Understand this: Once Calvinists find this blog, they’ll start arguing. And the very thing they’re going to accuse me of is this: Misrepresenting Calvinism. It’s interesting to me this is the very thing that the New Atheists complained about as well.
I can quote extensively from John Calvin, and Calvinists will STILL accuse me of misrepresenting them. And they may be in a way correct.
Because the easiest way to get a fight going is to get two Calvinists together. Each Calvinist almost invents his or her own take on what Calvinism is. And rest assured that many who call themselves Calvinists would have been hauled to prison or to a whipping post by John Calvin himself.
What is Calvinism?
Calvinism is Augustinianism. Let me explain. Augustine wrote a number of foundational texts that many claim was the true start of many of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, i’ll be repeating a great deal of material from the Roman Catholic pages to refute Calvinism.
When John Calvin was being raised, he was driven with the desire to be a priest. And so in his studies, he became an Augustinian. In his Instittutes he repeatedly asserts that all his doctrines can be found solely in the writings of Augustine. Indeed, it is very possible that when Calvin left the Roman church, he wrote his institutes by first writing an outline of points by Augustine, and then fleshing it out with his own musings based upon those writings and those of Jerome, who Calvin also admired.
Calvinism is best known by the TULIP acronym. AS anyone who’s ever heard of Calvinism should already know, the acronym is listed like this:
Perseverence of the Saints
One former Calvinist had this to say: “The last four doctrines rise or fall by the first one.” In other words, a Calvinist may consider themselves 4 point or 4 1/2 point – but they must all accept point one. Let me explain these in a little detail, and once you understand them, it’ll cure any fondness you may have for Calvinism. I was very nearly a Calvinist, because when I first got saved I listened to John Macarthur a lot. He was very good, but I had a lot of emotional turmoil over Calvinism – it bothered me. Once I understood what it was, I realized why it bothered me, and I was able to let go of it before I really got into it.
Total Depravity means mankind is troo depraved and foul to even understand or accept the Gospel. When you got saved by God, according to Calvinism, you were saved – and then you understood the Gospel. You are completely unable to understand or accept the Gospel until you’re saved. It really should be called Total Inability.
Unconditional Election means you had absolutely no assent in your salvation. God decides who gets saved, and you have no choice whatsoever. Which I suppose is great if you’re one of the elect, but if you’re not – oh well. Too bad, buddy. You’re condemned to Hell. Four point Calvinists and 4 1/2 point Calvinists (Macarthur followers) tend to modify this with the statement that “prior election does not absolve us of the requirement to be born again.” However, here’s the question – does the fact that one is sovereignly elected (in other words, God decided you’re oneof the elect, and thus will be saved) mean you are guaranteed to want to be saved? In other words, is this a moot point? We’ll return to this.
From the Westminster Confession: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and defnite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.”
Limited Atonement. This one really shocks Christians to hear this one. The Calvinist believes Christ died only for the elect. This is why one of the non-elect can’t be saved, even if they wanted to – Christ didn’t die for them. Calvinists have to mentally replace certain words in the Bible as they hear them or read them to maintain this mindset.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)
The Calvinist has now a conflict between the Bible and his beliefs. To reconcile this, he will have to mentally replace the words “The world” with “the elect”… and “whosoever believeth…” has to be replaced with “the elect.” That’s twice in the most foundational Bible verse in Christianity one has to make mental substitutiions.
Think about that. The first verse one learns as a Christian – has TWO conflicts with Calvinism. We could almost end the entire examination of Calvinism right now! It’s unBiblical, and that should be enough for any Bible believing Christian.
Irrisistable Grace: This actuallly contradicts the beliefs of 4 point calvinists. The Elect, having been predestined, cannot refuse God’s grace. He responds as does a robot. Sorry, you’re predestined to Heaven, and cannot refuse.
If this was Biblical, why would God command men to repent? You don’t need to – you’re already saved. Again, major problems with this doctrine.
Perseverence of the Saints: similar to the Baptist doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” It’s slightly different. The rationale here is, if Christ’s atonement was limited to the elect, and if your salvation is irresistable… then you are unable to leave that salvation. The way Macarthur explains this is actually the Baptist doctrine of Once Saved, always saved – which is not the Calvinist understanding. However, since most Calvinists do understand this as the Eternal Security doctrine, I’ll for the most part leave this one alone.
We’ve barely started, and already we’ve got major problems with Calvinism.
The point here is – Calvinism is not the historical interpretation of the Bible. It is not found in the writings of the very earliest “church fathers”. It is not found until Augustine, around 450 or so AD. This is centuries after the churches began to slip into decline, apostasy and error.
Okay, can I derive the doctrines of Calvinism from a plain reading of the Bible, without any knowledge of Calvinist doctrine or TULIP theology?
Ouch. That’s the major weakness of Calvinism. The Calvinist who has attended a Calvinist church for years will have a hard time remembering this but.. you had to read about Calvinism, or be taught it. Because anyone who, separated from other Christians, has read the Bible in seclusion and read ONLY the Bible, has always derived a Baptist doctrine. Anyone who has decided to reject the teachings of churches, and go back to the Bible and only the Bible, has always ended up with Baptist doctrines.
Not Calvinist. Indeed, two well known missionaries, about to go overseas, both had spent their time investigating doctrines only as the Bible teaches them… and ended up separate from one another accepting Baptist doctrine.
Both had been Calvinist prior to their re-reading of the Bible.
If you’re a Calvinist, by the time I’m done, I’m praying I’ll have freed you from this elitist belief system.
- Southern Baptists Need Their Sovereign Grace Heritage (by Dr. James Willingham) | SBC Open Forum (matthew714ministries.wordpress.com)
- A Closer Look at T.U.L.I.P. (cracked-pot.com)