Calvinism is the gospel.
That phrase alone is enough to cause commotion to start ringing from all sides of the church. On the Calvinist side you get a hearty “Amen!” From the Arminian (or non-Calvinist for those sensitive Arminians in the SBC) side you get a rallying of the troops to fight the terrors of the next wave of non-evangelizing elitists. And on the moderate (compatibilist) side you get a whiny, “Oh would you just shut up already!” No matter which camp you fall in– and you do fall in a camp– there is no way you are totally ambivalent to this declaration. And yet, as it stands, this snippet of a statement from the great Prince of Preachers Charles Spurgeon is being so utterly misapplied its not even worth the fight.
What Spurgeon really said, even though it is too much to fit in a cute little slogan, was this:
I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel if we do not preach justification by faith without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing unchangeable eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross.
Yes, “Calvinism is the gospel” is said there, but so is so much more, and to simply leave the rest of it off total changes the color of what Spurgeon meant to get across.
Therefore, at the risk of being shouted at from all the Arminians and moderates cruising the blogwaves, I will be attempting to show over the next several days that, yes, as explained by Spurgeon in the larger context of his quote, Calvinism really is the gospel. Stay tuned and please, feel free to interact.