The seventeenth century theologians at Dort responded swiftly and decisively to the rising tide of Arminianism. The official response came as a result of the Synod of Dort which convened in 1618-1619, over one hundred years after John Calvin’s birth in 1509. Their response is summarized in the famous TULIP acrostic:
T – Total depravity
U – Unconditional election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints
So while the formulation of Calvinism as we know it today did not originate with Calvin himself, it is important to understand that these doctrinal moorings originated with the apostles and Jesus himself, 1500 years before the birth of John Calvin!
This reality becomes clear in C.H. Spurgeon’s little book, “A Defense of Calvinism.” Spurgeon’s Calvinism, edited by Stephen McCaskell is an updated version of Spurgeon’s original work. The author has edited out much of Spurgeon’s Victorian language which will be a valuable service for most readers.
Spurgeon was a unashamed Calvinist, a label is wore until his death in 1892. He held that “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” In Spurgeon’s Calvinism, the Prince of Preachers walks readers through the five points that were formulated at Dort. Readers familiar with his style will be drawn to his passion for Scripture and his ability to relate the doctrines in a unified whole. While Spurgeon’s treatment of the doctrines of grace prove to be unshakeable in the final analysis, the real highlight of the book is its ability to draw worshippers to the throne of God. Spurgeon’s Calvinism is a fitting introduction to this biblical way of viewing God’s purposes in redemptive history.
“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach today, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.” – C.H. Spurgeon