A news reporter from one of the Chicago daily papers recently attended a Presbyterian Church in the city. After the service he interviewed Rev. Richard S. McCarrol, the assistant to the superintendent of the Chicago Presbytery’s Church Extension Board. During the interview, Rev. McCarrol reported to him the following:
“Today the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination has been modified considerably. John Calvin, who founded the Presbyterian Church in Switzerland in 1517, held that it had already been determined when a man was born whether he would be saved or damned—and that was that. But today, the church maintains only that God knows in advance whether an individual will be saved because he seeks salvation, or be damned because he does not.”
This is clearly stated ‘the modern change in Calvinism’.
Because it is our conviction that ‘life and doctrine’ are inseparably related, we want to write in our department on this subject. Where the doctrine of Calvinism is distorted, it always follows that the Christian living of the Calvinist (??) is impaired. In view of this it is rather interesting that the same reporter writes further that at the service he attended that morning, the minister, Rev. Warren Studer, preached a sermon in just 90 seconds. His text was, “What thou doest, do quickly”, the words of Christ to Judas at the last passover. The minister supposedly fulfilled his mandate. Imagine! What counsel and guidance toward Christian living could be given in 90 seconds? How much of the Word of God and its application to Christian life could have been expounded?
Indeed, a perversion of Calvinism reflects in the mirror of Christian living.
We stress this, Christian youth, because that which the Rev. McCarrol states is true not only in the Presbyterian circles but by and large throughout the church world of our day. The infamous Point I of 1924 if consistently applied to Calvin’s truth of Predestination, must mean that the salvation and damnation of men is not determined by God in His eternal counsel (as Calvin believed), but that God saves and damns because men either accept or reject His gracious offer of salvation.
It is the abominable modern perversion of Calvinism!
The teaching that election is conditional (simple Arminianism) is but another formal presentation of the same detestable error. Nor do we rid ourselves of this undesirable modification of truth by limiting its scope to the sphere of the historical church. Were Calvin living, he would give his last ounce of strength to combat such changes of the truth he loved.
With the modern atmosphere filled with such tendencies, our glorious Calvinistic heritage is being dangerously assailed. It is imperative . . . compelling . . . that we, therefore, understand our truth and rise up to defend it. Our future as ‘living Christians’ is at stake for, as Calvin said:
“This great subject is not, as many imagine, a mere thorny and noisy disputation, nor a speculation which wearies the minds of men without any profit; but a solid discussion eminently adapted to the service of the godly, because it builds us up soundly in the faith, trains us to humility, and lifts us up into an admiration of the unbounded goodness of God towards us, while it elevates us to praise this goodness in our highest strains. (bold type mine, GVB). For there is not a more effectual means of building up faith than the giving our open ears to the election of God, which the Holy Spirit seals upon our hearts while we hear, shewing us that it stands in the eternal and immutable goodwill of God towards us; and that, therefore it cannot be moved or altered by any storms of the world, by any assaults of Satan, by any changes or by any fluctuations or weakness of the flesh. For our salvation is then sure to us, when we find the cause of it in the breast of God. (bold type mine, GVB).
So we understand that this is not a ‘doctrine’ for the theologians to wrangle about but rather a ‘practical, living, enjoyable experience’ of the children of God affording them unspeakable comfort here in this world of sin. Any compromise or distortion of this truth deprives us of that rich, comfortable experience. Because of this we want to emphasize a few things in connection with this truth in our department. Christian Living ascends and declines not with the knowledge ‘about’ this truth, but with the conscious experience of it. We are called to “live our “election”. To wit:
“And beside this, (i.e. God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness . . . His exceeding great and precious promises . . . vss. 3-4) giving a diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge (experience) of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore, the rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall.” (II Peter 1:5-10).
There is comfort in the above passage only when we understand “election” in the Scriptural and Calvinistic (unmodified) sense. There is a vast difference in believing that my election is contingent upon ‘my doing these things’ or that ‘my doing these things’ is an infallible evidence of the fact that God has chosen me from everlasting unto glory. The latter I believe is the emphasis in the passage above. If you do these things you will never fail. Why? The answer is because they are fruits of God having irrevocably, sovereignly elected you in His own gratuitous good pleasure.
“Not of works lest any man should boast”.
Augustine said, “Children of God were not chosen because God foreknew they would believe but in order that they might believe.”
That is our doctrine. We must have none of the modern modifications of this precious truth. Nor may we walk on a ‘double track’. We must as true Christians live the doctrine of the prophets, the apostles, of Christ … of Augustine, Calvin, Protestant Reformed.
But we will stop here and, D.V., say more about this next time!