The Gospel according to ROMAN CATHOLICISM
The Gospel according to Roman Catholicism is that all men fell into sin and are under sentence of eternal torment: that Christ accomplished a redemptive work which, supplemented by the sacrifice of the mass, and by prayers and penances, permits all believers (Roman Catholics) to escape that eternal torment, which will be the sure portion of all heretics, regardless of their good works or morals. As for its own people, it holds that even its highest officials, including Bishops and Popes, go to Purgatory for refinement, purification from sin and to be prepared for heaven.
It claims that some will spend only a short time in Purgatory, assisted out of it by the merit of prayers, masses, etc., on their behalf by their friends after death. But their expectation is that ultimately Purgatory will be no more, its thousands of millions being prepared for a better and happier condition. But according to all the great theologians of Papacy, and according to all the Papal bulls, ALL Protestants, all rejecters of Papacy's teachings, will suffer endless torment. This is the Roman Catholic Gospel fairly presented, as we understand it. It does not seem to us to be very good news--not very good tidings, even to those who get the very best it has to offer, and it certainly would be very bad tidings to all out of harmony with Papacy.
Let us next look at the great Protestant doctrine represented in the word Calvinism--the doctrine of the Election of the Church and the reprobation of all others, the non-elect.
The Gospel presented by CALVINISM.
Calvinism claims that faith in Christ is essential to salvation and it admits that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Calvinism requires more than a mere knowledge of Christ and belief in him as a good and exemplary man, who died a martyr to his too extreme convictions. It requires faith in Christ's death as a sacrifice for man's sin, and at least some manifestation towards righteousness of life before any could be recognized as being of the elect Church.
Consequently, according to Calvinism, the elect Church could not include the heathen of the present time and all the way back through the past, who have never heard of the only name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved. Stretched to its very broadest, Calvinism could not include more than one in twenty of earth's fifty thousand millions that are estimated to have lived from Adam's day until the present time. In other words, according to the broadest possible estimate of this view, more than forty-seven thousand millions of humanity were, in the language of The Westminster Confession of Faith, "passed by" as non-elect in the divine plan.
And what does this mean--"passed by" or "non-elect?" It means, according to Calvinism, that God, who knew the end from the beginning, before creating this world and mankind upon it, determined that he would "pass by" and not elect those forty-seven thousand millions of his creatures to life and happiness, but would predestine them to an eternity of torture, and that carrying out this diabolical plan, he prepared a great place large enough to hold forty-seven thousand millions, and fuel sufficient to produce the necessary combustion there to all eternity—did all this with a full appreciation of all the awful facts and circumstances of the case. (In full Malice)
Moreover, we remember the statement of Calvinism which many of us learned in our youth, to the effect that God's favor toward the elect is not because of any worthiness on their part, nor because of any works which they had done, but "of his own sovereign grace" he saves them from all the horrible conditions which he has predestined shall be upon the others.
Now if the salvation of the elect is not because of their works or worthiness, but because of God's sovereign grace only, the simplest mind can see that God might without any violation of principle have extended that sovereign grace to others--to all, since it was not because of worthiness nor because of works, but merely of his own volition that any are saved,--according to Calvinism. (This doesn’t sound like the God of Love I know)
Jonathan Edwards, when preaching upon this subject in New England years ago, after picturing the awful torment of the non-elect, was asked the question, Would not the thought of the anguish of the lost mar the bliss of God's people in glory?
His answer in substance was, No; you will be so changed that such matters will not affect you (you will lose all your compassion?); you will look over the battlements of heaven and see in torment your neighbors and friends, yea, your own parents and children, brothers and sisters, and turning round will praise God the louder because his justice is made manifest.
Now, my dear friends, I would not charge any here presently reading this post with having so false a view of the divine character and plan as this. Indeed, I am glad to note that many of our Calvinistic friends in general are repudiating this doctrine, realizing that there is in it a serious lack, not only as respects divine love, but also as respects divine justice.
In fact some of our Presbyterian friends were so moved by higher and nobler conceptions of the Almighty that they wished to rid themselves of any part in so blasphemous a statement respecting his character and his plan. I was sorry, however, when the matter of "the revision of the Presbyterian standards" was taken up it was found that only a minority was in favor of revision, and we are more sorry to note that that minority of intelligent, godly people was willing to continue to confess to such a horrible misstatement of their true views-- willing, shall we say, to continue to "blaspheme that holy name" because a majority of their brethren were unwilling that such blasphemous misrepresentations should be discontinued.
We believe that if this matter were brought to the intelligent attention of Presbyterians in general, a large majority would be found willing, nay, anxious, to undo the wrong and to make such reparation as would be within their power, by way of honoring the great Jehovah and attesting their appreciation of his love and his justice, as well as of his wisdom and of his power. This is just the point: Calvinism, in its anxiety to establish the wisdom and power of God, his foreknowledge and his ability to carry out his plan, has conceived of a plan which is far from the correct one, lacking both in justice and in love.
It may be argued that Love is a grace and that its exercise is not incumbent upon Jehovah; that all that could be asked or expected of him would be simple Justice, and some might be ready to claim that for God to eternally torment these forty-seven thousand millions "passed by" would be in strict accord with Justice.
This we deny! We claim that having the power to create mankind would not justify their creation if the Creator saw that the result would be the everlasting torture of a single creature. Justice would say that power is not to be exercised to the injury of another, and that to exercise the creative power under such foreknown conditions would be injustice.
And Wisdom attuned to Justice would say, Better a thousand times never to have created anybody than to have created one being to suffer unjustly eternally.
This statement, dear friends, is a fair, impartial statement of the Gospel according to our beloved brother, John Calvin, (We must keep in mind that he only had the light which was presently due at his day and age.) and those who subscribe to the Westminster Confession, and their allies.
This surely is not the Gospel of which the Apostle Paul, in our text, declared, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." Paul would assuredly have been ashamed of such a Gospel, and so are all true Christians, who have the true spirit of love and justice,--none more so, perhaps, than those who unfortunately, through circumstances of birth, etc., and hitherto without realizing what it meant, have been lending their name and influence to this great blasphemy against the divine character.
In our next post we will next take a look at the gospel according to the Armenian view.
Welcome to Christian Forums, a Christian Forum that recognizes that all Christians are a work in progress.
You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.
We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!