Vol.XV No.I Pg.2
March 1978

Sic 'Em Calvin!

Robert F. Turner

It is extremely interesting to hear or read one of our "grace-and-works-are-mutually- exclusive" brethren reply to one who follows classic Calvinistic lines. Such backpedaling, in order to show the necessity of baptism, etc. Our "grace-" brother seems to understand, under these circumstances, that there are conditions which must be met in order to be saved, and that can be met without being a "legalist" or claiming to "merit" salvation. He may even bring out, in a round-about way, that justification by law refers to perfect law keeping, and in no wise negates man's "doing" of the Lord's commands.

Now, if these brethren would only remember these points as they write their "grace-and-works-are-mutually exclusive" articles, they would not get so much opposition --- and there would be fewer "legalist" for them to save. "Works" and "law" in much of the Roman letter refer to seeking justification by such (apart from the forgiveness made possible by Christ's blood) — hence, necessitating perfection — and are antagonistic to grace ONLY in this frame of reference. It would be a bit awkward, but if these fellows who seem recently to have learned that we are saved by grace, would put "perfect" before their use of "works", and "alone" after their use of "law," it would greatly quiet current conflicts in the matter. In the early days of the institutional conflict I wished a strong missionary society advocate would challenge a Herald-of-Truth man to a debate. It didn't happen, but it may have shown some of our brethren the weakness of their institutional defenses. And now, I wish some of our "grace—" advocates would have to meet a smart Calvinist — or even an Arminian. We might learn if faith really is a "human response" and if man can "implement" his salvation. The principle that makes "faith" on man's part, essential to the reception of God's grace, also makes "repent and be baptized" essential to the reception of God's blessings. I think we might learn that gospel truth can not be preached with Ashdodic terminology; and if, in the process, we learn that we have been careless in our own concepts and terminology, so be it.

While I deplore the half-cocked neo-Calvinism that is paraded in the name of Salvation By Grace, I equally deplore any inclination to put our trust in our achievements; failing to see that without God's mercy and the forgiveness of our sins we are lost. We sorely need to develop an objective hunger for truth, unhampered by Calvinism or old sermon outlines.