Friday, 23 August 2013


It seems that a spirit of near panic in setting among many Non Reformed pastors and writers etc., among Independent Fundamental Baptists and others over what David Cloud calls "Calvinism of the march" (Cloud has rerun his article again - dated 23rd August 2013)

Several reasons are attributed to this onward march of the Doctrines of Grace, not least Cloud's visit to the bookshop in Bob Jones University where he is "amazed" to see 
(horror of horrors!) the sale of many Puritan authors. The BJU bookshop did not put up any warning that these books contained Reformed theology. To be honest, very few bookshops (I know of none) sell books with health warnings attached. I have been in many Reformed Bookshops which sell books written by noted evangelical but Non Reformed authors and they don't start listing out the differences of interpretation in key areas. People (and especially Bible students) learn very quickly who is who and what is what among Christian authors. There are noted bookshops that sell anything that sells, while there are others from whom you would expect a lot more. None of the better ones I know contain any warning signs. The owner may judicially verbally comment on the author's stance on any issue if he saw the need to do so, but you can picture what a bookshop practically covered in signs warning against this man or that man's perceived theological aberrations would look like.

Another reason given is a publication circulated by a BJU graduate to many IFB people in Australia entitled "Why Read The Puritans Today" listing 10 reasons. Again, to Cloud's alarm, there was "no warning about Reformed Theology and its attendant Calvinism and Amillenialism"
The fact is, though, Cloud himself has written articles and made favourable enough mention of the Puritans without giving any "warning" to all their faults. In this one here,  he but mentions his disagreement with some prophetic matters, but no mention of their church government (i.e. anything non Baptist) or their dreaded Calvinism (which appears big time in the notes of the Geneva Bible which is under favourable discussion in the article.) If others played Cloud at his own game, then they would raise their hands in horror as he has chosen to do.

Cloud goes on to give a third reason:  
"And this is not something limited to those associated with Bob Jones. In 2005 an extensive survey was done of “young fundamentalists.” Entitled “Young Fundamentalists’ Beliefs and Personal Life,” the survey results are available online at [Page not loading]  For the purposes of the survey, a “young fundamentalist” is one who is under 35 years old. The survey contained 135 questions pertaining to life and doctrine, and roughly 1,100 surveys were completed. The vast majority of respondents identified themselves with three fundamentalist schools: Bob Jones University (29%), Maranatha Baptist Bible College (22%), and Northland Baptist Bible College (21%). When it comes to Calvinist views, an amazing 58% of the respondents hold a Calvinist view of sovereign election, with another 8% unsure. THUS ONLY ABOUT 35% OF THE RESPONDENTS TO THE FUNDAMENTALIST SURVEY REJECT CALVINISM. Some 14% of the respondents hold to either amillennial (8%) or postmillennial (5%) views, which goes hand in hand with Reformed theology. I believe we will see this percentage increase in coming days, with a growing rejection of the pre-millennial, pre-tribulation position."

In  this latest article, Cloud publishes some of the responses he has had over this issue from several  IFB pastors who share his same view. You can read them for yourself through the link above if you so desire. I don't need to repeat them here.

I want to offer you alternative reasons or throw light on their reasons, why there is a definite swing to the Doctrines of Grace among those whose home soil is not really fertile ground for it.


Naturally I don't expect Cloud and his friends to agree with me, but to be honest, that doesn't bother me too much. The Bible makes it clear that God is a sovereign God who ultimately achieves all that He sets out to achieve. If He didn't, then we can add other attributes like "Failure, disappointment and frustration" to the list. It teaches that He has a people whom He will infallibly bring to Himself, through the means of indiscriminate gospel preaching whereby the message of the Cross is presented to all men without distinction. It teaches that the sinner, although dead in trespasses and sins, cannot sin himself out of responsibility before God and so is to be urged to seek the Lord while He is to be found. Without going into distracting detail here, this is a long way from the supposed Calvinism which Cloud and those quoted in this article are seeking to expose and warn against.

As people read the Bible, being enlightened by the illuminating rays of the Spirit of God, they come to see these things for themselves. I heard of one IFB pastor who came into the Doctrines of Grace after studying Matthew 11:20-30 where he realised that God had sovereignly withheld repentance from Tyre and Sidon etc. He realised that a Sovereign God owed no man anything, and that He can bestow different levels of mercy on different sinners (none of which, by definition, is deserved) and yet not bring them savingly to Christ.  Many folk come to passages like Romans 9 and simply cannot explain away its teaching.  This was my own experience. My background was fundamental but non Calvinist and I rebelled against this teaching when I first heard it. I blush now at some of the things I said back then. But I simply couldn't run away from what God said in His book. It hasn't and never did hamper my evangelism at any time. I was as evangelistic after I embraced these Doctrines as before and have since been led full time into the mission field. Have a look round this site, especially at the
EVANGELISM ISSUES page for proof. And no, I am not the exception rather than the rule.

Click on Picture to enlarge

Please note that I do not regard the common Non Reformed fundamental interpretation as a denial of the gospel, but as a dilution. I find it sad to read of Calvinists who took the extreme position, just as I think it sad to read of men on the other side, including D.A. Waite, who accuses Calvinists of preaching another gospel. (He specifically quotes Galatians 1:8 in this regard)

To their credit, Cloud and others are getting pretty fed up and alarmed also at the shallow "soul winning" that goes on in their circles. However, they fail to see that they themselves effectively prepare the soil for this kind of thing with their defective theology. When you witness the fervency in which they establish their view of man's free will whereby they believe that each and every man can always resist the Spirit of God, then it is not surprising that those who hold to the same theology go down the road they go.

Listen to Spurgeon as he describes the alternative view of the atonement (i.e. that Christ died and atoned for the sins of reprobates, even when some of them were already in an secure hell and all of whom He foreknew would not receive it)

I never have subscribed — I think I never shall — to the doctrine of universal redemption. I believe in the limitless efficacy of the blood of Christ. I would not say, with some of the early Fathers, that a single drop of Christ’s blood would have been sufficient for the redemption of the world. That seems to me to be an expression too strained, though doubtless their meaning was correct. I believe that there is efficacy enough in the blood of Christ if it be applied to the conscience to save any man and every man. But when I come to the matter of redemption it seems to me that whatever Christ’s design was in dying, that design cannot be frustrated, nor by any means disappointed. When I look at the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, I cannot imagine that such an One, offering such a sacrifice, can ever be disappointed of the design of his soul. Hence I think that all whom he came on purpose to save he will save, all who were graven on the strong affections of his heart as the purchase of his blood he assuredly shall have. All that his heavenly Father gave him shall come to him. All that he chose from before the foundation of the world, he will raise up at the last day. All who were included among the members of his mystic body, when he was nailed to the tree, shall be one with him in his glorious resurrection, and "not a hoof shall be left behind." I know there are some who believe in a disappointed Christ, who affect to lament concerning Christ a design not accomplished, a frustrated cross, agonies spent in vain, blood that was poured out on the ground as water that cannot be gathered up. I believe in no such thing. God createth nothing in vain, nor will I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross in vain in any sense or in any degree whatever. Not a hoof of all his purchased flock shall be left behind.(6:328-329)

Many other similar quotes, rejecting the weakened view of the Atonement, may be found here. See our C.H. SPURGEON INDEX  for his rejection of each alternative to the Five Points of Calvinism.

As the age in which we live gets more wicked by the hour, Bible believers want more than the cream puff and candy flavoured variety which effectively enthrones Man and dethrones God. If Jonathan Edwards had've been a modern day Fundamentalist preacher, he would have entitled his famous sermon: God in the hands of angry sinners! 

Another evidence of such shallowness may be observed in many of the Web site "What we believe"sections. The Calvinist Confessions of Faith are truly full and weighty stuff. Many (although not all) of the Non Calvinist articles are one liners, mostly good Fundamental stuff with which I agree, but lacking the depth of the fuller Confessions. One of the arguments often brought forth for the supremacy of the Authorised Version  is that it was produced in an age of spiritual giants. I agree. This was also the age that produced the great Calvinistic Confessions of Faith.

If my reader should belong to the other side of the fence (as I once did) please note that there is a viable alternative,  not to the basic element of your gospel (on which Calvinists and Non Calvinists unite and agree) but to your weak interpretation of it.


Cloud makes mention of this himself, quoting from the then recent Christianity Today article (September 2006) which accredits this movement to the writings of men like Piper, Sproul, and the ever lamented Puritans etc.

Why are these men's books selling so well or their sermons downloaded etc., so often?  One reason is the great depth of their material and the relative non depth of  many of the alternative men. If you look at Cloud's page on the various recommended Bible commentary sets, you can see how he lists not a few Calvinists among their number. Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, Gill, Spurgeon etc., In my  library I have the writings of non Reformed authors, some of whom I find pretty helpful at times, making allowances for their doctrinal deficiencies. But the vast majority would be Reformed - this is where the depth is found. When Spurgeon spoke of one man's book being worth "a hundred of the moderns" please note that the "moderns" whom he decried were certainly not Calvinist. (I accept that they were certainly not "Fundamentalist"either.)


One of the pastors whom Cloud quotes names <> as the "most obvious place to look". Sadly some of these discussions can degenerate into what is little more than a slanging match with faults being on both sides - it certainly is an emotive issue - but there are many discussions of a friendly nature. Personally I enjoy such exchange of views, and especially if it is robust, but without slipping into rancour. I wish I had more time to spend in this area. Although I do not equate, in any fashion, Non Calvinist Christians with Jehovah Witnesses (God forbid) yet I remember that the Internet was greatly used to alert many JW's to the doctrinal deficiencies of their system. In the end, I believe that the JW authorities more or less declared the Internet to be out of bounds. I trust that the Non Refored pastors will not stifle the open debate on this issue.


I'm afraid men like Cloud and  Dave Hunt etc., are the main culprits here. I am not going to multiply words at this point, but a wee look in our CALVINISM ISSUES  will document their many false criticisms. It is one thing to disagree with the Calvinistic position, it is another thing to propagate things that are simply untrue. These tactics only work for a little time, as the whole theme of this article amply illustrates. What happens is that a reader of their critique meets a real Calvinist (as opposed to one whom these men invent). He accuses that Calvinist of the great crime (say) of teaching that faith is a work. (Cloud makes this amazing allegation in his sermon on "Calvinism - Who is the Enemy?" which I critique here. This nonsense appears about 26 minutes into the sermon. He not only states this untruth, but he rachets it up by boldly stating  declaring it to be a "foundational Calvinistic doctrine.") The Calvinist, whose eyebrows shoot up in surprise, naturally denies this allegation and immediately responds by asking him for proof.  The reader, and now the repeater, of Cloud's critique runs back to his source, but finds that Cloud hasn't bothered giving any references. Of course, he hasn't. He can't, because it  is all a spoof from the beginning to the end. The critic's faith in men like Hunt or Cloud (or sadly, their own pastor) is damaged.

Read some of the comments of Pastors (Yes! Pastors!) in Cloud's article. I consider the following "reasons" why people embrace Calvinism as bordering on hysteria, if not paranoia. I quote:

3. Another possibility is that many want to have an excuse to live like the devil and blame the fact that their kids turned out like hellions on ‘my children were not of the elect.’ I don't see this as a conscious decision but a possible reason none the less.

A possible reason? There is a form of fundamentalism out there that is wide eyed and froths at the mouth. This is a good example of it. You are a million miles away here from a calm, reasoned out critique of Calvinism. Here is another example:

“5. Many look at Charles Spurgeon as next in line after the trinity and want to be like him. It would be better in my opinion if they would just smoke his cigars instead of choking on his Calvinism.

Think of the doctrinal implications of this one:

“6. It is a status symbol to say I am of the elect.

There you are. When Paul wrote: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12 ) he was addressing people who had a status symbol. And to think Peter actually exhorts us to make our calling and status symbol - sorry, election, sure. If this pastor cannot say that he is of the elect, then I suggest that he seeks the Lord either for salvation or for assurance of the same. This is a classic example of the doctrinal shallowness I speak about above.

Again, it is one thing to give an honest assessment of Calvinism and give good solid reasons why you think it should be rejected, it is another thing to employ any tactic to discredit it. It is true that mistakes can be made. This is one reason why I resist the strong temptations to brand certain men as liars etc., However, we must marvel that some men keep digging themselves further into their holes even when their nonsensical statements have been exposed. That Hunt still insists that Spurgeon rejected the Calvinistic teaching of Particular Redemption when all the evidence (including the above quotations) show otherwise and that he puts forward the view that the Book of Acts was originally written in Hebrew (to support his view of Acts 13:48) leaves Calvinists almost giggling at times. Thankfully, the more enlightened in Non Reformed churches are starting to see these things. The chickens are coming home to roost. Hence the scenes of near panic. 


I suppose this is a similar reason to the previous one, only of a more practical nature. How can people say that Calvinism destroys evangelism when Five Point Calvinists are heavily involved in evangelistic meetings and every other form of legitimate evangelism? One of the pastors admits that both Peter Masters in Spurgeon's Tabernacle in London and Dr Ian Paisley are evangelistic in their minstries. The writer of this article works as a full time missionary/evangelist with the Free Presbyterian Church where Ian Paisley served as moderator. All our ministers are Five Point Calvinists and all have regular evangelistic services and organise outreach events, including weekly door to door evangelism and tract distribution. We are not the exception rather than the rule. Other Calvinistic churches may say the same. Many parachurch organisations have Calvinists in their membership. This all speaks to people, especially those who have been brought up to believe that Calvinism deadens evangelism.

If those who propagate misleading information about Calvinists
want to succeed, then they need to keep their people away from the realities of what is really happening out here.  One of the Pastors whom Cloud quotes (I assume with approval) lambasts those fundamentalists who bring along Calvinists to their pulpits but do not refute their Calvinism. Imagine that I bring along a good gospel preacher with whom I have more in common than I disagree with - and no disagreement is over any fundamental gospel doctrine (otherwise I would not have him, nor can even regard him as my brother in Christ) - do I really need to get up into my pulpit and go through a list of all my disagreements with him? You're back to the Christian bookroom mentality with warning notices everywhere. In the weekly course of my preaching, I expound the word of God. As the text (or occasion, if I am preaching topically) requires it, I might refute some deficient view of the gospel, including the position that is held by many of our Evangelical brethren and critics. Our folk know the stand of our church and how we are willing to tolerate things in other Evangelical Christians (including visting preachers) that we would not tolerate in ourselves. They can judge for themselves as we expect from mature Christians. Trust your people! It says a lot about yourself and your own level of teaching, if you are busy nannying them all the time. Preachers who visit our churches from other viewpoints within the Evangelical/Fundamental orbit respect our position. I have never heard one of them come and attack Five Point Calvinism. If I went to one of their churches, I would respect their position too and preach appropriately to the occasion as a visiting preacher. It is not for visiting preachers to sort out doctrinal or practical problems in a congregation. That work belongs to the pastor/elders. It would be a different thing if they asked me to deal with some issue. If I was asked to preach (say) on "election" in an church who held to conditional electional ("Elected because I selected" as Caner put it) then I would carefully explain beforehand my unconditional election views and give them the opportunity to look for another preacher. If they still wanted me, well and good. Likewise if I was looking for a preacher to speak on election in my church, I would not seek out one who held to views other than those expressed in my church creed. 

These are just a few of the reasons why Calvinism is on the march. I  must be honest, and trying not to be triumphalist here, I was really encouraged to read of how Dr Paisley has been used of God to bring many into the Calvinist fold among fundamentalists. Dr Paisley's Calvinism is often more hidden than apparent, although real nevertheless. The testimony is there from those who are feeling it most. We give God the glory.



The complaints on the original article itself says it all. May I recommend the use of Spurgeon's sermons? They are still doing a tremendous amount of good. Make us of every legitimate medium to proclaim the truth. People are searching. The froth and bubble, even of fundamental pulpits, isn't satisfying the hunger for the truth of God.


I am not saying to so do in order that Calvinism will be advanced. Our chief end is not to advance Calvinism, but to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. But if you are living the Christian life as God would have you do, then even our critics cannot gainsay it. Calvinists are named in the original article and acknowledged for their faithfulness. As said above, this speaks volumes to those who are enquiring about these things. It reduces many of our critics to mere babbling and inventing possible excuses.

Furthermore, in any debates and controversies, maintain a gracious spirit. It can be very hard at times especially when all what you hold dear and precious is being torn apart by someone using emotive and hurtful language. Sometimes you just have to walk away from some debates and leave the raving ones to rave further without your participation. As a general rule, I personally do not get involved in the various forums out there, although evidently a good work is being done. The debate I am currently involved in, mentioned above, has been kept free from any rancour on both sides and I am willing to devote more time to it.


I think this is the reason why the Puritans commentaries are so popular. They held up the Son of God and that always draws the hearts of awakened people. You can't strengthen the people on controversy. It may entertain them - even the doctrinal stuff - but it does not warm the heart nor feed the soul. Always maintain the balance of Scripture as best you can. If a text exalts the Sovereignty of God, then do thou likewise. On the other hand, if the emphasis is on Man's Responsibility, then go for it hammer and tongs. Don't let the sinner of the hook. Preach the commands of God as expressed in the Bible, not the decrees of which you, in reality, know little about. This was the secret of Calvin's successful ministry. Even Arminius bore testimony to the worth of John Calvin's Commentaries. I quote:

"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 than 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 most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent gift of prophecy."

I notice that Cloud hasn't placed them on his list (!) although, it must be said, that those Calvinists like Matthew Henry etc., would have made full use of them and fundamentally agreed with him. I forbear to quote Spurgeon, lest I violate my own exhortation above.

So that's it. The news is good. Calvinism is on the march. Many years ago, A.A. Hodge observed: "The last issue must be between atheism and its countless form and Calvinism. The other systems will be crushed as half rotten ice between the two great bergs." I agree 100%.



  1. Amen. I agree that the problem with many of the teachers of the non-reformed position is the shallowness of much of their theology. And frankly they have to keep it shallow. Because if they start digging too deeply, they just might find the doctrines of grace to be true! I keep seeing where if you dilute election and say that Christ died for everyone, this is actually a giant step toward Rome. For Rome teaches that Christ merely opened the door and made salvation possible. But now we have have faith plus works, grace plus merit, according to Rome. Compare that with Hebrews where we read that "when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..." and again from Hebrews: "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God...". The scriptures teach that Christ, having dealt with sin once for all SAT DOWN. He sat down. The Great High Priest Jesus Christ, when He had offered the sacrifice of HImself for sins, sat down. OT priests never sat down while they were serving in the temple. They stood the whole time they were offering the sacrifices. Christ sat down because His work was finished. He died for an elect people and once His work was finished (see John 19:30), He sat down. Now He sits on the throne as King and intercedes for His people. They cannot fall away because He finished the work and He is interceding for them. God bless the Puritans and their writings, which have opened the doors of understanding for so many of us, to the good of our souls.


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