I’m quite surprised to see a growing number of books at the book shop which are theologically rooted in Calvinism. I have no qualms to use the term Calvinism at all, to cover the 5 main points of the doctrines of Grace, which are derived from Scriptures themselves. In an age of thinking too much about our own self, it is nice to see people going back to the great men of faith who were led by the Spirit and true to the Word.
Many who are young in faith (although they think otherwise due to deficiency in the church) believe that their own interpretation is enough to answer the doctrines of God. Such a low view of the standard of God and a high view of their aptitude. They forget the charge given by Paul to Timothy: 1Ti 6:20-21 – O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Instead, they try to get novel ideas on doctrines, thinking that it would sustain their practical spiritual life by such intellectual ‘games’.
What is prevalent is the lack of knowledge in church history. All they know is generalised second hand accounts. And they take these as evidence to scoff away at what has been handed down and preserved by God to us. They do not know that even before the Roman Catholic church was established, the doctrines of sovereign grace were widely accepted as a distinctive Christian doctrine. In fact, all else (what Arminians hold to) were called heretical.
Anyway, most of these ‘evangelicals’ think they have the aptitude to ‘teach’ a different gospel, on the single ground that ‘they believe’ it is so. They are quick (too quick) dismiss the work of the Spirit in the forefathers. And when pressed with real evidences, their only response is to pick on the human weaknesses of the forefathers, forgetting that by their own condemnation, they put the same measure on their own self.
It is funny to remember at this time Paul’s own struggle with the same type of people in his time – recounted in 2 Corinthians 10:7-11 – people who thought they were at the same level with Paul and ridiculed him because of his own ‘apparent plainess’. These people thought they had the Spirit in them, which showed forth in their ingenuity. But Paul’s simple objection is: the one with the Spirit, who are called to teach, who are called to lead, are those who have undergone many spiritual trials! Let Paul boast in those, for the boast is not worldly, but spiritual, and all glory goes to God alone! Come back to our time – these so called ‘teachers’ of our generation scoff at the Greats of the past, but when you look at their lives, they are remarkably been spared of spiritual hardship. Oh, don’t even begin with how these people would justify their spiritual hardship (I have to juggle with work and family life! I just lost money! I did not get the promotion! I had to decide where to go after this!)… as if theirs were really ‘great’. Paul answers: 2Co 11:23-28 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one–I am talking like a madman–with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. (24) Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; (26) on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; (27) in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (28) And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
That is why, the maxim of going back to the times of great struggles for great faith and doctrine is a biblical principle. Do not go to those periods of time where the Christians are fat in their worldliness… there’s nothing much for you to get there. You’ll end up being fat in worldliness yourself. With compromises after compromises.
Go back to the Reformation. Go back to the Puritans.
Go back to the Church Fathers.
And you’ll see the thread of Sovereign grace running down the years. Then you’ll exclaim with joy that the Lord indeed ensures that His word is preserved true from generation to generation.
So thank God for more Calvinism at Evangel!