The latest 9 Marks eJournal is out. There is an article by Owen Strachan attempting to sketch the history of the doctrine of conversion in America. In the article, he cites George Whitfield in the line of the classic Calvinistic preachers who believed in conversion of a Calvinistic sort, the kind where a man is first regenerated (i.e., converted), then has faith given him, after which he is expected to respond to God’s invitation, repent and believe, in order to be converted after having already been converted.
Here’s the quote from Whitfield
But thus it must be, if Christ be not your righteousness. For God’s justice must be satisfied; and, unless Christ’s righteousness is imputed and applied to you here, you must hereafter be satisfying the divine justice in hell-torments eternally; nay, Christ himself shall condemn you to that place of torment. And how cutting is that thought! Methinks I see poor, trembling, Christless wretches, standing before the bar of God, crying out, Lord, if we must be damned, let some angel, or some archangel, pronounce the damnatory sentence: but all in vain. Christ himself shall pronounce the irrevocable sentence. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to close with Christ, and never rest till you can say, "the Lord our righteousness." Who knows but the Lord may have mercy on, nay, abundantly pardon you? Beg of God to give you faith; and, if the Lord gives you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his All. (From The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, London, 1771-1772, accessed here online.)
And here is Strachan’s following paragraph:
Like Edwards, Whitefield told his hearers to entreat the merciful Lord for pardon. He simultaneously explained the righteous character of God, detailing the way Christ has accomplished his mission of salvation, and implored his audience to close with Christ. The sermonic material was always God-centered. Whitefield made it clear that conversion occurs by God’s pleasure, yet that hearers were still responsible to respond.
Does that strike you as funny? Note especially this bit from Whitfield’s quote:
Who knows but the Lord may have mercy on, nay, abundantly pardon you? Beg of God to give you faith; and, if the Lord gives you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his All.
Hmm… I thought those Calvinists believed in Total Depravity! Apparently not.