The famous Charles Haddon Spurgeon of Victorian England was known as a Baptist Calvinist and invited speakers to his home church, the London Metropolitan Tabernacle, who were in unison with his understanding of the Word of God. For instance he invited the reknown American evangelist Dwight L. Moody but he did not invite Charles Finney. Charles Finney was a central figure in the spread of the Gospel in New York state but the effects of this movement expired after a generation. Finney was one who placed salvation on the shoulders of man himself moreso than upon the sovereignty of God. Another famous leader of the Arminian persuasion was John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. It is interesting to note that their current theology in many but not all churches in their denomination is steering away from the Bible.
It must be mentioned that Calvin’s teachings from the Bible were largely accepted in Christian Europe of the Reformation era, Victorian England and in Colonial America. When the banner of the Christian faith flew the highest, so did the believers’ understanding of the scriptures.
Pastor and author John MacArthur who submits to most of the teachings of Calvin himself, mentions a key reason why many refuse much of this doctrine today.
“There are many doctrines in the Bible that we cannot fully comprehend. We cannot fully fathom a Triune God or the Trinity. Neither can we fully understand a universe that seemingly continues forever. Nor can we understand why God chooses some for salvation and rejects others. This truth, however, is replete throughout the Word of God. We do not question the truth of the Trinity or an infinite universe even though we do not understand them. Why is God’s sovereignty, however, challenged in reference to His plan of salvation? It is because it takes the CONTROL for mankind’s eternal destiny away from him and places him helplessly at the mercy of God. Man does not like this and wants to make this choice on his own terms and when it is convenient. i.e. He desires to be his own saving agent in reference to his eternal destiny.” [John MacArthur does not desire to be called a Calvinist at all, since he rightly believes that he is ultimately submitting to the Word of God and not to a man and his teachings. John just happens to believe, however, that Calvin correctly understands the Bible in most doctrines].
When one understands that the sovereign God of the universe alone holds the keys to salvation, it takes all of the pressure off of the believer and gives us an utter dependence upon God for our salvation. It also gives us an understanding that we cannot “win souls to Christ,” as I have heard people tell me they have done for years. We depend upon God to touch their hearts as ONLY HE can do! A born again Christian is simply a conduit through whom God (the Holy Spirit) works. You and I are not big enough to save a soul!
In our final forthcoming study in this three part series, we will examine Martin Luther’s most famous book and greatest work called “Bondage of the Will,” whereby the famous reformer and theologian correctly states that fallen man, left to his own desires and without the intervention of God, does not have the ability to choose the correct path and remove his depravity from his sin sick soul. Man does not even have the will or desire to do this.
In Christ, Pastor Steve