Hello, Lloyd (and Ron and Ron) -
This e-mail is to comment on the tracts you sent.
First of all, I want to let you know that I already come with a bias against Chapel Library, from which many of these tracts originated. Chapel Library is a wicked organization. They believe that Arminians are saved. They also believe in the well-meant offer. S.P. Smith of Mt. Zion Seminary wrote to us, "We believe in the Free offer of the Gospel to all sinners, i.e. we can say to all men, 'God wants you to be saved; Christ died for your sins' -- and there is no inconsistency with Calvinism." They can say to ALL MEN that God wants them to be saved and Christ died for their sins!! They promote the writings of those who speak peace to Arminians and those who promote the well-meant offer. The list of authors Chapel Library publishes reads like a who's who of famous unregenerate Calvinists. They include such lost Calvinists as McCheyne, Boston, Reisinger, Ryle, Spurgeon, Bonar, Whitefield, and a whole lot more. They publish Thomas Chalmers' sermon "Fury Not In God" in which he states that God is pacified toward everyone, not angry at anyone, and wishes all to be saved:
"But we cannot say that there is any exercise of fury in God at the time of giving the invitation. There is the most visible and direct contrary. There is a longing desire after you. There is a wish to save you from that day in which the fury of a rejected Saviour will be spread abroad over all who have despised Him. . . . There is kindness-a desire for peace and friendship-a longing earnestness to make up the quarrel which now subsists between the Lawgiver in heaven and His yet impenitent and unreconciled creatures. . . . God has purposes of kindness towards every one of you; and as one of His ministers I can now say to you all-that there is no fury in God. Now when the spiritual husbandman is trying to soften your hearts, He is warranted to make a full use of the argument of my text-that there is no fury in God. . . . He would rather you were to turn, and to live. . . . He would rather that this enemy of His . . . should take hold of God's strength, that he may make peace with Him. . . . And so in Scripture everywhere do we see Him pleading and protesting with you that He does not want to signalize Himself upon the ruin of any, but would rather that they should turn and be saved. . . . God is willing to save you: are you willing to be saved? . . . He is beseeching you to be so, and if you refuse to turn from the evil of your ways, and to do and to be what your Saviour would have you, I must tell you what your sentence will be. . . . It is not your destruction but your salvation that God wants to put forth His strength in."
Since I've started off on Chapel Library, I think I'll go over the Chapel Library tracts first.
There are two tracts by W.F. Bell ("The Gimmick Gospel" and "The Plain Gospel"). Bell is an unregenerate agent of Satan. In one of the issues of the Free Grace Broadcaster, Bell wrote an article entitled "Modern 'Calvinists' Rebuked" in which he clearly stated that he believed Arminians are saved and used Spurgeon, Whitefield, and Ryle to back up his assertion. The Lord willing, I'll send you a copy of this article (and perhaps a copy of some other articles that might be of interest to you). Bell wrote:
"Spurgeon's view of 'Calvinism' did not make him want to go around driving 'barbed shafts' into other Christians. To Spurgeon, 'Calvinism' was simply 'five great lamps which help irradiate the cross' (same page as above quote), and he did *not* consider those 'unsaved' who did not agree with him on these points. But, do not many professed followers of Spurgeon's 'Calvinism' in our day do just the opposite? This speaks ill of our understanding of grace, brethren. ... Murray plainly shows that Whitefield and Wesley were united on many things, and that Whitefield regarded Wesley as a *brother in Christ*, not merely as a preacher who was a lost heretic. ... We plead with all modern 'Calvinists' to cast aside differences we may have with other Christians, *where this is at all possible*, ... proclaiming together the great doctrines of the Christian faith, without trying to convince each other of our peculiar views (justification by faith is the basic gospel)."
I could never in good conscience hand out a tract by Bell.
Now I review the tracts in this light. Bell entitles his tracts "The Gimmick Gospel" and "The Plain Gospel" but has no idea of the difference between the true gospel and the false gospel is.
In "The Gimmick Gospel," Bell says, "That so-called 'gospel' which centers around man primarily, and either excludes entirely or partially the glory of God in the saving of men's wretched souls, must of necessity be nothing but a fakery. In other words, the 'gimmick gospel' is not a gospel at all." However, considering what Bell said in "Modern 'Calvinists' Rebuked," he does not believe that Arminianism is a false gospel that "centers around man primarily, and either excludes entirely or partially the glory of God in the saving of men's wretched souls." Instead, he focuses on the gimmicks that some false churches use to bring people in. He talks about the "pure gospel" but never actually defines what the "pure gospel" is. So a person reading this tracts would see that you're against all the gimmickry that goes on in many false churches, but he would not know what the true gospel is and would really not know what distinguishes the true gospel from all false gospels.
"The Plain Gospel" is a better tract, since it does include Scriptures to show some of what the gospel is. Yet one thing in particular stands out as missing. It is missing the fact that even one's best efforts at religion and morality are a stench in God's nostrils if one does not believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. Bell talks about being a sinner in terms of lying, pride, anger, rebellion, but he cannot say that most of the sincere, moral religionists who aren't involved in gimmickry are ALSO wicked because they believe a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner. The reason he can't say that is because he himself believes that these people are saved. I also do not like how he presents the gospel in quasi-universal language: "This One sent from God, the Lord Jesus Christ, came into the world (via His Virgin Birth), for the specific purpose of saving sinners -- sinners, just like you." Although he doesn't come out and say it, he is implying that Jesus came into the world to save "you." And here's Bell's definition of the gospel: "Here is the glorious good news: Christ came! Christ lived a perfect life! Christ died a substitutionary death! Christ was buried, but arose from the dead! Christ Jesus is now enthroned in glory! Christ is interceding for His own! Christ the Lord is coming again! Christ will rule and reign forever!" This is seriously lacking. Where is the promise of salvation for everyone for whom He died? Where is imputed righteousness? He then goes on to tell the sinner to repent, but of what does this repentance consist? Does it consist of renouncing all of one's previous false religion as being dung? Bell can't say this, because he himself speaks peace to those in the dung of false religion.
The next tract is "What Is It To Preach The Gospel?" by Henry Mahan. Mahan is another lost Calvinist. One who studied under Mahan told me this (when he speaks of "them," he is speaking of Mahan and those in his circle, including Don Fortner):
"Henry is the ringleader of them all. I know these things first hand. I sat under his preaching for five years. He has an ungodly power over some preachers and people, not based on the doctrine of Christ (which he belittles), but based on his powerful personality and speaking abilities. If he says it is true no matter what God's word says. They don't let God's testimony get in the way of their theology and unscriptural sayings. Their preaching is yea and nay, downing true doctrine as hard, cold and dead. They promote ungodly doubt under the guise of humility. Most all their messages are taken from Spurgeons sermons, who we know did not preach the gospel, Rom. 1:16-17. They teach a mystical relationship with the Person of Christ apart from his doctrine, which we know is impossible. ... They don't believe that anyone ignorant of and not submitted the righteousness of God is lost. This specific doctrine Rom. 10:1-3 They teach that all one must know is that he is a guilty sinner and Christ came to save sinners. Their preaching will not expose the awful sin that deceives us all by nature. It is not geared toward bringing a sinner to repentance from former idolatry and dead works. They actually make fun of these terms and say we have made a god out of righteousness. They separate the mind and the heart and say one can believe in the heart what he does not know in the mind! DEADLY! ... As to speaking peace where there is no peace, they do! Henry said he could make a good case for Arminians being saved."
I could never in good conscience hand out a tract by Mahan.
So again, I must approach this tract in this light. Having said that, I must say that this is one of the better tracts. Mahan is a preacher who says a lot of truth, and it shows in this tract. It is, for the most part, good. I have a few comments. He says that salvation is "in a Person. It's not in a proposition ... salvation is in Christ." Now there are many who decry doctrine who talk in this fashion. They say, "salvation is not in a doctrine, it's in a person" or some such thing. They try to separate the DOCTRINE of Christ from the PERSON of Christ. There's no way to separate them. There's no way to believe in the PERSON of Christ without believing in the DOCTRINE of Christ. And doctrine is made up of propositions. Another thing he says is that preachers must be "conscious of our own guilt. Any man who is not conscious of his own guilt can't preach the gospel because he doesn't know the gospel." However, God's people are NOT GUILTY! "[There is] therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit" (Romans 8:1). "Who will bring any charge against God's elect? God [is] the [One] justifying! Who [is he] condemning? [It is] Christ who has died, but rather also [is] raised, who also is at [the] right [hand] of God, who also makes intercession on our behalf" (Romans 8:33-34). Now if Mahan had said that preachers need to be conscious of their own sinfulness, then that would be true. But sinfulness does not equate with guilt. Then Mahan goes on to quote Spurgeon, who I hear is one of his favorite preachers. And lastly, he says, "Christ is a sufficient Saviour." What does that mean? It sure smacks of the "sufficient for all without exception" heresy. You've probably heard the line that Christ's atonement was "sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect." That's just a way of universalizing the atonement.
The next tract I'll review is "Questions On The Atonement" by Dennis R. Fry. I don't know anything about Fry or any of his other writings, so I can't comment on that. The bulk of the tract is very good. It answers questions with Scripture and shows that the only truth is one of efficacious atonement. What he fails to do, however, is to say that if you DON'T believe these things, you are LOST. In fact, Chapel Library wouldn't publish it if it said that. Instead, it seems like Fry is trying to reason with people who he thinks are already saved. Examples: "May I recommend that these questions be prayerfully meditated upon one at a time. ... As in all Bible study, as much as possible, set aside any preconceived ideas and prejudices and let the Holy Scriptures be the only authority for your faith. It will take much study to do as the Bereans in Acts 17 who received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, to see whether those things were so. May God's Spirit attend your study and meditation of His Holy Word! ... It takes much time and prayer to search these matters out thoroughly! After asking the illuminating Holy Spirit of God to help one's understanding each time the Scriptures are read, many men greatly used of God have come to love to call God the SOVEREIGN LORD." Lost people cannot "prayerfully meditate" on these things and cannot "ask the illuminating Holy Spirit of God" to help their understanding. And if they have "preconceived ideas and prejudices" against what was being written, then it is obvious that they are lost. It sure sounds like this man is trying to persuade those who he already considers Christians to "prayerfully consider" the truth of efficacious atonement that they do not yet believe. A tract like this needs to CLEARLY STATE that if one does not believe these truths, one does not believe the true gospel and is thus lost.
Next is "The Gospel - What Is It?" by James Haldane. Right away, Haldane says, "The Gospel ... reveals an atonement sufficient for all; and every sinner of the human race is commanded to receive it as a faithful saying ..." Obviously, Haldane believes in the "sufficient for every sinner of the human race" heresy. It's a great way to universalize the atonement without actually saying it. There are other excerpts that smack of the "free offer." It sounds like the way Thomas Boston or Thomas Chalmers would preach. It doesn't define the gospel at all. It's really useless.
So there you go! I hope this has been helpful! I, too, believe that tracts are a good thing. We currently have one tract (www.outsidethecamp.org/life.htm), but I would like to publish more, especially one about the gospel. Perhaps "Essential Gospel Doctrine" (www.outsidethecamp.egd) could be made into a tract. Please feel free to make any of the articles on our web site into tracts, as long as you include our web site address and mailing address.
I look forward to more communication with all of you!
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter
I recently received your latest letter with the copy of "What Must I Do To Be Saved" by J.S. (who is J.S.?). Thank you! One thing I noticed is that the sermon employed the romantic notion of "head vs. heart." It comes in many forms, like "intellectual belief vs. saving belief." What is a saving belief but an intellectual belief? Certainly belief comes from the intellect, from the mind. A lot of religionists talk in terms of "head" versus "heart," as in: "He doesn't have it right in his head, but he has it right in his heart." Or: "He has a head knowledge, but he doesn't have a heart faith." (The same goes for people who talk about "mental assent" vs. "heart faith.") But this comes from romanticism, not Scripture. In Scripture, the heart is what thinks, what understands, what believes. So ... if someone is not truly a Christian, then he doesn't truly believe the truth. It's not that he believes it in his head; it's that he doesn't really believe it. He may tell himself and others that he believes it, but he doesn't really believe it.
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