The section starts out by alleging that Calvinism "maligns God's character," but then goes on to malign the character of Calvinists, suggesting that Calvinism will "leave you simply a dead husk built of theory, academic argument, and self-righteousness, held together by the glue of pride in and dependence on one's own understanding." This malevolent characterization of Calvinists is then illustrated by alleging that Calvinism has a deleterious effect on evangelism and preaching.
It is falsely alleged, for example, that if a Calvinist were asked by someone, "What must I do to be saved," the Calvinist would not tell him, "Repent of your sins and trust in Christ." Yet, I can testify that I have told people this, and I know many other Calvinists who have as well.
A.W. Pink, one of the Calvinists cited in Mr. Ruggiero's book wrote: "Christ merited and obtained the reconciliation of both sides, yet God is not reconciled to us nor are we to Him until we repent and believe. " (The Doctrine of Reconciliation: Conclusion)
James White, another one of the Calvinists cited in Mr. Ruggiero's book wrote: "Hence, I can freely and properly proclaim the duty to repent and believe to all, knowing that those who do so will be those God has drawn to Himself." (David Allen's False Accusation)
R.C. Sproul, another Calvinist cited in Mr. Ruggiero's book wrote: "The requirement for entrance into the kingdom of God is to repent and believe in Christ." (Now That's A Good Question)
John Piper (also cited with respect to the Calvinist position in Mr. Ruggiero's book) wrote: "This means that in times of relativism (like our own), when people do not cherish objective, unchanging truth, followers of Jesus will be accused of arrogance. They will proclaim that Jesus has all authority -- because it is true -- and that everyone should repent and believe in him and become his disciple." (What Jesus Demands From the World)
And we could go on and on. Mr. Ruggiero's accusations against Calvinists simply aren't true. In fact Calvinists have read the Bible and are willing to follow the example of Paul who told the Philippian jailer that he must repent and believe, when the jailer asked what he ought to do to be saved.
Mr. Ruggiero also makes another curious accusation. He claims that Reformed theology "rejects the power of the gospel in that it teaches that a person cannot accept it unless they are born again first." What a strange accusation. How is the gospel's power any greater under Mr. Ruggiero's system in which a person can accept the gospel without being born again? It appears that Mr. Ruggiero's system of thought might make man more powerful, but how does it make the gospel more powerful? It's not clear.
Moreover Scripture clearly teaches:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.And again:
Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."And further:
Nicodemus saith unto him, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, 'Ye must be born again.' The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. "
John 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
So, I must respectfully say that it seems Mr. Ruggiero's assertion is hollow. Scripture does not ascribe to everyone the ability to please God, but indeed Scripture makes it quite apparent that in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again.
Mr. Ruggiero concludes the section by suggesting that the ultimate measure of any doctrine is this:
No -- a doctrine's truth is fully proven only if its adherents are seen to clearly demonstrate, in their lives and in their character and in their relationships with those around them, the sweet, joyful, abiding love of Christ.Actually, a doctrine's truth is proven from Scripture, not from the behavior of its adherents. Imagine making a claim like that about a doctrine like "the existence of God," or "the doctrine of the Trinity." Surely, Mr. Ruggiero would not make such a claim in that situation, since he knows that there are many people who claim to hold to such a view and yet who do not exhibit the love of God in their lives.
None of this, of course, should lead one to suppose that I think that love for our neighbor (and especially the brethren) is unimportant. It is vitally important. If you do not love your brother whom you see, how can you say you love God who you do not see? (Sorry my idolatrous readers, you too cannot see God).
Nevertheless, the proof a doctrine is not the personality or holiness of its adherents. Proof of doctrine is determined by the one measure of doctrine, Holy Scriptures, as Mr. Ruggiero himself seems to admit in his "Introduction" section, which we will address next time, if the Lord wills.