Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Calvinism is back! (I didn't know it went anywhere)

John Calvin's Institutes swayed me to the Reformed Faith, although I admit the first version I read was an abridgement by Timothy Tow.

Over the years I have become more and more convinced Calvin was right about many if not most things. His mastery of the biblical text, a deep knowledge of Church History and scholarship, an awareness of the corruption of Romanism in his day combined to make him one of the most valuable Pastor/Theologians God has ever gifted the church with. Certain elements of Calvinistic theology have found a resurgence in our times. The Christian Science Monitor published a good article about this phenomenon. It's definitely worth the read. Click the link below.

If you haven't read Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, you don't know Calvin yet. At the same time his legacy is everywhere and you have probably benefited- expository preaching, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Reformed tradition in general, an emphasis on the sovereignty and glory of God, to name a few. Men like the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Isaac Watts, Charles Spurgeon, the old Princeton Seminary (pre-1929) Professors, J.I. Packer, Alec Motyer, John Stott, James Boice, John Piper, RC Sproul, Jerry Bridges, D. James Kennedy, and countless others rightfully latched on to Calvin's clear understanding of the gospel and the study of soteriology (salvation) greatly strengthening the Church the world over.

I pray daily for a modern Reformation, like unto the one John Calvin helped lead in the 16th Century. May the people of God once again find their joy in glorifying the true and living God and proclaiming the gospel of sovereign grace as the Holy Scriptures so clearly compel us.


Rick Calohan said...

Amen, Amen, Amen! "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)

In my battles with Romanist and Free-Willies, I have found that so many Christians are unaware of Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone. However, as Christ said,

John 16: 33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Reformation Theology can be summarized in The High Priestly Prayer of Christ in John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” As the Geneva Study Bible points out “That is, make them holy: and that thing is said to be holy which is dedicated to God and belongs to him alone. “

The other day blog Reformation Theology posted this and I found great comfort in it.

"Brother in Christ, Calvinism and Arminianism are usually just used as shorthand for Monergism & Synergism. Either you believe regeneration precedes faith or you do not? Either you affirm that Christ is sufficient to provide all you need for salvation (including a new heart to believe) or you affirm Christ is necessary but not sufficient i.e. provides only the opportunity but not the effectual grace. You either believe in the necessity of the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in salvation or you do not. If you ask yourself, "is faith also part of the gift of grace Christ purchases for his own" (John 6:63-65) OR "is faith the product of our unregenerated human nature?" The answer to these questions make it clear whether you believe salvation is by grace alone OR grace PLUS something you contribute. This is the essence of what people mean when they compare these two understandings of the Bible. You are either a monergist or synergist: Christ Alone or Christ PLUS. There is no third option."

As Dr. David B. Calhoun would conclude many a class with "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about...” "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked for us. (Hebrews 12:1) "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

Woody Woodward said...

Currently one of the book I am reading is “50 Nineteenth Century Christians You Should Know.” With the exception of John Wesley and D.L. Moody, most of the influential, culture changing, non-compromising pastors I have read thus far have all been strong Calvinists. It’s an interesting read and I am learning more and more why I am a Calvinist. As I look back now, at all the years I was in the Wesleyan camp, even though I always stood for “security of the believer”, the concept of us choosing God, as if HE was begging or bargaining with us to bow unto Him, totally removes the doctrine of His absolute Sovereignty! Making our salvation as if it’s a matter of our choice makes God look powerless.

Jim said...

Yeah, I just wish that more "Calvinists" read Calvin and followed Calvin as well. I found a warm, pastoral heart revealed in the Institutes.

Interesting that the article starts by describing a meeting at a baptist church that is Calvinist.

I wish that more predestinarian Protestant churches were in fact Calvinistic in the full-orbed sense, rather than just "Calvinistic" in the predestinarian sense. But it seems to me that the Zwinglian wing of the Reformed camp has won an almost complete victory.

I recall once challenging a PCA pastor merely to read WCF Ch. 28, para. 1 at the next baptism in his church. He said it wouldn't, because it sounded so Romanist that it would confuse the congregation.

The disciplinary process aimed at PCA pastors like Peter Leithart also seems largely (though not exclusively) aimed at his rejection of Zwinglianism and his desire to follow Calvin's theology of the sacraments more closely.