George Bryson wrote the following:
THE “REFORMED” DOCTRINES
DOOM AND GLOOM
The First Point
The first side (the positive side) of the first point of Calvinism is that if you are one of those elected for salvation you will one day (in this life) inevitably be born again before the final judgment. When you are born again you will be given a new nature. As your old nature was an unbelieving nature so your new nature will be a believing nature. Here is how it unfolds. As a new born child of God you will (as a result of your new birth) believe in Jesus Christ. Because (and when) you believe in Jesus Christ you will be declared righteous and be guaranteed a place among the resurrection of the just-and at that time glorified for all eternity.
The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the first point is that if you are not one of the elect, you will not and cannot born again. Here is how it unfolds. Because you are not born again and will forever be stuck with your unbelieving nature you will not and cannot believe in Jesus Christ. Because you cannot believe in Jesus Christ in your unregenerate condition, you will not be justified. If you are not justified you will eventually be raised with the unjust, and finally be sentenced to everlasting shame and torment. This to is according to God’s sovereign will and good pleasure.
The Second Point
The first side (the positive side) of the second point of Calvinism is that if God has chosen you for salvation He did so unconditionally. You do not have to believe to become chosen for salvation but you were chosen and created for salvation and so you believe as a result of being elected and created for salvation.
The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the second point is that if God has not chosen you for salvation,-meaning He has chosen you for damnation-He did so unconditionally. You were chosen, decreed, and created for damnation. You cannot believe and are therefore damned for your unbelief because this is according to God’s sovereign will and for His glory and good pleasure.
The Third Point
The first side (the positive side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, Christ died for your sins so that the eternal decree for salvation would have an historical provision for salvation.
The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning you were chosen and created for damnation- Christ did not die for your sins because an eternal decree for damnation needs no historical provision for salvation.
The Fourth Point
The first side (the positive side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, God will irresistibly draw or efficaciously call you (applying saving grace to your life and circumstance) to Himself, first giving you a new life, which in turn brings with it a new nature, which is a believing nature, resulting in your certain and immediate justification and eventual and everlasting glorification.
The second side (the negative and doom and gloom side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning that you were chosen and created for damnation-you will not be irresistibly drawn, efficaciously called, and no saving grace will be extended to you, which means you will not and cannot be born again, which in turn means you cannot have faith in Christ and thereby be justified in this life or ultimately glorified in the next life. Instead you will suffer the torments of the everlasting lake of fire in accordance with the sovereign will of God because this is according to His good pleasure.
The Fifth Point
The first side (the positive side) of the fifth point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, the new nature you receive when you are born again, and the saving faith that comes with that new nature, and the justification that immediately follows faith insures that you will live (however imperfectly) a sanctified, holy, or righteous life in faith (practically speaking) for the most part, from the time of your regeneration until the time of your glorification. This perseverance in sanctification, holiness, or righteousness in faith, while not perfect is inevitable for the truly born again and will be to the end of this life for the elect. It is not as though the elect should not fail to persevere (for the most part) but they cannot do so. If therefore a person appeared to be a saint earlier in life, but failed to persevere in faith and righteousness until the end of life, it proves he was never a saint or never born again, never had faith in Christ, and never had a holy and righteous life in faith to persevere in.
The second side (the negative and doom side) of the third point is that if you are not elect and created for salvation-meaning you are elect and chosen for damnation-you cannot be born again, have faith in Christ, live a holy or righteous life in faith for even one day, much less to the end of your life. Because God is sovereign and can do as He pleases with His creatures, God is free to mislead a person into thinking they are one of the elect, help them live much like the elect, but at the judgment reveal that they were convinced by God that they were one of the elect even though they were not. No matter how convinced someone is in thinking he is one of the elect, assurance of salvation and eternal life is impossible to secure. How could anyone know for certain that they will persevere to the end proving they were elect without actually having persevered to the end.
After many years (actually decades) of studying the Calvinist doctrines of grace, I am convinced that the best refutation of the five points of Calvinism is an accurate and honest explanation of the five points of Calvinism. Unfortunately most new converts to Calvinism are not aware of the flip side to the five points of Calvinism early on. Those who introduce Calvinism to the non-Calvinist believe that the new believer is not ready for the meatier stuff of Reformed theology. That, they say, should come only later when they can handle it. They reason that the positive side of each point is like simple arithmetic. The negative side is more like algebra or some other more complicated, difficult and higher form of math.
The truth is this; the negative side is not more difficult to understand for the new convert to Calvinism, it is more difficult to accept. The positive side seems more palatable whereas the negative side is difficult to swallow and some even choke on it. Full disclosure, early on and sometimes even later on, is a major hindrance to those committed to winning the non-Calvinist over to Calvinism. Admittedly, sometimes proponents of Calvinism do not lay it all out on the table because they themselves have not turned the coin over to see what is on the other side. Sometimes they ignore it. Sometimes they deny it. They are on the Reformed road and are trying to get others to join them. However, they have not gone very far and sometimes do not choose to go but a few blocks down the Reformed road. Some would like to believe that each of the five points of Calvinism are only five points of grace. It is too much (for them) to think that these five points also represent a very hard and harsh message of doom and gloom. In fact, John Piper happily concedes that:
The “Doctrines of Grace” (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints) are the warp and woof of the biblical gospel cherished by so many saints for centuries.
I responded as follows:
George, thanks again for chiming in on my blog. I just want to say in short that you are not representing the “Confessionally Reformed” tradition fairly. You may have met some obnoxious “5 pointers” and I can almost guarantee you that most have not actually read Calvin’s Institutes, nor the Confessional tradition that emanated from him (Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, Heidelberg Catechism). Calvin, along with the confessions, are very pastoral and present the doctrines of Scripture in a clear, yet necessarily nuanced form with regards to some doctrines that transcend our full ability to comprehend. Here’s an example from the Belgic Confession (emphasis mine):
Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence
We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.
Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.
We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.
In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.
George, on a personal note, I really wish you and CC would stop attacking Calvinism. I am meeting more and more former CC folks who have left because they were ostracized after claiming to like guys like John MacArthur, John Piper, and C.H. Spurgeon. It has gotten ridiculous out there. Do you seriously wish to continue to attack the Calvinistic understanding of God that MacArthur, Piper, Spurgeon, and the historical Church has held? Stop proclaiming that you are neutral on the Calvin-Arminian debate if you are going to continue to attack Calvinism and run very Godly pastors and “members” out of your churches and missions support because they share such convictions. I have met exCC folks who said that they would have remained in the fellowship with their Calvinisitic convictions if they weren’t attacked so vigorously. One gentleman told me that he was receiving correspondence from his CC friends about attending our church, whereas the concern was that we were heretical almost on the level of Mormonisn and JW. This is sad and I think you are partly responsible, unless of course you truly think we are borderline heretics, which means you should do everyone a service and tell all the CC bookstores to stop selling Tozer, MacArthur, Piper, Spurgeon, etc. My convictions are hardly any different from Spurgeon and yet his works are sold in most CC bookstores, whereas some CC members think that we as a church are almost heretical. Would you say the same about Spurgeon and his congregation? Consistency would definitely help, not only for your CC folks, but also for the church universal.
Grace and Peace…Rick