What is the Full Gospel according to Calvinism?

In an interview, posted in October on the Desiring God site, John Piper was asked:

Can an Arminian preach the gospel effectively — Christ and him crucified?

This question was prompted by Charles Spurgeon’s claim that “[t]here is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism”.

Arminian’s do preach an effective gospel, affirms Piper, if by effective it is meant that there is “enough of gospel truth so that God is willing to use it to save sinners.” While admitting that an Arminian can preach an effective gospel, Piper underscores the point that they cannot preach a full gospel; only one that is defective and harmful.


Can an Arminian preach the gospel fully?
Can an Arminian preach the gospel without implicit or explicit theological defects?
Can an Arminian preach the gospel without tendencies that lead the church in harmful directions?
Can an Arminian preach the gospel in the most Christ-exalting way?
And my answer to all those questions would be: No, they can’t.

Piper explains that when gospel truth is presented it can and often is stated in such a way that both an Arminian and a Calvinist would readily accept it.

However, he rightly notes that as one unpacks the terminology in that presentation that there would be a different “direction” or meaning behind many of the words and phrases that are used. Differences that, Piper notes “really do matter as people grow in faith.” Continue reading

Does God want all to be saved? A response to Dr. Kruger.

Dr. Kruger is the President and Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). His interests in the formation of the NT canon and the early history of the church align with my interests in these areas. In a recent post on his blog (Canon Fodder), he writes about the question: does God really want all to be saved (link). It is a very short treatment, answering the question from a Reformed perspective.

By way of background, it is clear in Scripture that God’s desire is for all to be saved and none to perish (1 Tim 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; Deut 30:19; Ezek 18:23,32; 33:11).

In the Reformed view, those who will be saved and those who will perish are rooted in the unchangeable and unconditional decree (or choice) of God. It is by God’s design that some (known as the elect) are granted mercy and an efficacious, irresistible grace so that they are saved. And it is by design that others (known as the reprobate) do not receive this same mercy and grace insuring that they perish. Continue reading

Grace for All: Paul, the Potter, and Perspective? (Romans 9)

This post is a part of a series that is examining each essay in the recently published book Grace for All. 

Dr. James D. Strauss, who passed in 2014, was Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Lincoln Christian Seminary (link). His essay, edited by John D. Wagner tackles the challenging argument that Paul presents in Romans 9.

This chapter starts off a section that is widely accepted as starting in chapter 9 and continuing through to the end of chapter 11.

By Ks.mini (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

By Ks.mini via Wikimedia Commons

The section starts off with Paul’s concern for the Jewish people:

For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites … (Rom 9:3-4 NASB)

A concern that is marked throughout the section, as it is expressed again in chapter 10:

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Rom 10:1)

and again in chapter 11:

… Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them … (Rom 11:13-14)

It is within this context that Paul writes about God’s sovereign right to have mercy on whom He will, and harden whom He will (Rom 9:18) and to form His creation as He desires.

Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? (Rom 9:21)

In Arminius’s examination of Roman’s 9 he notes that it is important to settle the main thesis or question that Paul is addressing. He proposes the challenge that Paul will seek to refute is as follows:

Does not the word God become of none effect, if those of the Jews, who seek righteousness, not of faith, but of the law, are rejected by God.

Is that the right thesis that Paul is refuting?

On what idea does Paul base his argument? Continue reading