Friday, 13 September 2013


"God raised up Luther, Calvin and others and turned literally millions of people to personal faith in Christ and to a knowledge of salvation by faith, in Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Scotland and England, and parts of many other countries."(John R Rice)

I’ve been having a bit of a discussion/debate with one of the anti Calvinist IFB’s (#McG) on Twitter. By and large, it was reasonably civilised.  I am not sure whether #McG actually got my point or tried to shake it off because of its obvious implications. I’ve decided to blog on it for a number of reasons.

[i] With all its advantages, Twitter isn’t really suited to theological discussion. It does teach us to be brief, but less than 140 characters per tweet to make your point is the equivalent of a starvation diet :o)

[ii] Twitter posts are soon lost or (at least) the older ones are very hard to locate. This and this search engine both have their limits. Sometimes the tweeter removes a post that later proves to be an embarrassment to him. The blog makes any needed details easily accessible.

[iii] Opening up another channel of communication effectively reaches more people and therefore helps to get the word out, hopefully that our profiting may appear unto all and they profit too.

I can’t give you a blow by blow account here. You can wade your own way through the weeds here. [Later note: #McG has removed his contributions] Let me summarise the main issue, at least from my perspective. If you believe that Calvinism is another and therefore a false gospel (#McG is on earlier record as saying that he did – but now ‘leans towards’ that view) then you are effectively placing its propagators under the anathema of Galatians 1:8-9. Paul’s language is clear. I quote:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

There is no wriggle room here if you believe that Calvinism is another or a false gospel. Maybe before you go further, you want to realign your views on Calvinism because you can’t go on with your opinion and then start watering down its implications. If you think that Calvinists distors the gospel somewhat but still basically preaches the same gospel of Christ as you, then Galatians 1:8-9 and its practicalities don’t apply here at this time.

OK, you want to keep going i.e. Calvinism is another gospel etc., and comes under Galatians 1:8-9. OK, in church history you are going to look at a lot of big names of those whose praise in the gospel throughout the churches. Before we name some of these names, another matter crops up. Naming human names brings its own problems. Mainly from those who cannot produce any big names to support their position. To say that “So and So believed what I do” doesn’t mean that that I believe such and such because so and so believed it. It is not making man our final authority. It is just observing that the people named share your views (or you share theirs) on what the Bible teaches. So let’s remove that road block to progress. If Calvinism is another gospel, then men like CH Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, William Carey, BH Carroll and many of the KJV translators are anathema. IOW, they are in Hell because they are on record as preachers of this (according to you) damnable heresy called Calvinism. Can you live with that? Preach on Calvinism some night and finish your meeting by naming these folk and saying “It’s sad because even though the vast majority of Fundamentalist Christians think folk like Spurgeon are in Heaven, the stark reality is that they are in Hell. In Hell because they preached Calvinism.” Let me know how you get on.

The issue runs on. This is where it really starts to get uncomfortable. OK, you have damned Spurgeon and Carey etc., because they preached Calvinism. What about those non Calvinist Christians (including, as above, many Fundamentalists) who, even though they disagree with Calvinism, still take the position that men like Spurgeon did preach the true gospel, even if somewhat imperfectly.

Non Calvinist: I am reading through a volume of Spurgeon’s sermons at the moment. Powerful stuff! He really preached the gospel, didn’t he?

Calvinist: Do the Calvinist bits not put you off?

Non Calvinist: Not really. I spit out the bones and chew the rest :o) No, he fundamentally preached God’s word. I most certainly WOULD have him in my pulpit to preach anytime.

Calvinist: So notwithstanding the Calvinist edge to his message, you would still say that he preached the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation? You would not see him as an accursed preacher of another gospel?

Non Calvinist: {Shocked} Certainly not. If Spurgeon is accursed for preaching another gospel, then they have got to accurse me too.

It is not a quantum leap to see that if a Non Calvinist practically endorses the basic gospel of one whom you accuse of preaching a false gospel, then that person is stained as well. The above, somewhat imaginary (though realistic) conversation shows why. Spurgeon once said; “John Knox’s gospel is my gospel…” There are many Non Calvinists who would gladly say, “William Carey’s [or Jonathan Edwards etc.,] gospel is my gospel” or (to word it a little bit more indirectly, but with the exact same import): “William Carey took THE GOSPEL to India…Spurgeon preached THE GOSPEL in London… BH Carroll preached THE GOSPEL in Texas and set up many NT churches.”

Now, where does that leave you? If a Fundamentalist preacher came to  your pulpit said: “Joseph Smith preached THE GOSPEL in Utah… Charles T. Russell preached THE GOSPEL all over America…The Dai Lama preaches THE GOSPEL  all over the world” you would chase that preacher from you. You would blacklist him and warn others and accuse him (rightly) of preaching another gospel, simply because he endorsed the message of the three accursed men of whom he spoke.

My friend #McG is on record in the last 48 hours as saying:

“I suspect we'd agree on 80% of scripture. Same with Spurgeon. I most certainly wouldn't invite him to preach in our church.”

Why not? He was a Baptist and separated, after a most heroic fight, from the modernist Baptist Union. He was a strong supporter of the KJV etc., But he was a Calvinist – preaching another gospel and so under the anathema of Galatians 1:8-9

I wonder would #McG invite John R Rice to his pulpit then? Or HA Ironside? It is true, as #McG points out that these men are dead. But so is Spurgeon and he readily gave us his opinion on him. That is a mere technicality. These men may well be dead and in Heaven or Hell depending on how relevant Galatians 1:8-9 is to their position, but their principles live on and are in operation now all over the world. This is what we are getting at. We use known and beloved names in order to push home the point. It helps sometimes to sharpen the knife rather than blunt it. Hacking jobs are seldom satisfactory. Neither Rice or Ironside were Calvinists in the 5 point sense of the word. Ironside did endorse the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, but rejected Particular Redemption etc. Rice spoke against Calvinism.

But both these men endorsed the basic spiritual message of Calvin and through him those who preach fundamentally the same gospel. Ironside wrote:

“And yet God has unquestionably set His seal in a remarkable manner upon the efforts of some of His honored servants who in their day and generation battled against entrenched wickedness in civic and national affairs. Think of the influence exerted for righteousness by Savonarola in Florence, Calvin in Geneva…” (Except ye repent)

God unquestionably set His seal in a remarkable manner upon a preacher of another accursed gospel and through this damnable heretic “exerted for righteousness”? Is Ironside for real? Do you sell his books in your church bookstore? (Another line of thought)

John R Rice wrote:

"God raised up Luther, Calvin and others and turned literally millions of people to personal faith in Christ and to a knowledge of salvation by faith, in Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Scotland and England, and parts of many other countries." ("We can have revival now:" Chapter 7) 

Would you bring John R Rice to your pulpit after he fervantly endorsed the ministry of Calvin? Does God raise up preachers of false teachers to bring literally millions of faith to personal faith to Jesus Christ? If you believe that Calvinism is a false gospel, then these words smack of the highest blasphemy. I forgo to quote other basic Non Calvinists like Tozer or FB Meyer who all endorsed the basic ministry of Calvin and other Calvinists.

In my twitter discussion, raising these things have been dismissed as ad hominem attacks by #McG. I disagree. He wants me to concentrate on the message and not the messenger. But what is his message? You can chase from your pulpit those who bluntly say “John Calvin’s gospel is my gospel” but accept those who say “John Calvin preached THE GOSPEL in the 16th Century”. I have no fixation (another charge) with #IFB. As recorded before, I came across some of these folks one weekend when they were doing their Calvinism-is-another-gospel routine, only to hail Spurgeon or Edwards etc., a few tweets later. They do this periodically and refuse to answer the obvious implications raised above. #McG has engaged in some discussion, although seems keen to avoid the obvious application.

Sorry this post is so long. I might well return to this issue again.

Thanks for reading.



  1. It just goes to show that many times people have not really come to their theological beliefs because they have studied the scriptures. But they believe the way that they do because they have taken another's word for what to believe. This also explains why they have not thought through the implications of their beliefs. As you point out, it may seem easy to say Calvinists teach another gospel, but then you find youself in trouble when made to see the implications of that when thinking about revered teachers and leaders of the past.

    It's interesting too because usually its the arminians who say that the calvinist has not done his homework but is only blindly following John Calvin. The truth is that many of us never even read Calvin, but started with the God of heaven and His sovereignty and holiness, which led us to His work, will and accomplishment of salvation for sinners. If you start with the God of the Bible and not man, or man's free will, or what you perceive man "deserves" you can well make your way to the doctrines of grace (aka calvinism).

  2. I agree. I fought this out in Twitter yesterday with #McG who got a bit of moral support from another of a similar frame of mind - one who actually resets old Calvinist books for Kindle - but neither of them tackled the matter at hand. Theologically, they are all over the place. Damning Calvinists as preaching a false gospel in one breath only to quote them favourably in the next and/or identify those non Calvinists who acknowledged the ministry of Calvin (chief perpetrator of this false and wicked gospel)as one "raised of God." If this is the hope of America (as their kind often see and promote themselves to be) then Obama is just the beginning.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Actually as an American I can say that O is actually the fruit of our people having turned long ago away from the truth of the scriptures. One thing at least that is a plus is that now it may be that the false Christians will soon be unwilling to be associated with the true church, for the stakes are high already and getting higher by the day. This can only work to strengthen the true church in these days. The true Hope of all the nations and all people is Jesus Christ alone.


All are welcome to comment here provided that the usual principles of Christian comment e.g. politeness etc. are observed.