LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

True Biblical Calvinism

by Colin Maxwell

"YOUNG MAN!
SIT DOWN! SIT DOWN!
YOU ARE AN ENTHUSIAST.
WHEN GOD PLEASES TO CONVERT THE HEATHEN,
HE WILL DO IT WITHOUT YOUR AID OR MINE!"
.
The words that adorn (for the dire want of a better description) the beginning of this article are attributed to one John Ryland Senior when William Carey, William Fuller and others of like mind spoke at a Minister's Fraternal meeting about seeking to convert the heathen in India and other places to saving faith in Jesus Christ. I have seen this story disputed (I forget the source at the moment) on the basis that Ryland never referred to it at all. I note that Laurence Vance uses the word "supposedly" in relation to it. I have read of the speech being "perhaps with some embellishment" (Sketches of Church History by SM Houghton, BOT) while Peter Masters from the Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeon's) in a public address indicated that, although basically true, the words are really a paraphrase of what was actually said.
.
If true (and I am not entertaining any doubts on the matter) then these words display a horrible Hyper Calvinistic spirit, totally inconsistent with true Biblical Calvinism. True, authentic Calvinism believes that when it pleases God to convert the heathen, not only will He raise up missionaries to go forth an reach them with the gospel, but that He has already displayed that pleasure and has already been raising up missionaries to fulfill His divine will and will continue so to do until the end of the age. John Calvin himself was a strong believer in the conversion of the heathen through gospel preaching. He wrote: "It is no small consolation to godly teachers that, although the larger part of the world does not listen to Christ, He has His sheep whom He knows and by whom He is also known. They must do their utmost to bring the whole world into Christ's fold, but when they do not succeed as they would wish, they must be satisfied with the single thought that those who are sheep will be collected together by their work." (Comment on John 10:27)
.
Understandably - but only to a certain point - Ryland's words have been greedily seized upon by those who oppose Calvinism and who argue that it destroys the burden of evangelism and the need of world missions etc., However the story of William Carey is much bigger than one quote, paraphrased or otherwise, by John Ryland Senior. If we are going to examine the role of the Calvinists in this incident, then please consider the following facts and then decide whether John Ryland Senior should be allowed to be the representative Calvinist as our opponents make him out to be. There is a certain shallowness and indeed injustice that seizes upon an individual quote and tries to effectively father it, or the thinking that lie behind it, on a whole school of thought.
.
* William Carey himself was a Five Point Calvinist. This important point is usually overlooked by those who repeat this incident to discredit Calvinism. David Cloud never bothers telling it, as can be seen here and here. Terry McGovern failed to do so when first reporting the incident for the purposes of discrediting Calvinism's input to missionary work. Laurence Vance does so, but doggedly, and in my opinion very foolishly, fights on maintaining that Carey was an inconsistent Calvinist. I do not know what Dave Hunt wrote on the matter and I will hold my counsel until I gain more information.
.
* Carey's missionary friends were likewise Five Point Calvinists. Andrew Fuller was perhaps the best known among them. A helpful page on his Calvinism is found here and worth perusing.
.
* The interest of Carey and his friends in missionary work was stirred, at least in part, by a book written by Jonathan Edwards of Northhampton, New England. Jonathan Edwards was another Five Point Calvinist and one of America's greatest soul winners, witnessing real, true revival in his church. Edward's book was entitled: "A humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ's Kingdom on earth." which you can access here in its online edition. There could hardly be a more practical outcome to this book than having men of Carey's zeal and calibre offering themselves for missionary service with the subsequent results.
.
* Twelve ministers from Ryland's denomination formed the "Particular (Calvinistic) Baptist (Missionary) Society", sacrificially contributing the initial sum of £13 2s. 6d which was all they could afford. These men were all Five Point Calvinists. This society is still operating today.
.
* Five Point Calvinist, William Carey, one of the above twelve, had already published a small pamphlet urging Christians to use all the means at their disposal in missionary effort. This booklet was entitled: "An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, are Considered." The title is immediately followed by Paul's inspired missionary argument drawn from Romans 10: 10-15. You can read it here in its online edition.
.
* Five Point Calvinist Andrew Fuller published is book called "Gospel Worthy of all Exception." (Online edition here) The Hyper Calvinist's loathed it, but it was well received by those Calvinists of Calvin's own stamp. Later CH Spurgeon (another Five Point Calvinist) would refer to this book as a "classic of our faith" and mention it in the same breath as "Hodge's Outlines" and "Owen on the Spirit". Spurgeon also considered Fuller to be "the greatest theologian of his century" (cited Laws, Andrew Fuller, 127) and felt "so honoured" in the fact that he had been branded as a "Fullerite" (MTP: 12:68)
.
* In all my reading of books on Calvinism or by Calvinist writers, I have never seen any Calvinist since defend John Ryland Senior's remarks. We have all been so quick to put as much ground as we can between us on him on this issue.
.
* The practical refusal of those who oppose Calvinism to hardly acknowledge the existence of Hyper Calvinism (as opposed to real, authentic Calvinism) displays either gross ignorance of the subject or a desire to blacken the names and stands of good men. Phil Johnstone's primer on Hyper Calvinism is a good place to start.
.
* Much opposition to Carey and friends came not only from the Hyper Calvinists but also from the Socinians whose presence and influence riddled many of the mainline denominations. However, all true Calvinists (and others) supported these men in their endeavours.
.
* It would be interesting to see a list of those who supported or encouraged these Five Point Calvinists in their soul winning work. We know that the Missionary Society in that hotbed of Five Point Calvinism in Princeton University wrote to encourage William Carey in 1821. John Calhoun in his History of Princeton records that the Princeton students wrote, "The different names by which we are known in the Christian church, and the different views we take of points not essential, will not be suffered to affect our feelings towards you, or to damp our joy at your success."
.
* Why is it that those who are so opposed to the Doctrines of Grace are prepared to ignore the many examples of Calvinistic missionaries in order to highlight this one example of Ryland senior? If the definition of a missionary is one who leaves his homeland to preach the gospel in another, then Calvin himself was a missionary. Furthermore, his church in Geneva sent forth young men as missionaries to Brazil. These young Calvinists perished on the mission field. To say that any Calvinist missionary is the EXCEPTION rather than the rule (David Cloud's emphasis) is surely a non starter of an argument. Surely that can be said of missionaries from any doctrinal position? How many members does your denomination have? What percentage of them are on the mission field? Anything less than 50% of the membership being actively involved is the exception rather than the rule.
.
* We see similar tactics used by the enemies of Calvinism in regards to Spurgeon. Again, David Cloud likes to remind us all that many Hyper Calvinists opposed Spurgeon in his indiscriminate gospel appeals - except Cloud seems to have a phobia about using this term "Hyper Calvinists" and somewhat mischievously brands them as "Calvinists". What he doesn't tell his readers is that many prominent Five Point Calvinists agreed with Spurgeon, including the eminent Presbyterian John Kennedy of Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands (who brought Spurgeon to open his new church building) and many other Scots Presbyterians. ("Dinnae forget Spurgeon" was the cry of one Scots wife to her husband going into the nearest market town) and other men like the Bonar brothers etc., Spurgeon's sermons saw great circulation, among Calvinists and non Calvinists alike, including the Five Point Calvinists in the Southern Presbyterian Church in the USA. It was only when Spurgeon criticised slavery that the sales fell somewhat in those quarters, but his warm evangelistic Calvinism matched their own and he was popular on that account. Incidentally, the Calvinists of today still love Spurgeon and seek to see his sermons circulated. Our own church website here has a Spurgeon Index and it is only the lack of time (which I must spend in evangelising, and I do, I do) that prevents me from adding more to it. We happily link to SPURGEON ARCHIVES on our links page. This is a theme I would like to develope as more information becomes available. However, I believe I have done enough here to show that the Calvinists in the situation are best represented by Carey and his friends rather than by one man.
.THE END
.
P/s This page is taken from the website of Cork FPC where the webmaster/writer is a Calvinistic Missionary. It is written in part response to a particularly misleading blog which tries to portray Carey as less than a 5 point Calvinist

Labels:

14 Comments:

Blogger mark pierson said...

Sometimes it seems that misrepresentation, misquoting, and the deliberate mixing together of biblical Calvinism with the Hyper Calvinists are the only weapons that those opposed to Calvinism can rely on. To me that just indicates willful ignorance. It then begins to feel like a waste of time dialoging with them. To them we are just evil and they won't have it any other way.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed fellowship with nonCals, witnessing side by side with them, because we have agreed to disagree on those issues, them not being hostile to my Calvinism.

February 12, 2008 11:20 AM

 
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Does it really matter what we label ourselves with? Are Calvinists better than Catholics, Protestants better than Methodists?

Surely Paul taught us we are all of one body.

February 12, 2008 12:36 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jill,

The Catholic Church is apostate. In the earliest going it stood in contrast to the Arians. That was good. But over time they adopted some terrible theological positions. It took the reformation to rediscover Justification by faith alone in Christ alone.

February 12, 2008 12:46 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Maalie,

No more from you, period.

February 12, 2008 2:13 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

I'm very sick today. As a result you won't see me around much.

February 13, 2008 6:51 AM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

I will be pryaing for you Mark. Take good care of yourself.

cristina

February 13, 2008 8:02 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Mark,
My prayers as well.

February 13, 2008 8:45 AM

 
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Sorry you are ill Mark. Hope you soon get better.

Can anyone tell me why the Catholic church is apostate, and what does that say about Catholics?

February 13, 2008 1:16 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jill,

I hope to answer your question when I'm feeling better, perhaps tomorrow.

Mark

February 13, 2008 1:23 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jill,

The RCC is apostate because it teaches that there is a priesthood that mediates between man and God. That priest offers up the sacrifice of the Mass on behalf of the congegation.

The Bible teaches that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, and that only HIS sacrifice (the offering up of Himself) was good to atone for man's sins.

Who is your Mediator, Christ, or some priest? If it is other than Christ you will perish, my friend.

Please, please come to Christ. Only His sacrifice on the cross can atone for your sins.

Mark

February 14, 2008 7:35 AM

 
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Mark, how do you know I haven't come to Christ? My priest is my Spiritual Director. I feel I need all the help I can get.
Hope you are feeling better today.

February 14, 2008 8:32 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jill,

Scary stuff you say here: "My priest is my Spiritual Director. I feel I need all the help I can get."

Let Christ alone be your Priest and Teacher.

Mark

February 14, 2008 11:42 AM

 
Blogger Ryan S. said...

Sometimes it seems that misrepresentation, misquoting, and the deliberate mixing together of biblical Calvinism with the Hyper Calvinists are the only weapons that those opposed to Calvinism can rely on.

That's exactly the kind of polemics and ad hominem tactics that miscreant Dave Hunt relies on his debate with James White in Debating Calvinism and What Love is This?.

February 14, 2008 2:24 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Ryan, I read that piece of filth "What Love is This". You're right in your attitude towards that sloppy work from Hunt. ANYBODY who holds that book up as a serious refutation of Calvinism had better reexamine what it is that Calvinists actually believe. I'm yet to find ANYBODY who is anti Calvinism who actually knows anything about it. They construct straw men and have at it.

February 14, 2008 2:48 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home