Skip to comments.Calvinism and Evangelism
Posted on 08/21/2008 1:45:32 PM PDT by Gamecock
Imagine, if you will, that you are a missionary. You have taken the classes you will need to get around in this new country. You know the common language well enough. You understand the customs and are confidant you wont make a scene your first day on the ground. There has been very little progress made in this locale, and that is why you were sent. It is your first missionary assignment, and you hope that God will use you to do great things among the people.
You are in a high place. The top of a building, or maybe a helicopter. You look down and see an ocean of humanity. From your classwork, you know that the crowd below you is not one that will be conducive to the gospel. Perhaps the country already has an established religion. Maybe atheism is the state sponsored religion. Either way, the reports show that less than one percent of the population is Christian. Youre still wet behind the ears and all of your ideas of building a church and waiting for the people to pack in to hear your masterfully orchestrated messages are beginning to fizzle.
What do you do? You despair of even making a dent for the gospel, let alone sparking a revival!
This is a makeshift scenario that has been met by many missionaries in the past. If you allow for the details of the setting to be adjusted, I would guess that most missionaries have faced a situation where there seems to be so much work to be done among a people who are so tuned out to the gospel that it seems pointless. That is where theology must come in. You must make a stand somewhere, and that stand can be made on your efforts or on the power of God to transform the sinner.
This is where Calvinism meets evangelism. Many have said that the two are at odds with one another, but that is not so. Calvinism will change the way you evangelize, but it will not keep you from reaching out to the lost. What it does do is affect our message, our methods and our motivations.
A Calvinist will not tell the unregenerate man that God loves him and has a wonderful plan for his life. It is not our place to give any man a false sense of security through a narcissistic message, no matter how well the lost man responds to such a message. If it is true that the heart is deceitful above all things, the Calvinist cannot, in good conscience, preach a gospel that speaks only to a deceitful heart. It is not our place to declare anyone righteous to any degree before God. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts men of their sin and who drives them to the cross. This work is accomplished through the word of God, empowered by the spirit of God.
Our methods can take on similar forms as the world around us, and that is often to our discredit. But consider this, you wont find many Calvinist bumper stickers on the road today. That is because we have seen too many examples of flash advertising that cheapens the name of Christ and because we have no desire to boast of our salvation. Try Jesus one sticker reads, as if Jesus offered test drives. Wise men still seek Him is another. Funny, I thought we had it on apostolic authority that nobody seeks after God. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. As if nothing is settled until you agree with what God said? The God of the Bible is replaced in the American psyche with an image of a detached Santa Claus, who really really really wants to give you a pony this Christmas. Assuming youve been good, of course.
Back up for a moment to the missionary example I gave earlier. A young missionary with high aspirations may wonder how he is supposed to reach all of these people. Why, they have supporters back home who expect results if their investment is to continue. You can look over the sea of faces and despair over how to go about winning this crowd to Christ or you can back up for a moment and remember that it is not your job to win anyone to Christ. Not a single person. When you go out into the field, your job is to preach the gospel to whoever will listen. Thats it. Sure, you may help in a hospital setting or some other pursuit, but your primary mission is to spread the gospel.
You will never know who is of the elect and who is not until God reveals them to you as new brothers and sisters in Christ, and you will rejoice all the more as a witness to a miracle no less incredible than the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And even if God grants you no converts, you can rest assured that God is using you to plant seeds. Another may come to water. But it is always God who gives the growth.
Calvinists are planters and waterers. We are not ones to try and take on the role of God by forcing growth where there is no growth. There are people who will accept the gospel and people who will reject the gospel. Whether the gospel is accepted or rejected, we strive for that gospel to be proclaimed in all of its truth. If we are to be messengers of the king, how can we be good and faithful servants if we do not proclaim the message we have been given?
We, of all Christians, should approach evangelism with the confidence of the efficacy of the Gospel.
I will go with John Wesley on this subject.
“Answer all [the Calvinists’] objections, as occasion offers, both in public and private. But take care to do this with all possible sweetness both of look and of accent...Make it a matter of constant and earnest prayer, that God would stop the plague.”
Interesting thought coming from an Arminian.
I consider Wesley more of a Methodist who believes that God loves everyone and doesn’t treat his creation as no better than ants.
But still an Arminian who believed God is sitting in Heaven wringing His hands hoping that some will choose Christ, but not daring to intervene.
Now I know that Arminians will deny that caricature, but the end result is the same.
Narcissistic? Hmmm. . .so Calvinists never say that God loves anyone? Then pray tell, how in the world do they share the gospel? Do they avoid verses such as John 3:16 that speak of God's love?
I just don't see how anyone can evangelize without mentioning God's love.
Wesleyians don’t believe God is sitting back and waiting. But God is active making himself available to all.
If God has already chosen then why did Christ die for the world’s salvation? Seems a little bit of a waste of time.
Sounds familiar.... The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (Luke 18:11)
And I think he was probably really glad he wasn't like one of those evil Arminians.....
Tell you what, FRiend -- a man who can talk as ugly as you can about a fellow Christian has no business posting self-righteous screeds about evangelism.
How can you have a revival when there has never been an establishment of said items in the first place?
Furthermore, why is the aforementioned completely inexperienced, still-wet-behind-the-ears given such a daunting missionary assignment, and apparently by all by himself? Is it some sort of test re: his dedication? Why would not a more experienced missionary be given this assignment, or at least accompany the newbie?
If you are a Calvinist you need no training or support. God has already decided. The Calvinist missionaries main job seems to be to drive around the countryside and yell JESUS!
God did the rest eons ago.
I am a methodist elder and Wesley was wrong to call calvinism a plague. He acknowledged as much in his final reconciliation with George Whitfield.
Wesley and other remonstrants really hadn’t considered the implications of absolute foreknowledge, and arminians still do not. I believe they’ve misunderstood Arminius. Perhaps Arminius misunderstood the implications of absolute foreknowledge.
1. Does God know everything?
2. I cannot argue that Wesley believed Calvinism to be right theologically, but he came to believe that his friend, George Whitfield, was not a plague. In fact, he considered Whitfield to be a blessing.
As with so many things why He did this will have remain a mystery. Just as it is a mystery to me why Christ had to die for the sins of people God has already selected for eternal worship.
Before creation did God know that you would accept Christ and be saved?
Before creation did He know that Aldous Huxley would not accept Christ and be damned?
Narcissistic? Hmmm. . .so Calvinists never say that God loves anyone? Then pray tell, how in the world do they share the gospel? Do they avoid verses such as John 3:16 that speak of God’s love?
I just don’t see how anyone can evangelize without mentioning God’s love.
you betcha. They avoid John 3:16 or say that world doesn’t exactly mean everyone.
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