot respond to the gospel unless God sovereignly enables him.
Unconditional Election: God unconditionally chooses who will be called to salvation. Calvin believed that God also chooses who will go to hell. "[God] devotes to destruction whom he pleases. They are predestinated to eternal death without any demerit of their own, merely by his sovereign will. he orders all things by his counsel and decree in such a manner, that some men are born devoted from the womb to certain death, that his name by glorified in their destruction. .. God chooses whom he will as his children while he rejects and reprobates others" (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book III, chap. 23).
[Two things here about this summary.
 Mr Cloud limits himself to just what John Calvin teaches on this subject. As he acknowledges below "There are Calvin Calvinists and Thomas Fuller Calvinists and Arthur W. Pink Calvinists and Presbyterian Calvinists and Baptist Calvinists and many other sorts of Calvinists." (I will comment on this view later on) Most Calvinists believe that while election to life is entirely sovereign and is not conditional or dependable upon faith (which we place as the result of election and not the cause) yet reprobation is tied in also to the sinner's guilt.
Here might be a good place to point out that reprobation consists of two main parts. The first is called preterition where God in His sovereignty decided not to elect some to everlasting life. As God owes no man anything, none can justly argue at the righteousness His decision in passing him by and leaving him to his own sinful self determination. This act of preterition does not make man a sinner. The second part is called condemnation. This is the act of a Sovereign Judge. It is passed upon sinners. No man will be damned except for his own sin. God sovereignly leaves some sinners to their just deserts. The major Calvinist confessions (Westminster Confession of Faith etc) - all take this stance. It would be more accurate to have stated the whole case.
It is true that in these particular quotes, isolated from a large section of his works, Calvin is emphasising the sovereignty of God part. But elsewhere, Calvin quite clearly reminds us that the reprobate is responsible for his own damnation.
 Mr Calvin in other places puts the blame on to the sinner in reprobation. I forbear to multiply quotes but in the Institutes, Calvin also writes:
"Accordingly we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation 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)
[In the Institutes 3:23:14 Calvin rightly praised Augustine for chasing from the church any who would preach that the reason of their unbelief lay in their having been divinely destined for destruction.]
Limited Atonement: The death of Christ was only for those God
will call to salvation. Calvin denounced the universal offer of the Gospel.
"When it appears that when the doctrine of salvation is offered to all for their
effectual benefit, it is a corrupt prostitution of that which is declared to be
reserved particularly for the children of the church" (Institutes, Book III,
The truth is thatCalvin did believe in the free offer of the gospel. In the very next sentence, he states that he believes in the free offer:
Hence it is clear that the doctrine of salvation, which is said to be reserved solely and individually for the sons of the church, is falsely debased when presented as effectually profitable to all. Let this suffice for the present: although the voice of the gospel addresses all in general, yet the gift of faith is rare.
Again without multiplying quotes, let me quote his commentary on Luke 2:10 He writes: "God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few." Graham Miller's most useful book "Calvin's Wisdom" (Banner of Truth) is an treasury of Calvin's quotes and under the heading "Free Offer of the Gospel" gives no less than thirteen quotes to the same effect.
Again, like Calvin, the great Calvinistic Confessions teach that the gospel is for every man - without exception or distinction. It is true that some professing Calvinists do not believe it…but it is hardly fair to tar every one with the same brush.]
Irresistible Grace: God's call to salvation is effective and
cannot be resisted.
Perseverance of the Saints: The saved will continue in the faith.
Iain Murray's book is a very good book to have. It is a small paperback, written in popular style and easy read. Failure to distinguish between Calvinism and hyper Calvinism, in my opinion, renders any criticism practically null and void. Why should I pick up the tabs for the failings of a hyper Calvinist to urge men to duty faith and duty repentance? I and other Calvinists, including John Calvin, believe it is the responsibility of every single individual to "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15) Why should I hold my head in shame because some hyper Calvinist withholds a free offer while I and other Calvinists, including John Calvin, believe that it should be extended indiscriminately? Is this fair? Harry Ironside, as a Dispensationalist, wrote a book warning against "ultra Dispensationalism" Should I use the writings of Bullinger, whom Ironside sought to distance himself from, in a general sense against all Dispensationalists? Obviously not. Well…the same principles apply here.
2. Baptists must face the issue of Calvinism. It is a divisive
subject, but it must be faced because it touches some of the most important
points of biblical truth and affects how Christians perceive of the gospel and
the very person of God. It is interesting to observe that there have always been
divisions among Baptists on the issue of Calvinism. The early Baptists in
England were divided into the General Baptists and the Particular Baptists,
referring to how they viewed Christ's atonement, as to whether it was for all
men (general) or only for the elect (particular). Adam Taylor's History of the
General Baptists of England (1818) deals with the history of the non-Calvinist
Baptists in Great Britain, and there were a large number of them. To my
knowledge, he is the only 19th-century British Baptist historian who was not a
Calvinist. It is certain that the vast majority of Baptist histories are written
by Calvinists and they typically neglect and sometimes pervert the history and
beliefs of the non-Calvinist Baptists. Be that as it may, the fact remains that
Baptists have always been divided on this issue and it is not wise to draw back
from dealing with it, even though divisions come.
3. I am convinced that John Calvin has caused great and unnecessary divisions among God's people because of his errors, and few things have hindered biblical evangelism more than Calvinism. As we will see later, it almost killed the Baptist churches of England in 1700s and early 1800s. I know that many will disagree with me, but I am convinced that among Calvinists, evangelism is done IN SPITE OF Calvinism, not because of it.
[Unfortunately, despite his appreciation of Iain Murray's book, Mr Cloud fails here to distinguish between Calvinism and Hyper Calvinism. It was hyper Calvinism with its deadening teaching that took over many Baptist Churches. Some embraced Unitarianism or other forms of modernism - we can hardly blame Calvin for that. Spurgeon, from whom Mr Cloud confesses he has benefited so much, said "It is that vein of free grace running through the sermonising of Baptist's that saved us as a denomination."(A Defence Of Calvinism)
There is no reason why Calvinism should hinder evangelism. I am a Calvinist. I believe that all those whom God has elected to everlasting life will eventually and infallibly be gathered in through the means of evangelism. I know that if I refuse to obey the command to preach the gospel to every creature, then God could make the stones to cry out, but I expect that ordinarily He will raise up and use another Christian. Because I consistently hold to the scripture teaching that God's word will not return unto Him void, I go out believing that God will use my feeble efforts for His glory. My labour can never be in vain in the Lord. If any man can show where in this belief hinders evangelism, can they email me email@example.com
Calvin himself was first and foremost a pastor, preaching to large crowds in Geneva and preached an indiscriminate gospel as evangelists are wont to do. No one doubts that Spurgeon had a great evangelistic heart and love for sinners. And yet 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…"
You can't isolate Spurgeon from his Calvinism. You cannot say "Spurgeon was a gospel preacher and…by the way…he was also a Calvinist." He lived and breathed his Calvinism, although he said that he cared little for the name and held many Arminians including Wesley and Fletcher in the highest regard. Read this work from whence I quote:A Defence Of Calvinism for yourself. Therefore it seems to me to be a mammoth task to try and prove that Spurgeon evangelised despite his Calvinism. What we say of Spurgeon might be said of many others. There is a warm Calvinism out there that loves the sinner and will do anything Biblically acceptable to see the sinner saved.
4. It is important to understand that Calvinism is an unsettled theology. Calvinists are seriously divided among themselves and always have been.
[Every single doctrine has its adherents divided among themselves. We have already drawn attention to the Dispensationalist school of thought. Mr Cloud's own site which has a large warning ethos to it - and in this is valuable with discretion - shows that fundamental Christianity is riddled with yet unsettled disputes.]
There are all sorts of variations on TULIP theology, and there are Calvinists who reject some of the points of TULIP altogether.
[We generally call them "3 point Calvinists" or "4 point Calvinists" etc., although our mathematics should tell us that a "3 point Calvinist" is a "2 point Arminian" I will comment on Mr Cloud's objection to the title of Arminian below, but the point still holds true.]
Whenever one tries to state TULIP theology and then refute it, there are Calvinists who will argue with you that you are misrepresenting Calvinism. It is not so much that you are misrepresenting Calvinism, though. You might be quoting directly from various Calvinists or even from Calvin himself. The problem is that you are misrepresenting their Calvinism!
[Which must pose a special difficulty for those who oppose these teachings. If these things be so -and they are - then the effort needs to be made to avoid generalisations. There seems to be a riding of two horses at one time here. On one hand, we are all lumped together and yet on the other, we are divided when it suits. This is not being consistent.]
* Additional note: Mr Cloud has recently added an article page to his web site entitled:BEWARE OF HYPER DISPENSATIONALISM If we were to take his position as articulated in the above paragraph, we would say:
Whenever one tries to state DISPENSATIONAL theology and then refute it, there are DISPENSATIONALISTS who will argue with you that you are misrepresenting DISPENSATIONALISM. It is not so much that you are misrepresenting DISPENSATIONALISM, though. You might be quoting directly from various DISPENSATIONALISTS or even from Scofield (or whoever) himself. The problem is that you are misrepresenting their DISPENSATIONALISM!
If Mr Cloud sees the need to distance himself from the hyper Dispensationalists and wishes us to accept the difference, then it is only consistent to accept that Calvinists seek to distance themselves from the hyper school and expect the same treatment.
There are Calvin Calvinists and Thomas Fuller Calvinists and Arthur W. Pink Calvinists and Presbyterian Calvinists and Baptist Calvinists and many other sorts of Calvinists. And they do not agree among themselves on many things.
[Again, this is true of any school of doctrine. Dispensationalists disagree among themselves on many points…but generally agree on the fundamentals of Dispensationalism. Even on this issue, there is disagreements among those who deny these central tenets of Calvinism. Some of them believe it is possible for truly Spirit born believers apostatise - others don't. The observation therefore is not unique to Calvinism but is applicable to every single doctrine of God's word.]
Many Calvinists have never read Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion for themselves. They are merely following someone who follows someone who allegedly follows Calvin. Calvinists believe that they have the right to reject or modify some parts of or conclusions of Calvin. I agree with them 100%, and I say, further, that we also have the right to reject the entire thing if we are convinced that it is not supported by Scripture!!
[Again, without labouring the thought, this is applicable to every other doctrine.]
Many Calvinists won't allow that, though. James White, author of "The Truth about the King James Bible Controversy" and several other books, wrote to me a year or so ago and challenged me to a public debate. He urged me to "defend Arminianism." That is a strange notion, because I don't follow Arminianism and I don't care anything about Arminianism. I have studied the theology of James Arminius some and I find errors in it just as I have found errors in John Calvin's theology. White has the idea so typical among Calvinists that a Christian must either follow Calvinism or he must follow Arminianism. If he is not a Calvinist, he is surely an Arminian. No so!
[It is true that many Calvinists try and force the matter neatly into two handy sized and manageable camps. The use of many implies that not all do so. I think it is the human bent to reduce everything down to black and white. Again, every doctrine can be reduced in such a way. We are either Baptists or we are not. We are either Dispensationalists or we are not. We are either KJV only or we are not. We are either …and so on.
Regarding the name Arminian. I can only recall reading it once in a Methodist book where it was used as a self description. Many people who hold to Arminian theories have never even heard of the term and therefore are quite hurt when it is applied almost as a slur. Yet in the light of its history - Jacob Arminius's followers (after his death) challenged what became known as the five points of Calvinism - it is almost natural and is certainly understandable to see why the name should be applied…just as it is natural to call those of us who believe in the TULIP "Calvinists" As I mention above, Spurgeon said that he cared nothing for the name and I only use it, as Spurgeon, did as a title of convenience. We may say likewise that "Baptist" or "Presbyterian" is a similar title. We may or may not care for any name other than Christian…but that's life. Perhaps Mr White should simply have asked you to debate on the doctrines of grace known as Calvinism and you could have come to some understanding over the use of the various titles.
But this idea began with Calvin. He treated those who disagreed with his position on election as enemies of God and the gospel and would not admit that men can reject Calvinism and still believe God's Word!
[It is true that Calvin sometimes used what we would regard today as intemperate language…as did Luther and others of that day and age. He held passionately to these doctrines, as indeed (as quoted above) did Spurgeon. But once again… this works both ways. Bob Jones Junior writing the foreword to Dr Paisley's (mentioned below) Commentary on Romans said: "I know some extreme Arminians who will find themselves wishing they could fling this book at Paisley as Martin Luther flung his inkwell at the devil." I have stood patiently and been told that my God is a monster because I believe that not being obliged to save any, then He is not obliged to save all.]
From the time that I was saved by God's marvelous and free grace 28 years ago until this very day, I have wanted to understand the will of and be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ through God's preserved Word, the Scriptures. As best as I know how, I have made that my sole authority. I enjoy systematic theology and I am teaching a course in Bible doctrine right now in a new Bible college that we are starting in South Asia and am preparing to publish a book on Bible Doctrine, but I test all of the various theologies with the Scriptures alone, and I have never agreed completely with any man's systematic theology. I praise God that I am not under any divine obligation to follow either Calvinism or Arminianism.
[True…I agree 100% I call no man Master.]
[I think it was this bit that really warmed my heart to the tone of this particular page. Words such as these are sadly missing from many critiques of Calvinism. I suppose to be consistent, I will have to accept that many sites repudiating what is commonly known as Arminian doctrines can fall into the same trap. Both Spurgeon and Bishop Ryle loathed Arminiansim (as opposed to Arminians) but they could only praise the good that was done by John Wesley and his men. Arthur Pink said: "If the Arminian says that when a man sins, the sin is his own, and that if he continues sinning he will surely perish, and that if he perishes his blood is on his own head, then I believe the Arminian speaks according to God's truth: although I am not willing to be called an Arminian." (Studies 1927 p.163)
1. Calvinism exalts God as the sole Author of salvation and gives glory to Him alone. In this, it is exactly correct and perfectly biblical and right on target. There is no salvation apart from God. There is no good in man and there is nothing he can do to achieve his salvation. It must be entirely of God. Except that God in His mercy and grace has provided salvation in Christ and has drawn men to this salvation, convicting them and enlightening them and granting them faith and repentance (which are both gifts of God), no man would be saved. All glory to God.
3. Calvinism gives eternal security to the believer. Calvinism promises eternal security to the believer, because it knows that (1) salvation is entirely of God's grace and thus depends nothing whatsoever on man's puny works whether good or bad, (2) God has elected and ordained the saved person to a glorious eternal inheritance, and (3) the saved persevere in the faith through the effective working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In this it is right on target.
4. Calvinism teaches that the elect will give evidence of their
calling. The Calvinist knows that salvation produces a dramatic change in a
person's life, and in this he is right on target. Any "salvation" that does not
result in a change of life and direction and thinking and purpose is not a
Not All Calvinists Are the Same
It is important to understand that there is a great variety of doctrine and practice among Calvinists, and by no means do I consider a man to be an enemy of the truth just because he accepts some of the Calvinist theology. The book Spurgeon vs. Hyper Calvinists: The Battle for Gospel Preaching by Iain Murray Iain H. (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust, 1995) does an excellent job of describing the difference among Calvinists. There are soul winning Calvinists, Calvinists with great evangelistic and missionary zeal; and there are Calvinists who condemn these things. Some interpret Calvinism in such a way that they do not believe in offering salvation to or preaching the gospel to all sinners; they do not even believe that God loves all men.
If Calvin believed in soulwinning and believed in missionary endeavour and the free offer of the gospel…then a man who denies these things can hardly call himself a Calvinist? As a matter of interest, I consulted Calvin's comments on John 3:16 and found this:
As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.
Later note: "KJV onlyism" and that of Peter Ruckman. Mr Cloud complains himself of one who attacks him on the KJV only issue:
"You and your friends refuse to make a clear distinction between Ruckmanism and what I believe. That is dishonest, but it is a great debate tactic and it appears to me that your goal above all is to win a debate."
Mr Cloud does not like it when he is lumped together with Ruckman. It seems though that he is slow to apply to Calvinists, the standards he expects others to apply to him.]
Charles Haddon Spurgeon faced this in his day. He believed in Calvinism to some extent, though he refused to allow any theology to overthrow the clear teaching of the Bible.
[I think to say that Spurgeon "believed in Calvinism to some extent" understates the case a little. If you read Spurgeon'sA Defence Of Calvinism (reproduced in his 2 volume autobiography by Banner of Truth) you will discover he was a staunch Calvinist. Even the quote I give above shows this to be the case.]
Commenting on 1 Timothy 2:3-6, for instance, Spurgeon
"What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. 'All men,' say they, -- 'that is, some men': as if the Holy Ghost could not have said 'some men' If he had meant some men. 'All men,' say they; 'that is, some of all sorts of men': as if the Lord could not have said 'All sorts of men' if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written 'all men,' and unquestionably he means all men. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God" (C.H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1 Timothy 2:3,4, vol. 26, pp. 49-52).
Amen and amen. That is a wise Calvinist!
[I agree both with Spurgeon and Mr Cloud. John 13:7 "What I do thou knowest not now: but thou shalt know hereafter" may well be applied to doctrine as well as individual circumstances.]
Spurgeon refused to try to reconcile every seeming contradiction
in the Bible, and he was wise enough to know that he could not understand every
mystery of God. He said:
"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 judgement. 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" (C.H. Spurgeon, New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 4 (1858), p. 337).
Spurgeon warned about creating theologies that attempt to reconcile every biblical difficulty:
"Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed, a creed which will put together and form a square like a Chinese puzzle,--are very apt to narrow their souls. Those who will only believe what they can reconcile will necessarily disbelieve much of divine revelation. Those who receive by faith anything which they find in the Bible will receive two things, twenty things, aye, or twenty thousand things, though they cannot construct a theory which harmonises them all" (C.H. Spurgeon, "Faith," Sword and Trowel, 1872).
In these matters, Charles Spurgeon was a Calvinist but he was
much more than a Calvinist; he was a Biblicist. It has been said of Spurgeon,
that if you pricked him, even his blood was "bibline." He loved theology and
studied theology diligently, but the bottom line was that he had childlike faith
in everything the Bible says and he refused to allow any man-made theology to
overthrow any clear teaching of Scripture.
"Of all commentators I believe John Calvin to be the most candid. In his expositions he is not always what moderns would call Calvinistic; that is to say, where Scripture maintains the doctrine of predestination and grace he flinches in no degree, but inasmuch as some Scripture bear the impress of human free action and responsibility, he does not shun to expound their meaning in all fairness and integrity. He was no trimmer and pruner of texts." (A chat about Commentaries)
We might say then that Mr Calvin was a wise Calvinist. Even Jacob Arminius said of Calvin:
" Next to the perusal of the Scriptures. Which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin's commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms that Helmich himself: for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the Library of the Fathers: so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above all others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent gift of prophecy." (Quoted by CH Spurgeon in Commenting and Commentaries)]
And while Spurgeon was a Calvinist of sorts,
[Mr Cloud seems to struggle here a little for consistency in classifying Mr Spurgeon's Calvinism. Above he says that Spurgeon "was a Calvinist" then "believed in Calvinism to some extent" Now he is "a Calvinist of sorts" yet elsewhere on Mr Cloud's site, he states that Spurgeon was a "staunch Calvinist" (http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/newage.htm ) The latter is the most accurate description.]
…he was at the same time a great evangelist and believed in offering the gospel to all men. Spurgeon believed that more sinners could be saved if the gospel was preached to them, and he did not try to reconcile such a view with God's election. He believed his responsibility was to preach the gospel to as many sinners as possible. He believed that tools such as prayer could result in a greater harvest of souls.
[There is nothing here inconsistent with Calvinism. Whatever our views on the eternal purposes of God, we believe that God blesses the preaching of the gospel and we may say that more souls could be saved if the gospel were preached. Spurgeon didn't believe though that more souls were being elected - he believed that this would have been fixed immutably from "before the foundation of the world" - but he felt that we would see more souls saved if we engaged in evangelism.]
He had prayer meetings before the preaching services and every Monday night and on other occasions. Sometimes when the auditorium of the Metropolitan Tabernacle was full, a group would remain in the downstairs prayer hall and pray during the preaching (as per e-mail from Mrs. Hannah Wyncoll, Administrative Assistant, Metropolitan Tabernacle, June 2, 2000).
[Prayer meetings seem to be the common possession of all schools of evangelical Christians. Again if God uses means to achieve His appointed ends, He uses praying Christians as well as evangelising Christians.]
Spurgeon loved soul winning and taught his people to be soul winners. His famous book The Soul Winner is still in print. There were some in Spurgeon's church who "made it their special work to 'watch for souls' in our great congregation, and to seek to bring to immediate decision those who appeared to be impressed under the preaching of the Word.
[Many of the great Calvinists were soul winners and exhorted their people to that holy task. Beside me on my desk is a book by Horatius Bonar entitled Words to winner of souls The book description reads "Drawing from Owen, Baxter, McCheyne, Edwards and others, Bonar summons us to faith, zeal and love for lost souls." These men listed, with the exception of Baxter, but including the author, were all staunch Calvinists. Any one with any knowledge of Church History will hardly be surprised that some of its greatest evangelists were both Calvinistic and soul winners. The two sit well together. Dr Bennett Taylor entitled his sermon on Acts 18:9-10 (I have much people in this city) "The Doctrine of Election: The only grounds encouragement to preach the gospel to sinners."
[Bro. Cloud: Note the word "decision" in Spurgeon's description of this soul winner!]
[Use of the word "decision" is not taboo among Calvinists. I decided for Christ. I suspect that Mr Cloud and Spurgeon would disagree over the substance of what is meant by this word. Listen to Spurgeon:
"One week night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, "How did you come to be a Christian?" I sought the Lord. "But how did you come to seek the Lord?" The truth flashed across my mind in a moment - I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make my constant confession: "I ascribe my change wholly to God." [CH Spurgeon:A Defence Of Calvinism]
One brother has earned for himself the title of my hunting dog, for he is always ready to pick up the wounded birds. One Monday night, at the prayer-meeting, he was sitting near me on the platform; all at once I missed him, and presently I saw him right at the other end of the building. After the meeting, I asked why he went off so suddenly, and he said that the gas just shone on the face of a woman in the congregation, and she looked so sad that he walked round, and sat near her, in readiness to speak to her about the Saviour after the service" (C.H. Spurgeon, The Full Harvest, p. 76). Thus we see that Charles Spurgeon was a man who was very zealous for the winning of souls, and his Calvinism and his convictions about the sovereignty of God in no wise hindered that.
[Exactly…there is no reason why it should.]
On the other hand, many Calvinists of that day opposed Spurgeon vehemently from their pulpits and in their magazines and denounced his practice of giving invitations for sinners to come to Christ. (He did not have the people actually come forward during the church service as is commonly practiced today, but he invited them to come to Christ all the same; and he believed that eventually a sinner was saved in every seat in the massive auditorium of the Metropolitan Tabernacle of that day.) For example, one popular Calvinist paper of Spurgeon's day was the Earthen Vessel. In one of its issues in 1857, it boldly stated that "to preach that it is man's duty to believe savingly in Christ is absurd." Well, that was exactly what Spurgeon preached, so to a great many Calvinists of his day, Spurgeon was an absurd fellow!
[I think it would be fairer to say that these opposers were hyper Calvinists. They certainly went beyond what Calvin himself taught.]
[Ultimately there are only Calvinists and hyper Calvinists. Avoid hyper Calvinism like the plague!]
Dr. Ian Paisley, pastor of the Martyrs Memorial Presbyterian
Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is another example. I have a high regard
for him, though he is a staunch Calvinist. I remember our meeting at a
restaurant in downtown Belfast a few years back with joy. I was preaching in
some Baptist churches in Ireland, and he called the home where I was staying and
invited me to meet him for lunch. It was a blessing to meet this man of God and
was a highlight of that interesting and profitable trip. He gave me two books
from his library to help in my research on the history of the defense of the
King James Bible. He showed me his copy of my book "For Love of the Bible: The
History of the Defense of the Authorized Version and the Received Text from 1800
to Present." He had written the words, "Cloud is not beclouded." That was an
encouragement, because I hold Dr. Paisley in high regard for his zeal for the
faith and his exposure of the mystery of iniquity.
Dr. Timothy Tow, pastor of Life Bible Presbyterian Church, Dr.
S.H. Tow (M.D.), pastor of Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Jeffrey
Khoo, Academic Dean of the Far Eastern Bible College, are other examples. These
men are staunch Calvinists but they are also soul winning Calvinists and have
great missionary zeal. They and other of their associates have been responsible
for the gospel being preached into many dark corners of Asia, and for this I
rejoice. They distribute my books in their bookstores and have communicated with
me on various occasions, and I count them friends in the faith; though I do not
agree with their Calvinism nor their position on baptism and I cannot, for the
latter reason especially, speak in their churches. But I love them and do not
count them as enemies.
[It was the decided view of Spurgeon (quoted above) - himself an English Baptist and well read on various subjects - that Calvinism saved his denomination.
Consider the following quote from Thomas Armitage's History of the Baptists (1890): "William Carey's 'Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathen' was published in 1792, but found few readers and produced little effect. To most of the Baptists his views were visionary and even wild, in open conflict with God's sovereignty.
[William Carey, of course, was a Calvinist.]
At a meeting of ministers, where the senior Ryland presided,
Carey proposed that at the next meeting they discuss the duty of attempting to
spread the Gospel amongst the heathen. Ryland, shocked, sprang to his feet and
ordered Carey to sit down, saying: 'When God pleases to convert the heathen, he
will do it without your aid or mine!'"
[Just to clarify…Calvinists believe that no man of himself can respond to the gospel. Those who do respond do so because God enables them.
This position secures the statements found in the verses quoted that man really is desperately wicked etc., To teach creature ability in salvation (a different thing from creature responsibility) lessens the impact. He is dead but not really dead. He is blind but can see a little. He is desperately wicked but behold here is something good, and creditable. Of course, every word of depraved man is not a swear word, every thought a blasphemy or every deed murderous. God restrains the wicked (Psalm 76:10) but left to themselves earth would become a veritable hell.]
Just the opposite, the Bible teaches that Christ gives light to every man (Jn. 1:9), that he draws all men to himself (Jn. 12:32), that he convicts men through the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8). God calls men to salvation through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14), and He has ordained that the gospel be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15).
[None of these verses teach that men can in and off themselves come to Christ. Christ taught clearly: "No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him" (John 6:44) It is true that He also said in John 5:40 "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life" but obviously the two verses do not contradict one another. They could not come because their wills were so depraved. There was no higher Power (i.e. God) restraining them from coming, but they were so willingly bound in their sins that unless they were born of God they would not hear the word i.e. hear it with faith: "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:47)]
What About Unconditional Election?
Men do not go to hell because of election, but because they reject or neglect the gospel (Matt. 23:37; Acts 13:46; 2 Thess. 2:10-11).
What About Irresistible Grace
The Bible makes it plain that God extends grace to men and it has been rejected by them.
Cain (Gen. 4:6,7)
The world before the flood (Gen. 6:3)
Israel of old (Rom. 10:21)
Israel of Christ's day (Matt. 23:37; Jn. 5:40).
Jews of Paul's day (Acts 13:46)
[I have never met a Calvinist yet who does not believe that the grace of God may be rejected. I don't know why those who disagree with the Calvinist doctrines seem to think we do. It is evident, both from scripture (as above) and also from hard experience in evangelism that the grace of God in the gospel is rejected every time it is preached. Let me go further…even the elect of God resist His grace! I did it myself. Saul of Tarsus often kicked against the pricks. But (and here's the difference) there comes a time when the elect sinner can resist no more. His depraved will that is unable, because of sin, to lay hold upon eternal life is renewed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and he comes to Christ. All that the Father gives to Christ will come to Him (John 6:37) doing so through the Spirit using the ordained means of evangelism.]
What About Limited Atonement
God loves all men (Jn. 3:16)
[Amen! This verse in itself says nothing about the atonement one way or the other. I believe that God loves all men (despite their sins) The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. (Psalm 145:9) We have already quoted Calvin above on this verse showing that he likewise believed that the "Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish."]
God desires all men to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9)
[Amen! Again. Calvin comments:"So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost. But the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way. But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world."
This moves us into the field of God's declared and God's secretive will. There may be many questions asked that no theologian will be unable to answer. What ever the statements made in scripture, it is evident that we cannot say that God has purposed to save every last human being ever born…because if He did then He has abjectly failed. He has known frustration and has had to bow to a power or principle greater than Himself…namely the sinful unbelief of a Christ rejecter. This cannot be.
2 Peter 3:9 is a precious verse. I quote it regularly in my gospel preaching. Any sinner who lays hold upon it for salvation will find it sufficient.]
God has commanded that the gospel be preached to every person (Mark 16:15)
[Again this in itself does not mention the scope of the work of Cross, except to say that the offer of the gospel is to be made to every person. Since we do not know who the elect are…we are to view every man (as far as we are concerned) as potentially elect.]
Jesus was a ransom for all men (1 Tim. 2:6).
Jesus tasted death for all men (Heb. 2:9)
Jesus provided propitiation for all men (1 Jn. 2:2)
[These three verses teach the same thing, although slightly different language or terms are used. We may answer the thought that these verses teach that Christ died for every last human being like this:
It would be unjust for God to send any soul to Hell if Christ died to atone for that particular soul. Take the Rich Man in Hell (Luke 16:19-31) He is a damned soul who will never escape perdition.
 Did Christ die for Him? (Argument sake: Yes)
 Just the same as He died for poor Lazarus who went to glory? (Argument sake: Yes)
 No difference? (Argument sake: No)
 Did Christ make definite atonement for the sin of Lazarus? i.e. Did He actually blot out his sins as a thick cloud…cleanse them…purge them etc., (Argument sake: Yes)
 Is God's Law satisfied with what Jesus did on Lazarus' behalf? (Argument sake: Yes)
 Can Lazarus suffer in Hell on account of His sins? (Argument sake: No)
 Why not? (Jesus has already suffered/satisfied the law)
 If Jesus has done the exact same for Lazarus as for the Rich Man…can the Rich Man suffer in hell? (Argument sake: No)
 Why not? [(Argument sake: Because Christ has already paid the price of the Rich Man's sin]
 Why then is the Rich Man in Hell?
Payment God will not twice demand, First at my Bleeding Sureties hand And then again at mine.
The Rich Man is in Hell because although Christ died for all His sins yet the Rich Man would not accept the work on his behalf. He refused the gift and so is lost.
We reply: Did Christ die for that sin of unbelief i.e. make atonement for it?
(Argument sake: Yes)
Then why should it hinder/damn him more than any other sin? Is God exacting payment twice (Unjust)
(Argument sake: No)
Then Christ did not die for all his sins (Limited Atonement)
Christ did something definite on the Cross. At a historical point in time, He actually made full atonement for sins. This was not merely something potential but actual. This work cannot be reversed, or undone. Men go to hell, not only because they reject God's offer of salvation (Proverbs 1:24-29/Hebrews 2:3) but because they are fornicators, liars. thieves etc., (Revelation 21:8) God exacts from them the price due for these sins. Which shows that He has not done so before i.e. at Calvary.
All in the Bible sometimes (though not always) means "all kinds of…" 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Is it? Are there not crimes of passion where money had nothing to do with it? Or is the love of money the root of all different kinds of evil i.e. theft, murder, intimidation etc.,
The word world in the Bible does not necessarily mean every last son of Adam's race. It often is used in the New Testament to designate the nations as opposed to Israel. The classic example of which is found in John 12:19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. I don't think any body would say the world here meant every last human being. No…it is explained by the next verse: And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: (v20) It designates both Jew and Greek. A similar use of the word world appears in Luke 2:1 where the whole world was taxed by the Romans.
Calvinists believe that when the word all or world is used in relation to the atonement of Christ (which was definite and not merely potential) then it is not speaking of every last son of Adam - many of whom who were in hell when Christ died (for those sins for which they were also suffering in hell if you believe the general atonement theory) but that it is speaking of all kinds of people scattered throughout the world.
Jesus bought even unsaved false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1)
[These false teachers who believing damnable heresies denied the Lord that bought them. Here we have a case in Scripture of where the thing professed is taken to designate the thing itself. This is easily explained. Can Christ be crucified afresh? In one sense no. He has already suffered once and for all and is now in Heaven waiting to come again. But in another sense yes. When an apostate (such as those in 2 Peter 2:1 were) reneges on his profession of faith, he as it were crucifies Him again. It is as if he goes back to the Cross and instead of embracing Christ as the Centurion had done there and the Dying Thief, he shouts Crucify Him! And he is judged as if he had really done so.
Again…can any man make God an actual liar? No. Actually no one can make anybody a liar. They can spread vicious rumours or make vile accusations and portray them as liars…but they cannot make any one to be an actual liar. Just as Potiphar's wife could never make Joseph to be an adulterer, although she could portray him as such. But if we say that we have not sinned, the Scripture uses the language that we have made God a liar i.e. we have portrayed Him as such, even though He is not. The same with the foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21) Is it foolish to preach? Then Christ was foolish. Or is the foolishness of preaching, although stated in definite language, is rather as it appears? Through what men perceive to be a foolish action (even though stated as it is) God is pleased to save those who believe.
When Peter says these men have denied the Lord that bought them…it is as the situation appears. They are certainly judged for it, just as the man who hates his brother is judged for murder, even though he never killed him or the lustful look is judged as the act of adultery, even though no union took place.
Did Christ die for their sin of apostasy? If not…He did not die for all their sins (limited atonement) If He did and they are still suffering for it…then God is demanding payment twice ,effectively saying that Christ's payment was not sufficient. Either way is unsatisfactory.]
The iniquity of all men was laid on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6). If the
first part of Isaiah 53:6 is universal, and we know it is, it is strangely
inconsistent to interpret the second part as limited.
Some Verses Used by Calvinists
John 6:37 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." This verse is used by Calvinists to teach that God chooses who will be saved, and when He chooses that a person will be saved, that person will definitely come to Christ.
[Jesus said that those given to Him by the Father shall come. Calvinists just believe that those given to Jesus by the Father shall come. If Jesus said that those given might come, I think we would be all be worried. But rest assured, through our evangelism, all thus given shall come.]
Thus, this verse is used to support the Calvinist doctrines of Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace. How do we know that the Calvinist interpretation is wrong? The verse must be interpreted in light of its context. If the verse were left isolated from all the rest of the Bible, it could be interpreted in a Calvinist manner, but it must be interpreted in light of the rest of the teaching of Christ in John. Verse 40 explains verse 37. It is God's will that every one that believes on Christ will be saved.
[There is nothing here that cuts across what Calvinists believe. It is God's will that everyone that believes on Christ will believe. It is also God's will that all whom He has given to His Son shall come.]
The ones that God the Father has given to the Son are those who believe on Him. This is the consistent teaching of John's Gospel. See John 1:11-12; 3:15-18, 36; 5:24; 6:29; 11:25-26; 20:31.
[True…though faith is the result of election…not the cause.]
[Surely we are not contending here that those who were not sovereignly chosen by God can be saved? Or that God's choice was not sovereign…that God left His throne when choosing who would be saved? I think not.]
The problem with this is threefold: (1) Christ said He would draw all men to Himself (Jn. 12:32; 1:9). (2) The Bible says God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Thus, while it is true that no man can come to Christ except that he be drawn by God, it is equally true that all men are being drawn and that those who are rejected are those who reject the truth and do not believe (2 Thess. 2:10,12). (3) God draws men through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14), and the gospel is to be preached to every man (Mark 16:15).
[If God draws all men equally - as Mr Cloud's position seems to be - and does so through the gospel which is to be preached to every man - what of those who never hear the gospel? I believe in universal missions…every last stone age tribesman is to hear the good news - but the reality is that they don't. Were they being drawn to Christ through a gospel of which they never heard? It is true that as Christians we can hang our heads in shame at our failure to leave so much of the world unevangelised…but (without negating our responsibility in any way) we must see the sovereign hand of God also. The fact is that He who has ordained the end also ordains the means thereto. The Spirit who opened up Macedonia for Paul (Acts 16:9-10) also shut up Bithynia (Acts 16:7) We are not told why and I'm not going to start speculating. I am just taking the long view which my belief in the sovereignty of God allows me to do - that when God sets out to draw His elect to Himself, nothing will stand in the way.]
Acts 13:48 "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." The Calvinist interprets this verse in light of his theology and says that God's election has nothing to do with man's response to the Gospel, yet this ignores the immediate context of the verse.
[This is not an accurate portrayal of what Calvinists believe. Calvinists believe that election has everything to do with man's response to the gospel. We believe that men will only believe when they are elect of God. Faith is the fruit of election and not the cause or contributing factor. Otherwise the verse would read: "As many as believed were ordained to eternal life" It doesn't.]
Just prior to this, in verse 46, Paul had stated why the Jews did not believe. It was not because they were not chosen of God to believe. It was because they themselves put it from them. They themselves rejected the truth.
[I am quite happy to join with Mr Cloud and put the guilt of the rejection on the sinner. Spurgeon believed that salvation is all of grace…damnation is all of sin. This is a wise observation, entirely consistent with the Reformed Faith.]
It was not God's will that they do so.
[As mentioned above…we could never say that God purposed to save them. As He says Himself, His "counsel shall stand and [he] will do all [His] good pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10)]
It was not because they had been foreordained to eternal damnation. They were given light by Christ (Jn. 1:9) and they were being drawn by Christ (Jn. 12:32) and they were being convicted by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8), but they rejected all of this and for that reason they were rejected of God.
[Again, we are quite happy to have the sinner carry the guilt of his sin of Christ rejection.]
Romans 9:13-23 "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory," (See also through verses 33.)
This passage is used by Calvinists in general to support their doctrine of sovereign election, that God sovereignly chooses who will be saved and who will be lost. How do we know that this interpretation is wrong? (1) The context is not about personal salvation, but about God's election of the Jewish nation and His overall program for the ages. God choosing Jacob and rejecting Esau refers not to their personal salvation but to their place in God's plan for Israel. When the Bible says that God hated Esau, it does not mean that He did not love Esau. It means he rejected Esau as the one to stand in the lineage of Israel. The same term is used in Lk. 14:26, where Christ said a disciple must hate his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters. Does that mean it is the will of God for a believer to have no love for his family? Some false cults have interpreted it so, but that is nonsense. The rest of the Bible makes it plain that it is God's will for the believer to love his parents and wife and children. The term "hate" as it is used in these passages does not mean lack of love, but it means that something is rejected as having first place in one's affections or purpose. Jacob was chosen to have the exalted position, whereas Esau was rejected for that position. Likewise, the disciple of Christ is to put his Master into the exalted position in his life and heart and to reject all others from that position. In comparison to the disciple's love for Christ, his love for all other things should be as hate.
[This interpretation is a very weak indeed. The context is obviously one about salvation, for we are talking about vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. The word destruction is used. By contrast glory is also used. Pharaoh is also mentioned. There should be no trimming of these texts, but where we find them hard to understand or even accept, the gracious rebuke of v20 should be prayerfully taken on board.]
(2) Further, the context also teaches that salvation is intended for all men and that men condemn themselves by rejecting the gospel (Rom. 10:1-4,9-13).
[Again it is not the purpose of God to save every last man. Again, we agree that men condemn themselves by rejecting the gospel offer.]
(3) The Romans passage concludes by saying that God has
concluded all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all (Rom. 11:32). Thus
the Bible consistently teaches that salvation is available for
[It is more accurate to believe that God chose some to salvation and left others to damnation. There seems to be in many people's minds - as there once was in mine - that when God made His free will choice - that we were all potentially standing there in a state of neutrality and God arbitrarily chose for Heaven and others for Hell. This thought naturally repulses people and no wonder. But it is not the Reformed Faith. God saw us all condemned in Adam and for His own glory and for reasons He has not yet told us all about, He chose to save some and leave others. The wonder is not why did He hate Esau. The wonder is why did He love Jacob? If we start with man, we get into all sorts of trouble…if we start with God, particularly as He has revealed Himself in Romans 11:36, then the matter becomes plainer.]
I love the God of the Bible, and whatever He does and whatever He wants to do is just fine with me. Who am I, a puny little man, to question Him! The only reason I don't believe that is because I have the entire Bible, not merely Romans 9:18-23, to go by. I would be glad to be a Calvinist, if I thought the Bible taught that. But I am convinced it doesn't. If it were not for the hundreds of passages which plainly refute TULIP, I would believe it. But I will not believe something which must be supported by a few relatively obscure passages but which ends up denying hundreds of PLAIN passages.
[I might easily say that the Reformed Faith and the TULIP teaching do not rest "merely" on what Mr Cloud designates a few relatively obscure passages. Right from the very beginning, we see the sovereign hand of God in salvation. The OT is full of it. The gospels and the epistles are full of it. However, this might give the impression that Mr Cloud has one lot of texts and Calvinists another. This is not so. Mr Cloud's hundreds of passages could be taken one by one if time permitted and examined. He has given some of his passages in this thesis. They were capable of being explained. Some of them were used to refute a teaching that the main body of Calvinists do not believe.]
As we have seen, the context of Romans 9:22-23 shows that God is addressing the question of Israel being set aside and the Gentiles becoming the focus of His activities. One can read verses 24-33 and see this easily. The subject is not so much God's election of individuals, but God's election in the broad categories of His program of the ages. He chose Israel sovereignly to take the front stage in the plan of redemption. He later turned from Israel and chose the Gentiles. In the future He will again turn back to Israel (Romans 11:15,25-29). Those decisions are based on His sovereign purposes and have nothing to do with man. That is the teaching of this passage. Romans 9:30-33 also states that individual salvation is based on faith. Romans 9:32 tells us that Israel of old was lost and rejected, not merely because of God's sovereign election, but because she refused to seek God on the basis of faith. God's rejection of Israel was based on Israel's rejection of God. Romans 9:33 ends with a plain statement that salvation is offered to "WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH."
[Without getting into the prophesy side of things, every Calvinist is quite happy to preach on the "whosoever believeth" verses of Scripture. I do it regularly both in our Sunday evening gospel meetings and also in the open air. Thank God for the free offer of the gospel!]
Whenever one tries to state TULIP theology and then [support] it, there are [non-Calvinists] who will argue with you that you are misrepresenting [non Calvinism.] It is not so much that you are misrepresenting [non Calvinism, though.] You might be quoting directly from various [non Calvinists] or even from [whoever] himself. The problem is that you are misrepresenting their [non Calvinism!]
I know that this would be unfair and therefore I applaud his attempts to distance himself from those "quick prayerites" in the non Calvinist camp, just as I hope he will applaud those of us who oppose hyper Calvinism with all of our hearts. [Note: CHS tackled this kind of thing in his day. He said: "We have not laboured to excite carnal passions, nor to preach sermons with a view of driving you into religious fevers. Sturdy old Calvinism will not let us do that. We cannot preach such sermons as Arminians can." 2: page 73] Good old Spurgeon!
In conclusion, I am not saying that there are forms of Calvinism that are Scriptural and that it is only some types of more extreme Calvinism that are unscriptural.
[Obviously we must agree to differ here.]
Spurgeon said we need to go back to the Calvinism of John Calvin. As much as I respect Charles Haddon Spurgeon (knowing, too, that he was only a man), I must disagree with that grand old warrior in this particular matter. I say we need to go far beyond that. Calvin himself went back as far as Augustine, but that, too, is not nearly far enough. In fact, depending on the very undependable Augustine was one of Calvin's chief errors.
[We see here the problem taking a relative statement and turning it into an absolute statement. However, Mr Cloud above acknowledged Mr Spurgeon as a Biblicist which lessens the distortion somewhat. John Calvin too was a prolific writer and his many commentaries on the Books of the Scripture, praised even by Arminius himself (as quoted above) show where his final authority lay. A perusal of Calvin's writings show that he was not slow to disagree with Augustine where he felt the Scripture warranted it.]
We don't need to go back to Calvin. We need to go all the way back to the faith once delivered to the saints as it is perfectly and sufficiently recorded in the Scriptures! That is where our systematic theology must start and end.
[Agreed. 100% Thank you brother Cloud for your comments. Overall you make your points graciously. I have sought to make my reply in the same vein, knowing that we can agree to disagree and love each other in the Lord. I visit your site regularly and have used some of your material in various sermons as needed.]
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