Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Should Calvinists Evangelize?

If one is a Calvinist, why should one evangelize? I find this is a question more often asked by non-Calvinists then Calvinists. But it is a question worth asking. The first, and obvious, reason is that God commands it (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15; Acts 1:8). Now this, in and of itself, should be reason enough. But we do like to understand what we are doing. If God has already chosen who is going to be saved (Acts 13:48, Ephesians 1:4-6; Romans 8:29,30), why should we need to evangelize? Is it not just a meaningless activity?

Now it is important to distinguish predestination from fatalism. (It is also important to distinguish it from determinism: the idea that our behavior is purely the product of our environment, but that is another issue.) Fatalism (at least as I am using the word) is the idea that events are determined apart from preexistent causes. Under fatalism, if I am fated to have automobile accident, it does not matter if I drive carefully and observe the traffic laws; it will happen anyway. But in predestination, God sovereignly determines the means and the ends to produce the results He requires.  God predestined the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but many people, acting in direct disobedience to God, contributed to bringing it about (Acts 2:23; 4:27,28; John 10:18). Now in order for a person to come to Christ, they must hear the gospel, the good news, and therefore someone must bring it to them (Romans 10:14-16; 1:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-10). Therefore, the participation of the Christian in sharing the good news is necessary. Now I am convinced that God will see to it that the gospel will get to those He chooses. But we are privileged and commanded to be part of the process.

But it may be asked, can I offer the gospel to people if I am not sure God has chosen them? The answer is that it is a legitimate offer; those who put their faith in Christ will be saved (John 1:12,13; 3:14-18; Acts 16:31). But we are blinded by our sin (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 3:11) and cannot come to God unless He works in our lives (John 6:44,45; 10:27,28; Acts 16:14). Therefore, we can offer salvation to all. Those in whom God works will accept it; those in whom He does not work will not, but it is their choice.

Now Calvinism does undermine the major guilt trip that people will end up in hell if you do not get out and evangelize. I find this type of guilt trip to be dubious and counterproductive. Guilt is not the best motivation to get people to be willing, long-term, to do things. It can also cause people to overreact and pressure others to accept the message against their will, We need to go out and reach people out of obedience to a God who loves us, rather than being pressured by guilt.

1 comment:

  1. I have found the best way to evangelize it to love and live a life of love. Amazing how the Holy Spirit will use us when we do - even when our theology gets in the way. :)