Posted by: Marty | November 23, 2011

Calvinism–The Death Knell of Evangelism

Calvinism is and always has been the death knell of biblical evangelism. I know, I know, there are hyper-Calvinists and there are more “moderate” Calvinists but at its best Calvinism casts a chill on biblical evangelism and at its worst it absolutely kills biblical evangelism. In its most “hyper” form, it really borders on “another gospel.” It very nearly killed Baptist churches and missions in the 18th and 19th centuries–MT

November 23, 1697 – Dr. John Gill was born, who was to become an influential leader among the Particular Baptists of England during the 18th Century. He became a great scholar in Latin, Greek, logic, Rabbinical Hebrew, and the book of Zohar, with their ancient commentaries. He produced many works, including a commentary on the whole Bible. He still is acknowledged among Baptists as one of the most profound scholars. Armitage says of him, “And yet, with all his ability, he was so high a supralapsarian, that it is hard to distinguish him from an antinomian. For example, he could not invite sinners to the Savior, while he declared their guilt and condemnation, their need of the new birth; and held that God would convert such as He had elected to be saved, and so man must not interfere with His purposes by inviting men to Christ. Under this teaching His church steadily declined, and after half a century’s work he left but a mere handful.” During the same period of time, many General Baptists embraced the extreme liberalism of Arian and Socinian views fostered by the apostasy of the state churches. Between 1715 and 1750 their churches fell from 146 to 65. But the exaggerated emphasis on election and predestination dried up the springs of evangelism in the Particular Baptists and their churches were reduced from 220 to 146. This decline changed in 1750 when the spiritual awakening began to sweep England and America and men like Andrew Fuller began to emphasize the “Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.” It was Fuller who held the ropes in England, while Carey descended into the pit in India. May we learn that any truth taken to an extreme by rationalistic processes will become heresy that can lead to apostasy, and that always leads to the death of evangelism. Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson , pp. 488-89.  



    …..It is incredibly condescending to declare that “most of the ardent advocates of this movement have only a slight knowledge of Calvin or his system as set forth in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Dr. Estep further betrays an elitist mentality by charging contemporary Calvinists–along with James Boyce–of embracing a theological system “without adequate research.” It is not just distinguished professors of history who read primary source material from our evangelical and Baptist heritage. In fact, one could wish that Dr. Estep had relied more on the actual writings of the men he cited and not so much on undocumented secondary opinions.

    Had he done so he would never have perpetuated the myth that John Gill “prided himself on never extending an invitation for a sinner to trust Christ” during his 50-year pastorate. In addition, if Andrew Fuller were allowed to speak for himself we would see that he described himself unashamedly as a strict Calvinist who never opposed “true Calvinism” but only that “false Calvinism” which denies the duty of sinners to repent and believe the gospel. We would further see that he strongly defended what he called the “discriminating doctrines of grace” and quoted the very words of the Canons of Dort as a precise expression of his own sentiments.[2]

    2The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, ed. Joseph Belcher, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: American Publication Society, 1845), 2:330, 711-12. Anyone who doubts Fuller’s firm commitment to Calvinism should read his Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation and his Reply to Philanthropos, both of which are found in volume 2 of the above edition of his works.

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