Evangelistic Calvinism

September/October 2012 Book reviews

It will be a shame if this book’s title puts off potential readers. However much we may dislike the term ‘Calvinism’, the fact remains that it is in general use and may be useful as a short cut. Similarly, the booklet itself should prove very useful. The really sad thing is that this is necessary, but it is. Opposition to Calvinism, on the grounds that it discourages evangelism, is still rife. This reveals a tragic ignorance, not only of the Bible’s teaching, but also of church history. Most of the great evangelists and missionaries from Luther, Whitefield and Carey to the great Welshmen such as Daniel Rowland and John Elias, and then on to C.H. Spurgeon have gloried in the doctrines of grace. Quotations from Calvin himself, Spurgeon and Warfield, as well as the scriptures, of course, show where the author is ‘coming from’.

Dr Benton’s subtitle, ‘Why the doctrines of grace are good news’ sums up its theme very well. He shows very clearly how all the doctrines of grace, far from being cold or opposed to evangelism, are actually full of motivation both for enjoying the gospel and for making it known. On the other hand, any Calvinism which is not evangelistic is really a contradiction in terms. The author is not ashamed of these doctrines. Indeed, he believes in appreciating and preaching the gospel through them, not in spite of them. This includes the (so-called) doctrine of limited atonement, of which many who claim to be ‘Reformed’ seem these days to be ashamed. The section which explains how to preach this (pp.18-20) will repay close attention.

The helpfulness of this booklet belies its small size.

John Legg