Here’s how an Evangelical Calvinist preaches the Gospel:
God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. (Myk Habets in “The Doctrine of Election in Evangelical Calvinism: T. F. Torrance as a Case Study,” Irish Theological Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 3-4, 334-354 (2008) Quoting T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)
There are a few things being presupposed by T. F. Torrance here:
- That double predestination is grounded in Christ (that He is both the elect and reprobate), and not referring to us or humanity as the touchstone categories (i.e. we are not the focal point of election or reprobation, Christ is).
- That salvation is “objectively” rooted within the life of God Himself (e.g. He is salvation), so in order to undo God’s choice for us in Christ; one would have to first undo the Incarnation, or in fact undo God’s life in Christ.
- That the “extent of the atonement” is universal, but that redemption (or the appropriation) is not.
- That we shouldn’t think in logical-causal terms; in other words, just because Christ died for all, does not mean that they now must believe or else Christ spilled His blood in vain for these.
- That either the cross represents the source of salvation (in Christ); or in its rejection, it represents the source of judgement for those who reject “their” election in Christ (e.g. instead they are damned and experience “Gospel wrath” because of their unbelief).
- One can believe in “universal atonement” and “double predestination,” and not be either an Arminian (in the first instance), nor a Classical Calvinist (in the last instance).
I would consider myself an “Evangelical Calvinist;” Evangelical in the sense broached by T. F. Torrance, Evangelical in the sense that I truly believe (along with John Calvin and Martin Luther) that Christ died for all humanity (to say less would be to engage in the “Nestorian” heresy — fodder for another post). Much of Torrance’s “Calvinism” takes its cues from the “Scots Confession,” as well as Karl Barth’s understanding of election.
I will, in the near future, be writing more on this topic; until then you should check out some past posts that dovetail directly with the topic at hand:
If you’re a Calvinist, the “average kind” 😉 , then I think you should at least become aware of the fact that there are other “kinds of Calvinists” out there (myself being one of those). It is important to recognize that Westminster is not the watershed for Calvinism (although it may be for you); and that if you are going to take your Church History and Bible seriously you’ll need to admit that Calvinism (historically) is not a monolithic venture (if you want me to point you to some books that develop what I’m getting at further, let me know).