The Modern Calvinist Weakness

Forgive the labels, by Calvinist I mean:
those who believe that God before the foundation of the world chose all who would believe, not on any basis of their own goodness or even because God saw that they would believe, but solely for His own pleasure,
and by Arminian I mean:
those who believe that salvation is solely dependent on our own decision to believe or disbelieve the gospel.
The labels are for convenience only. Sorry.

Calvinists and Arminians like to fight, and when they fight, the fight invariably ends like this.

Calvinist: I know God has chosen a distinct people for salvation before the foundation of the world.
Arminian: Well, if I believed that, I would just sit at home and never give money to missionaries, never preach, never witness, and just let God do everything. But I know that salvation depends on me spreading the gospel.
Calvinist: I believe that God has chosen the preaching of the gospel to save the elect, but if I believed that salvation depended on me I would just sit at home and never give money to missionaries, never preach, never preach, never witness, because I can’t save anyone.
Arminian: But isn’t that what you do anyway?

Modern Calvinists have a few problems. (Click Here) Among these problems is the big problem. Calvinists (If you are the exception forgive this generalization) have become what we insist they are not. We insist that we believe that God alone can save. We insist that we believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We insist that we believe we have the responsibility to spread the Gospel. The problem is we really don’t believe this. Our Calvinistic brothers like William Carey, David Livingston, David Brainerd, and Jonathan Edwards did, and they gave their lives on the mission fields of the world to prove it. But we have not yet resisted the call of comfort and security, to show that we truly believe what we say we believe, that God has chosen preaching to save those who will believe.

At the same time the Arminians, who we say has no right to believe that he will accomplish anything are spreading the gospel (They do preach the same gospel in most cases). They spend their lives telling people they have never known the good news of salvation. Many are tortured, killed, and imprisoned for just that.
What has happened? The truth may be hard for both sides to swallow, but here goes…

The Arminian has more faith in his own abilities than the Calvinist has in God’s abilities. There, I said it. You can start throwing the rotten tomatoes now. The Arminian doesn’t want to hear this because he will insist that his faith is in Christ alone, and the Calvinist hates to be told that he doesn’t believe God is All-Powerful. That does not change the truth of the matter. The Arminian should continue preaching the gospel. I commend him for that. I wish that we would spread the gospel with half the evangelistic fervor that he does. But the fact of the matter is this, he is wrong in depending in his ability to share the gospel in order to evangelize the world.

Now for me and my fellow Calvinists, we must return to our first love, not the Puritans, the Reformers, the Church Fathers, or theological essays, but to God. We once had a magnificent view of God and the view is still there, we’re just admiring the view and not the God. We must return to the place where we first beheld God sitting on the throne of Holiness. We must return to the time when we were consumed by a passion for God’s glory. We must regain our bearings in the sea of Theology, loving God more than doctrine. Let us find our true north in God and God alone and be consumed by His passion for His glory so that we may spread His name to the ends of the earth.

May God grant that I be the first.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “The Modern Calvinist Weakness

  1. pilgrim

    Oddly enough, when we do try to act on these things, as we should, it can cause disorder or disagreements in the ranks.

    But we must carry on.

    Our small congregation is trying to get into place–(Some pieces are there–others to come)–ministries–not programs, but ministries–that reach in to draw us closer together and feed us, and which cause us to reach out to the world.

    While our calvinism and reformed convictions are important to us, we need to keep the gospel front and center. As I believe Calvinism is the best way to present the gospel it will be there-but it isn’t a bludgeon for the gospel.

    I’m not disagreeing with you–I do believe we need to find the balance–which is what I see in your article.

  2. Shawn L

    Thanks Jeremy so true. God has really called us to preach Christ and not be ashamed of death

  3. Shawn L

    afraid of death

  4. Shawn L

    Jeremy,

    I’ve been thinking about this more as it probably will be on our hearts for so long. I’ve been thinking of this as well and wondering if my heart doesn’t seem to be looking to so much other than Christ. God has been convicting me as I am reading the scriptures and Pilgrim’s progress again about my heart. I want to be an evangelist and pray to be one. I pray for the missionaries I know who gave up all to live in a muslim country because they love Christ so much and those who work in prisons to preach Christ. I pray that we could do that as well whereever we are at an not care about my own comfort.

    I pray that we would be so captivated with God and be enthralled to love God in every part of our life that we would go into all of the world and give up our desires and share Christ faithfully everywhere we go….

  5. Ray

    Doxo — I really enjoyed this quote:

    “We once had a magnificent view of God and the view is still there, we’re just admiring the view and not the God.”

    Thanks for the post.. This is something our small church struggles with. We are very outreach oriented, but that sometimes puts us into ministry situations with Arminians, simply because there are fewer Reformed groups actually doing any outreach.

    Now, before I leave that comment hanging out there, I have no problem doing ministry with my Arminians friends; however it would be nice to have more participation from my Reformed brothers whom I have so much more in common with…

    I pray that we will not become enamored with the view, and forget our first love…

    And also, thanks Doxo — you have been a great (unbeknownst to you) encouragement to me..

  6. bluecollar

    Jeremy,

    Powerful post! Right on! Convicting! Yesssssss!

  7. Antonio

    To many, there are ONLY two theological choices: Calvinism and Arminianism. This is a false dilemma.

    The tendency of the Calvinist is to paint the world in only two different colors: Calvinists and Arminians. To the Calvinist, Calvinism is the gospel, pure and true Anyone who disagrees with Calvinism is automatically an Arminan by default. To this category is heaped every objectionable tenet and doctrine that has ever arisen in Christendom (for there are only two kinds of Christians to the Calvinist). This has become an arguement for Calvinism, a type of divide and conquer tactic: people rightly do not want to be associated with such a picture as Calvinism paints of the only other Christian group! (Neither do they wish to be called every Christian pejorative in the book… antinomian, cheap-gracer, easy-believer, etc).

    Free Grace Theology blog

    Antonio

  8. Mike Garner

    Hey Doxo,
    I don’t like to advertise my blog but I wrote an article that is very similar called “Reformers in Need of Reforming”.
    My Blog>

    I’d be interested in your thoughts (i think it is the third one down).

    BTW – You have good things to say on the whole Cessationism debate.

    In Christ alone,
    mike

  9. Anonymous

    “Calvinism is the gospel, pure and true Anyone who disagrees with Calvinism is automatically an Arminan by default” I believe you are painting a picture that is very narrow. Is not the difference between calvinist and arminan’s the view of works vs. grace. Wouldnt it seem strange to think there is a middle ground? Isnt it better to stand by convictions rather than sit on the fence?

  10. marc

    Doxo,

    Are you allowing Troll Advertising in the comment section now?

    I like the main thrust of your post here, however your brush may a bit broad. I know a number of folks (missionary’s) who are “calvinists” and are doing what yo’re talking about and laying it on the line in the Mueller, Taylor, Judson fashion. God Bless ’em and may they keep living out their vision of a BIG God.

  11. Jeremy Weaver

    Good stuff, guys.
    Everybody check out Mike’s article.
    Antonio,
    I don’t think I recall a Calvinist saying that Arminians are going to hell, like you said about Calvinists, so careful where you sling the mud here.
    Anonymous,
    I have allowed anonymous commenting as an option, but would prefer that you enter your name in the space provided, or fill out a blogger profile.
    Marc,
    If you want to buy advertising space here, you can pay via paypal.
    πŸ™‚
    I know that there are many Calvinists who are spreading the fame of God across the world, and I allowed for the exceptions. But I think you would have to agree that most Calvinists are content to argue their position in lieu of speading the Gospel of the happy God. (A little Piper lingo ’cause I know you like it.)

  12. Jeremy Weaver

    Marc,
    I’m getting a lot of readers from the King of the Week deal you got going on over there.

  13. marc

    Okay, I’m with you Jeremy. Since I go to Piper’s church, I guess I have occasion to be around some fired up individuals. Even so, there are many who fit you’re descripiton… myself included at times.

    As to the Troll advertising I was referring to Antonio’s shameless pandering of Zane Hodges propoganda…err I mean teaching.

  14. marc

    Good on ya. Challies blessing is overflowing to you πŸ™‚

  15. Antonio

    Jeremy. You seem to be a level headed right on guy. I disagree with you on many things, though.

    You say:

    ———-
    I don’t think I recall a Calvinist saying that Arminians are going to hell, like you said about Calvinists, so careful where you sling the mud here.
    ———-

    I never made the comment that Calvinists are going to hell. Please quote me. I say that the Calvinistic gospel is not the same gospel as I preach. Both cannot be the same. Some Calvinists, such as I have illustrated on Jonathan Mooreheads blog, believed the gospel I preach. Many get saved then get converted to Calvinism.

    Comon. Let us be genuine. Must I quote the reformed guys saying that the Free Grace gospel sends people to hell?

    Both cannot be the same. Logic dicates that either they are both wrong or one is to the exclusion of the other. They both cannot be the true gospel. Semantics are important. They are the difference between works-rightousness and eternal life as grace.

    you wrote:
    ———–
    But I think you would have to agree that most Calvinists are content to argue their position in lieu of speading the Gospel of the happy God. (A little Piper lingo ’cause I know you like it.)
    ———-

    This is because in spite of your preaching of the gospel or not, the number of those who are to be saved, in the Calvinistic model, has been set from the single, all-encompassing Decree. Whether you preach the gospel or not, those who Christ died for will be saved.

    Anyway, when you don’t preach the gospel, you can just chalk it up to the ordinance and pre-determination of God, whereby He has determined all events, from the laughter of a girl, the beating of a heart, the mistake of a typist, even sin.

    Don’t blame the Calvinists of not preaching the Gospel. God ordained it to be that way.

    Antonio

    I know that this post was offensive. I did not construct it to be so. It is the exposition of my beliefs.

  16. Jeremy Weaver

    Antonio,
    You beat that straw man to death. Good job!

  17. Wayne Hatcher

    I believe it was D. L. Moody who said something like this to his Calvinist critics: “I like the way I’m evangelizing better than the way you’re not evangelizing.” The wonderful paradox about most Arminians is that when you get them on their knees, they pray just like Calvinists.

    The charge you level against most Calvinists is, sadly, true. We need to quit dwelling on five points and meditate on just one: Sovereign Grace, and the God who bestows it on whomever He wills, to the praise of His glorious grace. Then we need to learn how to obey His command to make disciples.

  18. Shawn L

    Antonio,

    Are there actually people who follow Zane Hodges theology? I say this because the theology he writes is just so far out there I can’t get it when I take the scriptures. How were you exposed to Zane Hodges? Please forgive my tone, but everytime I read his stuff I am as confused as when I read Finney. I do really want to know, I guess I’m just surprised easily lately.

  19. DOGpreacher

    ouch…OOWWWW….HELP ME….Please…..I’m on fire….BURNING….

    (I’m the straw man that just got burned)

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