Still a further defining view of the Second-Waive
Reformation is that of Calvinism. We affirm that Calvinism is biblically sound
and logically inescapable. This system has its regular summary under the
acrostic T. U. L. I. P. However, it is important to note that many among the
Second Reformation do not like the terms Calvinism or the T. U. L. I. P.
acrostic. These titles can carry with them misunderstandings and undue
conflict. Instead, some have, replaced these terms, at least in common
conversation, by asserting the sovereignty of God over salvation. This allows
people to avoid these terms altogether. A conversation between Charles Simeon
and John Wesley serve as somewhat of a pattern that the Second-Wave Reformation
would hope to adapt:
“Sir, I understand that you are called
an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I
suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with
your permission I will ask you a few questions…. Pray, sir do you feel yourself
a depraved creature so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to
God, if God had not first put it into your heart?”
“Yes,” says the veteran, “I do
“And do you utterly despair of
recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation
solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”
“Yes, solely through Christ.”
“But, Sir, supposing you were at
first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards
by your own works?”
“No, I must be saved by Christ form
first to last.”
“Allowing, then, that you were
first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep
yourself by your own power?”
“What then, are you to be upheld
every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?”
“And is all your hope in the grace
and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?”
“Yes, I have no hope but in Him.”
“Then, Sir, with your leave I will
put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my
justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all I hold,
and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out of
terms and phrases to be grounded of contention between us, we will cordially
unite those things wherein we agree.”
This is not to say
that the Second-Wave Reformation minimizes the differences between Calvinism
and Arminianism. We are only asserting that the seeds of Calvinism are
However, it is
important to understand that when asked directly, both Calvinism and the
acrostic T. U. L. I. P. are generally
accepted. They will be used in this article out of convenience. This convenience
is due to the fact that these terms are largely understood among those who are
aware of the issues.
We affirm that man
is born dead in sin. This deadness is called “depravity.” Man cannot please
God, nor does he desire to please God. Man can accomplish acts of relative
goodness when compared to other men. However, man cannot live up to the
righteousness of God. Thereby man is displeasing to God. This condition is
inherited by the fall of Adam. Because Adam lost his innocence and favor with
God through sin, he could not pass these qualities onto his posterity. Humanity
extends to the entire individual. Every part of his anthropology has been
affected by sin. Even the will of man is polluted by sin. This is what is meant
Without an act of
regeneration by the Holy Spirit, man is incapable of responding to the offer of
Jesus said to them, “If God
were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came
not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It
is because you cannotbear to hear my word (John 8:42-43).
As it is
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
andthe way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18).
God, from eternity
past, chose or elected some to be saved. These He predestined out of His own
immutable council and will. He did not elect out of anything good or pleasing
found in the sinner. He did not elect based on foreseen acts of charity, or
belief. God’s election was unconditional concerning the recipient of salvation.
It is conditioned on and only on His own immutable will.
And when the Gentiles heard this,
they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were
appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).
And not only so, but also when
Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either
good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because
of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve
the younger” (Romans 9:10-12).
is the most controversial doctrine of Calvinism. Some aspects are even disputed
among those who consider themselves Calvinists. I will write more on the
disputes in a moment. Currently, I want to define the doctrine.]
Christ’s death had
such merit that it satisfied the wrath of God. This satisfaction was not
nebulous, but it had a definite purpose. Christ’s purpose was to propitiate the
sins of God’s elect. The atonement does not just make salvation possible but
assures it for His chosen. This definite and defining purpose limits the intention or scope of the
atonement. This means that satisfaction and propitiation was not accomplished for the non-elect in
the death of Jesus. In conjunction, even though the atonement is limited in its
intent, it is not limited in its value. If the Lord intended, it could be
applied to worlds and worlds of sinners.
Therefore I swear to the house of
Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or
offering forever (emphasis added,1
for this is my blood of the
covenant, which is poured out for many
for the forgiveness of sins (Emphasis added, Matthew 26:28).
So Christ, having been offered once
to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but
to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrew 9:28).
I mentioned above, there has been some controversy within Calvinistic circles
over this doctrine. Some have tried to seriously modify it in order to
synthesize it with biblical texts that seem to teach hypothetical universalism.
One system of
thought is known as the “duel intention” theory. This is also sometimes called
“Calvinism 4.5.” This theory teaches
that Christ did die for all men; however, He did so with different intents.
Christ died for all men, but He only intended to save the elect. One of the
advocates of this system, Dr. Eric Svendsen, has analogized that: he may buy an
entire news-paper with only the intention of keeping the sports page.
The rest of the paper he discards. Just because he keeps only the sports page
and discards the rest of the paper, does not limit the actual act of buying the
entire item. It only limits the intention.
These issues may
never be resolved. However, it is my opinion that Calvinism 4.5 is as far as
one can go and still be considered part of the Second-Wave Reformation. Or to
put it another way, if someone held to Calvinism 4.5, and he did not very from
the other points of Calvinism, I would still consider them within the circle of
Second-Wave Reformation thought. It is my opinion that this is an in house
debate among Calvinists. However, a total denial of definite atonement would
place one outside the realm of Second-Wave Reformation thought.
But it must be
said that I, along with most Calvinists, believe that there are some benefits of the Cross that could be
applied beyond the elect. The benefit of the atonement for the non-elect might
only be the delay of God’s judgment.]
Because man is dead in sin, it is necessary
for God to regenerate the sinner in order for them to respond to the gospel.
Thus regeneration is an act of God alone and precedes salvation. Regeneration
always results in repentance and salvation. God makes His grace irresistible
through this act. Regeneration is also known as the new birth.
But to all who did receive him,
who believed in his name,he gave the right to become children of
God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will
of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).
That which is born of the flesh is
flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel
that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes,
and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it
goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:6-8).
All that the Father gives me will
come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (emphasis added, John
Perseverance of the
The truly redeemed
will persevere in essential Christian doctrine
and practice until their death or
until the Lord returns. This is due to the fact that God’s elect are kept by
Him through all the trials of life. To put it simply, those who are truly saved
cannot lose their salvation. Salvation is an act of God’s righteousness from
beginning to end.
very important points must be made:
First, not all
those who claim to be saved are truly saved. This is to say that there are some
who fall away from the faith permanently. However, it is the Calvinistic belief
that those who do this were never
truly joined to Christ in a saving manner. This group of people largely exists
as a result of a preaching water-downed, prosperity-driven gospel. This type of
preaching is often accompanied by a host of other manipulative tasks often
intended to trick a person into saying the “sinner’s prayer.” Often people say
the sinner’s prayer unaccompanied by remorse over sin. For example: many have
said the sinner’s prayer as a result of the “evangelist” promising a “better”
life. Sometimes the evangelist will offer gifts if one will say the prayer. Dr.
Bob Morey tells of woman he observed giving away candy in order to persuade
children to ask Jesus to be their personal savior.
Next, it is
important to know that true Christians can and often due fall into gorse immorality.
The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints does not guarantee a perfect
walk. However, if they are truly elect God will discipline them. Occasionally,
this discipline can take the form of physical death. The Westminster Confession
of Faith puts it this way:
They, whom God has accepted in His
Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally
nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere
therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
Nevertheless, they may, through the
temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining
in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous
sins;and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure,
and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces
and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt
and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves]
My sheep hear my voice, and I know
them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,
and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to
me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s
hand (John 10:27-29).
And those whom he predestined he
also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he
justified he also glorified (Romans 8:30).
And I am sure of this, that he who
began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ
I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty
of God (Dowers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1991), pp. 13-14, citing Horae Homiliticae, Preface:I. xvii f.
Hypothetical universalism is the belief that Christ intended all humanity to be saved.
Therefore, there is no difference in Christ’s death for the lost and the saved
in extent and intent. The only difference is in the recipient. Christ’s
propitiation is dispensed upon faith, but this propitiation was intended for
everyone. This is sometimes called “four point Calvinism.”
is important to understand that full five point Calvinists do not deny that
Christ’s saving benefits are dispensed upon faith. However, they disagree in
the intent and extent of the atonement.
for more details about this system. Accessed prior to 9/30/07.
Morey, Charles Finny: The Man, the Myth,
and the Ledged (Audio produced by Faith Defenders).
Westminster Confession of Faith,
“Perseverance of the Saints,” sections 1, 3.