Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email:email@example.com
QUOTATIONS OF CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON USED IN THE BOOK "WHAT LOVE IS THIS? CALVINISM’S MISREPRESENTATIONS OF GOD" BY DAVE HUNT EXAMINED AND ANSWERED BY COLIN MAXWELL
These quotations below, which appear "as is", were sent to me recently by an interested friend who wishes to remain anonymous:
Dear Mr. Maxwell,
I have one more series of quotes from Hunt's book to send you. I used Microsoft Word and produced a file. This way I was able to copy the text exactly as it actually appears. The quotes are all the important, relevant Spurgeon quotes that are found in the book. They are given exactly as they appear errors and all. There were other quotes but they were not relevant to your purposes. Now you can give a complete response in one full article.
In order to avoid getting mixed up in conspiracy theories which I cannot prove i.e. Dave Hunt has set out to deliberately misrepresent Calvinism and is prepared to stoop to any level to achieve his end, I am prepared on the judgement of charity to go along with the view that he errs through appalling ignorance. Whether I am being somewhat naïve in this does not really concern me. I have nothing to lose by my position, as long as I keep to the matters at hand i.e. showing him to have erred in his fundamental perception of Spurgeon and Calvinism. If others want to indict him for the latter…that is between them, Mr. Hunt and God. The danger with conspiracy theories is that they can become the centre of the debate rather than the Doctrines of Grace. I have no time or interest in such matters. The comments in dark blue are those of Dave Hunt as supplied to me by. My comments, as ever, in(red bracket) Any emphasis's are mine.
Chapter One: Why This Book?
Today there is growing division on this issue, most Calvinists insisting that Christ died only for the elect. On the other hand, IFCA International, a group of about 700 independent evangelical churches and 1,200 pastors (some of them Calvinists) declares in its doctrinal statement, "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all mankind…to accomplish the redemption of all who trust in him…." Spurgeon himself, so often quoted by Calvinists to support their view, rejected Limited Atonement, though it lies at the very heart of Calvinism and follows inevitably from its other points—and he did so in unequivocal language:
I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not, allow the thought to find lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discerns no shore….Having a divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the divine sacrifice. 12
7 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon (American Baptist Society, n. d.), l: 92
12 Spurgeon, op. cit., l: 174
(I have answered this most strange allegation elsewhere on this site and so will not attempt it here at length.Click here for a more detailed reply to the point at hand and Click here for 12 proofs that C.H. Spurgeon unequivocally DID believe in Particular Redemption. Suffice for us to notice that there is a vast difference between there being no limit on the value of Christ's death and another on there being no limit on the intention of Christ's death. Calvinists affirm the former but not the latter. It is because we deny the latter that we can consistently believe the former. We believe that Christ's death will eventually achieve all that it was intended to do. Those who believe in a general and unlimited "redemption" rob themselves of such assurance.)
Chapter Seven: Total Depravity
Even Spurgeon, in spite of his claim of being a staunch Calvinist, could not accept the teaching that regeneration came before faith in Christ through the gospel. Calvinists quote him when he supports them, but they ignore statements such as the following:
If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. 27
27 C. H. Spurgeon, "The Warrant of Faith" (Pilgrim Publications, 1978), 3. One-sermon booklet from 63-volume set.
(Spurgeon was answering those hyper Calvinists who denied the free offer of the gospel by claiming that only the spiritually awakened should be offered Christ in the gospel. Spurgeon argued instead that the gospel was to preached freely and universally to all men, whether awakened or not.Click here for Calvin's belief in the universal gospel offer. Click here for quotations from many Calvinists who likewise believed in the free offer. Preaching the gospel is the means whereby God does regenerate his elect. In his exposition of Acts 2:38, CHS could comment: Peter was not like those hyper-Calvinists who are afraid to give an exhortation to a sinner because he is spiritually dead, but he spoke out boldly to those who had asked "What shall we do?" and said to them, "Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (56:725) If Mt Hunt cannot tell the very basic difference between a hyper Calvinist and a Calvinist…then he is no position to write a book on the subject of Calvinism, allow it to go to press and allow it be published with the glowing accolades that it has attracted.
Yes it is true that every staunch Calvinist believes that regeneration came before faith in Christ through the gospel…and, despite Mr. Hunt's statement to the contrary, so did Spurgeon. There is none can speak for Spurgeon better than himself What does he say? One example, from among many, will suffice:
II. But mark, we are about to review THE ARMY THAT IMMEDIATELY PRECEDES SALVATION; and first, in the forefront of these, there marches one whose name we must pronounce with sacred awe. It is God, the Holy Spirit. Before anything can be done in our salvation, there must come that Third Person of the Sacred Trinity. Without him, faith, repentance, humility, love, are things quite impossible. Even the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot save until it has been applied to the heart by God the Holy Spirit. Before we notice the grand army, then, that immediately precedes Salvation, let us be cautious that we do not forget Him who is the leader of them all. The great King, Immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead for ever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel, it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole: he, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us. (Sermon on Hebrews 6:9 New Park Street 3:598)
This is the teaching of the standard Calvinistic Doctrinal Confessions e.g. the 1689 Baptist Confession which Spurgeon heartily endorsed and had reprinted in 1855.
"II. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead." (10:2)
Mr. Hunt has simply misapplied Spurgeon and so robbed himself of any argument against Calvinists.)
Chapter Nine: A Distorted Sovereignty
Talbot and Cramption assure us that "The sovereignty of God is…the most basic principle of Calvinism…the foundation upon which all [including Christianity itself] is built."10 Boettner agrees: "The basic principle of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God." 11 Such fervor for God’s sovereignty is commendable. However, in order to make certain that everything is under His control to the extent that it must be in order for their doctrine to be consistent, Calvinists have made God the effective cause of every event that occurs: "Whatever is done in time is according to his [God’s] decree in eternity."12
(This, of course, is the teaching of the Bible. Does not God work "all things after the counsel of His own will"? Ephesians 1:11Click here for a comprehensive list of verses which teach the absolute sovereignty of God in ordering events etc.,)
This perspective makes it impossible for man to have any real choice concerning anything he thinks or does.
(Not really. No more so, for instance, when it is said in the Bible that the Lord Jesus went "as it was determined of him…" That Judas was still held responsible is seen in the words which immediately follow: "…but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed." (Luke 22:22) The question, of course, is "Who ultimately determined the death of the Lord Jesus?" and we have this gloriously answered for us in Acts 2:23 "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain…" Again, notethe responsibility of those men who crucified Him…their hands that carried out this foul deed, ordained of God from eternity past, are considered wicked. Mr. Hunt's problem is not with Calvinism…it is with the clear declarations of Bible.
The fact is that God does ordain whatsoever comes to pass, but man still acts freely. Both may have different agenda's and so man is punished according to the wicked desire of his agenda while God is glorified in the same event for the righteousness of His agenda. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph's brethren sent him to Egypt with evil intentions…God had ordained the same event before hand for Joseph's good. The brethren get (and take) the blame - God takes the glory. If God does not ordain these things - He hardly deserves the glory.")
Spurgeon referred to "a class of strong-minded hard-headed men who magnify sovereignty at the expence of [human] responsibility."13
13 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "God’s Will and Man’s Will," No.442 (Newington, Metropolitan Tabernacle; sermon delivered Sunday morning, March 30, 1862).
(This is a reference to hyper Calvinists who are, relatively speaking, a fringe group. Mr Hunt and others may well feel some satisfaction attacking the fringe groups. Fair enough. Spurgeon battled with the hyper's regularly and sought - as any Calvinist will do - to distance himself from them. This is the norm in any doctrine. Many Dispensationalists, for instance, will distance themselves from those whom they brand "hyper Dispensationalists." Others who use only the KJV will seek to distance themselves from the Ruckmanites. It is one thing, however, to have a go at the Hypers…it is quite another to try and tar everyone with the same brush. Whether done by ignorance or with other intentions, the result is very unsatisfactory. No one gains. The truth suffers on both sides.
To locate and finish the quotation given above by Mr. Hunt also shows us that Spurgeon had another group of people in mind:
I believe that the two great doctrines of human responsibility and divine sovereignty have both been brought out the more prominently in the Christian Church by the fact that there is a class of strong-minded hard-headed men who magnify sovereignty at the expense of responsibility; and another earnest and useful class who uphold and maintain human responsibility oftentimes at the expense of divine sovereignty.
He is having a go at the hyper Calvinists on one hand and folk like Mr Hunt who deny that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass and effectively leaves some events either to the control of sinful men or blind random chance. Spurgeon and Calvinists believe in both divine sovereignty and man's responsibility.)
Chapter Eleven: Erasmus And Luther In Debate
The defence of Calvinism traps even the best minds into contradictions. Spurgeon himself couldn’t seem to make up his mind. In spite of referring to "the equally sure doctrine, that the will of man has its proper position in the work of salvation and is not to be ignored," Spurgeon also claimed that the idea of free will "left the whole economy of Grace and mercy to be the gathering together of fortuitous atoms impelled by man’s own will!"27
(If Mr. Hunt has it in his mind that Calvinists deny the freedom of the creature to act according to the dictates of his own heart or that his will is suspended in any way - then he is naturally going to assume that Calvinist's contradict themselves. But since Calvinist's don't deny this, then Mr. Hunt is merely building sand castles and kicking them down. Good fun on a summer's day on the beach…but hardly helpful to the current debate. The Baptist Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith both have a chapter entitled "Of Free Will" and the natural thing to do would be to consult what they have to say.)
That, obviously, was not true. "Fortuitous atoms" have nothing to do with "Grace and mercy," nor does anyone who believes in man’s power to make moral choices imagine that he can control atoms with his will! Spurgeon should have stayed with biblical exegesis.
(Perhaps Mr. Hunt has a point here. I have difficulty explaining what Spurgeon meant in this particular sentence. However, Spurgeon's overall point is true…even if Mr. Hunt decides otherwise.)
He went on to lament, "We cannot tell on that theory whether God will be glorified or sin will triumph." Hardly. That we wouldn’t know how something would turn out means nothing. The outcome was and is known to God. We have already seen that God’s foreknowledge does not determine or even influence in any way man’s actions, nor is His sovereignty diminished at all by man’s free choice.
(Mr. Hunt here reduces God to be a mere spectator. Man is in the driving seat and God is seen to be reactionary. Does he apply this theory to the Cross? Did God merely foresee that men would crucify His Son and as a kind of after thought made the best of their bad job to make salvation potential even for those whom He also foresaw would be in Hell when He sent His Son? I think not, Mr. Hunt.)
Sadly, great preacher that he was, in that sermon Spurgeon erected and destroyed one straw man after another: "It must either be as God wills, or as man wills….If not God, then you put man there, to say, ‘I will,’ or ‘I will not.’ If I will it, I will enter Heaven. If I will it, I will…conquer the Holy Spirit, for I am stronger than God and stronger than Omnipotence. If I will it, I will make the blood of Christ of no effect…it shall be my purpose that shall make His purpose stand, or make it fall."28
With all respect to Spurgeon, this is nonsense. Even the rankest Arminian would never imagine he could "conquer the Holy Spirit" or that he was "stronger than God" or that man’s will could ever "make the blood of Christ of no effect" or force an entrance into heaven!
(Regarding the Holy Spirit, it is true no Arminian would ever imagine that he could, as it were, knock out the Holy Spirit, but he does believe that it is at least theoretically possible that every last sinner could have resisted Him and rendered His work of striving etc., null and void. Calvinists believe that every last sinner, if left to himself, has this capacity…but then we also believe that God actively and graciously intervenes in the lives of certain sinners, renews their corrupted and depraved will, and draws them savingly to Himself. There was never any possibility that Heaven would be empty because God decreed otherwise. But the Arminian effectively believes that in the matter of salvation, every last man is just as strong as the Holy Spirit. He can keep Him at bay. He can render His strivings vain and meanwhile God just sits back and takes it all on the chin…all because it is thought that to pre-ordain men to everlasting life is seen to violate man's perceived neutral free will.
Mr. Hunt's knowledge of Arminians is as dodgy as his knowledge of Calvinists. Speaking at Keswick in 1923, Dr Graham Scroggie, whose teachings may be described as that of many evangelicals, said:
"We are bidden to make a choice. No one can choose for us. God Almighty cannot chose for you and me. I can put the God who made me, and who gives me the breath that I breathe, at arm's length and say. 'I will not' or I can turn to Him, through the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit and receive His salvation." (Keswick Week 1923)
There is much here that is true if we look at it from man's responsibility. But baldly stated, here we have one designated as "God Almighty" controlled by the sinful creature. Does God always stay at arm's length unable to intervene until man gives Him the nod? Must man move first and then God, the great Second Fiddler of the Universe, merely respond? It was this kind of thinking which Spurgeon deplored and preached against.
When Spurgeon spoke of making the blood of Christ of none effect, he relates to the Arminian belief that God's Son did not achieve anything in particular when He died. He just made salvation possible for every last son of Adam. If some don't want it, then what happens to that blood shed with the intention of saving them? It most certainly has failed in its intention. Man in his Arminian granted sovereignty has overrode the purposes of God and the blood has, as it were, been lost. It is true that no Arminian might actually say this. It doesn't sound right…but it is the logical outcome of a belief that refuses to consider that the Cross actually achieved what it intended to do - actually save those for whom it actually atones.
I might quote here from a book that was written by some otherwise fine Christian folk who endured much for the gospel sake. I salute their brave stand in the midst of adversity just as I salute those brave Calvinist Covenanters etc., However, I must take issue with the following thought expressed that: "The value of that precious blood - I say it reverently - is being wasted." (Through Encouragement of the Scriptures by Helen Willis p.181) No Calvinist need ever say this, because we believe that every soul for whom Christ died will be gathered in and not one drop was shed in vain or made of no effect.
I note that Mr. Hunt has not given any reference for Mr. Spurgeon claiming that Arminians believe that they can force their way into Heaven. Suffice for us to know that even if he did say it - or any Calvinist should allege it - it would only be a somewhat strong though rhetorical point being made. Many Arminians do not force through the logic of their own system of thought. Somewhat rather blissfully, if they are going to miss the blessing of the Calvinistic belief, they are permitted to float around in a kind of vagueness that saves them from the logically nightmares of their doctrine. Spurgeon observed that there are a thousand more horrors associated with unlimited atonement than with the Calvinistic system(Sermon 204 New Park Street Pulpit 4:553) If we deny God the right to deal with men differently, leaving some men in their chosen sin and lifting other men out of it…then we really do cast a shadow upon His mercy. Mercy cannot know any obligation. By insisting that God have the intention to save all because His intention is to save some is to try and force open a door which God has not opened. As we say, there is no evidence supplied that Spurgeon ever made the point. Should Mr. Hunt see fit to produce some - I suggest that the explanation given will help put it in to its proper context. )
Like so many other Calvinists in their zeal to defend God’s sovereignty to the exclusion of human will, Spurgeon stooped to twisting scripture to his own ends.
(What's this? Have we not just considered that Spurgeon denounced those who took this position as "a class of strong-minded hard-headed men who magnify sovereignty at the expense of [human] responsibility." Mr. Hunt supplied the very quote himself…but despite knowing this, he decides to cast Spurgeon among them anyway. Those who would go the conspiracy theory route would make much out of this. I am content to maintain my line that Mr. Hunt has played the fool and erred exceedingly here. Confusion reigns! Like every balanced Calvinist, Spurgeon defended God's sovereignty and maintained the place of the human will. The quotes below will not prove otherwise.)
For example, he quotes Christ’s indictment of the rabbis, "You will not come to Me that you might have life." He then declares, "Where is free will after such a text as that? When Christ affirms that they will not, who dares say they will…? Man is so depraved, so set on mischief, the way of salvation is so obnoxious to his pride, so hateful to his lusts, that he cannot like it and will not like it, unless he who ordained the plan shall change his nature and subdue his will."29
Here we have more confusion and misapplication.
(Only if we forget that the term "freewill" carries many meanings. Spurgeon does not deny that man's will is free to follow the dictates of his heart…He just denies the thought that man's will is free from the sinful bias of the heart to do good unaided. When Calvinist's denounce "freewill" they are denouncing the Arminian interpretation of it, not the Biblical teaching. If Mr. Hunt fails to observe this, then I suggest that the confusion and misapplication belongs to him, as it does in other parts of his book.]
First of all, Christ is making this statement specifically to the rabbis, not to all men.
(Although spoken first to the rabbis, it is applicable naturally speaking to all men. The carnal mind does not receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14) whether that carnal mind is found in Jerusalem or Corinth in the first century or the twenty first century. I reject Mr. Hunt's limitation of the verse.]
Secondly, the statement itself says that they have a will, that by their own will they are rejecting Him: "You will not come to Me…."
[Calvinists believe that men do reject Christ of their own will. Because the will is in bondage to the heart, they believe that all men left to themselves will freely reject Christ. No man is forced by God to reject Christ. The human will do the job freely. Mr. Hunt therefore makes a valid observation with which every Calvinist will agree.)
Nor does Christ say that they cannot will to do otherwise.
(Not here He doesn't. But no verse is an island. He does state it as such in John 6:44 and again in John 6:65. The sinner cannot come because sin has robbed him of the power to come. The problem is moral…not physical. Do not entertain thoughts that God is standing with a big stick beating down the anxious sinner who would be saved, but whose name is not among the elect. That scenario will never happen. Man's will is blinded by the god of this world i.e. Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) and until enlightened and regenerated by divine grace, he will never have that real desire to be saved.)
Indeed, Christ’s statement would be meaningless unless they could of their own will repent and come to Him.
[Christ's statement would be meaningless if they were not responsible for coming. Although sin robs them of their power - sin for which they are guilty - it does not rob them of their responsibility. No man can sin himself beyond being responsible to God, but he can sin himself further and further into a state of reprobation. Mr. Hunt confuses responsibility with ability. I have observed this on other anti Calvinist sites also. It is a reoccurring problem in the debate between the two main schools of thought.]
Only two chapters later Christ declares, "If any man will do God’s will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God…" (John 7:17). Spurgeon himself in this same sermon quotes this scripture as proof that man’s will has a part to play in coming to Christ.30
27 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "God’s Will and Man’s Will," No.442 (Newington: Metropolitan Tabernacle; sermon delivered Sunday morning, March 30, 1862). 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid.
[The Calvinist belief is not inconsistent with these words. They guarantee any man who does desire to do the will of God that his choice will be amply repaid by knowing the authenticity of the doctrine. The Calvinist simply believes that the man who fits this verse is the man whose will has been regenerated by the Spirit of God. He has been made willing in the day of God's power: Psalm 110:3)
Chapter Fifteen: Foreknowledge And Predestination/Election
The fact that foreknowledge pertains to something about those whom God then elects or predestines to some favor or blessing is clear from the passages above. The Greek kata carries the meaning of homogeneity or harmony. Thus God’s election/predestination was in agreement, or harmony, with something He foreknew about those whom He predestined to partake of the declared blessings. What could that have been? Surely the most obvious possibility would be that God foreknew who would repent and believe the gospel and on that basis He predestined them to something unique: "to be conformed to the image of his Son" and "unto obedience."
(I am not an expert in Greek - neither for that matter is Mr. Hunt - but I do notice that he reduces his exposition of the foreknowledge of God to being "the most obvious possibility" which isn't exactly reassuring. Since none can give unto God first (Romans 11:35-36) and we love Him because He first loved us - and not vice versa (1 John 4:19) - I think we can safely forget Mr. Hunt's possibility.]
Apparently departing from his oft-professed Calvinism, Spurgeon declared:
Mark, then, with care, that OUR CONFORMITY TO CHRIST IS THE SACRED OBJECT OF PREDESTINATION….The Lord in boundless grace has resolved that a company whom no man can number…shall be restored to His image, in the particular form in which His Eternal Son displays it…the likeness of the Lord from Heaven. [Emphasis in original] 37
(How is it a departure from Calvinism to believe the clear statement of Romans 8:29 that the great end or purpose of predestination is holiness or conformity of Christ? Has any main Calvinist or Calvinist body or confession said otherwise? Or is this another sand castle quickly built and easily demolished? Men are predestinated unto salvation. Salvation consists of justification, sanctification and glorification. Justification is forensic - it takes place outside the believer. Sanctification is internal as will be glorification in a yet future day. Sanctification is basically our being conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore the sacred object of predestination may be said to be our conformity to Christ. If I am being inconsistent with any Calvinistic creed…please email me and tell me which.)
Piper insists that "God does not foreknow the free decisions of people to believe in him because there aren’t any such free decisions to know."
(True…if understood in the classic Calvinist way that man's will is in bondage to his wicked heart and that he is free only to do evil. Or as Paul puts it "free from righteousness." (Romans 6:20) Any other way would be a denial of the Bible.)
We’re back to man as a puppet again, with God pulling the strings, an essential part of Calvinism.
(No we're not. We have come to another sandcastle. Calvinists do not believe that man is a puppet. Spurgeon met with this kind of nonsense in his day. He had these words to say to the Victorian predecessors of Mr. Hunt (Emphasis mine)
Conversion is a change which concerns the mind, the affections, the spirit; it is not a physical manipulation as some foolish persons fancy, who appear to think that God converts men by force, and turns them over as a man would roll a stone. The Lord operates upon men as men, not as blocks of wood; God speaks to them, instructs them, reveals truth to them, encourages them to hope, and graciously influences them for good.Man is left free, for "God speaketh once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not," and yet in God's own wise and suitable manner, he is at length led to cry, "I have sinned and perverted that which is right, and it profited me not."
But in those times, as now, it was necessary that God should do more than speak to the outer ear, he therefore came nearer still, and by his Holy Spirit led men really to hear what he spake. He did not leave men to their wills, neither did he trust their conversion to the eloquence of preachers, or to the cogency of arguments, but he himself came and opened men’s ears, and pressed the truth home upon their understandings, and made it operative upon their entire nature. Man was so proud that no one else could humble him but God; and he was so wilful, that no one could withdraw him from his purpose but the Lord alone: but the Lord in condescension did the deed, and made the man obedient and humble. Indeed, the Lord is described in this chapter as the main cause of all the work accomplished. Sermon on Job 33:19-20 MTP 19:182 )
But without free choice man would not be a morally responsible being nor could he love God, know God’s love, receive the gift of salvation or have meaningful communion with God or worship Him.
(Calvinists believe that man lost his free will in the Garden of Eden i.e. his ability to naturally do spiritual good. He did not lose His responsibility to God because if we could sin that away…then men could "go for it" and sin themselves out of the requirement to do God's will. Which cannot be. When men do love God, know His love, receive the gift of salvation or have meaningful communion with God or worship Him…it is because grace has overcome their naturally bias against Him. Unregenerate men have the ability to hate God and spurn Him etc., Only those whom God moves by His Spirit have the ability to do otherwise.)
Here is Spurgeon again in another of those un-Calvinistic statements: "Shall we never be able to drive into men’s minds the truth that predestination and free agency are both facts?" 46
(Another sandcastle. No references…just Mr. Hunt expecting his readers to be gullible enough to believe it because he says so. Calvinists believe in both predestination and man's free agency. Free agency is a different thing from freewill as believed by the Arminian. )
37 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1950), II:72.
46 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Best Bread: Sermons Preached in 1887 (Funk and Wagnalls, 1891), 109.
Chapter Twenty One: Persuasion, The Gospel And God
If grace truly is irresistible, if only those elected by God to salvation can be saved, if no one can believe the gospel until regenerated by God and thereafter given the faith to believe, would it not be vain to attempt to persuade anyone through the gospel—or for those who hear to attempt to believe in Christ?
(No more so than being assured that the day of our death is appointed by God (Hebrews 9:27) but we still insist on eating healthy food, wearing sensible clothing and partaking of medical help when sick etc., Not one of the more challenging statements against Calvinism.)
Since there is nothing one can do to change one’s eternal destiny (if one of the elect, nothing can stand between the soul and heaven; and if not among the elect, nothing can be done to escape hell) shouldn’t one just go on with life and let the inevitable take its course?
(No. Let's take a silly illustration (entering into the spirit of things) Suppose I decide to jump from a hundred foot building. I do so on the basis that if it I die, it must have been ordained of God that I would so die. On the other hand, I might argue that God has ordained that I should die at a ripe old age with my eyes undimmed and my natural force unabated and therefore I feel I can snub my nose at the laws of gravity. I jump and I die on impact. What is the main lesson to be learnt? Is it not that God ordained that I should pay the price of my folly in jumping in the first place? I might trust in God…I also keep my powder dry.
It is incorrect to say that nothing stands between the soul and Heaven. Sin stands there and it is my responsibility as a free agent to seek to have that sin removed. In order that I might do so, I do what any responsible, rational soul will do - I will earnestly attend those means which God has appointed for the removal of sin. I will attend the preaching of the gospel. I will read my Bible. I will read helpful Christian literature. I will talk to those who know what I should do. Through use of means, I will come savingly to Jesus Christ who alone can save me from this sin that stands between me and Heaven and I will have Him save me.
If I sit back as Mr. Hunt suggests (rhetorically of course) then I am guilty of neglecting so great salvation. (Hebrews 2:3) I go to hell as a fool who said in his heart: There is no God or (as some would have it) There is no God for me.)
While many Calvinists would object to this view, it cannot be denied that this is the practical conclusion to which that dogma leads.
(Not really. It is the practical outcome of a hyper Calvinism which denies man's responsibility. But true Calvinists cannot be charged with it, even if Mr. Hunt, in his ignorance, thinks we can.)
Yet Calvinists often contradict themselves because they slip into an evangelism mode.
(As seen by our belief that God uses means to fulfil His decrees, it is not a contradiction of Calvinism (rather a re-affirmation) to evangelise the lost. This objection is a non starter.)
At times, D. James Kennedy, founder of Evangelism Explosion, makes it sound not only as though salvation is available to all but even that faith precedes regeneration: "Place your trust in [Christ]. Ask Him to come in and be born in you today."3 Contrary to his professed Calvinism, Spurgeon taught that "soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian…."4
(Three points. One: salvation is to be offered indiscriminately to all men, elect or not. To Calvinists, all men are potentially elect. To quote Spurgeon:: "And now, my dear hearers, I have one question to ask, and I have done. Have you the hope that you are in the covenant? Have you put your trust in the blood? Remember, though you imagine, perhaps, from what I have been saying, that the gospel is restricted, that the gospel is freely preached to all. The decree is limited, but the good news is as wide as the world. The good spell, the good news, is as wide as the universe. I tell it to every creature under heaven, because I am told to do so. The secret of God, which is to deal with the application, that is restricted to God’s chosen ones, but not the message, for that is to be proclaimed to all nations."(5:671) This is not inconsistent with Calvinism, as the links referred to above will adequately bear out. We are dangerously near the sand castles again.
Two. I can only suggest that Mr. Kennedy made a slip of the pen or the tongue. Of this, we are all capable. Strictly speaking… regeneration precedes faith.
Three: As explained above, evangelism is not inconsistent with Calvinism. Many of the greatest names in evangelism were Calvinists. Mr. Hunt would only destroy his own credibility completely to state otherwise.)
A Calvinist author declares, "If God only saves people who of their own supposed free will accept Jesus, then they merit salvation. They deserve to be saved….The notion of free will exalts man because man elects God and God only ratifies man’s choice." There is great confusion on this matter of the will because there is no escaping the fact that, as Spurgeon admitted, "Man’s will has its proper place in the matter of salvation….When a man receives the Divine Grace of Christ, he does not receive it against his will….Nor again, mark you, is the will taken away. For God does not come and convert the intelligent free agent into a machine." 65*
(We have already covered this ground before. If there is confusion, it is because the term free wills means different things to different men. It is not unjust to have the Calvinist bear at least of the blame for this, although it should be said also that books like this of Mr. Hunt which seem to make little effort to get to the truth but rely instead on rehashing old myths etc., are certainly no help.)
In the same sermon, however, Spurgeon denounces the idea that man can choose whether to believe in Christ or not as making "the purpose of God in the great plan of salvation entirely contingent [upon man’s will]." His objection is to man’s "coming to God [being] the result of his unassisted nature." 66* Who would say that man can come to God "unassisted" by the Holy Spirit? Not even the rankest Arminian! But Calvinism makes that false charge against those who disagree with its extremism.
(Here is a good example of why you should check out every reference that is given. I looked up the said sermon, mainly because I usually check my references and we am getting to the place where Mr. Hunt's absurdities really do need to be challenged. I give the full quote.
4. But there is another argument which will come closer home to us. It is consistent with the universal experience of all God’s people that salvation is of God’s will. You will say, "I have not had a very long life, I have not, but I have had a very extensive acquaintance with all sections of the Christian Church, and I solemnly protest before you, that I have never yet met with a man professing to be a Christian, let alone his really being so, who ever said that his coming to God was the result of his unassisted nature. Universally, I believe, without exception, the people of God will say it was the Holy Spirit that made them what they are; that they should have refused to come as others do unless God’s grace had sweetly influenced their wills. There are some hymns in Mr. Wesley’s hymn-book which are stronger upon this point than I could ever venture to be, for he puts prayers into the lips of the sinner in which God is even asked to force him to be saved by grace. Of course I can take no objection to a term so strong, but it goes to prove this, that among all sections of Christians, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whatever their doctrinal sentiments may be, their experimental sentiments are the same.
Even if Spurgeon is building his own sandcastles and kicking them down on this point - none would either deny him being capable of doing so or excuse it when he does - he is pointing out that it is the common belief of all Calvinists and Arminians that a man cannot to Christ unassisted. In this we all agree. That is until Mr. Hunt gets going again with his own sandcastles as the next paragraph shows.)
Indeed, it goes beyond man being assisted [i.e., drawn by God through the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit and the Word] to insist that man must be forced, caused, made to come completely against his will.
(No references. Just Mr. Hunt regurgitating the old myths answered above. The saddest man is the man who believes his propaganda. Let me say once again…man has his will graciously renewed so that the cause that hold's it back from salvation is removed and he is enabled to flee to Christ. A far cry from the caricature Mr. Hunt is putting forward.)
It is that word "irresistible" associated with grace that causes the problem because it allows no willingness on man’s part.
(Why should it? I have never met a man yet who complained that he was drawn irresistibly and graciously (the two words should not be separated as Mr. Hunt is trying to do) I have met those who would readily admit that had grace not have been irresistible then they would have sat on in their sin. How thankful we are that grace is thus so powerful.)
And that raises the same libel against God that we have referred to repeatedly: if man is totally incapable of believing and must be irresistibly dragged to Christ, then Calvin’s reprobation results.
(Here irresistible grace like it's Master is wounded in the house of its friends. We do not believe that men are irresistibly dragged to Christ. As above, we believe in irresistible grace. No man ever came unwillingly to Jesus Christ for salvation.
I do not have access here to what Mr. Hunt thinks Calvin believed about reprobation. I sincerely hope that he has written more factually about that matter than he has about the matters raised here. He has been really disappointing up to now. Quoting fromour page which dispels many of the myths that are generally believed re: Calvinism, I produce the following from Calvin. Calvin believed, as all Calvinists believe, that salvation is all of grace…damnation all of sin.
CALVIN: [The Reprobate] are not induced to sin, as the faithful are to act aright, by the impulse of the Spirit, but they are the authors of their own evil, and follow Satan as their leader. [Commentary on Genesis]
Such blinding and hardening…must be ascribed exclusively to the depravity of man. (Commentary on Isaiah the Prophet)
If it detracts from God’s glory for man to be able to respond willingly to the gospel, then surely it also detracts from God’s love for Him not to cause all mankind to respond.
(The first argument is built on an "if" which does not now exist. Man unregenerate cannot respond willingly to the gospel. If, as Mr. Hunt asserts, that it also detracts from God's love for Him not to cause all mankind to respond…then Mr. Hunt must believe that it does detract from God's love because God has not caused all mankind to respond. Mr. Hunt has not only here built a sandcastle…he has dug a hole and fallen headlong into the same.
The simple fact is…God is not obliged to save any. Therefore He is not obliged to save all. None can put God under any obligation to the creature.)
There is no escaping the fact that the will is essential in any meaningful relationship between man and man, and between man and God. After denouncing "free will," Spurgeon ends that sermon by quoting, "Whosoever will, let him come, and take the water of life freely." 66*
In spite of his staunch support for Calvinism at times, what Spurgeon said at other times undermined it. As though he had forgotten about irresistible grace, he argued:
We are not saved against our will. Nor…is the will taken away. For God does not come and convert the intelligent free agent into a machine….But we do hold and teach that though the will of man is not ignored…the work of the Spirit…is to change the human will, and so make men willing….
Now, Brethren, how is your heart and my heart changed in any matter? Why, the instrument generally is persuasion. A friend sets before us a truth we did not know before. He pleads with us. Puts it in a new light and then we say, "Now, I see that," and our hearts are changed towards the thing….The Spirit makes a revelation of the Truth of God to the soul, whereby it sees things in a different light from what it ever did before. And then the will cheerfully bows that neck which was stiff as iron and wears the yoke which once it despised….
Yet, mark, the will is not gone….If you are willing, depend upon it that God is willing. Soul, if you are anxious after Christ, He is more anxious after you….Let your willingness to come to Christ be a hopeful sign and symptom.
He ended the sermon with, "It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. Yet—‘whosoever will, let him come, and take the water of life freely,’" 69
[*Footnotes 65, 66, & 66 are errors. They should be 66, 67 & 68, the editor]
4 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Soul Winner (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963), 15.
66 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "God’s Will and Man’s Will," No.442 (Newington: Metropolitan Tabernacle; sermon delivered Sunday morning, March 30, 1862).
69 Spurgeon, "God’s Will," op. cit.
(No…having denounced the Arminian notion of free will, Spurgeon quotes the last invitation of the Bible as it stands and so endorses the Biblical teaching of free will or as it is better called (to try and prevent the confusion mentioned above) free agency. Whether Mr. Hunt grasps this will remain to be seen.)
Chapter Twenty Three: Resting In God’s Love
Somehow a little booklet by Spurgeon fell into Al’s hands and he was excited to read that even that great preacher and staunch Calvinist admitted that he’d had no perception at the time of his conversion that God had sovereignly regenerated him nor could he imagine at what point that could have happened. Spurgeon confessed, "When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself—I sought the Lord earnestly…." It was not until some time later that he realized that "God was at the bottom of it all….He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me…." 20 He closed his sermon declaring that those Christians who are most pious, reverent and devoted to the Lord "believe that they are saved by Grace, without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God." 21 That sounded like his non-Calvinist friends, and the way he had believed before becoming a Calvinist!
20 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "A Defense of Calvinism," single-sermon booklet (Still Waters Revival Books, n.d.), 3-4.
21 Op. cit., 22.
(I'm not altogether sure of the point which Mr. Hunt is trying to make here - if indeed there is any point at all. Spurgeon's experience merely shows that a man does not have to be able to articulate the details of the Doctrines of Grace or even agree with them in theory in order to be saved. You could hold to the Doctrines of grace and still be in Hell. It is one thing to have the Doctrines of Grace…quite another to have the Grace of the Doctrines. Only the latter will ultimately get a man to Heaven.)
So there you have it. Quite a few sandcastles lovingly built up and scattered to the four winds. I doubt if any solid Calvinists will be moved by Mr. Hunt's testimony against them. There was nothing in these quotes I have never come across before. Just the same old tired myths doing the rounds again. Perhaps Mr. Hunt might gain a few waverers to his cause. We are sorry to see them go, but we may content ourselves to know that if it wasn't this particular book, then it would probably have been another. Perhaps they will come back again when they realise that they have been sold a proverbial pup. Perhaps the first tide will tell a story.
HELPFUL URL's WITHIN THIS SITE
* What CHS thought of John Calvin and Calvinism in general
* What CHS thought of Total Depravity in particular
* What CHS thought of Unconditional Election in particular
* What CHS thought of Limited Atonement in particular
* What CHS thought of Irresistible Grace in particular
* What CHS thought of Perseverance of the Saints in particular
* What CHS thought of Arminianism
The article on what Spurgeon thought about Calvin and Calvinism is almost completed. I have just started the others…so it will take a while as I can only work at the web site in my spare time.
Many helpful articles about Calvinism in ourCalvinist Index section, including two particularly helpful ones on those who feel they must speak against Calvinism. Not too much of an overlap between Criticising Calvinism? and What non Calvinist's should know about Calvinism. The latter one is pure information.
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