27 November, 2016



The Free Church Synod in the conclusions of its 1971 Report, page 27, has attempted to relegate the doctrinal differences which are involved in the system which is identified as modern modified Calvinism, as being of minor importance. On the contrary, that system is perhaps the most deceptive of all the errors which have ever assailed the doctrine of the Reformed Churches, because it is a completely ambiguous system. On the one hand it has the appearance of accepting the formularies and standards of the Reformed Church, while on the other, it demolishes them. This it accomplishes through veiling or obscuring its ambiguities in a false mystery concerning Divine Sovereignty.

In conclusion let us now recapitulate the main points which have been brought forward in this essay.

(a) The Practical Issues of Modern Modified Calvinism

By its deceptions it creates the following problems in the defence, propagation, and application of the Reformed faith:

1. It represents itself as the true Reformed faith, whereas in fact, those who embrace it are in a state of error and decline.

2. It cannot uphold the principles of the Reformed faith because of its ambiguous contradictory system of theology.

3. Its effect on good men who unwittingly embrace its system as a code of life is that they are liable to become like the doctrine itself in their relationships before God and with their fellow men. “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

4. Its ambiguous and contradictory system robs the Reformed faith of its defenses against other doctrines of self-salvation because it has itself adopted the common principle of a universal benevolence in God.

(b) The Overthrow of Calvin’s Calvinism as Set Forth in his Institutes and Commentaries

We have seen how modern modified Calvinism constitutes the overthrow of Calvin’s Calvinism on the following points:

1. It rejects the central principle of Calvin’s theology that the will of God is simple.

2. It proposes that the will of God is complex by placing within the divine mind a desire concerning His precepts, which is contrary to His purposes and decrees.

3. It proposes that its system does not imply a contradiction in God because His desire to save all respects only His preceptive will and not His decretive will. Such proposal fails to comprehend that a desire in God, whether it respects His preceptive will or His decretive will involves a state or act of the divine mind. The proposal is therefore a nonsense statement, unless it is acknowledged there are two minds or there is duplicity in God; which is contrary to Calvin’s system.

4. It turns the mystery of divine sovereignty concerning the apparent contradiction between God’s precepts and decrees, into an internal conflict between desires and purposes within the divine mind. Calvin, however, simply accepts the apparent contradiction between the precepts of God’s Word and His decretive will, as being a mystery which cannot be understood or comprehended by the weak finite mind of man.

5. It gives a double meaning to certain texts, as listed on page 13 herein, one­of which says that God desires the salvation or repentance of all men; whereas Calvin clearly refers those texts only to the elect without giving them a universal reference. It also proposes a law of opposites in which God is said to love and hate the one object at the one time.

6. It intrudes into the secret counsels of God's will on two counts:

a) By false interpretation of Scripture it misinterprets the mind of God, so teaching that which Scripture does not teach.

b) It attempts to define the inner workings of the divine mind, when it says that there is an unfulfilled desire in God’s mind for the salvation of all men which respects His preceptive or revealed will; but which is contrary to His decretive will.

7. It actually takes the position which Calvin’s objectors raise against him, the substance of which is, on the one hand it is said, “Nothing happens without the will of God,” on the other, “He must have two contrary wills, decreeing by a secret counsel what He has openly forbidden in His law.” This is the same as saying, “there is a will to the realisation of what He has not decretively willed, a pleasure towards that which He has not been pleased to decree.”

8. It implies that God desires that man shall obey Him without grace in spite of such Scriptures which teach, “Without me ye can do nothing,” and “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).

It is God’s requirement that all men, regenerate and unregenerate, obey His moral law. God’s command is man’s rule of duty. If, however, the natural man is allowed to think that God desires that he obey His law without grace, he will either never consider himself bound by the moral law, or imagine that he can please God and merit His favour by his own efforts without grace. It is the function of the moral law and the gospel to show sinners their total inability in this respect, that they may cast themselves on the mercy of God.


Since the theology of the Westminster formularies and other standards of the Reformed Churches is founded on Calvin’s system of theology, we may now draw the following two conclusions concerning modern modified Calvinism.

1. Because of the four practical issues in which it fails, and the eight points enumerated above at which it overthrows Calvin’s Calvinism and therefore the Confessional Standards of the Reformed Churches, it must be considered to be destructive of the true preaching of the Word of God.

2. Where it has been made or allowed to be a received doctrine by the highest court of a Church, it is also destructive of the discipline of the Church, because the courts of such a Church cannot deal with it or other doctrines of like kind, as a heresy. The Church then becomes the medium for the propagation of error rather than truth. All that then remains is a fundamentalism which claims Scripture as the Word of God, but which is without the principles of Calvin’s Calvinism and the doctrinal standards of the Reformation. It is only a matter of time, thereafter, when even the so called fundamentalism gives way to the theology of liberalism and unbelief.

Let us therefore learn the lesson of history, that modified Calvinism is the tool of the enemy, who from within, brings about the downfall of a Reformed Church. In its modern form it constitutes a great hindrance to the propagation of the truth. Nothing reacts to Calvin’s Calvinism like modern modified Calvinism. Until those who would propagate the truth of God in our age, recognise it for what it is, all other heresies and the lawlessness of our time will go virtually unchallenged.

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