Examination of Calvinism

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Another grave error of the system under review is that God had decreed beforehand that Adam should take of the forbidden fruit and so sin. Take the following quotation from Mr. Pink: "Before He formed him [Adam] out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, God knew exactly how the appointed test would terminate.... But we must go further: not only had God a perfect knowledge of the outcome of Adam's trial, not only did His omniscient eye see Adam eating of the forbidden fruit, but He decreed beforehand that he should do so.... If God had foreordained before the foundation of the world that Christ should, in due time, be offered as a sacrifice for sin, then it is unmistakably evident that God had foreordained sin should enter the world, and if so, that Adam should transgress and fall." pp. 305,306. Here we see the same human reasoning that departs from what God has said, simply in devotion to a predetermined scheme. Why is it "unmistakably evident" that God decreed that sin should enter the world? It is not evident at all. God placed Adam and Eve here in perfect innocence only; and, in order that His creatures should be intelligent, He gave them specific instructions and warned them of the consequences of disobedience. To leave man as an intelligent and responsible being, God had to leave the entrance of sin a distinct possibility. We admit that God foreknew how it would be resolved, but we affirm with decision that this does not involve God's eternal decree that man had to sin. Away with such a thought! for hedge about his teaching as Mr. Pink will, it cannot but reduce if not remove man's responsibility.
Let us notice some more of his rash boldness: "To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which at first may shock the reader [and well it may]; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency? No; to recognize that God has foreordained all the activities of evil, is to see that He is the Governor of sin." p. 308. His conclusions are wrong, and the attempt to speak for God thus, is revolting. God does restrain "the remainder of wrath" and set limits beyond which He will not allow rebellious man to go; but to make God the designer and governor of sin is preposterous. He endures with much long-suffering men who boldly sin, and that against His grace. When God saw the wickedness in the antediluvian earth, "it grieved Him at His heart" (Gen. 6:66And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (Genesis 6:6)). We may well ask, Did God design and order the sin, and then be grieved about it? The thought is the boldest presumption and is rashly irreverent. In the days of Israel's great breakdown, it is said that God "had compassion on His people" and sent messenger after messenger to have them turn from their evil ways. Mr. Pink would in substance have us believe that this was not so, for He had marked out their sin beforehand so that they could not depart from it. (See 2 Chron. 36.) Did the Lord Jesus weep over Jerusalem's sinful activities in their rejection of Him, and yet dictate their course so that they could not do otherwise? To make such an affirmation can only be evil. Time and time again throughout the Holy Word of God, it can be seen that God bore in patience with that which grieved Him. What is so blind as dedication to a theory, especially in theology!
Mr. Pink takes such a verse as this: "Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come" and then adds, "because God has foreordained them." p. 309. Is not this blind obsession with his own scheme? Who gave him or any other the right to interpolate those words into the text, or context?
Mr. Pink rejects the verse that says that God "wills all men to be saved," because Calvinism has already settled it that God has no desire that all men be saved; for according to it He has settled the issue by an eternal decree that they be damned. Mr. Pink recognizes no difference between God's will of desire that is in keeping with His nature, love, and His will of command, which orders and it comes to pass (p. 127).
Another error of Pinkism is to make God's foreknowledge of certain ones His "approbation and love." This he argues at some length and says that those to whom. He will yet say, "I never knew you," were not the objects of His approbation. pp. 70, 105. Now just what does such an argument prove? Does not approbation mean (according to Webster), "act of approving; approval; sanction; commendation"? If God back in eternity had approbation for those whom He chose, then election goes for nothing; for the word indicates only the approval of the thing chosen, and not supreme sovereignty at all.
On page 121, 1 Pet. 2:88And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:8) is forced to say that the Israelites who rejected Christ were appointed to be disobedient, whereas a careful examination will show that they, being disobedient, were appointed to stumble.
Election, which is God's sovereign choice, we believe, is often confused in Mr. Pink's book with predestination. These two things are not the same, for the latter is always spoken of as to something; as, to "be conformed to the image of His Son." Election is His choice of individuals, and not predestination; the latter is the thing to which He has appointed them, but neither is ever used to designate the doom of the wicked. Mr. Pink's chapter on God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility is a pitiable attempt to reconcile his doctrine with any offer of the gospel to the sinner. In one place he says that men are commanded to search the Scriptures, but he should know better than that. In John 5, where the verse is found, it is a challenge to the Jewish leaders, for the Lord really said to them: "YE search the scriptures, for ye think that in them ye have eternal life, and they it is which bear witness concerning Me, and ye will not come to Me that ye might have life." vv. 39, 40; J.N.D. Trans. They were guilty of willful rejection of Him, for they searched the Old Testament, and it gave ample evidence to His Person and work; but they would not come to Him. In another place, Mr. Pink approvingly quotes the Puritan Manton: "Let us do our duty, and refer the success to God, Whose ordinary practice it is to meet with the creature that seeketh after Him." p. 196. What is this but a gospel of works? And did not God say "there is none that seeketh after God"? (Rom. 3:1111There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (Romans 3:11)). Is not this setting aside of man's total ruin? which Calvinism is supposed to set forth.
The same thing is advanced on page 199: "His [man's] second duty is to cry to God for His enabling power-to ask God in mercy to overcome his enmity, and 'draw' him to Christ; to bestow upon him the gift of repentance and faith. If he will do so, sincerely from the heart, then most surely God will respond to his appeal." Can any man apart from the Holy Spirit's work in him draw nigh to God in this manner? for in coming to God thus, the man must have faith-"He that cometh to God must believe that He is." Is not this asking man to take the first step to salvation on his own strength, when he is "without strength"? How can a man in nature "sincerely from the heart" approach God, for his heart is incurably bad (Jer. 17:99The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)).
Other remarks on the preaching of the gospel are indeed strange: "God suffers the Gospel to fall on the ears of the non-elect.... The preaching of the Gospel to the non-elect is made an admirable test of their characters." What strange language! Is God using His precious gospel concerning His Son just to test characters? Man was proved bad long before, according to Rom. 3 His trial was over then, for it ended in the cross.
When Mr. Pink says (p. 234), "God has to put His laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts (see Heb. 8:1010For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (Hebrews 8:10))," he is applying to us what strictly belongs to the houses of Israel and Judah in the Millennium-see Jer. 31:31-3431Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31‑34). Christ in our hearts and occupation with Him in glory are the safeguards of our conduct, not the law given to Israel-of-old being in our hearts. To say this is to lower the whole standard of Christian living.
Mr. Pink is guilty of using the language of Scripture very carelessly. This is seen in many places, but on page 72 he says: "It surely does not need arguing that the Father had an express purpose in giving Him to die, or that God the Son had a definite design before Him in laying down His life." Did God the Son die? Could God die? To be specific, He was rejected and suffered as the Son of man, a title first mentioned in Psalm 8, and that in connection with His rejection and His coming reign. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, and the Son of man had to be lifted up, but carelessness in use of words is dangerous and can lead to serious error, as is witnessed in Mr. Pink's statement.
On page 75, Mr. Pink makes a remark about substitution, which says: "The persons for whom He acts, whose sins He bears, whose legal obligations He discharges." This is sad, for to make Christ merely discharge our legal obligations is to remove grace and God's forgiveness. If He merely discharged our legal obligations, then nothing needs to be forgiven; but Scripture teaches God's forgiveness, and in such a way that God remains just while justifying the ungodly (Rom. 3:2626To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)).
We must now bring our review of Mr. Pink's book which sets forth the Calvinistic line of teaching to a close. Much more might be said, but we leave with our readers the challenges we have made and commend them to the Word of God-"prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess. 5:2121Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
In closing, however, we wish to again affirm that we stand squarely on the fact of man's total ruin and helplessness, and maintain that besides the work of Christ on the cross for the glory of God and for the putting away of the sins of all who believe, the work of the Spirit of God in the soul producing new birth is an absolute essential in the saving of souls. We close with the words of the poet Cowper:
"Of all the gifts Thy love bestows,
Thou Giver of all good!
Not heaven itself a richer knows
Than the Redeemer's blood.
"Faith, too, that trusts the blood through grace,
From that same love we gain;
Else, sweetly, as it suits our case,
The gift had been in vain.
"We praise Thee, and would praise Thee more,
To Thee our all we owe;
The precious Savior, and the power
That makes Him precious too."
Short Papers on Church History, Andrew Miller, vol. 1, pp. 463, 464.
Letters of J. N. Darby, vol. 2, p. 196; G. Morrish, 2nd edition. Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 32, p. 64.
Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 10, p. 292.
Day of Atonement, William Kelly, pp. 59-62.
Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 29, p. 435.
Notes on Second Corinthians, William Kelly, pp. 103-106. Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 29, pp. 366, 367. Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 29, pp. 380-383.
Malachi: or, State of Things at the End, Edward Dennett, p. 6. Lectures Introductory to the Minor Prophets, William Kelly,
p. 506.
Notes on Romans, William Kelly, pp. 220, 179, 182, 185, 187. Bible Treasury, edited by William Kelly, vol. 9, p. 346. Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament.
*STRONG'S GREEK DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: to complete thoroughly; i.e., repair (lit. or fig.) or adjust:-fit, frame, mend, (make) perfectly join together), prepare, restore. (see p. 325, Dec. issue.)
Correction: In our Oct. 1959, issue, we gave the approximate date of Mr. Pink's death as during World War II, but we have just been informed it was in 1955.