A Response to Dr. John Compton’s “What is Calvinism?” : 2. Dr. Compton’s Conclusions Concerning Calvinism

[Introduction]

[1a.]

[1b.]

2. Dr. Compton’s Conclusions Concerning Calvinism

Dr. Compton argues for three conclusions concerning how Calvinism will harm churches. These three conclusions are as follow:

a.    Calvinism will kill missions.
b.    Calvinism will kill evangelism.
c.    Calvinism will split churches.

Points a. and b. above are similar enough that I will respond to them simultaneously. These points seem to be grounded in Dr. Compton’s false understanding of Irresistible grace, mentioned before, and are both proven false when we examine the historical evidence and contemporary evidence.

i. The historical evidence that Calvinism does not kill missions and evangelism:

Dr. Compton asserts that William Carey, “The father of modern missions,” was opposed by Calvinists in his missionary endeavors. This is rather obviously false, as Carey carried out his missionary work as a Particular Baptist (i.e., “Calvinistic” Baptist) minister, and wrote “The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation” as a Calvinist against the errors of the hyper-Calvinists. Other leading “Calvinistic” Baptist missionaries include Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, and Andrew Fuller.

ii. The contemporary evidence that Calvinism does not kill missions and evangelism:

Two examples of contemporary “Calvinistic” Baptist ministers who demonstrate that  Calvinism does not kill missions and evangelism are seen in the pastoral ministry of John Piper and the educational ministry of Albert Mohler.

- Calvinism does not kill missions and evangelism as demonstrated in the pastoral ministry of John Piper

John Piper, well-known for his Calvinistic theology, regularly preaches on missions as demonstrated by the more than two dozen sermon manuscripts specifically focused on missions found HERE. John Piper has been a regular speaker at the Passion Conference where he has influenced literally tens of thousands of college students to commit to not wasting their lives, to put aside any excuses, and to commit to missions for the glory of God. John Piper has led Bethlehem Baptist Church in a strong commitment to missions and evangelism; this is evident from the “Outreach” page on the Church website HERE, which demonstrates Bethlehem’s involvement on several foreign mission fields, in evangelism on college campuses, in outreach within neighborhoods around Bethlehem, in church planting and in other ministries.

- Calvinism does not kill missions and evangelism as demonstrated in the educational ministry of Albert Mohler

Since he has become president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.- a self-described five-point Calvinist- has led the Seminary in establishing the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions, and Church Growth, which is (of couse) dedicated to evangelism and missions, the very aspects of Christian life that Dr. Compton thinks are threatened by Calvinism. Under Dr. Mohler’s leadership, seminary students regularly partner with local churches, reaching out to Louisville in door-to-door evangelism. Several mission trips are conducted every year through the school. This year there is a special emphasis on missions and evangelism as Dr. Mohler has challenged the seminary community to embrace the dangerous task of boldly proclaiming the gospel throughout Louisville and throughout the world in what he calls “A Year of Living Dangerously.”

c. Response to Dr. Compton’s assertion that Calvinism will split churches

For this charge to be credible, Dr. Compton should produce evidence of clear-cut cases in which Calvinism (and not personality conflicts using the issue of Calvinism as an excuse) has led to church splits. Also Dr. Compton should realize that if he and others discontinue offering false definitions of Calvinism and raising false alarms over the disproven idea that Calvinism will kill missions and evangelism, then it be much easier for non-Calvinist Baptists to accept their Calvinistic brothers and sisters, thus leading to a decreased likelihood that Calvinism will split churches

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5 Comments on “A Response to Dr. John Compton’s “What is Calvinism?” : 2. Dr. Compton’s Conclusions Concerning Calvinism”

  1. genembridges Says:

    I quite like your last paragraph. I might add:

    It’s tempting sometimes to keep our mouths shut. After all, if the falsehoods will only lead to the greater liklihood of the doctrines of grace being accepted, then that’s to our advantage…BUT, we also have an obligation to correct those who make these presentations and hope they repent, because ultimately giving false presentations from the pulpit will undermine their own credibility as elders in their local churches – and by extension every other church they may serve in the future. They will also incur judgment for breaking the 9th commandment. Our obligation the 9th commandment outweighs any “advantage” allowing these folks to witter on may confer.

  2. Darrin Says:

    Some readers may not have seen the brief survey of several historic Calvinists, including Carey and Fuller, linked from the Founders Ministries blog:

    The historic evidence is certainly clear regarding missions. Men like Compton have no philosophical ground to stand on either. The fact that God chose His people inspires us all the more to see His elect brought to Himself. Opponents typically have no grasp of the concept of the “means” which is and has been a prominent theme among Calvinists. (Read some of the Puritans, for example.) In fact, resting in God’s sovereign choice gives a better perspective of evangelism: it is not of us, thus alleviating anxiety about our performance – but we recognize that we are His instruments for delivering the gospel, and so we heartily obey. Also, we do not judge by outward appearances – even those who appear the most unlikely to receive it may be among the elect!

    What a shaky situation the world is in if it ultimately depends on man’s feeble efforts to reach them.


  3. Gene:
    Good point! (as usual)

    Darrin:
    I was actually looking for that link; thanks for posting it!

  4. Howard Says:

    I am friends with a pastor whose church split over the issue of Calvinism. So Dr. Compton could easily have used this particular church as an example of a church split because of Calvinism. Or at least so it would seem.

    As it turns out, the people that caused the church split had no idea what Calvinism is. When they brought the issue up with the Pastor, he would ask them what Calvinism is. They could never answer. When they came to the pastor as a group, the pastor asked if they could all sit down and go to the Scriptures. Their response was amazing.

    “You will out-Scripture us.”

    As it turns out, Scripture was being rejected by the group in the name of rejecting the evils of Calvinism. (whatever that may mean)


  5. In point i you have accidentally attributed Fuller’s ‘Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation’ to William Carey. It was in fact the work of Andrew Fuller, who pastored the Particular Baptist church at Kettering in Northamptonshire.

    On the other had, the old English General Baptists never sent missionaries overseas (the New Connexion of General Baptists did, but I do not refer to them), and after a brief evangelistic flurry in the 17th century succumbed to Socinianism, denying Christ’s deity.


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