Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T.A., I find it rather curious that you accuse Calvinists, who are traditionally anti-Catholic, as being strongly influenced by Catholic teachings, through the works of Augustine, a doctor of the church, and considered the father of modern Roman Catholicism. On the other hand, Calvinists accuse you who wrote A Woman Rides the Beast, which is critical of Catholicism, and also McMahon, I assume who’s involved with Reaching Catholics for Christ, of being closet Catholics, because you believe that faith is something you do to receive your salvation. Calvinists I’ve talked to say that’s semi-Pelagianism, that is, works-salvation.”
Tom: Yeah, Dave, will the real closet Catholics stand up here?
Dave: My goodness. Tom, faith is a work? The Bible contrasts faith with work. You have Romans:4:5: “Now to him that worketh not but believeth…” okay? Faith is not a work. I have to do a work to believe? No. You don’t…it’s no work to believe. All I have to do is recognize the truth of what is being stated, whether it’s the gospel or something else. And I simply acknowledge—I consent—to this truth, and I believe.
Tom: Dave, I’ve been told that because I’m in the position of deciding to believe, that makes me…that takes away from God’s sovereignty, that puts me in charge, that makes it a works kind of thing.
Dave: Okay, so the alternative is God causes you to believe? God causes you to reject Him? God causes everything, including sin? And we go over that in the book What Love Is This? and I quote Calvinist after Calvinist leader. In other words, the Calvinist so emphasizes the sovereignty of God that you can’t even sin without God. Okay?
Then, Tom, what is the point of believing if God causes me to believe? And He causes some people to believe and other people not to believe, and He sends to hell those that He causes not to believe and He brings to heaven those that He causes to believe…and not only that, but we have the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we get rewards. Some people live better lives than others. Now, the Calvinist talks about Irresistible Grace. Irresistible Grace, because He can take a totally depraved person, and by that they don’t mean just a…in fact, they will say, “Not as wicked or evil as they could be…everybody doesn’t do the worst thing that they ever could do.” But by that they mean “unable”—unable to believe without being regenerated. So God must regenerate me without any faith, without even knowing that I’m being regenerated. Now He gives me life. Now what kind of life is this? Is this the new birth? Well, I don’t know. He’s regenerated me. He’s given me this life. Am I being born again? Well, it must be. But I’m not saved yet, because only then can He give me the faith to believe the gospel.
But Peter says, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, by the Word of God, and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” John finishes off his gospel: “These things have I written to you that you may believe in the name of the Son of God, and believing you might have life.” So we get life through believing, okay?
But Tom, if believing is a work, and I can’t do a work, but He must do it for me, how come this Irresistible Grace can take these horrible, undeserving, totally depraved sinners and turn them into saints. But then after this Irresistible Grace causes them to believe the gospel doesn’t do a very good job after that, because people live all different kinds of lives—Christian lives, I’m talking about. Some Christians are really sold out for the Lord. They’re in prayer and fasting, in evangelism, and others are living rather carnal lives, but if you are one of the elect, you can’t ever be lost now, the Calvinist says. So Tom, I’m sorry. It’s not biblical. And it’s not rational. It doesn’t make sense. But, Tom, these are the kinds of contradictions that the Calvinist is forced into in order to defend this theory that itself has been forced upon the Bible.
Tom: Dave, the first part of the question, and as you know, because you’ve participated in them, Reaching Catholics for Christ—when we began we were invited to churches that had a…that were Reform churches—Calvinist churches—that had a tradition of being anti-Catholic. Well, we’re not invited back any more, and even one pastor of one of the churches was removed because he had you there, I think, in part.
Dave: Yeah, Tom, we give you all the quotes, all the documentation in the book, that John Calvin obtained his ideas chiefly from Augustine, and he was a Catholic. Could tell our audience, you have a holiday celebrating his conversion—he’s really the father…
Tom: Father of modern Catholicism, a doctor of the Church…
Dave: And John Calvin, in his Institutes, his basic book, quotes Augustine more than 400 times, with such phrases as “By the authority of Augustine…” he says, “I consider him to be the greatest and I quote him as the greatest authority,” and so forth. Okay. Now, this is Catholicism. Well, what Catholicism came in? Well, infant baptism. John Calvin never tells you how he got saved. John Calvin would not be accepted today by ex-Catholics as an ex-Catholic in a conference or anywhere because he never said he was an ex-Catholic. He believed that you were born again and delivered from original sin and made a child of God by infant baptism by a Catholic priest. He says it! I quote him right out of his book. In fact, that is why he banned the Anabaptists in 1537 from Geneva. You ought to read what he said about the Anabaptists. Those people who, like the ex-Catholics today, got saved and they left the Catholic Church as a result of that. They were baptized as believers.
John Calvin savaged those people, okay? So there were other things from Catholicism that came in. We’ve run out of time. And I’m accused of being a Catholic because I believe that faith is required? But Paul did say to the Philippian jailer, “Believe…” He said, “What must I do?” (I guess that’s something to DO.) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” And there is no way, biblically or logically, that you can call this a work.