There are some who read the words ‘Humble Calvinism’ and think it an oxymoron, a phrase that contradicts itself, like ‘dry rain’ or ‘hot ice’. Rather, it should be a tautology, a phrase that repeats itself.
On Pyromaniacs, among a group of year-end book reviews, Phil Johnson commends a new publication of ‘The Marrow Of Modern Divinity’. It is an old book that seeks to teach the biblical view of justification against that of the legalist and antinomian errors.
Johnson introduces the book as:
“the book that sparked the Marrow Controversy in eighteenth-century Scotland. That’s one of my favorite episodes of theological controversy ever, and it continues to be one of the most important intramural debates among Calvinists. Thomas Boston and the Erskine brothers were on the angels’ side in that debate, in my assessment. They and their allies are sometimes known as “The Marrow Men.” Their opponents were high Calvinists of a severe and anti-evangelistic sort. The high-Calvinist group held to a cluster of ideas that to this day surface and resurface in Internet forums and tend to breed hyper-Calvinism. I wish more of today’s Calvinists had studied the Marrow controversy. I think a lot more gracious, tender-hearted, and evangelistic brand of Calvinism would be the result.”
There are numerous editions available, mine is part of the Works Of Thomas Boston.
In addition Martin Downes pointed to a pastoral letter by Ian Hamilton in which he exhorts his readers against succumbing to pride:
“Of all the dangers that can overtake a Reformed church, pride is surely the worst and most serious. There is, of course, a right kind of pride, a thankfulness to God for our history and heritage. But the pride I am thinking of, is that ugly, self-righteous, self-preening brute that says with the Pharisees, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men” (“We are not like other churches”!). Such self-regarding censoriousness, is particularly the preserve of the privileged and blessed. You see it often in the lives of the great and the good. Sadly, tragically, such pride can also be seen in the very circles where it ought never to be seen, in the circle of Christ’s disciples.
Of all people, Christians, and Reformed Christians in particular, have the least to be proud about. In rebuking some Christians in Corinth for their pride, Paul exclaimed, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” What have we indeed to boast about? Were we not “dead in trespasses and sins” when God in his grace sent his Son to save us? Were we not guilty, hell-deserving sinners, God’s very enemies, when he “commended his love towards us” and gave up the Lord Jesus Christ to die that sin-bearing, wrath-quenching death of the cross to deliver us from a ruined eternity and bring us ultimately to glory? Total depravity and unconditional election are not merely doctrines to confess, they are truths to humble us to the dust. And yet, how easily, only too easily, can we allow our vast gospel privileges and blessings to turn us into self-regarding, narrow-hearted men and women.”
Read the rest of the letter here.
I know the blackness and sin of my own heart and am distressed to the point of despair, yet I do not know myself as well as God does.
That He has called me into His family and His Son gave up His life for my salvation does not engender pride or a sense of superiority.
Just awe, thankfulness and a desire to live as part of God’s family and help others to know Him.