No, I did not convert to Arminianism at the F.I.R.E. conference in Tillamook. I still firmly hold to the doctrines of grace as taught and affirmed by the Lord Himself and the biblical writers, most notably Paul.
But Calvinism is not the Gospel, technically speaking. According 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 the Gospel is the proclamation of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for sinners. Regardless of what you believe about election and limited atonement you can sincerely proclaim these core truths of the Gospel. Obviously when Spurgeon made his famous statement about Calvinism being the Gospel he was saying that the great Reformed doctrines of grace are truths extracted from Scripture and not imported or smuggled in. That is to say when we preach so-called Calvinism we are not promoting man-made dogma. If therefore you insist on calling Calvinism gospel perhaps it wold be best to do so using a small “g” to distinguish is from the Gospel of salvation as set forth in the New Testament. After all, we do not require sinners to embrace the Five Points as a condition of salvation, whereas we do insist that they believe the Gospel.
We Calvinists sometimes put so much emphasis on the Five Points that we miss the beauty and simplicity of the message of the Cross. In so doing we become cold and impotent in our ministry, for the power of God for salvation is in the Gospel message, not TULIP (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18) . Sadly, we hide behind the sovereignty of God as an excuse for no conversions when the fact of the matter is we have left off preaching the simple Gospel to sinners. We become the Frozen Chosen, hunkered down in our air-tight fortresses of doctrinal correctness while the world goes to hell. To top it off we nit-pick at those who use creativity and innovation in reaching sinners and label them as compromisers of the truth.
Nor does the Gospel deliver a powerful punch only in converting the lost–it is also the power of God to those who are being saved. As converted sinners on the progressive path of sanctification we need the basic Gospel truths reinforced repeatedly to keep our faith fresh, alive, and full of power. I believe one reason the Lord has given us the perpetual ordinance of Communion is to remind us continually of the centrality of the Cross (Gospel) in our ongoing experience of salvation.
In connection with all the above, I would like to thank those who planned and attended the F.I.R.E. Conference. It was a great opportunity for renewed and first-time fellowship. Special thanks to the keynote speaker, especially for his sermon on the centrality of the Cross. I came away no less convinced of the truth of so-called Calvinism; but never again will I equate that scheme with the Gospel.