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

Measure of Faith

In a prior post the idea that faith is a gift was explored (link). There are not many passages that describe faith as a gift, but in that post we did note two passages that do (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:9). In this post we will look at how a number of scholars understand the phrase “God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith” found in Romans 12:3.

For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3 NET)

Does the measure of faith given by God in Romans 12:3 mean that saving faith is a gift?

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via Wikimedia Commons

There are two primary ways to understand the phrase “God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith”. One
view is to understand “the measure of faith” as saving faith, which has been the focus of the letter to the Romans up to chapter 12.The other view is to understand this faith as being related to our spiritual gifts and how we use them as this fits the immediate context of the passage (see also Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:9; Eph 4:7). 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.