Calvinism is the Non-gospel!
(Unless otherwise stated, all quotes are from The doctrine of God’s effectual call – MacArthur.)
Calvinists love claiming that calvinism is the gospel. They also love to make the preposterous claim that they preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, or similar outlandish statements.
MacArthur says: We plead with sinners. We take the gospel to the ends of the earth and we leave the secret things to the Lord but we follow the responsibility to call sinners to faith, knowing that those who come will have had a full atonement provided for them.
(The Doctrine of Actual Atonement Pt 1)
But which gospel is MacArthur talking about here? The general outward invitation of the gospel which he appears to define as ineffectual, or the effectual call that can only save those whom the calvinist God chose to go to heaven (the elect). See the following:
We’re not talking about what we could call the general call of the gospel, the general outward invitation of the gospel. We’re talking about something that comes only to the predestined and results in justification. And that is why it is called an efficacious call, or an effectual call.
Thus, according to MacArthur, the call of the gospel to the world in general is “the general outward invitation of the gospel” as contrasted with the effectual call which he claims is efficacious. From such statements one can only assume that MacArthur’s gospel is not effectual because it is a general call. So, what would the calvinist call the effectual call? Clearly not the gospel, as it is obviously ineffectual.
Yet MacArthur also appears to be saying that the gospel is what the sinner responds to.
When the gospel comes, the sinner is so eager to respond. ……..
You were chosen to be sanctified by the Spirit, you were chosen to put faith in the truth, and He called you to that through our gospel in order that you might gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So now the gospel is that which God uses to call you? Is this the general, outward, apparently ineffectual, invitation of the gospel, or is it now the effectual gospel call to the elect? Does this now mean that there are two types of calvinist gospel: the general outward call to all people, and the effectual call only to the elect? Do they preach a general gospel to the public in general and an effectual gospel to just the elect? That raises a lot of questions, especially how the calvinist is to know who gets what, so he may avoid preaching the wrong gospel to the wrong people! Maybe the calvinist God chooses whether it is general or specific? But the same point still applies: that somehow it still becomes a general outward call or a specific effectual call. But then the calvinists claim that the same gospel is preached to all and it is God who determines that only the elect should answer the specific effectual call. Obviously the calvinist God has altered that same gospel for the non-elect by changing it from a specific effectual call to a general outward call. It seems that the non-elect do not deserve to have an effectual gospel call!
Clearly it is not the sinner who determines who answers the call, whatever type it may be, because the calvinist God refuses to permit (by his sovereign will) any person to make any decision of any kind that could look like that person responding to the gospel against the calvinist God’s will. The calvinist God has chosen from the beginning of time just who will be saved and go to heaven, and who will not be saved and therefore go to hell. If you are on the list to go to heaven, then the calvinist God has decided that you will hear the gospel and you will respond; you cannot avoid being saved and spending eternity in heaven. If you are not on that list, you will not hear the effectual gospel call and respond; you will not be saved; you will not be going to heaven; you will be going to hell for eternity. The calvinist God has already decided this for all mankind from the beginning, and no-one may be removed nor added to the list of people heading to heaven (or hell!). Wherever you are going, it is your destiny, for all eternity! No-one may choose; only the calvinist God may choose people for heaven (and hell!). This is basic calvinist doctrine: man has no free will to choose his eternal future, either heaven or hell.
Yet MacArthur says: No one was ever saved against their will. No one was ever brought into the Kingdom kicking and screaming, protesting. No one was ever saved who was dragged against the grain of having dug their heels in. That is not what Scripture teaches. No one has ever been saved against his will. No one ever will be. Everybody who is saved is saved because they will to believe the gospel. In fact, they will with all their heart and soul to believe the gospel. No one is ever saved without being willing. It is an act of the will to believe.
So it is an act of the will to believe? Why, then, does MacArthur also teach (in that same document) that no sinner has the capacity to be willing.
No sinner has the capacity to be willing. …..
This is what we mean by “total depravity,” the utter inability of the sinner to be willing.
MacArthur also teaches that the calvinist God will make those unwilling sinners willing (assuming they have been “chosen” for heaven!).
No sinner is ever going to be willing until the power of God comes upon that sinner. There’s nothing in the sinner to make him willing. There’s nothing in the sinner, even under the best of the preacher’s effort. It is only when the power of God makes him willing that he becomes willing. …..
But it’s not that the sinner comes kicking, and screaming, and protesting, and trying to resist, because when the summons comes, the sinner is made willing. …..
The gospel alone is what God uses to awaken the sinner and He makes him willing, whereas he has never been willing before.
MacArthur uses some rather colourful and imaginative language to describe how God changes Paul from unwilling to willing on the road to Damascus.
He’s a good one to look at for this kind of call because when the call of God came on the life of the apostle Paul, it was a sovereign, divine, gracious, and irresistible summons. He was slammed in to the dirt on the road to Damascus with nothing to do but respond. He is called as an apostle.
Paul understood that he was just grabbed by the neck by God and awakened to the glory of Christ and saved and made an apostle.
Well, was Paul brought into the kingdom by an act of his belief, or was he dragged – sorry – slammed into the dirt, grabbed by the neck and made an apostle?
This MacArthur is apparently a very disorganised thinker, such that he doesn’t seem to be able to put ideas together consistently so that they actually lead to a single coherent conclusion. MacArthur seems to be either incompetent or else deliberately trying to deceive the elect. Or, probably, both! The gospel he claims to take to the ends of the earth is both general and ineffectual, and specific and effectual. Those elect people who hear the gospel are not able to be willing to respond, yet the calvinist God makes them willing, all without opposing man’s will which was not able to be willing without being opposed in this way!?? Paul wasn’t dragged in kicking and screaming, yet he is grabbed by the neck and slammed into the dirt. Sounds like a lot of rather forceful persuasion to me! (Unless it was an act of Paul’s will that he be grabbed by the neck and slammed into the dirt?)
The fact of the matter is that the gospel (of the Bible) is totally irrelevant to the calvinist God. He has already decided who will be saved, and he will apparently use the gospel to “save” them after they have already been called and made (against their wills?) to be willing to respond. Thus, to the calvinist, it is not the gospel which “saves” anyone, but the decision of the calvinist God from the start of time as to who would be going to heaven, and who wouldn’t be fortunate enough to go there. The same gospel, then, is general and ineffectual to the vast majority of the lost non-elect, while at the same time being specific and effectual to just those of the elect (the chosen of the calvinist God). Even then, the calvinist God must make them willing to respond before they are able to respond. Thus such a gospel becomes merely a consequence of having already been called to respond; and only those who are on that list of elect going to heaven will be called in order to be made willing to respond to that gospel.
Such a gospel becomes absolutely irrelevant, not being able to save anyone who wasn’t already on the list to be saved in the first place! Therefore, the gospel is only effectual once the calvinist God has decided that the sinner is to be made willing to respond. And this is the gospel that Paul taught was “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16)?! This calvinist gospel should be called the “non-power of the calvinist God unto non-salvation”!
The calvinist gospel is in reality a non-gospel, only able to save those who can never be lost (the elect, or chosen of God), and unable to save those who can never be saved (the non-elect, or the non-chosen of the calvinist God). You can only respond to the gospel after the calvinist God has made you willing to respond, as long as you have already been chosen for heaven. Of course, the Bible does teach that God chooses (elects) a group of people for salvation, but also that this choice is based upon man’s free will decision to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, a choice which is known by God from the beginning according to His foreknowledge of the future.
1 Peter 1:2a – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father
This is called the election conditional upon God’s foreknowledge of man’s response to the gospel. However, calvinists refuse to accept that man is able to make such a decision, even after the light of the gospel of Christ has opened his eyes to the truth.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Calvinists call their version of the election an “unconditional election”, where the calvinist God chooses his elect without any regard to any condition relating in any way at all to the sinner, hence “unconditional”. However, if the hearing of the gospel is how the calvinist God calls his elect, then that hearing of the gospel must be in itself a condition of response to God’s call. And calvinists cannot teach that salvation is conditional in any way upon the hearing of the gospel, because this would then be a condition of the election and therefore such election could not be unconditional. Thus the calvinist doctrine of salvation has to be unrelated to the gospel of the Bible.
And MacArthur is claimed by so many to be a great teacher and theologian? His logic is greatly flawed and he openly contradicts himself in “The Doctrine of God’s effectual call”. If he were to debate this topic, he would fail to win any points for clear and logical presentation of information. Instead, my comment on his debate is that he has delivered a confused and irrational presentation, using contradictory and fragmented logic. But, this is the non-gospel of the calvinists!
For further reading, try these.