These were the words of James White during a Recent Dividing Line of The Dividing Line where Dr. White responded to Leighton Flowers regarding something that was done during the close of their recent debate on May 7th. Professor Flowers offered to take up a “love offering” if only Dr. White agreed not to use it to promote Calvinism. The audacity of the statement speaks for itself; however it does raise another question. How would you have responded? Now forget the specific situation between White and Flowers. We can be put in this situation in a myriad of ways.
For example, “you can serve here if you do not mention Calvinism”, “you can teach in this church as long as you do not use the word Calvinism”, “we will support your missionary efforts if you promise not to preach Calvinism”, “you can speak at this conference as long as you do not use the words, Calvinism, Reformed, Doctrines of Grace”, “I will endorse you book as long as you do not write about Calvinism” etc. Not only do such ridiculous request show the great disdain for Reformed Theology in many non-theological circles; it also calls into to question our knowledge of what Reformed theology is and how it impacts our lives, ministry and theology in general. It also calls into question our integrity as Reformed folks as well as the ethics of conceding to such requests.
For reformed folks, we understand that Reformed theology is really the theology of an entire world and life view. Calvinism is not simply one item of the list. As Spurgeon said, “it is a nickname to call it Calvinism… Calvinism is the gospel.” Of course what Charles meant by that is that the doctrines of grace rightly understood and applied affect every area of our life. Total depravity is essential to our anthropology. Election is essential to theology proper. The Christology cannot be understood apart from touching upon the doctrine of the Trinity, harmatology (doctrine of sin), and Christology (and many other points of doctrine). The overpowering grace of God is also crucial for informing our prayer life. We pray to a sovereign God that is able to turn the hearts of sinners according to His will. This will also inform our ecclesiology.
The more we understand God’s sovereign call, the more we realize our duty is to inform the will of man with the gospel and not attempt to manipulate the will of man with man-made tactics which produce scores of false conversions and give nothing more than false assurance. And finally, our view of eternal security is crucial to understand grace, sanctification and the love of the Father towards His children. Of course anyone familiar with Reformed theology knows that the 5 points, are but the elementary things upon which Reformed theology is built. In reality, Reformed theology is built upon the Solas of the Reformation, the sufficiency of Scripture and the highest view of God’s sovereignty and the authority of His word in the church above all man-made traditions.
So if someone offers to bless you with a financial gift or invites you to a conference or asks you to serve at a church upon the condition that you surrender your Reformed theology, to a genuinely Reformed believer the condition itself is an abject impossibility because we ought to be Reformed in everything that we do.
Soli Deo Gloria
Editor’s Note. This article was originally written by Emilio Ramos and posted at Red Grace Media and is being reprinted here with permission.
[Contributed by Landon Chapman]