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.

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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

Life is like a …

On one of the Society of Evangelical Arminian (SEA) forums, we were exploring illustrations on how we might describe the world, specifically how can we describe the interactions between God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom and responsibility.

In one view life is like an improv show. Think of the show Whose Line is it Anyway? In that show several comedians would get up on stage and do what comedians are supposed to do – try to make people laugh. They would do this by acting out various scenes, making up songs, and throwing out various zingers.
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What really made the show entertaining was the fact that it was unscripted. The actors had to come up with their material on the fly.

But the show was not a free for all. The actors were free to do just about anything to get a laugh but had to work within certain constraints. The moderator Drew Carey would guide the comedians on stage influencing what was happening by setting up the theme and making available different props. Sometimes Drew would even interact with them as they performed playing off of what they were doing.

In another view, life is like a comedic movie. Well maybe not necessarily comedic but I was keeping with the theme above. The movie tells a story which is written out ahead of time in a script. office-space-miltonThe script describes everything that will happen in that movie, scene by scene. The lines that are said, the responses that people have, and actions they take, are all written out ahead of time. The script is there to make sure that the story is told in just the right way and ends up just they way it is supposed to.

The actors in the movie are each playing a part. They (usually) are not free to change what is going to happen. They must act in the ways that the script has predetermined they should, with the director, who oversees the whole project, making sure that the script is followed.

Why doesn’t God present the Gospel so all will believe?

Came across an old post (2006) by Sam Storms today as I was drinking my coffee. Storms, a Calvinist and contributor to Parchment & Pen, notes that the two traditions – Calvinism and Arminianism – “share a considerable amount of common theological ground, even when it comes to the issue of salvation.”

In sum, the Wesleyan Arminian analysis of fallen human nature does not differ fundamentally from the Calvinistic one. So wherein do they differ? Why do Wesleyan Arminians affirm conditional election and Calvinists affirm that election is unconditional? The answer is what is called prevenient (or preventing) grace

Throughout the post Storms is fair and accurate in his presentation. He quotes from several Arminian theologians (Wesley, Oden, Thiessen) as he accurately describes prevenient grace as providing “people with the ability to choose or reject God.”

Presenting prevenient grace properly does not mean Storms agrees with it. As he sees it there are numerous problems. Most are rooted in suspending God’s sovereign work “on the will of man” and giving people a reason to boast about their part in salvation.

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