My Response to an article about Calvanism on the World Magazine website

Was Calvin an Enemy of Evangelism?

I do not pretend to be an expert on this heated debate but I spent four decades in foreign missions and consider myself to be somewhat of a church history buff with emphasis on European and American history. I have written numerous missions related articles, articles on church history and a book about Gamaliel. Enough about me.

I have observed many who are outspoken opponents of "calvinism" (what they call it). They seem to be followers of "evangelical humanism" (what I call it). Calvin's life focus was on God and dedication to the kingdom of God. These opponents seem focused on man and what they can get from God or what God can do for them. They get many more converts because their invitations appeal to people. Salvation to them is forgiveness of sin, escape from hell and escape or protection from troubles and often healing of sickness and other bad things. On the plus side are manifold blessings, promises, victory, protection, and eternal bliss in heaven.

Jesus had fewer converts because his invitation was different: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23). The apostles had the same message (II Timothy 3; Romans 12:1-2 etc.).

I had two conversion experiences. The first was at about 8-10 years in a Christian campfire service. The speaker stood on the opposite side of a blazing fire and lividly described hell as the destination of sinners. He then described heaven with its streets of gold and prepared mansions for those who were saved. When the invitation was given, most of us opted for the latter. Nothing much changed in my own life, but when I was bad, my parents and pastor reminded me of the night at the campfire. If I began to doubt my salvation, they reminded me of eternal security.

I was 19 when I committed my life to God. I promised him that I would go anywhere he leads and do whatever he tells me. And I asked him to help me be an overcomer in the area of my old nature. The anti-calvinists would say I experienced a re-dedication, but a lot changed in my life after that. At that second experience, I don't recall having been concerned about where I would go when I died. I just wanted to serve Jesus and left the rewards and consequences up to him. There have been ups and downs, but after four decades of ministry, I can say that "there is joy in serving Jesus!" Calvin and most of his early followers experienced much harsher treatment, but I think they could concur with that statement.