Below is a quote from J.I. Packer from his introduction to The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I appreciate Packer’s boldness and clarity here. I am quoting from the recent book, In My Place Condemned He Stood, pp. 123-124.
“Now the real nature of Calvinistic soteriology becomes plain. It is no artificial oddity, nor a product of overbold logic. Its central confession, that God saves sinners, that Christ redeemed us by his blood is the witness both of the Bible and of the believing heart.
The Calvinist is the Christian who confesses before men in his theology just what he believes in his heart before God when he prays. He thinks and speaks at all times of the sovereign grace of God in the way that every Christian does when he pleads for the souls of others, or when he obeys the impulse of worship which rises unbidden within him, prompting him to deny himself all praise and to give all the glory of his salvation to his Savior.
Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ, whereas Arminianism is an intellectual sin of infirmity, natural only in the sense in which all such sins are natural, even to the regenerate. Calvinistic thinking is the Christian being himself on the intellectual level; Arminian thinking is the Christian failing to be himself through the weakness of the flesh.
Calvinism is what the Christian church has always held and taught when its mind has not been distracted by controversy and false traditions from attending to what Scripture actually says; that is the significance of the patristic testimonies to the teaching of the ‘five points’, which can be quoted in abundance. (Owen appends a few on redemption; a much larger collection may be seen in John Gill’s The Cause of God and Truth.)
So that really it is most misleading to call this soteriology ‘Calvinism’ at all, for it is not a peculiarity of John Calvin and the divines of Dort, but a part of the revealed truth of God and the catholic Christian faith. ‘Calvinism’ is one of the ‘odious names’ by which down the centuries prejudice has been raised against it. But the thing itself is just the biblical gospel.”
In the midst of the quote he references a familiar quote from Spurgeon, which I also include below:
I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.
I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.
ht: Erik Raymond