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Moving from Angry Calvinism to gentle forbearing….

Isn’t it a wonder some times when one discovers some truth about a facet of God’s divine design or the doctrines of grace and then we lose all patience with those slow to taste the honey dew? The term used here is usually –Angry Calvinist. Could it be that we become angry with them and not realise we too were once blind to these truth until the light of God’s grace shone on our paths? On becoming a humble Calvinist – John Newton, Memoirs of the Life of the Late Rev. William Grimshaw (London: 1799), pages 86–87 writes something that rings true:

Church Reformer Martin LutherThey who avow the doctrines distinguished by the name of Calvinism, ought, if consistent with their own principles, to be the most gentle and forbearing of all men, in meekness instructing them that oppose. With us, it is a fundamental maxim, that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from heaven (John 3:27). If, therefore, it has pleased God to give us the knowledge of some truths, which are hidden from others, who have the same outward means of information; it is a just reason for thankfulness to him, but will not justify our being angry with them; for we are no better or wiser than they in ourselves, and might have opposed the truths which we now prize, with the same eagerness and obstinacy, if his grace had not made us to differ. If the man, mentioned in John 9, who was born blind, on whom our Lord graciously bestowed the blessing of sight, had taken a cudgel and beat all the blind men he met, because they would not see, his conduct would have greatly resembled that of an angry Calvinist.

HT Tony Reinke on Humble Calvinism.

Who is an angry Calvinist?

John Newton, Memoirs of the Life of the Late Rev. William Grimshaw (London: 1799), pages 86–87:

NEWTON2_360They who avow the doctrines distinguished by the name of Calvinism, ought, if consistent with their own principles, to be the most gentle and forbearing of all men, in meekness instructing them that oppose. With us, it is a fundamental maxim, that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from heaven (John 3:27). If, therefore, it has pleased God to give us the knowledge of some truths, which are hidden from others, who have the same outward means of information; it is a just reason for thankfulness to him, but will not justify our being angry with them; for we are no better or wiser than they in ourselves, and might have opposed the truths which we now prize, with the same eagerness and obstinacy, if his grace had not made us to differ. If the man, mentioned in John 9, who was born blind, on whom our Lord graciously bestowed the blessing of sight, had taken a cudgel and beat all the blind men he met, because they would not see, his conduct would have greatly resembled that of an angry Calvinist.

Excerpt from Tony Reinke.

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An ode for Great Britain…

houses-of-parliament-at-nightOn a day when Great Britain goes to the polls to decide who will be Prime Minister and which party or parties will have the upper hand for the next so many years one can feel the sense of anticipation and uncertainty. What? With all the unrest in the Middle East, the gradual rise of militant Islamic radicals in the homeland and abroad, the desperate and growing pleas of poor and helpless African migrants crammed onto paper boats heading for Europe on the tumultuous Mediterranean seas. Does the hope of the world lie in the outcome of the polls? Well, not quite.

Come away with me once more and visit the writings and quaint thoughts of an English man and former slave trader. His life at sea teemed with wonderful escapes, vivid dreams, and sailor recklessness. He grew into an abandoned and godless sailor. However after converting to Christianity, God completely changed his prioroities. In fact he penned one of the most recognizable hymns when he wrote –Amazing Grace. John Newton (1725) of Wapping, London, also wrote the hymn of our interest today – By faith in Christ I walk with God  a very appropriate message to Christians in Britain and all over the world at such a time as this. The days ahead may be filled with snares and dangers, where many round me blindly stray but ….

1 By faith in Christ I walk with God,
With heav’n, my journey’s end in view,
Supported by his staff and rod,
My road is safe and pleasant too.

2 I travel through a desert wide,
Where many round me blindly stray;
But he vouchsafes to be my guide
And will not let me miss my way. …Read More!

John Newton: Trials are like Medicine.

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‎”Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes, because we need them. He proportions the frequency and weight of them—to what our case requires. Let us trust in His skill—and thank Him for His prescription!” — John Newton

Inspired Hymns By William Cowper Written On Brink of Insanity

The first child of Reverend John Cowper and Ann Donne Cowper, Willam Cowper was born on November 15, 1731, in Berkhampstead, Herefordshire, England. That makes him a contemporary of John Wesley and George Whitefield, the leaders of the Evangelical Revival in England. He studied law at the Inner Temple in London, but never practised it as a career. He embraced Whitefield’s Calvinistic theology rather than Wesley’s Arminianism. He suffered from depression all his life and his mental health was fragile. The life of William Cowper has had a hope-giving effect on many people.

Cowper became close friends with the Evangelical clergyman John Newton; together they co-authored the Olney Hymns, which was first published in 1779 and included Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace.” Of the 68 hymns Cowper wrote, “Oh for a closer walk with God” and “God moves in a mysterious way” are the most well known. Today I draw immense encouragement from the words of two of his Hymns below:

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Afflictions do not come alone…

In the words of  John Newton:

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Afflictions do not come alone,
A voice attends the rod;
By both He to His saints is known,
A Father and a God!

Let not My children slight the stroke
I for chastisement send;
Nor faint beneath My kind rebuke,
For still I am their Friend.

The wicked I perhaps may leave …Read More!

More than a “Calvinist”

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To be enabled to form a clear, consistent, and comprehensive judgment of the truths revealed in the Scripture, is a great privilege; but they who possess it are exposed to the temptation of thinking too highly of themselves, and too meanly of others, especially of those who not only refuse to adopt their sentiments, but venture to oppose them. We see few controversial writings, however excellent in other respects, but are tinctured with this spirit of self-superiority; and they who are not called to this service (of writing) if they are attentive to what passes in their hearts, may feel it working within them, upon a thousand occasions; though so far as it prevails, it brings forcibly home to ourselves the charge of ignorance and inconsistence, which we are so ready to fix upon our opponents. I know nothing as a means more likely to correct this evil, than a serious consideration of the amazing difference between our acquired judgment, and our actual experience; or, in other words, how little influence our knowledge and judgment have upon our own conduct. This may confirm to us the truth and propriety of the apostle’s observation, “If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” Not that we are bound to be insensible that the Lord has taught us what we were once ignorant of; nor is it possible that we should be so; yet because, if we estimate our knowledge by its effects, and value it no farther than it is experimental and operative (which is the proper standard whereby to try it), we shall find it so faint and feeble as hardly to deserve the name. …Read More!

Letters of Newton:The Cup of Affliction

He drank off the full cup of unmixed wrath for us; shall we then refuse to taste of the cup of affliction at his appointment, especially when his wisdom and love prepare it for us, and proportion every circumstance to our strength; when He put it into our hands, not in anger but in tender mercy, to do us good, to bring us near to himself; and when He sweetens every bitter draught with those comforts which none but He can give? Let us rather say, None of these things move us, neither do we count anything on this side of eternity dear, so that we may finish our course with joy and run with patience the race which is set before us.

(Letters of John Newton, pg. 50) Read More