I feel no little uneasiness when labeled a Calvinist. It is not that the description is unfitting. Nor is it because I have any disaffection for Calvin. Quite the contrary. My reservation is that there is much baggage that accompanies that label – baggage assigned by those who reject the tenants of the Faith associated with this particular theological system; and baggage freely toted by some who proudly – and sometimes obnoxiously – wear the label. So, while happy to be identified as belonging in the Calvinist camp, I tend to agree with theologian Douglas Wilson who says that whoever coined the phrase “Calvinist” is a “marketing chucklehead”. Wilson says he prefers to simply be called “Christian”. Me too.
I am gladdened, though, that I do not need to carry my ill-ease alone; nor do I need to craft a defense or explanation of my (clearly Calvinistic) convictions. It has already been marvelously expressed, by no less a stalwart of the Faith than Charles Haddon Spurgeon. In his autobiography, The Early Years, Spurgeon wrote:
I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what is nowadays 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 . . . 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; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called.’