7 Reasons Why I’m Not a Calvinist

Wes  —  March 13, 2012 — 10 Comments
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No doubt John Calvin did many good things in his life; and I am sure there are many points in his teachings and writings, which were biblically accurate. However, I completely and totally reject Calvinistic theology. Here are some of the reasons why I am not a Calvinist.

7 Reasons Why I’m Not a Calvinist

1. I Am a Christian – The first reason I’m not a Calvinist is that John Calvin was a man. I myself am a man, and know all too well, the sins and short-comings of mankind. That is why I do not now, nor will I ever, follow a man. Paul admonished the church in Corinth for following men, when they were saying, “I follow Paul” or, “I follow Apollos” (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4). Even if I agreed with Calvin on every theological point, which I do not, I still could not describe myself as a “Calvinist” because I want to follow Christ, and Him alone.

Similar to what Paul asked the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:13), I would ask those who are Calvinists, “Was [Calvin] crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of [Calvin]?

2. Man is Not Totally Depraved – Calvin’s theology begins with the doctrine of “Total Depravity,” the idea that man is born so totally and completely sinful, he is incapable of making a right choice. This idea of “original sin” is foreign to Scripture. Instead, Scripture teaches that sin is the result of willful disobedience to God (Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 3:4).

Calvinism allows man to say, “Sin is not my fault. It is my ‘sinful nature.’” However, Scripture teaches that sin is our fault. Scripture teaches that man has freewill and is able to choose whom he will serve (Joshua 24:15).

3. The Church Was Predestined – The Calvinistic idea of predestination is that every individual has been predestined for salvation or condemnation. Man has nothing to do with receiving salvation; it is completely up to God whether an individual spends eternity in heaven or hell. In the first chapter of Ephesians and the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul speaks of the idea of being “predestined.” Thus, the idea of predestination is a biblical concept. However, Calvin has confused the issue. Paul wrote that God chose “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) to save a group of people (the church). Nowhere in Scripture do we read the Calvinistic idea that individuals were predestined for salvation or condemnation. Paul wrote, “he predestined us” (1:5) and, “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined” (1:11). Concerning predestination, Paul always speaks in the plural (a group), not singular (an individual).

Allow me to illustrate: Suppose I told you today that in 30 years I was going to give every member of a certain Boy Scout troop $1,000. Thirty years from now, when those boys received the money, they could say as a group, “Wes predestined ‘us’ to receive this money.” However, an individual Scout could not say, “Wes predestined ‘me’ to receive this money.” It would not have been the individual who I chose, but the group. Just as God chose the group, Israel, to bless under the Old Testament, He has chosen the church to bless with salvation under the New Testament. In fact, Ephesians 1 ends this way, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vs. 22-23).

Paul wrote that God, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And Peter wrote, “he Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is available to anyone who will enter the Kingdom (the church) by being born again by water and the Spirit (John 3:1-7; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21)

4. Jesus Died for Everyone – For me, the hardest part of Calvinism to understand is the doctrine of “Limited Atonement.” Calvin and his followers teach that Christ only died for the “elect.” In other words, Christ did not die for those who are predestined for condemnation, but only for those who are predestined for salvation.

I cannot possibly believe that this idea could be reached by simply reading Scripture. It could only have been reached by the necessity of needing to support other man-made doctrines. Here is what Scripture says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should notperish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). And, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

5. Grace is Resistible – The Calvinist teaches that grace is irresistible. They insist that if God predestines an individual, then God will save him; there is nothing that individual can do to resist God’s grace. However, numerous passages refute this doctrine. First, is it easy enough to see that people like King Agrippa resisted the grace of God. Even though he believed the Scriptures, he would not allow himself to be convinced to receive God’s grace and put on Christ (Acts 26:27-29).

Second, if grace were “irresistible” it would making evangelism unnecessary. Why would missionaries need to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16), if it was God who irresistibly and miraculously converted men? Why would Paul say, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). If Paul’s preaching and example had nothing to do with the conversion of souls, someone ought to have told Paul that!

6. Christians Can Fall From Grace – The Calvinists teach the doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved.” The idea that if someone truly becomes a Christian, it is impossible for him to fall from grace. If you were to ask as Calvinist, “Can a person fall from grace?” Surely, the Calvinist would answer with a resounding, “No! There is no way a person can fall from grace.” Which baffles me, in light of Galatians 5:4, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Surely that answers this question for all time, doesn’t it?!

Jesus Himself taught that one could fall from grace, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6). If you need more convincing on this point, you can read my previous post on “Once Saved Always Saved.”

7. The Bible is My Standard – I believe in a simple gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB). I believe that God has revealed everything to us, through Scripture, that we need to know to be saved (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Salvation is not a great mystery, that only great theologians can decipher. Salvation is simple, easy to understand, and available to all through Jesus Christ.

This is what Jesus told the apostles, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:-15-16). The words of Jesus, and the words of the rest of the New Testament, could not be any further from Calvinism. Therefore, I want nothing to do with it!

I love you and the God, who wants all men to be saved, loves you,

Wes McAdams

 

 

 

  • http://Yahoo Marilynn Horner

    Marilynn
    Wes,Your scripture reference #6 (Galatians 5:4,)does not seem to be strong enough to hold up against God’s agreement with Jesus on behalf of man. Being justified by law refers to the law of the Old Testimony. Jesus referred to them in John 10:1, The religious leaders were attempting to find salvation through obeying the law which God gave to Moses in Exodus 20:2-19,
    John 10:2, states “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” Then further in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: No one can snatch them out of my hand.”
    Romans 3:19-20. Points to the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s work on the cross. Salvation is not of man since we did not earn it likewise it will not be taken from us.(Once saved if saved might be a more appropriate way to settle this matter)
    I am not a Calvinist! I am a follower of God’s inerrant word, the Holy Bible!
    Thank you for the work that you do. Since you are independent of denomination, your teaching must be without error otherwise they are questioned and your ministry weakened.
    Respectfully
    Marilynn

  • Jason

    There are so many strawmen arguments in this article I don’t even know where to begin.

    • Ben

      i agree with you. He should stick to the issue and avoid getting sympathy from his readers.

    • Ben

      Calvinism allows man to say, “Sin is not my fault. It is my ‘sinful nature.’”

  • Adam

    Hey Wes, I am do identify as a reformed person, and I believe it is precisely what the scripture teaches. I am going to make some counter-points to some of your proposals. Some are logical; others are Biblical. Please know that as presumed brother in Christ, this is the not the best place to discuss these issues, but wanted to respond to your post anyhow.

    1. Calvinist is and has often been used as a pejorative label against those who believes God predestined people to salvation and regeneration. I consider a not-so helpful theological label that doesn’t show a following a man, but quickly sums up a theological position. This is the same way that we would use charismatic, pre-millennial, etc except its a dude’s name. I would also like to point out that not all that use the term believe agree with everything Calvin taught. Case in point, I am a baptist, and I believe calvin would have plenty of problems with me on ecclesiology.

    2. a. This is a common misconception. Calvin didn’t believe that people were TOTALLY DEPRAVED. He believed unregenerate humans outside of the work of God are TOTALLY UNABLE to fully accept Jesus’ teaching and repent, and that if anyone did believe and repent that they did so because God enabled them. John Piper has an easy to follow explanation of this here. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html

    b. Even if what you said about Total Depravity were true, I don’t think we would agree about what the nature of human nature is. This is more akin to a the fruit of the tree metaphors Jesus uses. The same way a fig tree gives figs, and unregenerate human being rejects God. It takes an act of God to turn us into regenerate people that love good. This is commonly called unconditional election. By the holy spirit, according to his preplanned will, God changes our nature. A good explanation of why this doesn’t give is out is found here in these resources.

    http://www.monergism.com/monthly_focus/unconditional_election_1.php

    TO BE CONTINUED

  • Adam

    3. This is the best argument for your position from my opinion. The distinction between plural singular and you (singular) isn’t as clear cut as you present it; nor is it the non-issue that normally say it is. I think neither side has a clear reading other than to say that a calvinist reading works in both instances, but that it limits how you can read other passages as well. Here is a very, very good research paper that I think does a better job than explaining than I could how this argument works in Roman 9, and it will have resources that would be worth your time.

    http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/36/36-1/JETS_36-1_025-040_Schreiner.pdf

    4. 5. 6. Okay, the rest of these can be dealt with rather quickly. All modern-day reformed thinkers endorse evangelism to all peoples. Jason is right to point out that this is straw-man argument. It is not accurate, nor is it helpful to take the worst, least agreed with persons with in a particular theological movement or system and then compare it to what is mostly considered to be true. If this were the case, the arminian theology always leads to multiple confessions and seeking after signs. That’s not true, nor would I say it was. I evangelize a lot, and here is a good statement from some guys in my denomination about this issue. Losing your salvation is also an after-wrought conclusion of your positions; if even a couple points of tulip are true, this becomes problematic as a view.

    http://www.founders.org/journal/fj40/article1_fr.html

    7. I agree, the bible is my standard too. I believe it wholeheartedly, and if none of these resources I have cited existed that Bible would be sufficient to know all that God would have us to know about him.

    That being said, we don’t interpret the scripture in a vacuum the same way we don’t interpret in our way regardless of what the text says. These men are wrestling with these issues the same way you and I do in our personal devotions albeit in a much more technical form. I would implore to read any and all of the resources I outlined, and reply back to any of these responses. I don’t have the time to type much tonight, but I don’t want this post (your’s or mine) to be a ignorant recitation of what we have been taught, but to earnestly deal with the scriptures and our own presumptions. Even if we come out to the same places, we will better Christians and theologians for it.

    Cheers.

    Typos galore.

  • Adam

    Also, it is first person plural and second person plural. Derp.

  • Nate

    Hi brother! Paul was set apart before he was born and called by grace (Gal 1:15). Im a CoC minister, but I’m really looking seriously into individual election as a strong possibility. I felt most if the points in this article aren’t very convincing. Lots of studying for us all to do!

  • ben

    Reason #1

    Strawman argument I might say on your part on this one. Your argument here is no different than those people in chapter 3 of 1st Corinthians.

    1Co 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

  • Ben

    Reason #2 This idea of “original sin” is foreign to Scripture?

    My respond:

    Ro 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
    Ro 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
    Ro 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

    Jn 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    All were in darkness, or all have sinned, and those who were not called still remained in darkness or in their sin.

    Jn 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might/NOT IN GREEK believe.

    The word “might” here is not in the original Greek and literally meant “ability”, “power” or in Greek DUNAMIS. So, if you will read this with the word “MIGHT”, it might say something like this: “that through him all might have the ability, or the power to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ”

    If you read it with the word “MIGHT” it might suggests man’s FREE WILL to choose god.

    Our ability or power to believe God? Our best is nothing but a filthy rag in the sight of the almighty God.

    Here is a very good example of the word “might/DUNAMIS”.

    Ac 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power/MIGHT/DUNAMIS or holiness we had made this man to walk?

    Who are the “ALL THROUGH HIM BELIEVE” in John 1:7? The elect! Those who did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ remained in darkness because they are predestined for condemnation. Did the Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the those who are in darkness? No! Atonement is reconcilialtion or peace with God. Christ is man’s peace with God.

    Christ died for the sinners and those who remained in darkness never admitted they were sinners, therefore, Christ did not die for them.

    Christ’s death on the cross are nothing but foolishness to those who will perish.

    1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    1Co 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    1Co 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    You wrote:
    Calvinism allows man to say, “Sin is not my fault. It is my ‘sinful nature.’”

    My respond:
    Another strawman argument. Please stick to the issue.

    You wrote:
    However, Scripture teaches that sin is our fault. Scripture teaches that man has freewill and is able to choose whom he will serve (Joshua 24:15).

    My respond:
    Serving the Lord Jesus Christ did not come from your own freewill, God’s mercy is the reason why you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Ro 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.