When Calvinism Becomes . . . Another Gospel

, posted by Richard Coords

Some Calvinists wisely warn other Calvinists about making Calvinism into another gospel. In one particular dialogue, the following conversation took place. Unfortunately, the entirety of the dialogue has been lost since the webhost had taken down his website entirely. I had merely quoted what I felt were the most interesting segments of the discussion, and here they are:

Calvinist: “People who make election a test of fellowship, or suggest that belief in election is necessary for salvation, introduce a new kind of ‘Galatianism’ into the church– they add to the gospel an extra requirement to simple faith, and thus people like this are even– dare I say it– bordering on cultic for making some teaching of the Bible in addition to the gospel an acid test for true Christian belief.”

Now this person certainly was a Calvinist, as they declared: “My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity….”

I had saved this comment to serve as a citation of Calvinist arrogance in equating Christian maturity with a belief in Calvinism. Now, I’m thankful that I saved it to serve as evidence that this person was, in fact, a legitimate Calvinist, though one who simply disagreed that salvation required a belief in Calvinism, a view many other Calvinists share as well…but not one particular Calvinist who identified himself as a member of “Sovereign Grace Church,” and who expressed his disagreement accordingly:

Sovereign Grace Church: “Separate ‘the doctrine of election’…from the gospel, and you accomplish nothing more than to demonstrate that you are wholly ignorant of both election and the gospel, and you condemn and shame yourself in a wicked act which makes a word game out of the salvation and love of Almighty God. … If anyone reading this has used this argument, or has been under the influence of this devilish reasoning, I call upon you to throw yourself before God and plead for his mercy– or you will eternally perish. … Having established, as we have, that belief in the gospel and belief in the ‘doctrine of election’ can not be separated if we are going do define faith, the folly and arrogance of this point can be illustrated by substituting the word ‘gospel’ for ‘election’. Consider the following sentence: ‘Yes, the gospel is true, because everything in the Bible is true. It is not essential truth for salvation. It may take a true Christian years, or even a lifetime, to grow into an understanding of the gospel or its implications. Or, a Christian may never come to understand or believe the gospel. No matter, God will straighten them out when they get to heaven.’ A person who believes and teaches this wicked nonsense is ignorant of the gospel, and, if they do not repent of their sin against the grace and heart of God, will undoubtedly be among those who are ‘straightened out’ in the sense of Matthew 7:21-23. This is not a game. Those who defend the false gospel, while saying they themselves are ‘Reformed’, express a wickedness far in excess of the ranting of people more explicitly identified with the lie such ‘Reformed’ people endorse in their fine sounding arguments.”

And there you have the meat of the conversation. Notice that the entire argument is built upon the premise that Calvinism is the Gospel. Although some Calvinists believe that, such as Charles Spurgeon, in his famous quote that Calvinism is just another nickname for the Gospel, not all Calvinists share that view. If it is the Gospel, one wonders why the Apostles themselves did not equate any of the distinctives of Calvinism with the Gospel. In reality, what we do find is that “Unlimited Atonement” is linked to the Gospel, most notably at 1st Corinthians chapter 15, when Paul stated that his Gospel message included the profession that Jesus died for our sins, and making no special mention that this only applied to a certain class of the lost. In fact, some Calvinists counsel that you should not indiscriminately tell people that Jesus loves them or that Jesus died for them, because if they are not one of the Calvinisticly elect, you could be lying to them. If anything, Calvinism is not only *never* identified with the Gospel in the Bible, but in fact, runs against it.