The Influence of Calvinism in Our Song Books

It Is Well With My Soul

Recently at the congregation where I preach, we concluded a study on the subject of Calvinism. We discussed the five major tenets of this false doctrine (often remembered by the TULIP acronym) – total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints – along with some other ideas that are connected to Calvinism.

Over the years, I have noticed that certain ideas that can be found in lyrics in our song books reflect an influence of Calvinism. When someone else made a comment to this effect during our study, I decided to put together an additional lesson at the end about the influence of Calvinism in our song books. That is how this article originated.

Note: The point of this is not necessarily to make a list of songs we cannot sing in worship. We can make some allowance for “poetic license.” However, we ought to be mindful of the influence of Calvinism that can be found in our song books. We teach one another through singing (Colossians 3:16) and we are to sing with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). Therefore, it is important to evaluate the songs that we sing to see if they convey the truth.Continue Reading

Book Review: Calvinism

Calvinism (cover)It has been a while since I’ve posted a book review, but since I was asked by a couple of people for a review of this book, I decided I would post it here. I will try to post other reviews from time to time.

The book under consideration is Calvinism: Built on a Foundation of Sand by Kevin Micuch. Below is the description of the book on Amazon:Continue Reading

“Raccoon” John Smith: Relying More on the Word Than the Holy Ghost

"Raccoon" John Smith: Relying More on the Word Than the Holy Ghost

When “Raccoon” John Smith (1784-1868) began preaching, he was part of the Baptist church. As a result, he was heavily influenced by Calvinism. This led him to believe that no one could be converted except by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on his/her heart. Without this kind of direct operation of the Spirit, no one could be saved.

At this time, his wife – who was “unconverted” when they married – developed an interest in religion. She asked him the meaning of a certain passage of Scripture; however, he would not answer her question. It was not because he did not have an answer or because he did not want her to know the answer. There was another reason behind his refusal to answer her Bible question:

“His wife, who was unconverted at the time of her marriage, soon became deeply concerned on the subject of religion. He was, of course, much interested in the progress of her experience; but he reverently and hopefully left her alone with her God. The young husband, who, in any other trouble, would have succored her, even at the sacrifice of his life, abandoned her in this, the most solemn and perplexing of her trials; for no obtrusive human agency, he thought, must interfere with the work of the Spirit. She asked him one day, what was the meaning of a certain text; and he was too considerate to give her any explanation at the time, fearing that, in the simplicity of her unregenerate heart, she might improperly take comfort from it, and rely more on the Word than on the Holy Ghost” (Life of Elder John Smith, p. 59).

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Abner Jones: “I Hid My Light Under a Bed of Calvinism”

Abner Jones - I Hid My Light Under a Bed of Calvinism

Abner Jones (1772-1841) was a doctor in New England who would eventually abandon his medical practice in order to preach the gospel. This journey – which resulted in him being regarded as an early figure in the Restoration Movement – began when he started questioning the Baptists for having a name, articles of faith, and church covenants that were foreign to the New Testament.

“When I presented these things before the minister…he could not recollect the passages of scripture that proved these things, but said they were necessary. The reason why he could not remember them was, because they were not in the bible.

“When I mentioned these things to my brethren, they seemed almost as much astonished, as though I had denied the bible, saying that I was wild, &c.

“At that time I viewed myself alone on the earth, not knowing of any one that believed with me” (Abner Jones: A Collection, p. 60).

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The Root of the Problem (Part 2): “We Are Only Human” – Not a Reason. Just an Excuse

The Root of the Problem: Why We Sin & How We Can Overcome

Sin is a universal problem. Right before telling the Romans that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), Paul uses several Old Testament passages to remind his readers of the universal nature of sin.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greek are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.

Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:9-18).

The Jews could not say that sin was only a Gentile problem. Neither could the Gentiles say that only the Jews were lost in sin. All people of every race, time, and location, had sinned.
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“Raccoon” John Smith: Hard Preaching

During the time when “Raccoon” John Smith (1784-1868) was preaching, the erroneous tenets of Calvinism were widely believed by those around him in the religious world. Smith himself had believed Calvinism early in his life before learning the truth. After learning the truth, he ardently opposed it in his preaching.

His wife Nancy, however, thought that he was “too hard” against Calvinism. In the following excerpt, Smith explained to her why he preached the way he did.
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Can the Leopard Change His Spots? (8/10)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Jeremiah 10-13.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23, NIV).

Some wrongfully use this verse to argue that man is born in sin and cannot get out of sin without some direct operation on his heart from God. This is not what the passage is teaching.
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