Is Calvinism the gospel?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by saintandsinner77, Jan 20, 2011.

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  1. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    Many of you may have read or know about this quote from Spurgeon:

    I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel if we do not preach justification by faith without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing unchangeable eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross. (Charles Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 1, 1856).

    Though I am a 5 pointer and love Spurgeon, the gospel is defined in the Scripture as follows:

    “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . .” -1 Corinthians 15:1–4

    Whoever trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ alone based on this good news, shall be saved. A person does not need to understand or hear about unconditional election, irresistible grace, for example to be converted (though I believe they are all Biblical). In fact, many former Arminians who are now Calvinists (like myself) did not understand the aforementioned points when they were converted, but simply turned in faith to Christ for mercy and forgiveness after being convicted of their sin and guilt. In fact, in one of Spurgeon's sermons, he acknowledged that Wesley was a believer.

    So, why would Spurgeon make this equation, though people can be saved through believing the gospel and receiving Christ without understanding Calvinism?
  2. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    a person may not understand the doctrines of grace, but as yourself admitted, that doesn't make them any less true.
  3. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    I am not disputing the doctrines of grace--I believe them whole-heartedly- just saying that one does not have to understand Calvinism to understand the gospel as stated in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and to believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The 5 points should not be equated with the Gospel:

    First, a person may be saved even while doubting one of those points,

    Also, the 5 points say nothing of the resurrection of Christ or of us - the most frequently occurring theme in the sermons that we have in the NT.
  5. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    It is simple, Spurgeon wanted to disconnect any idea of somehow man earning salvation by man’s own power. If one does not believe that you are justified by faith alone in the completed work of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for the sake of our own sins, then one is truly lost. Even Arminians recognize that it is Christ work alone that justifies us and not of our own work when they are typically asked, the problem is that they are inconsistent with their own position in the sovereignty of God and their own condition of sin as reflected in their singing praises to God or in their prayers. Calvinism communicates the condition of man to sin, and hence the absolute need for a savior; the fact that salvation is not based upon are own personal election, but instead on the unconditional election of God; that God paid fully for the sins of the elect Christians on the cross; that it is ultimately God alone that irresistible draws a people to himself, hence the reason why Arminians pray for the salvation of love ones because they recognize this fact (even though they lack consistency here); and the promise that we are the children of the living God, co-heir with Christ because we are preserved in union with Christ because of Christ burial and resurrection from the dead, and hence our own preservation to life.

    ---------- Post added at 09:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:07 PM ----------

    I disagree, I think the resurrection of Christ is inherently built into the system.

    Perg, let me put it this way. If Christ did not rise from the grave then we wouldn’t preserver in the faith; which is why I say it is built into the five points. It communicates that promise that we have of our salvation by the power of Christ.
  6. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It is probably best to say that Calvinism is presupposed rather than understood. E.g., "sins" presupposes total depravity; "our" presupposes absolute predestination, "died for" presupposes particular redemption; "rose again" presupposes effectual calling and perseverance. If one develops an understanding which undermines this theological framework he denies the basis of the gospel and thereby weakens his own faith. This is what our old divines meant by calling the doctrines of grace the gospel -- they are the theological framework of the gospel.
  7. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I don't see any of the five points explicitly covering the resurrection - a central tenet of the Gospel.

    Is Calvinism Biblical merits a yes answer. Is calvinism the Gospel merits a No answer.
  9. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    Perg, how do you apply and explain the fifth point, The Perseverance of the Saints, if you do not see the resurrection of Christ attached to the point or at least explaining the point in question?

    Here is something that the Synod of Dort said:
  10. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    I think there are simple misunderstanding here because people haven't read into the 5 points of Calvinism.
  11. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    Agreed! If Calvinism is "the Gospel" it would mean that non-Calvinists, by definition cannot preach the Gospel (something I know Spurgeon would deny because of his catholic spirit).

    Though, I would say that Calvinism preserves our love for and proclamation of the Gospel because it espouses the sovereignty of God in salvation, the sufficiency of God's Word, the holiness of God, the saving love of God, the supremacy of Christ, and the keeping power of the Holy Spirit. I think Calvinism/Reformed theology heightens our understanding of and trust in the power of the Gospel unto salvation, the power of Christ's atoning death (it actually saves us, it doesn't just make us savable) and the endless power of His resurrection.

    Not that it always prevents us from losing sight of the Gospel, sadly! It's isn't just the seeker-sensitive guys who lose track of the Gospel, we can too by falling into legalism or lawlessness or pride or debates about adiaphora.
  12. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Calvinism is not the Gospel. However, the Gospel is understood and expressed most clearly, most completely and most beautifully within the framework of Calvinism.
  13. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey Brother having any success straightening out those Baptist on those covenantal Issues? I hope they don't press you to hard on the Baptist Distinctives we speak of so much. All jesting aside I hope they have embraced you and yours and are serving you well in the Body.

    ---------- Post added at 09:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:21 AM ----------

    I think I remember Spurgeon making this statement as well in the Context of refuting the notion that Salvation in by any other means than by Grace through Faith and the Reformed understanding is Systematically found in Calvinism as has been stated.
  14. Rational Man

    Rational Man Puritan Board Freshman

    Gordon Clark gave a good example in his book "what do Presbyterians Believe".

    He explained that certainly there are doctrines that we hold to be more important, ala sola fide. than others. However, since scripture is systematic you NEED every doctrine to support one another. If you dont hold to a particular part of calvinism then I would say (since I believe this is what the Bible teaches), that you have a hole or contradiction in your system of thought.

    His example to illustrate systematics was: "while you have four tires on your car if you have a flat tire then that is the most important one at the moment."
  15. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    I beg to disagree,the spare would be the most important to me at such a time.
  16. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    very nicely said Rev Winzer, thank you!
  17. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    We have our struggles and points of disagreement. But at the same time we find much that we share in Christ to celebrate together and lead us into ministry together. I also get the occasional rebuke from folks on this board (on both sides of the divide), who sometimes seem troubled by the idea that I and the Baptists could coexist.
  18. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'll simply reiterate what some of our brothers have said above: It is the clearest expression of the Gospel.

    God saves totally depraved sinners who are un-willing to come. He then unconditionally elects them; not because of any forseen faith or anything good in them but based on His good pleasure and will. The Father sends His son to die for those sinners, and the son is effcacious and purchasing salvation for them on the cross. The Spirit irresistably draws them and perseveres them until the end.
  19. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    I have never felt uncomfortable around my Presbyterian Brethren even when discussing our different passionate points of view. I find it troubling when men speak with little passion or conviction about what they believe the Scriptures teach.
  20. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Calvinism expresses clearly the idea that salvation is by God alone.

    Arminianism dilutes this and therefore isn't the Gospel in its fulness and freeness.

    The name Jesus means "Jehovah is salvation".

    The Triune Jehovah saves. Man can't boast that he has a finger in his salvation.
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    Asking whether Calvinism is biblical is one thing; Asking whether Calvinism is to be equated with the Gospel is another.

    When you present the gospel to people, do you cover the five points start to finish? I hope not. No, instead, you cover, hopefully, things such as the incarnation and life of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead.

    Also, again, if we perfectly equate calvinism and the Gospel, thus means that all Arminians are unsaved. And even a 4-pointer then is "denying the Gospel." This is too strong of a conclusion.
  22. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don't think the terms are interchangeable, but certainly, Calvinism is the theological framework for the Gospel. And yes, it is possible to briefly run down the 5 points when presenting the Gospel. Not necessairly speaking forth the terminology, but telling men what they are, who God is, and what Christ has done, etc.
  23. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I have never seen an effective Gospel presentation that explicitly tries to prove that Christ did not die for everyone.

    When presenting the Gospel it is only important for the sinner to believe that Christ died for him. Thus, the 4th point usually goes unmentioned. No need to go into the use of "cosmos" in John, etc.

    Also, seeing that the 5 points were a reaction against Arminianism and the presentation of the Gospel is not a reaction but a positive presentation of truth, we have no need to list the errors of the Arminians (usually) when giving the Gospel (unless objections are raised).
  24. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    If (and I believe it is so) Calvinism is biblical, then Calvinism proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The reiteration of the Covenant of Works (Law), and the disclosure that all men are breakers of this covenant, plus the good news of Christ's incarnation, cross work, and resurrection overcoming death on behalf of His spiritual children, is the Gospel message . . . which is the message proclaimed by Calvinists.

    It is none of our business to judge others as unsaved. It is our only business to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as codified above. Any and all that we share the good news of Jesus Christ with, are probably "unsaved." Whether they remain unsaved after hearing our message of the Moral Law; mans' universal failure to keep that moral law, and the remedy that is found only in the Incarnate Christ of God and His grace, is God's business . . . not ours.

    We proclaim the Scripural truths, and then in faith, leave the results in the hands of Sovereign God. Whether we are Calvinists or not. (I hope! ;) )
  25. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    You can be an arminian and saved. But if your an arminian you ought not to be in any teaching role.
  26. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is a historical conversation between Charles Simeon a Calvinist and John Wesley, an Arminian. I'm sure some of you are aware of it:

    Simeon: Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

    Wesley: Yes, I do indeed.

    Simeon: And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

    Wesley: Yes, solely through Christ.

    Simeon: But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

    Wesley: No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

    Simeon: Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

    Wesley: No.

    Simeon: What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

    Wesley: Yes, altogether.

    Simeon: And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

    Wesley: Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

    Simeon: Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.

    Cited in Handley Carr Glyn Moule’s 1892 biography, Charles Simeon, p. 79f.

    From this conversation, does it appear that Wesley believes the gospel though an Arminian? Clearly...
  27. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    I have. Jn 6.....Jn8 Jn10....Jn12

    The Apostles never told anyone that Jesus died for them in particular.They said Jesus died for sinners;
    1 Cor 15 contains the historic facts of the gospel, but qualifies those facts with the phrase "according to the scripture". This is where Matthews post pointed to.

    Romans 1 says the gospel is the power of God,that results in deliverence;

    Does a gospel presentation have to be loaded with complex theological terms,and loaded down with 5 point quotes? No.
    That being said.....We should not deviate from our theological base,or shrink back from any of it's teachings.
    I do not think you do this, and I think I understand your, we could obscure the blood of the cross, and the essential issue of the once for all remedy for sinners by launching off into theology 101 and confusing those souls we are speaking with!
    I am sure that people in Papua were probably not wondering who in the tribe was supra, or infra, amill, or post.....before you could address the sin question.
    No doubt you had to labor to establish the true and living God has spoken.
    Spurgeons quote is accurate in that the teaching he was describing is found at the heart of any gospel presentation. When you read most of his sermons, he mostly did not use the complex language of the day and as a matter of fact he tried to speak in plain common need to break out the dictionary and thesaurus when you read his sermons.[unlike some words seen on the PB]:think:
    The quote points to our theological base, it is not meant to say there is an exact correspondence to every presentation we make being incomplete unless we squeeze tulip in completely.
  28. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm lost. What on earth is "an effective Gospel presentation"? Never thought I'll hear a Calvinist use such terminologies.
  29. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    An effective Gospel presentation is one that is understandable to the hearer and faithful to the text. Conciseness and winsomeness are also advisable.

    My friend's facebook message tonight reads:

    Now that is a pretty good first sentence to an effective Gospel presentation.
  30. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Defined that way, I would find that most disagreeable. Faithfulness to scriptures is a given as anything else is a false gospel. Conciseness, winsomeness and being understandable? So somehow an evangelistic message that does cover the total depravity of man is somehow lacking conciseness and is therefore ineffective? Somehow talking about limited atonement renders the gospel presentation ineffective? Somehow giving a sharp rebuke during an evangelistic message turns it into an ineffective gospel presentation? I sure hope not. The gospel is not understandable unless God works, period. My aphasic or intellectually disabled patients are no less likely to believe upon the gospel than my friends pursing post-graduate degrees. No doubt, we need to employ the vulgar language when preaching the gospel and there is no need for us to go coat a sermon with bombastic theological terms, but that does not mean dumping down on the content. Your usage of neo-evangelical/broad evangelical language is disconcerting.
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