I honestly stay stumped by those who think Calvin never made a mistake and those others who think he never said anything true. I also wonder how many out there are still interested in being objective and understanding both sides of any issue. I do not find that my rabid 5-point-DORT-calvinism-is-the-only-true-calvinism friends (both advocates and enemies believe this same indefensible point) are able to explain both sides of their issue-of-the-moment. It is embarrassing theologically not to be able to clearly explain both sides.
Here is Calvin’s error: We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone
Yes, he said it a little fancier, but it is the same point. Here is the idea…if you REALLY believe, then works MUST show up. DORT said it too…that you could fall into the most awful lifestyle for a long, long time; but eventually, if you are a TRUE believer, you will come back before you die.
Honestly, that is just simply made up.
And here’s the rub— if someone is in ‘sin’, how do you know he will ‘come back’ someday? You clearly do not.
And— If this same person may not REALLY be saved/justified, then he certainly can’t be assured of his destiny with God. True?
AND—WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you COULD fall into a sinful life in the future…and that would mean you COULD not really be saved…then HOW can you possibly be assured now?
Hence, Calvin’s error. Calvin was so defensive about the Catholic retort of “What about Works?” when he accurately explained FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE…that he compromised his theology and his logic. Don’t get me wrong…it does make sense…but only inside the framework of Calvin’s assumptions. Of course, it is mostly an issue of incongruence; Calvin did often stay away from co-mingling works and faith.
This view about works DOES NOT MAKE SENSE in reality. It is an assumption about the nature of faith AND and assumption about our ability to discern TRUE from FALSE works in others. Hey gang, God is the one who knows. But honestly, why don’t we see great populations of people getting ‘better’ in Christ as they age? Why don’t we see better doctrine over time (if people who are saved must get godlier and godlier)? It’s simple, people must also GROW SPIRITUALLY…which is a second choice / issue / concern. Salvation is apart from works, but spiritual growth is intimately connected to works.
Below is the info on my intensive labor on this issue…if you want to be loaded for bear (or for bearing witness)…300+ pages and 600+ footnotes lays it out. It also contains a mini-course in logic.
Recently a lady wrote me that she had studied this book and was in a small group meeting where she politely engaged the pastor who was trying to support Calvin’s Error. As she explained that assurance is only sustained when we look at Christ (and not ourselves) this lady spoke up in the meeting for that moment—testifying that she suddenly had assurance for the first time in 12 years! The wild thing was that it was her own pastor who was leading the group discussion.
Face it, as long as you look at yourself and your works, you will never be truly assured of heaven. And, as long as you look at others’ works, you will never be assured of heaven for them either.
THE POINT: LOOK TO CHRIST…AND KEEP LOOKING!
Now, please let’s get the word out. I’m finding this book is being used to convert both rabid Arminians and rabid Calvinists to the clarity found in affirming Faith Alone in Christ Alone, while dropping our lust for judging others. I know there are lots of questions…but most get addressed in the book.