The Dangers of Calvinism (Part 1)


Mike picked up a booklet on the alleged dangers of Calvinism in 1998. Is the booklet right?


Two-age Sojourner: Pastoring, Parenting and the Power of the Gospel—with Mike and Luke Abendroth (Part 2)

Welcome, welcome, welcome. No Compromise Radio. Duplex Gratia.
My name's Mike Abendroth, and I don't know, today's show 3 ,700 -ish, 3 ,800.
I know that sounds like bragging, but I mean, there must be something that they can give me after 400 shows, 4 ,000 shows, 40 ,000 shows.
Oh, why do I sit in here and laugh? I don't know, I just imagine imaginary people in here, and it makes me think you're here and we're doing live radio, the kind of thing that you're in a mall or something and people walk by or,
I don't know, Super Bowl when, I don't know, fans walk by and you interview them,
I'm not sure. Mike at nocompromiseradio .com.
Just was on with Michael Beck, his brother Andre, and Nick and my son
Luke, two -age sojourner. That was fun. I like those guys.
It's easier to talk about theology than it is my own parenting, but I gave it my shot.
That's what I was asked to do. Today, we're gonna have some fun. What do you mean? We normally have fun, don't we?
I have a little booklet in front of me published by Middletown Bible Church, Middleton, Middleton, Connecticut.
And I went to a conference there in 1998 -ish and John Whitcomb was there doing,
I think, expositions in Zechariah. And so I went down there and the folks down there are not big on John MacArthur and stuff like that.
And so I was a master seminary grad and I went down there and I kind of felt, I don't know, felt weird.
But I found these booklets and one was called the dangers of reformed theology.
So I want to talk about that today, the dangers of reformed theology. And I'm not gonna read the whole booklet, but I thought
I'd go through this because it, to me, is very interesting. The dangers of reformed theology.
Before exposing some of the doctrinal dangers of reformed theology, let's consider some positive aspects of this movement.
So, good for them. The Bible is considered the only rule of faith in practice.
They describe that. Justification by faith is given its proper place. The grace of God is rightly exalted.
It is God -centered rather than man -centered. So far, so good, don't you think?
These are the positives, at least in today's day and age, you can say some nice things before you blast.
They're good people. Then you slander them. I'm not saying they're slandering.
That's not what I'm saying. Talking about that other subject. Those of reformed tradition have often a healthy fear of God and a strong abhorrence of sin.
Reformed theology, to its credit, can claim for itself numerous men of God. J .C. Ryle, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Edwards Warfield, Machen, it says here
Baxter, but he's not reformed, but that's all right, Lloyd -Jones, John Murray, Arthur Pink, just to name a few.
And lastly, number seven, those in the reformed tradition have been very successful in making their views known, using their pen in a mighty way.
So, you know what? Good for them. I think I know who wrote this, but it doesn't say here on the sheet, it says questions or correspondence may be sent to George Zeller.
And I think he did write it, but that's okay. I just want to talk about some of the dangers of reformed theology.
So again, this is nothing personal. This just has to do with this booklet. And these are some of the dangers. I wonder if I ask you, what would the dangers of reformed theology be?
I guess without reading through this booklet, I would say things like pride, denying the free offer of the gospel.
We'd want to avoid that. I don't think reformed theology denies the free offer of the gospel. We just want to make sure that we don't do that.
It could be a possible danger if we're so focused on sovereignty and reprobation, or we're some kind of supra -lapsarian or something like that.
So there are certainly dangers. Self -righteousness, did
I say pride? But according to this booklet, number one on the list, it doesn't say in order of importance, but just number one, the danger of teaching that Christ died only for the elect.
Christ died for all men without distinction, but he did not die for all men without exception. He died for all kinds of people in all classes of people.
He did not die for every single person. He died for Jews, Gentiles, rich, poor, slave, free, male, female, but only for the elect
Jews and Gentiles, only elect rich and poor. Therefore, I think they're representing that position correctly.
They just think it's a danger. And then they list that he died for all, for every man, for the world, for the sins of the whole world, for the ungodly, for false teachers, for many, for Israel, for the church, for me.
And a guy named Dr. Paul Reiter put that list together. The real question they said is, is it biblical?
We are told that simple verses such as John 3, 16 and Isaiah 53, six must be understood, not as a child would understand them, but as a theologian would understand them.
I mean, I think I could teach the children that when I say all, it can be all relative and all inclusive.
I probably wouldn't use those words relative and inclusive, but I would say all or all kinds of.
I think I could teach that to a child. I think I could use animals to teach that lesson.
All animals are all kinds of animals and there's lots of different ways we could go about it, but I don't think that's a very good argument against it.
I mean, we could do exegetical. Let's study 1 Timothy 2, verses four and six. Let's study
Hebrews 2, nine, and we can work through it that way. But just to say, all has to mean all.
I mean, you just look at the English translation with pas and panta for all. It could mean all or it could mean all kinds.
So it just depends on how the translators are going to translate it. One reformed writer says this, as a matter of fact,
I better find out in the end notes here who did say this. J. Adams, oh, is he a reformer?
A reformed writer. I should have guessed by the first two words, but counselors as Christians are obligated to present the claims of Christ.
They must present the good news that Christ died on the cross in the place of his own, that he bore the guilt and suffered the penalty for their sins.
He died that all whom the father had given to him might come unto him and have life everlasting.
As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that the counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, but they cannot say that.
No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died.
In other words, they're using this J. Adams quote to say, see, don't ever tell an unbeliever
Jesus died for you. Now, one of the things we could probably work through is Paul's preaching,
Peter's preaching, other preaching, Stephen, is that what they say Jesus died for you?
I'm not so sure I see things like that when he's or they are talking to unbelievers.
C .H. Macintosh is quoted here favorably, a disciple of the high school of doctrine that is extreme
Calvinism will not hear of a worldwide gospel of God's love to the world of glad tidings to every creature under heaven.
He has only gotten a gospel for the elect. See, that's not true at all.
Hyper -Calvinism, many different forms of hyper -Calvinism. One form is you don't pray.
Another form is you don't evangelize. Another form is no love of God for the non -elect.
Now there's a difference between saving love and general love, but there still is a love of beneficial.
I can't think of the words. Beneficent, it's easier for me to say.
So anyway, they say that's a danger. You should say instead,
Christ may have died for your sins if you're one of God's elect. I don't know what books they recommend.
The Death of Christ by Dowdy and The Death Christ Died Leitner and Systematic Theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer.
Dangers of Retorn Theology, Middleton Bible Church. Danger that teaching regeneration precedes faith, that regeneration precedes faith.
The doctrine of man's total depravity has been abused by the extreme Calvinists, resulting in a wrong understanding of man's inability.
They shouldn't say extreme Calvinists because that's true, but they just should say Calvinists. They're putting extreme there for what
I don't know. Kind of like, are you a hyper Calvinist?
What does that mean? Well, you're more Calvinistic than me. No, these are theological terms that we need to make sure we have the right definition to.
And hyper Calvinism isn't Calvinism and extreme Calvinism isn't Calvinism. Could extreme Calvinism be hyper
Calvinism? I think in my mind, that's probably what they're thinking. Philippian Jayler asked, what must
I do to be saved? Some extreme Calvinist, if they had been in Paul's place, would have answered, what must you do to be saved?
Nothing, absolutely nothing. You're spiritually dead and totally unable to respond to God until you're regenerated.
The Bible clearly teaches, believe and thou shall live, verily, verily, I say unto you that he believeth on me, hath everlasting life.
The extreme Calvinist says, live and thou shall believe. No, no, that's not true.
The extreme Calvinist should change the words to live and look instead of look and live in the hymn. See, I just don't think this is helpful.
I mean, this is back to the deal when, you know, I'm a dispensationalist and I didn't like the covenantalist eschatology view to be saying, well, you know,
I'm like Tim LaHaye, right? I'm like Darby or something like that. I didn't like that. And I'm sure they didn't like it if I said, you have replacement theology and you allegorize all these things because that's not true and it's not fair.
So now that I'm not a dispensationalist, I guess I'm still, well,
I'm reticent like I should be to just make little canards, little false statements. Let's just sit down and work through this versus you're gonna blast me in essentially an ad hominem way against the man.
And I'll do that with you. And so here, this extreme Calvinism talk and everything else, obviously in time, you can't have a regenerate unbeliever and you can't have a believing unregenerate.
That's true in time, but in theology, in the order of nature, you can't believe you're dead.
So God has to make you alive and you respond instantly with belief. But if you wanna know about an order, if you wanna know about a theological order, logical order even, theological logic, it has to be regeneration precedes faith.
And you can look at 1 John 5, verse one, if you'd like. Matter of fact, I'll look it up right now.
These are the words of John the Apostle. And I can just hear S. Lewis Johnson talk about this all the time because he,
S. Lewis Johnson, was going against Wolverd and the Dallas Seminary Statement of Faith that I think even today has regeneration not preceding faith, that faith has the priority.
1 John 5, one, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. So if you are believing, you already have been born of God.
And everyone who loves the father loves whoever has been born of him.
Interesting, the ESV Study Bible, they get it right. It says in the notes, in the liner notes, regeneration precedes faith.
Fascinating, God makes us alive, we respond with faith. Faith. And back to this extreme
Calvinism thing. I just wish they wouldn't do that. The extreme Calvinists have never satisfactorily answered this question of regeneration precedes faith and what must a sinner do to be regenerated?
Shedd's answer is typical because a sinner cannot believe he is instructed to perform the following duties. Read and hear the divine word, give serious application of the mind of truth, pray for the gift of the
Holy Spirit for conviction and regeneration. Extreme Calvinist deals with a rather lively spiritual corpse after all, so said
Roy Aldrich. The tragedy of this position is that it perverts the gospel.
The sinner is told that the condition of salvation is prayer instead of faith. Now, I don't know what Shedd said there because I'd like to see the context, but Shedd's, I'm not arguing with Shedd, I'm arguing with the
Bible. We are told to believe that's true. There are no conditions antecedent to faith.
I know we're not supposed to pray for the regeneration. I think you can pray, Lord, have mercy on me.
You could certainly do that. I believe that you have to tell people to believe, but logically, theologically, regeneration precedes faith.
Number three, Mike Abendroth here talking about the dangers of reformed theology according to Middleton Bible Church.
The danger of teaching that faith is the gift of God. About to drop my kefir.
Not my kefir. You belong in the circus,
Spock. Nice boy.
That's true, I just was telling my daughter who was in Amsterdam, visiting there.
She went to the Van Gogh Museum. I haven't been there since 1984. Starry, Starry Night used to be there.
I think it's someplace else now. They moved it 40 years ago. And I went back to Los Angeles after my trip to Amsterdam and Leonard Nimoy was playing in a play kind of off -Broadway.
I don't know what it's called. I mean, Broadway is not Los Angeles, obviously, but pretty big production. And it was called Vincent. And he played
Vincent Van Gogh. I wanted to see Spock live, so I had to go see him in the guise under the ruse of Vincent.
I don't know what happened to his ear there, but that was pre -Mike Tyson era. If you know what
I'm saying. The danger of teaching that faith is the gift of God. Many Reformed men wrongly conclude that the pronoun it in second chapter of Ephesians refers to faith.
For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourself. It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.
What Paul is really teaching is that salvation is the gift of God. The IFCA, what's
IFCA stand for? Independent Fundamental Church Association. I think that also known as I Fight Christians Anywhere.
Takes one to know one. We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man and received by personal faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is the gift. Faith is the hand of the heart that reaches out and receives the gift that God offers.
The fact that salvation is the gift of God is taught repeatedly throughout the New Testament. In the
New Testament, the word gift never refers to saving faith. I mean, what kind of exegesis is that?
It's crazy. Now they're going to talk about MacArthur and I don't think they appreciate
John's theology. Faith is a gift from God. It is permanent. The faith that God gives begets obedience.
God gave it to you and he sustains it. May God grant you a true saving faith, a permanent gift that begins in humility and brokenness over sin and ends up in obedience under righteousness.
That's true faith and it's a gift that only God can give. And if you desire it, pray and ask that he would grant it to you.
I have no idea of the context there or anything else as we teach here on No Compromise Radio. Saving faith is knowledge, assent, and trust.
And of course, the ground of salvation is Christ's work, the fruit, and the evidence of our salvation is obedience and following, et cetera, surrendering, et cetera.
But here's what they're trying to say. Quote, notice carefully what MacArthur is doing. He's telling the sinner not to believe on the
Lord Jesus, but to pray and ask God to grant the gift of faith. This perverts the gospel of Christ by making the condition of salvation prayer instead of faith.
I mean, pervert's pretty big. That's the second time pervert has been used in the last two pages.
And I think they're just hunting and picking different things that are said. I don't know where John said that.
I'm not going to look it up. I think that if you understand that faith is a gift, and Acts 16 talks about,
I think it's Acts 16, I could be wrong, that you believe by grace,
Philippians 1, verse 29, that faith is a gift. I would argue that Ephesians 2, 8 and 9, everything about salvation is gracious.
And so how can a dead man believe? You have to be born again so that you can believe.
Number four on No Compromise Radio here today, dangers of reformed theology, the danger of adding additional requirements to saving faith.
I don't think reform did this. I mean, Baxter did, Joseph Alain seemed to,
Matthew Mead, some of those folks. And of course, I don't think the writer of this little track understands the difference between Calvinism and reformed faith, capital
R, small r, truly reformed, et cetera, but that's another show. I leave you to my friend,
Scott Clark, to talk about that. And while I might not be reformed, capital
R, I know one when I see one. The dangers of adding requirements to saving faith.
In recent years, many reformed men, and I don't think they were reformed men, I think they're Calvinistic men, doctrines of grace men, have been strongly promoting what has been called lordship salvation.
Let's see if he gets this right. Essentially, lordship salvation teaches that simple faith in Jesus is not enough.
Something else is needed. Now, if he means simple faith is not enough, knowledge of sin and trust, okay, there are some
Calvinistic people that teach that something more is needed. A solid commitment to Christ is needed.
A person needs to surrender to the lordship of Jesus. A willingness to obey Christ's commands is a necessary condition.
Also, the sinner must fulfill the demands of discipleship or at least be willing to fulfill them. Anywho, I don't know the quotes that he has to teach those things, so I don't know where he's finding those by reformed men.
I just know that surrender and submission, you can look up my article online,
From Lordship to Law Gospel, and I will try to make the case that fiduciary categories like trust are the essence of saving faith, and volitional categories like surrender, submit, yield, those are categories of sanctification.
I have no problem with surrender, submission, yield, obey, love, commit.
I don't have problems with those, but not in order to be saved, but since you're saved. Consequent conditions, not antecedent conditions.
Things that happen after, fruit, not root. Ground is
Christ, fruit and evidence are these other things. Middleton says we must never forget that a person is saved because he throws himself upon the mercy of a loving
Savior who died for him. It's not our commitment that saves us, it is our Christ who saves us.
It's not our surrender that saves us, it's Christ who does. It is not what I do for God, it is what God has done for me.
Okay, that whole paragraph I agree with. I still don't know what reformed people are teaching this, what extreme
Calvinists are teaching this. We need to avoid the dangerous error of taking what should be the result of salvation and making it the requirement of salvation.
Okay, so far so good, I agree with that. It is because I'm saved that I surrender to his
Lordship. It's because I'm saved that I'm willing to follow him in obedience. It's because I'm saved that I agree to the terms of discipleship.
It's because I'm saved that I submit to his authority over every area of my life. I agree with all those.
Whoever wrote this little part, this section here, I wish they would have documented these other things. Who's teaching something that you must do in order to be saved?
I have a feeling I think I know who he's talking about, but requirement of salvation and result of salvation,
I get what they mean. It's the result of salvation, not a requirement of salvation. Behavior and fruit are the evidences of saving faith because they are not the essence of saving faith.
So how could he get this? How could he, the writer of this tract, get the first three so wrong? And so far, again, wishing that they would have footnoted and made these statements of who said these things, so far so good.
In this particular section, God's saving grace is to be found in the person of the
Lord Jesus, who alone can satisfy God's holiness and righteousness. Well, Lordship people, non -Lordship people, anti -Lordship people, they all believe that.
Have you been justified freely by the grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus? Is your hope built upon what you have done or is your hope built upon Jesus' blood and righteousness?
Anyway, the dangers of reformed theology. My problem with that whole section there, it's just included in this booklet.
That's the problem with that section. So besides the footnoting and not knowing who said what and just kind of making it up with, not making it up, but making it to have no substantiation, this is just kind of what's taught.
But that's not reformed theology. That's not Heidelberg. That's not Belgic. That's not
Westminster standards. That's not what's going on there.
You can read the Latin Baptist Confession, Savoy Confession, Westminster. You can read of repentance.
You can read saving faith. You can read of good works. And you're not gonna find it in any of those confessions somehow that there's a submission, a commitment, a discipleship or anything else before faith.
You're not gonna find that there. So what's the danger? And a lot of the
Lordship stuff that came out, especially early on, it's coming out of a dispensational camp. It's not coming out of reformed theology.
And even the anti -Lordship people like Zane Hodges and the non -Lordship people like Charles Ryrie, they too are coming at it from a dispensational point of view.
We have essentially Wesleyan Arminian dispensational type arguments by some men that would obviously teach reformed doctrines in other areas.
And I certainly will give them that. Very, very interesting that this is put in here.
It says other papers which deal with this important issue, save by grace alone, a clarification on the
Lordship issue, 30 cents. I don't know if that's the value. Salvation and discipleship, five cents.
And John MacArthur's teaching on Lordship salvation, $1. Saved by grace alone.
You get that one too. You don't have to order them both. Well, my name is
Mike Abendroth and we are going over Middleton Bible Church's dangers of reformed theology.
You can write me Mike at nocompromiseradio .com. I'm glad to be on the radio in Belize, in Alaska and in Wyoming, far away places, far away places.