John Newton’s rebuke

“And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility that they are willing in words to debase the creature, and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of. Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit. Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and the man may have a heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with unorthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.”*

Perhaps this rebuke should cause most of us who unashamedly call ourselves “Calvinists” to tremble. We have at times ( and I guilty of it) elevated ourselves so high, that instead of exalting the doctrines of God’s Grace we have made it a stepping stone for the enhancement of our intellect, pride, and even, our self-righteousness.

We lose the beauty and majesty of grace when we reduce it to mere abstract theological jargon used to bring glory to ourselves. Remember Paul says that we are the “weak vessels” that bring a great message, not a great vessel that brings a weak message. The message of Grace is lost when presented by one who shows no grace. Sadly, most of us Calvinists have done just that. We have turned our focus on ourselves, our logic, and our abilities instead of stooping low to reveal the giver of Grace.

It is our highest aim to proclaim a doctrine that so diminishes us, as to make us look insignificant to the rest of humanity. And it is our highest aim to make God look so significant and glorious so as to make him the desire of nations. Let us not turn the purpose of Calvinism on its head by missing the goal.
* The Works of John Newton (quoted on pg. 30 of “Reformed is not Enough” by Douglas Wilson.

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