Is Calvinism the gospel?

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

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Who ever said dumbing down the content?
  2. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    I think it should be the common acknowledgement among all preachers that no matter how well men present the Gospel they are doomed to fail in their task. We will never grasp the gap between us and God. It's like trying to measure the depth of a bottomless pit. Calvinism is no doubt the best way mankind has ever presented the Gospel, yet it is not the Gospel in its full beauty. But another point must be made about the Gospel presentation. We must not only present the Gospel in word, but also in power:

    "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:" (1 Corinthians 2:4)

    Our oral presentation of the Gospel totally loses its effect on sinners, if we are not faithfully living the Gospel at the same time. Yes, the pulpit is NOT for cowards! Don't get up to the pulpit, if you're only about talk!
  3. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    But Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, no? I wouldn't say God couldn't use a presentation that explicitly tries to prove that Christ didn't die for everyone (and I think Pergy would agree). But I do see a contrast as to how Jesus preached to the Pharisees and to those who knew they needed a Savior. I forget who said it, but someone made the comment that some preach the Gospel in such a way you'd think they were afraid the non-elect might actually believe!

    I don't think anyone would disagree with you that the apostles never indiscriminately said "Christ died for you as an individual in particular" But people do need to be brought to the place where they believe Christ died for them, no? I'd say that's ultimately the Spirit's job. However, one of my pastors once pointed out that "Christ died for me, so I can live whatever way I want" is not the only lie of Satan. He also whispers, "Jesus' blood isn't sufficient for you and your sins, you're too far-gone! There's no use believing!"
  4. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    What defined which way? Pergy's friend's FB status?? What's wrong with it?

    If Pergy is using neo-evangelical language, how is that any different than this?:

    I'd heartily recommend this sermon my pastor preached on Acts 14:1- "Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed."

    Passionate, Persuasive Preaching
  5. msortwell

    msortwell Puritan Board Freshman

    I suspect that when we challenge Mr. Spurgeon's assertion that Calvinism is the gospel, we are applying the narrowest definition of gospel - a definition more narrow than was his intent. While it is true that 1Cor 15 provides a concise definition of THE gospel. The term is also used more broadly in the Scriptures, and by the church. I suspect that the Prince of Preachers considered expounding upon THE gospel, explaining its theological underpinnings, to be part of "preaching the gospel." If so, he would be asserting little more than a conviction that Calvinism is the correct explanation of the gospel - rather than an element expressed during the presentation of the gospel. He also seems to be intimating that the language used, and assertions made, by those preachers operating outside of the framework of what has come to be known as Calvinism generally assert positions inconsistent with Scriptural truth - will most certainly stray away from an accurate and clear offer of the true gospel. This certainly seems to be the case in the broader evangelical church that frequently seems to offer a different gospel - one providing a remedy against loneliness and the trials of life - essentially offering Jesus as a new best friend, rather than a Sovereign Redeemer.
  6. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    Totally? Can you defend that?

    Phil. 1:15-17 "Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  7. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Hello Marie P,
    [QUOTE but someone made the comment that some preach the Gospel in such a way you'd think they were afraid the non-elect might actually believe][/QUOTE]

    Marie, I agree with what you have posted. The idea of that it becomes good news to sinners that believe as the Spirit enables them .
    We know that it is the work of God. We are not to mask, or hinder the truth of scripture and wisdom should be used in the language we employ.
    Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in a different way,then he spoke to apostate pharisees and neither He nor the apostles used the language of the theology we employ. A careful study of the scriptures reveals the very teaching that we hold to be "calvinistic truth".
    The terms and labels we employ say alot in a little space.

    Jesus used the law to show our sinful and lost condition,and that living water was available.
    Jesus spoke of the COR.... in the Jn.passages as the backdrop to His teaching.
    The Apostles spoke of the covenants when they spoke to those who had knowledge of them. Paul adapted his message in Acts 17 however.
    I am sure that Pergy keeps a solid grace foundation in mind, as He seeks God's face for wisdom in making a faithful presentation to those who The Lord has sent him to minister to.
    Yet, I am also confident that he has at times as the situation required it......moved it up a few notches verbally depending on the audience he was facing,liberals,cultists,atheists,etc.
    Humanly speaking we want all men we speak to, to believe.Yet God will use us for His purpose;
  8. ryanhamre

    ryanhamre Puritan Board Freshman


    The emphasis, from Spurgeon, would appear to be on the delivery and the preaching, not the particular definition of "gospel".

    How many times was he hitting on "preach"?

    Here's a wordle of it-

  9. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    The language of "effective gospel presentation" is neo-evangelical babble for dumbing down of content. I am in no way suggesting that you do dumb down content in your ministry. I am contending that your idea that there is such a thing as an "effective gospel presentation" is precisely the excuse that neo-evangelicals use to do so, so I do not think such language should be used, because it is a slippery slope down to "Jesus loves you, He died for you, why wouldn't you ask Him into your heart today?" By the way, I think there is a serious disjoint in how we view the word "effective". Wherever I've checked, it pretty much means ineffectual.

    Pergy isn't explicitly saying this exactly, but he's calling it ineffective. And when something is ineffective, it does not have the power to save. I mean, isn't that precisely what the word means? Lacking the ability or power to achieve a goal?

    Not the fb status. What he was saying about "an effective gospel presentation" having to be "concise, winsome and understandable".

    I really don't get what you mean. I'm talking about his linking of "ineffective preaching" with messages or presentations that do contain doctrines beyond the most basic gospel ideas, not his preaching.
  10. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    jayce, I think I understand your disagreement better now. You don't like the terms "effective" or "ineffective" as it pertains to the Gospel.

    Do you believe that there is a way to make the Gospel more effective or less effective? (not that it guarantees results, but is there a type of preaching that is especially owned of God? is there a type of preaching that hinders the Word from doing its work?)
  11. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Marie, I believe that there is good preaching and there is bad preaching, otherwise we wouldn't need homiletics classes in bible colleges and seminaries. However, I would disagree with poor preaching being equated with "ineffective preaching". Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Faithful preaching will always be effective (in that it has power to save and sanctify), even if preachers have shortcomings. I am okay if it is just a matter of terminology and our ideas are essentially in agreement, but with regards to what Pergy said about preaching that does touch on limited atonement being ineffective, I disagree with the very essence of what he is saying. Expounding upon the doctrines of grace does not by itself make the preaching/gospel presentation/evangelism poor in any sense, and it most certainly doesn't make it ineffective.
  12. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    OK, I understand you better now. If Pergy means that preaching limited atonement in and of itself renders the message ineffective, I would disagree as well. Or else how can a pastor who wants to preach effectively as well as preach faithfully preach a passage like John 10?

    If, however, he means that there are ways of preaching limited atonement that render a sermon less effective (I hesitate to say ineffective now that I consider it), then I would agree. There are some who, when they preach it, leave off the free offer of the Gospel. They are afraid to preach an atonement that is sufficient for their hearers, and they forget that they "are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

    Limited atonement should be preached where the Scriptures teach it. But just as the apostles never said, "Jesus died for your sins personally," they also never said, "Jesus only died for the sins of the elect ." They said "Jesus died for sinners" and "for all who believe." They persuaded men they were in need of faith and repentance and freely bid them come to the Savior. As I said, Satan is not beyond using limited atonement to pluck up the seeds that fall on the hearts of unbelievers.

    For the record, I'd also say that unconditional election or total depravity can be preached in ways that cause unbelievers to think that it's useless to pray that God would grant them a new heart of faith. Sure, those two doctrines should be preached, but in what way? In the way that Christ and the apostles preached it. Not in the way it's all lined out in a systematics book.

    I know most of the post dealt with non-believers- and I know it's not the primary goal of preaching, but it is a goal, nonetheless.

    I'm not saying anyone here in particular has a problem with that, but I've known some who have. So I'm just making sure.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Jason, you are quibbling with words (ineffective versus bad preaching) and are starting to bore me. Let's move on. I have not advocated dumbing down the Gospel. I advocate clear and concise presentation that is also biblical, even though there is no need to exposit the five points when doing so.
  14. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Words have meanings Pergy, and careless usage of words means being careless with meanings. I'm sorry if I'm boring you in the process of wanting to clarify biblical ideas. And no, you have not clarified on what you had meant in that prior post about not encountering effective preaching that touches on limited atonement.

    ---------- Post added at 06:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:49 PM ----------

    Thank you Marie for giving the good amount of nuance that is necessary. I quite agree. Many others may not though, especially pertaining to the free offer of the gospel.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I stand by my usage of the word effective.

    I have never seen an effective Gospel presentation that explicitly included the 4the point of limited atonement. These sorts of issues are best left to discispleship and not initial evangelistic contact. If the Gospel is clearly presented, this might lead to follow-up questions or later dialogues, etc, and a number of issues could then be brought up.

    Often, one is dealing with an initial contact or are pressed with the limits of time. It is better to give the big picture of Scripture at first in a clear and concise way and to gain a relationship so that the person may trust you as a resource for answering later questions.

    The best evangelists I have seen get right to the heart of the Gospel about our sin, Christ's work for sinners and about repentance and faith. It is biblical, clear and does not get into distracting issues. Implicitly, it could be said that limited atonement might be touched on as we speak of "Christ's work for sinners," but most people do not explicitly think "limited atonement" at these turns of phrases.

    Some of the worst gospel presentations I have seen have been by five point calvinists who wear the five points on their sleeve. These witnessers have gotten distracted by talking about modesty in church, the Sabbath, why "world" doesn't actually mean "world", when their audiences don't even know the big picture yet.

    I, myself, have been offended at the techniques that some of my fellow calvinists have used in pressing people and telling them why they are wrong. I have preferred not to go out and witness with many of them even when asked because, first, I think cold contacts are less effective than nurturing deeper relationships and, two, I am often embarrassed at their approach and technique, and their mannerisms as they corner and harass strangers.

    If we are talking to false religious leaders (MarieP's observation about the way Jesus talked to Pharisees versus nornal people should be remembered) then we can be more direct and challenging, but I find many calvinistic street evangelists and those that engage total strangers to lack many interpersonal skills, lack in approachability, come off as threatening, and then chase rabbit trails or needless theological controversies when the persons being witnessed to probably could be blessed more by hearing the big picture and a clear and simple gospel presented instead of why Jesus did not die for everyone.

    So again, I say that an effective Gospel presentation need not, and usually should not, explicitly mirror the five points.
  16. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you, Sister, for this rebuke. I wrote that "totally" a little doubtfully. I shouldn't have done that. It's true we can preach in a most unconvincing way, even without the power of God, yet our preaching may not be totally in vain, since the truth in it is powerful in and of itself:

    "For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12)
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    YouTube - The Gospel in 6 Minutes

    Here is a summary of the Gospel by John Piper in 6 minutes.

    It is biblical, clear, doesn't contain a lot of jargon, and is even personal and connects with the emotions.

    The Gospel is faithfully presented and I believe it is effective, and yet the five points of calvinism are not explicitly explained.
  18. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    "The love of GOD provides escape from the wrath of GOD by sacrificing the Son of God to vindicate the glory of GOD in forgiving sinners." That's how Piper often puts it.
  19. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    And so we leave it. It is not quibbling over terminologies, but a disagreement over the approach to preaching. And I stand by my objection against the use of the word "effective", and what I have said about your language (as well as probably your approach) being that of the neo-evangelicals. No point in carrying on the discussion when we are carrying differing presuppositions.
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    I think the burden of proof is on you to prove how my approach to preaching and evangelism is any different than Jonathan Edwards, Brainerd, Carey or even the Piper quote. If that is "neo-evangelical" than give me more of it.
  21. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    To answer the original question: No, Calvinism is not the Gospel. The Gospel is the Gospel. To say that Calvinism is the Gospel is to say that any other people other than Calvinists are not Christians and that is a dangerous and very wrong thing to say.
  22. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    I've not read every post on this thread so If someone has already used these texts to point out what the Gospel is in its simplist form I have always liked Pauls declaration the best. 1 Corinthians 15:1 to 4 After proclaiming these essential truths if the Holy Spirit moves or draws someone to me and they ask me to explain these Gospel truths more fully I never use Calvinism or the five points to explain these words of Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit. If this questioning soul is being drawn by the Holy Spirit then I preach/teach Jesus to him or her first,His person and work that make up the facts of what Paul states in verses 3 & 4. If this questioner is regenerate I won't need to tell them who Jesus is they will already believe that revelation given them by GOD the Holy Spirit.John 6:44,45 and 3:3,5 they will be seeing and entering the Kingdom of GOD and if they are not being drawn well you know what 1 Corinthians 2:14 says and 1:18. I am a Christian who is in essential agreement with Reformed Theology, I am as declared by others a Calvinist and by others a Reformed Baptist,Calvinist. I prefer a Biblical Christian or Disciple of Christ. I do believe it is a great mistake to try a feed a BABY a T-Bone steak and would advise milk instead,even the Milk of the Word. I agree that we call the Gospel what it calls itself, The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or The Gospel of GOD,not Calvinism. Our departed Brother John Calvin would not want us to use his name the name of a sinner saved by grace to muddy the tittle given the message by the Holy Spirit to the writers of our New Testament. Thats my 2 cents worth no change expected.
  23. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    In addressing this question we should ask and answer a series of two questions. The first question being “is there a difference between the Gospels according to Arminians and that according to Calvinists?” In the case of the prior the focus is not on the blood of Christ that is able to save, but instead on one’s own decision to have faith in Christ; therefore limiting the power of the atonement against a sinner’s sin. With the case of the Calvinists though Christ provides more then just an opportunity of salvation, but saves you fully by his grace; in turn truly being good news because salvation is not based upon your own natural sinful ability to create or perform the work of faith. The gospel is communicated in not only there words there of, but in the meaning of the words in which the message of the gospel is communicated; in other words meaning is everything. So as we can see the gospel according to Arminians and that of the Calvinists is not the same in regards to meaning even though the words they initially apply are the same. Now was Adam, the first man, preached or given the gospel of salvation? He was not given 1 Corinthians 15 and was not told about the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord at least based on the account given in Genesis 3. This is an extremely important question because at the heart addressing the issue or concern of what the gospel according to Adam was and the flexibility of the term in salvation as applied to Old Testament saints. After Adam sinned, God gave a series of curses and blessings saying:

    Then later:

    So what is the Gospel to Adam? It is partially the curse of the serpent, where by the serpent is defeated by a son in the line of Adam and Eve, even though both Adam and Eve live in a cursed world. It is God that clothes Adam and Eve by blood, as represented by the death of an animal so that they could wear it’s skin. And Eve is the mother of all the living, compared to the line of the serpent where all in that line are dead in their sin. This is all done by the initiative of God by his grace, because God was in the right to kill Adam and Eve there on the spot due to breaking the one command of God.
    The gospel is the promise and power of God unto salvation; it is a gift solely from God and not of our own work, so that none of us can boast. It was a gift from God that Adam was allowed to live. The Arminian gospel does not promise salvation by the Holy Spirit, but instead only gives man the opportunity to choose God and thus a possibility, not an assurance, of salvation. If salvation was by man, then Sarah, wife of Abraham, would have conceived the child of promise without the power of God. Instead what we see is by man’s power we are creatures under bondage of the law. Creatures of sin, as represented by Ishmael, not of the gospel promise. If it was by man then the Holy Spirit would not be needed to conceive Christ in the womb of Mary. We need the grace of God and without that grace we have no gospel, only law. We need the promise of being clothed, and not just the promise, but the reality of being clothed by God, just like he did for Adam and Eve; whereby we are clothed by the righteousness of Christ, passed to us by his death, burial, and resurrection. Whereby we can once again regain that status that we lost in the garden with our relationship, as he as our loving King and us as loyal subjects under his rule, and once again living a life of immortal peace in service.

    This is not to save that an Arminian or anyone else cannot be saved by the gospel. It is despite of ourselves that any of us are saved. That we are not always consistent in our own beliefs, and I would say that lack of consistency is reason why many of us that were once Arminians were saved nevertheless. But let us not kid ourselves of the type of gospel that is produced by Arminians and their production of exciting the will of their own power, like the anxious bench, or through sensational means outside of prayer and the inworking of the Holy Spirit. For the Gospel that one uses, the one that is preached, will produce a certain quality of Christian. The weaker the gospel, the weaker the Christian. If the gospel one wins a person to is not a full gospel, including the grace of God, then the result would be a denial of such Christians to the full extent of the grace of God. For I have heard Arminian Christians say in regards to the free will of man that they could never follow a God that acts on a person will so that they could choose to follow Christ. And in response we should recognize that their God is not the same God as we follow if such a statement is uttered by an Arminian. Now I know that there are people who will take offense at that, but this is one of the reason why we denote Rome as not being a true church. This is not to say that there are not Christians in Rome, as a tradition, but that their being saved is solely by the grace of God and despite of their own beliefs in regards to the many traditions of Rome and the fact that they keep to the simplicity of the Gospel towards their own salvation by grace.

    To deny the grace of God in the gospel is dangerous and affects the message of the gospel that we present; which in turn then becomes dangerous to the souls of those that are listening.
  24. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    It should not even be labled "Calvinism" if we were simply refering to the Doctrines of Grace. John Calvin in his day would have been labled as an Augustinian.

    From reading Augustine's Anti Pelagian Writtings and Augustine's Enchiridion On Faith, Hope, And Love, I have largly discovered that the 5 points are nothing more than Augustianism. And all that have read Calvin and Augustine would have to agree with me. Both Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were all Augustinian. This is why the "non-reformed" critics say that the reformers were not far from the Catholic Church of Rome! But then when you start digging into Church History, you see Rome has always been against Augustine's Doctrines of Grace, Election, and Predestination. They have always held to what they crafted as "semi-Augustinianism, but that was nothing but a cloak for Semi-Pelagianism which is nothing more than the modern day Judizer.

    Both Rome & the Arminian have alot in common in their Doctrine of Justification. It happens to reek of Semi-Pelagianism.
  25. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Calvinism is a world and life view.
  26. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    I thought this was helpful:

  27. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes this is helpful and clear. Thanks for sharing it.
  28. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Beg to differ Pergy. The onus is on the one who makes the claim that the doctrines of grace should generally not be preached while presenting the gospel to show that the scriptures say so.
  29. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    Give it a break.

    If you want to explicitly exposit the 5 Points next time you meet a totally unchurched unbeliever, go ahead. "Hey Joe, let me tell you the good news of TULIP." Why not just read them the Synod of Dort at the first sign of interest in spiritual things? Better yet, instead of a tract, carry around a tulip with you.

    The Gospel is more basic than that, and emphasizes slightly different things. It involves our sin, the person of Christ and His work for us. The Gospel in the NT seems to always include the resurrection, explicitly. The five points say little explicitly about Christology or the resurrection.

    Calvinism is biblical but is not the same as the Gospel. And again, four-pointers are in error but they are not to be considered unsaved (nor some arminians for that matter)...but to say that the Gospel and the Five points are the same is to pronounce Arminians damned, and even four-pointers must be said to be "betraying the Gospel" instead of being merely in error.

    Getting into the mechanics of soteriology is for a later discussion, perhaps not an initial conversation (unless asked).
  30. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    To even mention the name John Calvin except in a Reformed Church or Calvinism would cause a wall to go up in many peoples mind, due to all the misunderstanding about him and his teachings. I have never seen a Pastor take the pulpit to preach the Gospel and start going through the TULIP in order to plead with sinners to be reconciled to GOD.
    Show me one place in the scriptures where a Gospel plea or proclimation even came close to this method. Christ Himself, Peter,Paul and every other Gospel presentation never included a theological presentation of the Doctrines of Grace. Don't you think the "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;" aspect of the great commission is better suited for these doctrinal issues? Pauls clear declaration of what the Gospel is and what aspects of it are essential to proclaim are found in 1 Corinthians 15:1 to 4. Is Paul preaching Calvinism in these verses or the Gospel?
    Acts likewise shows us what preaching the Gospel looks like, why do we think we can do it better by insisting upon new methods?

    I think I might point out a few possible reasons why we feel led to outdo the Apostles and Prophets who's examples we are taught to follow. 1.) No real concern for the lost in the assembly only a desire to impress others with our imagined great minds and abillities. 2.) A total absence of dependance upon the Holy Spirits enablement so we do it our way and in our strength. 3.) An over dependance upon how men say it has to be done,a tradition gets started so we do it because it's the traditional way to do it. In other words pride not passion or burden for the hearer. The mind needs to be spoken to but the affections must be moved as well.
    The Milk not the Meat of the Word is needed for the Spiritual New Born why would we want to present things difficult to understand to infants in the Faith?
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