The following article is dedicated to the “Calvinist” or “Calvinist leaning” Calvary Chapel pastor who wrote me and asked:
“If Spurgeon/Lloyd-Jones were alive today, would you be warning the CC flock about them?”
He then went on an anti-Calvary Calvinist website and said “I would love to here the answer to this question”. What follows is my answer:
First of all, it does not matter (in so far as my views and objections to Calvinism are concerned) if a particular advocate of Calvinism is alive or with the Lord. Once they go on the public record as these men did, their views should be examined and evaluated in the light of Scripture. Both of them showed themselves to be less than shy about speaking against views they disagreed with. At the same time, from what I know, they did not personally attack or insult their theological opponents as some on both side of the Calvinist divide are inclined to do today-not just today but certainly today. I would put both of these men in the “Christian Gentlemen” category. I would put men Like Piper, Sproul, Packer and Kennedy in this same category. The first three are still with us and the last one has gone to be with the Lord.
There are many things that I agree with many Calvinists about. I respect the enthusiasm or passion for God that Piper is so well known for. That should be embraced in Calvary Chapel. I have always admired the clear and intelligent way that Sproul defends such doctrines as the Inerrancy of Scripture. That should be welcome by Calvary Chapel pastors. Much of what Packer says in his classic “Knowing God” is about as good as it gets. And who could deny the effectiveness of Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion? EE has been effectively used by many Calvinists in part because it does not rely on a “Reformed Gospel”. I only warn people of what a Calvinist is teaching if it is related to the distinctives of Calvinism. I agree with them that these distinctives are central to some very important matters. I disagree with them as they disagree with me on whether or not those distinctives are biblical or true.
I do not call them “stupid”, “idiots” or refer to them as “morally bankrupt” or “spiritually wicked” because I disagree with them. I always refer to them “respectfully” and do not see a need or justification to do otherwise. I even applaud Calvinists when they teach something I think is worthy of applause. It is the angry, hostile and often poorly-informed wanna be more Reformed than anyone else Christians that have made the discussion so needlessly ugly. While I like a lot of what Spurgeon says (much more than I disagree with him about) and quote him accordingly, I do warn the CC types about his Calvinism. He warned those he believed to be wrong on their doctrine of salvation and never felt like he was a blue-meanie for doing so. I feel the same way about warning Christians about Calvinism as he did about warning Christians about hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism.
I may be missing a lot, but I do not see Spurgeon or Jones on a quest or crusade or going out of their way to convert non-Calvinists to Calvinism. I could be wrong, but I do not think he went to non-Calvinist churches and tried to get them to become Calvinists. While I actually appreciate some of what some Calvinists are saying or even emphasizing (from Francis Chan to Vincent Cheung), on the distinctives of Calvinism I simply disagree with Calvinists and do so (I believe) respectfully. No need (in my view) for all the ungodly personal attacks on people who seem very godly to me, even if I disagree with them on important matters. A lot of hypo-Calvinists, perhaps more so than with what hypo-Calvinists call hyper-Calvinism, are aggressive, angry, and even hostile to other viewpoints and are on a quest and crusade to “Reform” the non-Reformed. But when I quote a leading Calvinist I do so accurately, fairly, and respectfully. It is not unchristian to be civil in our discourse on these important matters.
My educated guess is that
if a pastor formally associated with John McArthur began teaching “faith
before regeneration” or that “Christ died redemptively for the sins of
all people so that potentially all could be saved”, MacArthur and
company would be very intolerant and they would be given the “left foot
of fellowship”. Greg Laurie and MacArthur seem to be good friends. Greg
Lauri might even be allowed as a “guest speaker” at Masters, but
Laurie’s non-Reformed doctrine of salvation would not be tolerated at
Masters. Even if not deliberately or consciously, when they speak on the
matters central to the Calvinist controversy, what they affirm is a
denial of the other pastors’ doctrine. How could it be otherwise? And
unless they pay no attention or do not care about what their ministry
partners (those on staff with them in their respective churches) believe
on the doctrine of salvation (which I do not believe is the case) those