The Reign Of Grace (Part 1)

The following are my comments on portions of Abraham Booth’s, “The Reign Of Grace.” I have been reading this on my Kindle and then “copy and pasting” it from Google Books so I am unable to put exact page numbers as they vary widely.

“For as it [the gospel –CD] is entirely inconsistent with the natural notions of men concerning acceptance with God, and contrary to every scheme of salvation which human reason suggests; as it will admit of no co-partner in relieving a distressed conscience, or in bringing deliverance to a guilty soul, but leaves every one that slights it and seeks for assistance from any other quarter, to perish under an everlasting curse; so the pride of the self-sufficient kindles into resentment against it, as a most uncharitable doctrine and quite unsociable. Nor can the faithful dispensers of sacred truth fail to share in the honours of these reproaches.”

The nefarious notions of the natural man (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14) concerning acceptance with God are more than legion. The natural (i.e., unregenerate) man bereft of God’s Spirit is necessarily ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel (Romans 10:1-4). It is due to this ignorance that he immediately and inevitably seeks to establish his own righteousness. This zealous seeking to establish one’s own righteousness is seen when the sinner conditions salvation on himself in any way, shape, or form.

Some natural men seek to establish their own righteousness (cf. Romans 10:3) by asserting that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception since in this scheme it is NOT the righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes the ultimate difference between being accepted and being rejected by God, but the “righteousness” of the sinner. This insidious view necessarily implies that God rejects Christ’s righteousness but accepts the sinner’s righteousness.

Others will assert that God infallibly and irresistibly causes or enables sinners to meet the conditions of faith and repentance in order that they may be justified. According to their anti-biblical notions, elect sinners are enabled by the regenerating power of God to meet certain conditions as “instrumental” prerequisites or conditions to justification. In this scheme, elect sinners are NOT freely justified by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24); rather, they are freely and “graciously” enabled by God to meet conditions whereby God is in debt to them (cf. Romans 4:4, 11:6).

The vehement objection is that performance of conditions is NOT work or debt since the meeting of conditions was “graciously enabled.” What they don’t understand is that IF the sinner performs something as a condition for justification, THEN when God justifies that is debt, NOT grace. The only way it can be grace is if it is FREE. If conditions have to be met by the sinner (whether “graciously enabled” or not) then obviously the sinner is NOT being FREELY JUSTIFIED THROUGH THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST ALONE. Faith and repentance are NOT prerequisites to being justified, but immediate and inevitable fruits of those having been justified freely by His grace (Romans 3:24).

“For while they dare to affirm, that this gospel, so hateful to the sons of pride, exhibits the only way of a sinner’s access to his offended Sovereign; and that all who oppose it, and all who embrace its counterfeit, are left in the hands of divine justice without a Mediator; they are sure to be accounted persons of contracted minds, and very far from a liberal way of thinking. They are considered as the dupes of bigotry, and little better than the enemies of mankind.”

The true gospel is extremely hateful to the sons of pride and Arminians and tolerant Calvinists are among theses sons.

“He, indeed, who pretends to be a friend to revealed truth, but is cool and indifferent to its honour and interest; whose extensive charity is such, that he can allow those who widely differ from him in, the capital articles of the Christian faith, to be safe in their own way; may enjoy his peculiar sentiments without much fear of disturbance. But though such conduct maybe applauded, under a false notion of Christian candour, and of a catholic spirit; though it may be the way to maintain a friendly intercourse among multitudes whose leading sentiments are widely different; yet it will be deemed, by the God of truth as deserving no better name, than a joint opposition to the spirit and design of his gospel.”

This quote describes tolerant Calvinists quite well. They pretend to be a friend of revealed truth, though I’m not sure I would say they are merely “cool and indifferent to its honour and interest” since many tolerant Calvinists are zealously interested and concerned in opposing its honor and interest. I grant that among tolerant Calvinists there may be those who instead of generating responsive heat, exude a “cool indifference” towards essential life-and-death matters of the gospel.

The cross of Jesus Christ is THE capital article of the Christian faith. The tolerant Calvinist allows those who count the word of the cross as foolishness (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18) “to be safe in their own way” by speaking to them “peace, peace” when there is no peace. The “charity” of these tolerant Calvinist is just as extensive as the false prophets’ “charity” was in the days of Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 6:13-15).

Tolerant Calvinist attitudes vary as do their particular Calvinistic doctrines. It appears that the “higher” one goes in their Calvinism, the more vitriol they give to and receive in return from rabid Arminians. For example, Calvinists like John Owen, Augustus Toplady, and yes, even James White have used strong language against those Arminians whom they consider to be their spiritual brethren. Though in the case of Toplady, while he did consider at least some Arminians to be regenerate, it appears from his writings that he considered John Wesley to be unsaved (unregenerate).

In contrast to the above, the tolerant Calvinists who would be considered more cordial, irenic, and charitable by the haters of Truth are Calvinists like John Newton, John Howe, Charles Simeon, and perhaps men like John Piper.

Those who are actually closer to John Calvin in their theology are considered by the “higher” Calvinists to be more “moderate” Calvinists. Anyway, Calvinists similar to Calvin in their theology (or perhaps even a bit “lower” than Calvin) usually appear most “friendly” to those Arminians who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. The Calvinists who believe Jesus Christ died in some sense for the non-elect (yes, this IS GENUINE HISTORICAL CALVINISM)seem to have better relationships with God-hating Arminians than those Calvinists that deny that Christ died for everyone without exception.

Despite the increasing popularity of James White in Calvinist circles, I surmise that a fair amount of Calvinists wish he were a “Piper Calvinist” (One might also say a “Newton Calvinist” or a “Simeon Calvinist.” These “more charitable” Newton Calvinists would probably criticize White for his “strong language” (i.e., billows of bombastic bluster bereft of backbone) towards his spiritual brethren.

Of course, neither James White nor those who may admonish him to exude a “Piperian attitude” towards Arminians are true Christians, and they are certainly NOT valiant for the essential life-and-death truth of the power of Christ’s cross (the Greek is “dunamis” in 1 Corinthians 1:18).

I say this to demonstrate that on their own terms, many tolerant Calvinists and Arminians are engaging in divisive bickering and causing sinful schism which is the exact opposite of what Scripture says believers are to be doing. I say “on THEIR own terms” since in reality tolerant Calvinists and Arminians are nothing but bickering brothers in Satan, creating schism in their respective Synagogues (cf. Revelation 2:9).

The tolerant Calvinist candour and spirit of catholicity seeks unity at the expense of essential gospel truth. They “admonish” us with their notion of unity which is the very antithesis of true Christian unity spoken in Scripture.

“For such timid and lukewarm profession of truth, is little better than a denial of it; than open hostility against it. To seek for peace at the expense of truth, will be found, in the end, no other than a wicked conspiracy against both God and man. Such, however, as love the truth, will boldly declare against all its counterfeits, and every deviation from it: and, whatever may be the consequence, they will say with him of old, Though, we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel, Let him be accursed.”

The tolerant Calvinist “timid and lukewarm profession of truth” reeks of false humility and false love. A relatively subtle denial of truth is more wicked than a blatant denial of truth.

Tolerant Calvinists seek peace at the expense of truth and they strongly or gently (in either case wickedly) exhort us to do the same. We will NOT endure their insidious anti-biblical irenicism for even a second that the unadulterated truth of the gospel might continue. Theirs is a wicked conspiracy against the God of Truth and the souls of mankind. These men are NOT incompetent physicians with good intentions; they are destroyers of the souls of men. Their doctrine strengthens the hands of evildoers and says to those despising Jehovah, you shall have peace and evil shall not come on you (cf. Proverbs 6:32; Jeremiah 23:14-17).

Believers show true love by preaching the Light the tolerant Calvinists hate and refuse to come to, lest their evil deeds, doctrinal dung, and fruits unto death be exposed (John 3:19-20; Romans 6:20-21, 7:5; Philippians 3:8-9; Hebrews 9:14). We echo sentiments found in Galatians 1:8-9, Romans 9:1-2, 10:1, and 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. We desire their salvation in a way consistent with His attributes as a Just God and Savior. The fragrance of the knowledge of Christ is pleasing to God whether it leads to death or to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). God will be glorified in the salvation of those for whom Christ died and He will glorify Himself in the damnation of those for whom Christ did NOT die.

“Thus the genuine gospel will always appear like an insult on the taste of the public. Wherever it comes, if it be not received, it awakens disgust and provokes abhorrence. Nor can it be otherwise. For its principal design is, to mortify the pride of man, and to display the glory of grace; to throw all human excellence down to the dust, and to elevate, even to thrones of glory, the needy and the wretched; to show that every thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of Christ, is an abomination in the sight of God; and that he who is despised of men and abhorred by the nations, is Jehovah’s eternal delight.* The ancient gospel is an unceremonious thing. It pays no respect to the academic because of his profound learning; nor to the moralist on account of his upright conduct. It has not the least regard to the courtier, because of his pompous honours; nor to the devotee, for the sake of his zeal his righteousness.
* Isa. xlix. 7. Matt. iii. 17.

Booth says that the gospel “pays no respect to the academic because of his profound learning.” To quote one particular objection:

“So, [learning] is bad? [Learning] is bad. [Learning] is bad, then.”

Well, no. Learning and studying Scripture is NOT bad. The point is many false religionists set forth their academic credentials and years of study as unassailable proof that they are not twisting Scripture to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). It is always good to learn and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), but it is always bad to be ever learning, but never able to come to a full knowledge of the truth (cf. 2 Timothy 3:7).

“No, the potent prince and the abject slave, the wise philosopher and the ignorant rustic, the virtuous lady and the infamous prostitute, stand on the same level in its comprehensive sight. Its business is with the worthless and miserable, whomsoever they be. If these be relieved, its end is gained. If these be made happy, its Author is glorified, whatever may become of the rest. Toward these it constantly wears the most friendly aspect and rejoices to do them good. But the self-sufficient of every rank are treated by it with the utmost reserve, and beheld with a steady contempt. The hungry it filleth with good things, but the rich it sendeth empty away.

These considerations may serve to show us the true state of the case, as it stood between Paul and his opponents. The situation of things was much the same between Protestants and Papists, at and for some time after the Reformation. Nor will the apostolic doctrine ever fail to be attended with strenuous opposition and foul reproaches, while ignorance of its real nature, and legal pride, prevail in the hearts of men. Many, indeed, are the methods that have been devised, to render the unpalatable truth more generally acceptable, and to obviate the offence of the cross” (Abraham Booth, The Reign Of Grace).

Many Reformers believed Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception (though not in the exact same sense as Arminians believed). These God-hating Reformers obviated the offense of the cross as much as the Arminians and Papists. Despite obvious doctrinal variations and differences among Protestant Reformers, Arminians, and Papists, they ALL adhered to and had in common the God-hater-unifying-self-righteousness-establishing-Jesus-Christ-dishonoring-propitiatory-blood-nullifying doctrine of universal atonement.

It is clear how tolerant Calvinists obviate the cross of Jesus Christ when they tack it on as a non-essential doctrine that not all Christians believe and when they speak peace to those who count it utter foolishness, being ignorant of its powerful sinner-saving, reconciliation-bringing, sin-expiating, wrath-propitiatining, and everlasting-righteousness-establishing effects (cf. Daniel 9:24; John 1:29; Romans 3:21-26, 10:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 23-24).