Many people today treat the Bible as a practical guide to life. They see Scripture as a divine self-help book. “If I follow the teachings in this book,” they say to themselves, “I will have the job I want, the relationships I want, money in the bank, and great health.” But I’m afraid, if you read the Bible in that way, you’re missing the point entirely.Continue Reading...
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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,
Is Christianity too complicated and confusing for the common person to understand? Do you have to be a Greek scholar, a historian with a Ph.D, or a learned theologian? To listen to some religious people you would think so! You would think that there is really no way of understanding the sacred text unless you have a string of letters behind your name.
1. Christianity is Simple
Well I have news for those who have made people feel that way–that’s not biblical Christianity! Jesus spoke to the common man. He chose common men to spread the gospel through the world. And the message was simple. In fact, Paul wrote this to the church in Corinth, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Devotion to Christ is simple and it is pure.
No doubt there are things that are deep, mature, and deserve in-depth pondering and consideration. But the core tenets of Christianity are simple. Salvation, worship, the church, and daily living can be understood by even the simplest of minds.
It is denominationalism which is complicated and hard to understand. Similar to the complicated religions of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology, when man creates his own religion it is likely to be so complicated that understanding it is burdensome. Maybe man makes his invented religion so complicated so that he makes himself indispensable in explaining it to the world.
Furthermore, a lie becomes a very complex and compounded thing because one lie always leads to another. Many of the man-made doctrines in so-called “Christendom” today were created to explain and legitimize a previous man-made doctrine. And thus we have many learned religious teachers; many of whom know absolutely nothing about the “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
2. Christianity is Not Easy
To listen to many, being a Christian is as easy as breathing. The preaching which echos from the walls of religious edifices today make it seem that when one becomes a Christian, all of his worldly pain, suffering, and hardship will miraculously disappear. In fact, some go so far as to imply that when one has hardship he is obviously not right with God.
Again, the Christianity of Scripture is much different. Jesus indicates that the “the way is hard that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14). And the “easy” way is said to lead to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Christianity requires self-sacrifice and self-denial (Matt. 16:24); if that isn’t hard, I don’t know what is! Jesus promised, not a life free of challenges and difficulties, but a life of persecution (Mark 13:13).
That isn’t to say that Christianity isn’t wonderful; because it is! And it isn’t to say that we have more problems than the world; because I believe we have far less problems, heartaches, and worries than those in the world. But difficulties inherent within Christianity, and when preaching to others we mustn’t give them the wrong idea. We cannot give the impression that when they become a Christian their problems will magically disappear. Countless new converts have been disillusioned because they had been “sold this bill of goods.”
Christianity is simple to understand and hard to live. And denominationalism is hard to understand and seemingly easy to live. But take heart! We are assured, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).