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25 September, 2007 / theexpositor

Those who championed the Doctrines of Grace

Calvinism: Its Champions from a radio message from Redeemer Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky

There are in Christianity two opposing views regarding the doctrine of salvation. (We here use the term Christianity in its widest possible sense, encompassing both that which is Biblical and true, and its counterfeit which is unbiblical and therefore heretical.) The Biblical doctrine of salvation declares that salvation is bestowed through the sovereign grace of God, totally apart from any virtue found in, or meritorious work performed by, the sinners who will be saved. The contrary doctrine declares that salvation is obtained from God through the sinner’s meritorious act of free will and faith.

The Biblical doctrine of salvation is nowadays generally called Calvinism. The contrary view is nowadays generally called Arminianism and/or Free-Willism.

Calvinism was the predominant Christian doctrine of salvation during the Reformation and into the 1900’s.

But Arminianism is certainly the more predominant doctrine in this age. And its modern champions, particularly its unholy and immoral tele-evangelists and priests, are blights upon all that is holy and sacred and even upon society as a whole.

Contrast these champions of Arminianism with the champions of Calvinism, such as the few which are here cited. 

Consider first the namesake of Calvinism, John Calvin, the Reformer of Geneva in the 1500’s. He was the foremost systematizer of Christian doctrine to his day and perhaps since, the leading teacher of the Reformation, a provider of refuge for persecuted souls in many lands, one of the greatest influences on the western world and of the French language in its modern form, but nevertheless one of the humblest and meekest men who ever lived. The 19th-century French historian Ernest Renan, a skeptic, went so far as to pronounce John Calvin “the most Christian man of his age.” And although he is vilified by Arminians today, the Christian historian Philip Schaff rightly acknowledges that “That those who know him best esteem him most”; and that “All impartial writers admit the purity and integrity, if not the sanctity, of his character, and his absolute freedom from love of gain and notoriety.”

The Reformers of France were Calvinists. They were the Huguenots. Their devotion to Christ and the gospel was so feared by their enemies that the Roman Catholics mercilessly attempted to forever quench their influence by murdering their leaders in the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris on August 24, 1572.

The Reformers of The Netherlands were Calvinists. Their leaders had received in Geneva, from John Calvin and his successors, refuge from Roman Catholic persecution. These Dutch Calvinists are renown today for having made one of the greatest defenses of the gospel during the Synod of Dort in 1618-19. Abraham Kuyper, one of their successors, served his country as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905.

The Reformers of Scotland were Calvinists. The first and foremost of these was John Knox, who also had found in Geneva refuge from Roman Catholic persecution. His efforts for Christ and the gospel were so notable that the Roman Catholic queen of Scotland said she feared him more than any other man. His successors , the Scottish Covenanters, have given to the Christian church some of the most valiant examples of unwavering defense and propagation of the truth.

The most notable Reformers of England were Calvinists. So eminent were they in personal conduct that they were called Puritans. They endeavored to fully reform the English Church from the “middle way” and merely political Reformation begun by King Henry VIII. The persecutions they suffered are at length recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Their successors at the Westminster Assembly in 1643-48 adopted the Westminster Confession, which remains to this day a foremost confession of the Christian church.

The most-notable Baptists of England in the 1600’s were Calvinists. Foremost among them were Benjamin Keach, Hanserd Knollys, and William Kiffin. They remained true to the faith after the Arminian Baptists had succumbed to anti-Trinitarianism. And they presented to the Christian church two enduring confessions of faith: the First London Confession of 1644; and the Second London Confession of 1689.

The most notable preachers of Wales were Calvinists. These include Methodists such as Howel Harris and Daniel Rowland, and the Baptist Christmas Evans.

The foremost settlers of New England were Calvinists. This was particularly true in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They are chronicled in Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana, which in English is translated Great Things of Christ in America.

The founders of the first colleges in America were Calvinists. Most of the Ivy League schools were begun by Calvinists as seminaries for gospel preachers. And the renowned Log College was another such school.

The most notable preachers of the greatest revival in American history were Calvinists. It was the Great Awakening of the 1740’s. Its foremost preachers were the New Englander Jonathan Edwards and the Englishman George Whitefield.

The first association of Baptist churches in America was comprised of Calvinists. It was the Philadelphia Association, from which sprang most of the other Baptist associations in America. It adopted in 1743 the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, adapted from the Calvinistic Second London Confession of 1689.

The founding fathers of the world’s largest group of Baptists were Calvinists. It is the Southern Baptist Convention, which today is sadly predominantly Arminian. Its foremost school, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, was founded by the Calvinist J.P. Boyce.

The most notable missionaries of the modern era were Calvinists. We stress this fact because Arminians misrepresent the truth when they accuse Calvinists of being unevangelistic and anti-missions. Notable Calvinistic missionaries include John Eliot, the first missionary to the American Indians, in the mid-1600’s; David Brainerd, another missionary to the American Indians about a century later; William Carey, the first English missionary to the Indian sub-continent; and Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary to the same place.

The translators of the most-highly revered English Bibles were Calvinists. These are the Geneva Bible translated in 1560 and the King James or Authorized Version translated in 1611.

The most notable allegorist of the English language was a Calvinist. He was John Bunyan, author of the allegories The Pilgrim’s Progress and The Holy War, penned in the 1600’s.

The author of what is perhaps Christianity’s favorite hymn was a Calvinist. It is Amazing Grace, penned by the converted slave trader John Newton. Other notable Calvinistic hymn-writers include Augustus Toplady, author of Rock of Ages; William Cowper, author of There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood; and Joseph Hart, author of Come, Ye Sinners.

The most notable preacher since the apostles was a Calvinist. He is Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” a Baptist pastor in England from 1851 to 1892, most notably at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle. Other well-known Calvinistic preachers include the Presbyterian Samuel Davies, the Anglican J.C. Ryle, D.M. Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel, and the Baptists J.C. Philpot, B.H. Carroll, and Henry Mahan.

The most notable commentator on the Holy Scriptures was a Calvinist. He is Matthew Henry, whose voluminous yet plain and simple commentaries resulted from his expository preaching in the 1600’s. Other notable Calvinistic commentators include of course John Calvin, and also the Baptist John Gill, the Reformed William Hendriksen, and all those whose commentaries are published today by the Banner of Truth Trust in Scotland.

The most notable of Christianity’s theologians were Calvinists. We here include of course John Calvin, who systematized the theology of Augustine in the fifth century. We include also Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof, J.L. Dagg, Charles Hodge and his son A.A., A.W. Pink, William Shedd, Cornelius Van Til, Gerhardus Vos, B.B. Warfield, and Thomas Watson.

Of such are the champions of Calvinism. What a contrast they are to the afore-mentioned modern champions of Arminianism, its tele-evangelists and priests. Let us pray the Lord of the Church will raise up many more Calvinistic champions in His church today!

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2 Comments

  1. Tad Groenendyk / Sep 25 2007 13 46

    I was born and raised a Calvinist but up until a couple of years ago hadn’t really grasped what I believed. After questions were raised to me by a very dear friend, I decided I had to know what I believed and why I believed it. This launched a rigorous study of Reformed and Calvinistic theology and the Bible (especially Romans). I have been driven to my knees thanking God for the reformers and the champions of the Reformed faith, which really should be called the BIBLICAL faith. Really, all the reformers including John Calvin did was to return the Church to its Biblical roots. What a blessing the reformed faith is to the Christian Soul, to know we are saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, CHRIST Alone! Thank you for placing this article tracing this history! God bless The Expositor and the Mike Corley Program!

  2. J. Brian McKillop / Sep 28 2007 16 02

    Thank you for an excellent article.

Comments are closed.