Saturday, June 6, 2009

Forgotten Calvinists

The doctrines of grace, what Paul taught, the teachings of Jesus or in other words what has been called Calvinism, as regards God's work in the gospel: well it really covers God's work in all things and declares quite clearly and consistently that God alone receives ALL the credit!

These are doctrines that REQUIRE much diligent searching of scripture, it demands the rule that 'scripture doesn't contradict itself' to be upheld. It is very apparent that MANY do NOT diligently search the scriptures and it would be no wonder that there is so much confusion. Beyond that it takes great humility to allow the scriptures to speak plainly. Yet when we do not regularly feed on the word, then we are left to 'feel' around for truth, which often comes through mass consensus (what does everyone else say) and to add to that, our weak logic will also lead us to think that those preachers and teachers that are most known must be (because popularity must equal success) authorities on the scripture we buy into the typical 'Christian' cliches'.

So it is no wonder that when Calvinists are pitted against contemporaries of different (variants of Arminianism) beliefs concerning the gospel and it's work, that even if they had more remarkable and especially more lasting fruit they are pushed towards the back. Whitefield and Wesley are prime examples, Wesley is the better known by far, and given the most credit. Although Whitefield was the head and shoulders above the rest, and though he spoke highly of Wesley, that has MUCH to do with grace not with discernment. For if they had belonged to one body and had both been elders, Wesley would have warranted discipline on numerous occasions!
If you wish to dive further into such histories then read Dallimore or Iain Murray on such things but that's not my intention to give short bios.
The point is that Whitefield has been shoved to the back because he held to what he called the doctrines of grace. It's very important to note that biographers/historians (popular) will do one of two things when it comes to this subject (Calvinism); either they will not give fair attention to the Calvinist (perhaps due to the lust of readers to read about 'events', great 'moments', not lasting fruit) OR when given no suitable alternative (no other preacher to put in front) they will do all they can to IGNORE what the man taught or believed! John Piper isn't the greatest biographer and his biographies are more likened to surveys, but to his credit Piper searches to find what a man truly believes and what motivates him, so read or listen to Piper's biographies as well.
Why then would preachers who happened to be Calvinists who had 'numerical' success (which is NOT the only kind, nor the test of success), be either pushed back or misrepresented? My theory is because their testimony DEFIES the logic of the NON-Calvinist. Which is 'Those who believe in Calvinism don't preach the gospel, don't love souls, and don't win souls'! Men such as Calvin, Mueller, Carey, Spurgeon, Edwards (which if it wasn't for his 'academic achievements' would also be totally forgotten), Whitefield, Nettleton, Lloyd-Jones and many many more.

I personally wish more was written about Asahel Nettleton, who might have been considered one of the greatest evangelists ever if it wasn't for the fact that he has been pushed behind the heretic Charles Finney. Do a search on this remarkable preacher who bore incredible fruit and was also a consistently biblical preacher.

2 comments:

Puritan

Brother, I don't think it's fair to say that Whitefield is supressed because he is a Calvinist.

I was wondering the question the other day, that if when clearly John Wesley was the man by far more used by God than any other man outside of the Bible, then why do we hear a lot more Spurgeon, Spurgeon, Spurgeon, and so little of Wesley. The answer is clearly that Wesley is pushed into the background because he's not a Calvinist.

In fact if it wasn't for his brother Charles' many great hymns I doubt we would hear much about Wesley at all.

Surely we should be studying the life and preaching of Wesley but hardly anyone does because he is not a Calvinist. Whereas Spurgeon takes front seat because he is a Calvinist.

I would also argue that Whitefield is often censored by HIGH-Calvinists themselves, because he would boldly declare "Jesus died for YOU". I think a lot of Calvinists would do well to read the likes of Whitefield, but they instead choose to censor and only read those who are inline with their strand of Calvinism, like James White, A.W. Pink, John Gill, John Owen, Eric Holberg, and choose to either ignore completely other strands of Calvinism OR falsely pretend all Calvinists believe exactly same on the doctrines of Grace which is absurd.

To say when Whitefield spoke highly about Wesley was "not with discernment" is I think a very poor comment. Perhaps Whitefleid was a lot more careful because he was speaking of a man who God loved and had the power of God on his life much more than anyone of his day or since.

And then to say:"For if they had belonged to one body and had both been elders, Wesley would have warranted discipline on numerous occasions!"

Firstly, they both did belong to the CofE, and were both hated by the Anglican church at large. But I think it's a poor sign when we think a preacher who God used to revive England and stop us having a revolution, should be disciplined for not being a Calvinist.

As Paul Washer said about non-Calvinist Leonard Ravenhill, "I'd take a Leonard Ravenhill any day over 20 dead Calvinists".

Julius Mickel

I don't think I spoke without warrant, in fact before I was a Calvinist I hardly ever heard of the Calvinist preachers. In fact what I said about Wesley being more known was taken partly from something Martyn Lloyd-Jones pointed out at the puritan conferences he spoke at (out of the book The Puritans)-so I stand by that point.
Disciplined for not being a Calvinist? Where did I say or imply that? Yes I may have stepped on the toes of some men who are often excused because of their being 'used' of God, but how is that different from any other form of pragmatism?
Regardless of Wesleys notable stories and quotables, he was the one who insisted on violently fighting over the doctrines of grace. Whitefield sought to be unified, although men also used greatly like Rowland Hill didn't esteem Wesley (apparently they couldn't ignore his inconsistencies). Is it fair or consistent to test only men who haven't been used in revivals?

Likewise the Founders Movement within the SBC is also a prime example of how Calvinists have been pushed back or their doctrinal stances ignored.
Spurgeon's fame can't be attested to him being a Calvinist, which is also why Phil Johnson on his front page (spurgeon.org) links an article showing Spurgeon to be a Calvinist, which was something I never heard for years (also a major reason for Iain Murray to publish the forgotten Spurgeon). I believe Spurgeon to be a better model of a shepherd who endured to the end.

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