Sunday, 22 November 2009

Calvinism and Evangelism

Joy and I have just returned from a three week visit to the States, where I got to share a platform with my father-in-law at a School of Evangelism, attend my bro-in-law's wedding and where I got to visit two Bible centred mega churches, one less Bible centred megachurch and a growing new reformed church. My father-in law also gave me his copy of Christianity Today on Calvin the Comeback Kid.

The headline article reminded me of a comment a friend of mine made before we left for our trip, he said why are none of the great evangelists Calvinists? He then proceeded to name several evangelists most of whom were Calvinists. Calvinists are always perceived as being pre-occupied with election and unoccupied with evangelism, this is a misconception. As Mark Dever says, many Calvinists are terrible at personal evangelism but so are many Arminians. Some of the greatest evangelists of the past were Calvinists. Here is a wonderful quote from Timothy George's excellent article from C.T. in September 2009:
The elect are not the elite. There is no place in Calvin's thought for the kind of spiritual snobbery reflected in the old camp-meeting ditty, "we are the Lord's elected few/let all the rest be damned./There's room enough in hell for you,/we don't want heaven crammed!" The true Calvinist preaches the gospel promiscuously to all persons everywhere, aware that God alone infallibly knows all those who belong to Him.

In Calvin's day, Geneva became a great center for church planting, evangelism and even "foreign" missions: a group of Protestants supported by Admiral de Coligny carried the message of Christ to the far shores of Brazil in 1557, more than 60 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. William Carey, the father of modern missions in the 18th century, went to India with a Calvinist vision of a full-sized God- eternal, transcendent, holy, filled with compassion, soveriegnly working with His Holy Spirit to call unto Himself a people from every nation, tribe, and language upon the earth. -C.T. September 2009 p.30

The new reformed church I visited was a baptist church where before they went reformed, the church had had no conversions or baptisms from outside the congregation for years. They are now reaching college students with the gospel and are seeing both conversions and baptisms. They estimate by the end of the year they will have 50 baptisms. Awesome for a small college town.

Let us all be promiscuous in sharing the gospel with the whosoever!

Stephen <><

Friday, 13 November 2009

A Song worth singing

I was talking recently with some evangelicals of a different theological stance and they asked me what God was saying to me at the moment. I got to share how I am utterly amazed that as a sinner I have received God's undeserved kindness and how that brings real joy to my life. I was coming home from work a few weeks ago and was moved by Lamentations 'Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed.' How easy it is to forget that we do deserve God's wrath rather than his mercy. Forgetting that it is His love poured out into lives each day which stops us from being consumed by His holy wrath. Isaiah 12 talks about a day when someone will sing 'I will give thanks to you O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away that you might comfort me.' The realisation that we do deserve wrath is something worth singing about. That God and God alone is our source of strength, that He is our song and that He has become our salvation. Understanding the wrath we deserve is not morbid, it is delightful. It is delightful because it shows God's gracious kindness towards us as more marvelous. Grace is more amazing when you understand that you were a wretch.

Stephen <><