What about Calvinism?
Many have asked where our church stands on the topic of Calvinism. The answer is we reject Calvinism as heresy. The next question that is asked is “What are you then?” We believe God would have us to be Biblically defined and balance. We are Biblicists. We are neither Calvinistic nor Arminian.
The Calvinist presents his beliefs in the acronym Tulip.
Perseverance of the saints
Calvinism is complicated. Multiple versions abound, it is almost impossible to debate Calvinism, because there are so many variations. So here are a few thoughts as to why we reject it, and most importantly please allow me to present a simpler and I believe more biblical alternative.
First, Calvinism works against the Scriptures. It generates doubts. Am I elect? Are you elect? How can we know? Are you actually persevering? God's Word is designed to help us understand the certainty of the truth.
1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Pro 22:20-21 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
Secondly, Calvinism misrepresents God’s love. To insert a God who chooses only some to eternal life, when witnessing to the lost breeds confusion and often disdain. Does God really love the whole world or not? How can I know if I am truely loved of God?
Lastly, Calvinism is often a wet blanket on evangelism. If the lost are drawn irresistibly by God than for many it follows the lost will be reached without my personal investment in the process. God could bring people to me, but why would I go out of my way to share the Gospel, when I might possibly be wasting my time on the non-elect among us. Calvinism diminishes the concept of “to every creature” in the great commission.
Here is a Biblical alternative to Calvinism set to the acronym Daisy.
Y-Yielding to the Spirit
We believe the Bible teaches that man is depraved and unable to save himself. This does not mean however that man is not able to respond to the Gospel as the Calvinist would purport.
Man is capable of hearing the Gospel in his depravity and responding by faith. Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
A Calvinist teaches that there is unconditional election, which means basically, that God chooses some to go to heaven, and the others are left in their sin without hope of redemption.
We believe 2 Peter 3:9 which says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Unfortunately, there will be those who choose to reject the Gospel, and God will ultimately say to them “depart from me, ye that work iniquity”. No one goes to Hell simply because God so wills. If God’s sovereignty were to deny man’s free will, the effect would be that all would be saved, not just a select few. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Thankfully, there will be those who accept the free gift of salvation and enter into a group that is defined in the Bible as the “Elect of God”, a “chosen generation” and “the family of God.” Biblically, election refers to those who enter into Christ by responding to the Gospel.
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
The language of Scripture is a powerful argument against the Calvinistic idea that the atonement was only for a select few, and in favor of full and complete atonement for any and all who call upon the Lord. (Romans 10:13) Whosoever, all, and any, these words mean what they say. Salvation is for all who will call upon the name of the Lord. When God so loved the world that He sent Christ, he dealt with a global sin problem. We cannot measure it, only partake and enjoy it.
Irresistible grace speaks of God imposing His will independently on the believer apart from any exercise of his will, but this is not supported by the Bible.
Grace in the Bible is unmerited favor powerful enough to save the worst sinner and to propel any believer to new heights of Christian growth, but its power can be refused and frustrated. (John 1:11, Gal 2:21, James 4:6)
Yielding to the Spirit
A Calvinist would teach that the believer is inexorably drawn to sanctification, and if known sin is in the life of the Christian it is very possible that they were never actually saved.
The Bible teaches that if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, (Gal 5:16) and that we become the servant to whom we yield our members to obey. (Rom 6:16) Willful obedience to God is the vehicle through which the Spirit accomplishes the work of sanctification.
There are some who may disagree with this answer to Calvinism thinking that to agree would be to be untrue to a foundational truth of Christianity. Nothing would be further from the truth.
John Calvin leaned heavily in the formation of this doctrine on the teachings of Augustine of Hippo.
Augustine was a major force in the advancement of Catholic Doctrine. He was the first to advocate the use of legal sanctions and violence against those who disagreed with his doctrine.
We can hold Augustine accountable for the horrors of the Inquisition and the torture and killing of those who believed in obeying God rather than man.
Freedom of conscience or Soul Liberty was equally detestable to John Calvin. The bloodshed and tyranny that he invoked on any who disagreed with him is difficult to comprehend.
Can either of these men be trusted to properly represent the heart of God concerning the Gospel? It is my firm conviction that the Bible gives us the responsibilty to judge a teacher by their fruits. (Mat 7:20)
Those who promote Calvinism today are quick to point to the Scripture above in order to invalidate the salvation of their fellow Christians, (especially those who disagree with them) but they are not so honest in examining the fruit of their own teachers.
May God give you wisdom as His Spirit leads you into the truth on this matter.