Monday, August 21, 2006

Someone buy me a copy of this please

Christianity Today: Calvinism is making a comeback - and shaking up the church. (HT: Justin Taylor)

We need to recover the great doctrines of grace. I'm encouraged to see that in the USA that's happening a bit. Not sure about the UK, though I can think of many promising signs in the local church and in student ministry.

Still, the atmosphere seems saturated with a suffocating blend of man-centredness that diminishes the glory of God...

We must look at God's word afresh, and look at those who have gone before us. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes in Spiritual Depression (p102):
"[it] is one of the most glorious things in the long annuals of the history of the church, and it is still happening. I never tire of telling Christians to read the stories of the martyrs and the confessors and the Protestant Fathers, of the Puritans and the covenanters. Read their stories and you will find not only strong, courageous men, you will find weak women and girls and even little children dying gloriously for Christ's sake. They could not in and of themselves, but they were given the spirit of power"
The human-centred "gospel" that makes much of us because of God's love doesn't produce such people. That kind of teaching lacks the Spirit's power.

What we surely need is a return to the "plain reading" of God's word... to believe his great promises and humble ourselves. To see that salvation is a great work of God's sovereign grace, not of God's inability to resist me. To see that grace rescues sinners for God's glory. To see that God's love isn't for the sake of making much of us, but to make much of God.

Last night we visited one of the other congregations of our church. It was great to have fellowship with the guys there, and particularly to hear David Horrocks preach brilliantly on Luke 16v19-31. In it Jesus teaches us that being late can be the worst thing ever. We were reminded, through the story of Lazarus and the rich man, that one day there will be a great divide. Then, it will be too late to change sides. And, further, we have all the warning we need now. Jesus speaks of heaven and hell very clearly, and tells us that the scriptures reveal everything we need to know to believe. Those who wont listen to scripture wont be convinced by miracles or anything else, even a resurrection....

Read Calvin. Read the Puritans. Read Owen, Edwards and Baxter. Read Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones and Piper. And get into the great story. See Carl Trueman's I ♥ Biblical Theology.

12 comments:

  1. Tis funny, I started off Arminian and became reformed round about Easter time when I realised I needed to humble myself to what scripture said. Most of the students I know are Calvinists.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think most people default to Arminianism, until God's word humbles us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. T Total Arminianism
    U Unconditional Election
    L Limited Atonement
    I Irresistable Grace
    P Perseverance of the Saints

    ReplyDelete
  4. On a sidenote - did you go to Word Alive this year Dave?

    ReplyDelete
  5. As one who would call themself a 'Calvinist', this did raise my spirits.

    But as for seeing the same here in the UK - where I sit in the West Midlands, it's not happening - in fact I see the exact opposite.

    The question for me, and this is in no way aimed at empire building or uniformity, is how could we seek it ?

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gareth - yes i was at Word Alive.

    I think the only way to seek it is to open the Bible more than bubblegum-christian-books... and to make sure that we who would call ourselves do it with much humility, joy and compassion.... which is exactly the fruit the doctrines of grace should be producing in us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think there's an element of self-deception in there. People (including Arminians) tend to pray like Calvinists and don't tend to be very consistent. If they look long and hard enough at their own sinfulness it should be perfectly obvious to them that they would never have chosen God.

    But at the same time they think that the only way to defend God and Christianity against questions of suffering and evil are by harping on about free will.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dave - if it helps frame who I am in your mind, I was the chappie who gave his testimony in one of the evening sessions.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am not a Calvinist (nor an evangelical - shock horror!).
    "If they look long and hard enough at their own sinfulness it should be perfectly obvious to them that they would never have chosen God."
    I don't think that's true. I believe that we have the ability to tell right from wrong (our conscience or maybe the Holy Spirit in us all) and thus, we know that we do wrong, but also inherantly that there is something better. You can see this in people - so many are looking for that 'something better' - it's often referred to as a 'God-shaped hole'. And many of them find it and turn to God/Jesus/salvation...

    Several comments here imply that Armenianism/non-Calvinism is arrogant, whereas I see Calvinism as producing 'humble' yet somehow superior people (kinda "God like me more than you, even though it's random..."). As Dave knows, I have struggled for many years with the concept of Biblical Infallibility/Calvinism/Evangelicalism and largely come to the conclusion that it seems to be a non-concept. It seems to be another form of pre-Reformation traditionalism... You need others to tell you what the Bible says, rather than being able to read it for yourself and make your own conclusions. Sometimes, I read a passage and come up with a 'non-traditional'/non-Victorian interpretation (eg. 1Tim2:12 or 2Tim3:16) and am told I am wrong. Says who?

    /rant over/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sally, your rants are most welcome.

    I don't think: "Election implies I'm more special."
    I think it just shows God to be amazingly gracious.

    I wouldn't say I was a Calvinist because I'm reliant on Calvin to teach me it - but I'd say that I generally agree with the way Calvin put it. I guess I'm recognising that he stood true to scripture, rather than saying "I follow Calvin".

    Teachers are a gift to the church, but we all have the ability to read it. That said the Bible is a rational book - that is its words makes sense logically and gramatically.

    And it helps when you read it as a Christian - cos it means you know the author... in fact we only ever know the true meaning of the words when we believe in Jesus. Without that we're mere pharisees.

    We do sort of have the ability to see who God is - Romans 1 says we had access to the info. But, none of us do choose God. We all inherently swap worshipping our Creator for bowing to creation.

    I'm convinced that scripture teaches that me becoming a Christian is only because God chose me before time, before I did anything, because he granted me to have faith, granted me to repent. And because by the death of Jesus he made the apparently unjust act (forgiving me) just because Jesus payed the penalty for me. As has been said, the scandal is that anyone gets forgiven and that not everyone is sent to hell.

    ReplyDelete
  11. (quick note - the above was by me. I was doing some Admin to reset the account of my co-blogger "trainspotter" who will hopefully return to blog again in early September - and I must have forgotten to change login.)

    ReplyDelete