Calvinism

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a Calvinist when it comes to my theological understanding of Scripture. Some who may read this may immediately ask if it is good to take any position theology. The answer is certainly in the affirmative, for while it would be nice to live in an idealistic world with believer who “just loved Jesus,” that is not very helpful. We all have theological position whether we know them or not. So it is better to understand our positions in light of Scripture and let the Bible refine those position over the course of time.

Now before you paint me into a corner by saying that I became a Calvinist first, then opened the Bible, please know that I was actually accused of being a Calvinist before I knew what a Calvinist was. The year: 1995. I was in my first pastorate at Trinity Baptist Church in Dallas (on Cole St.), when I was accused of preaching “Dallas” doctrine. That was shorthand for doctrine that came out of Dallas Theological Seminary. Although, I wasn’t preaching Dallas doctrine at all. I was preaching the text of Ephesians and John.

It would be years later that a man named Peter Magnuson also accused me of being a Calvinist while I was pastor of Trinity. He said he wanted to help me with my work there, but couldn’t because I kept talking about things like “election.” Hence, I was a Calvinist since the Bible spoke those things and I did too. It would only be a few years later that I would realize there was a theological name for those things I preached upon and taught. It was and is Calvinism. The best way to understand Calvinism is that we see God sovereign in all aspects of live, especially those areas concerning our salvation and that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Even our faith is a gift from God. Our role in our salvation? We are sinners. God’s role? He saves us.

Since I do write on these topics, here are some of earlier postings to the effect:

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Andy at about a year. Predestined to be cute!

16 thoughts on “Calvinism

  1. Neil Simpson pointed me here. Love finding others who recognize God’s sovereignty even in the justification of sinners 🙂 I am a reformed and semper reformanda Baptist, a wee bit older than you, and in an elder training program in my church – in the swamp known as Houston. Press on, my brother!

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    1. I grew up in that swamp, so I know it well, but moved from there in 1977. So many of the people I knew have moved from there as well and I wonder if there are any real Houstonians left. 🙂

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      1. I grew up as an Army brat, born in Fort Worth. Lived in Corinth, Texas before moving to the swamp in 1998. Lots of people I know here have lived in this area all their born lives! My wife and I are planning to move to near Wilburton, OK in 3 years – Lord willing as part of a church plant.

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  2. Doesn’t Calvanism teach predestination? That concept always bothered me because if you are religious that means two things. 1. God created certain men to go to Heaven. 2. God created other men to go to Hell. Since God knows all, created all, that can be the only conclusion. Also, since Hell last forever – that means those people were created by God to go to hell forever. Doesn’t seem fair nor something a loving God would do. Plus, where does free will and the whole Adam and Eve’s fall come into play? The whole concept seems elitist to me.

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    1. Man only had “free will” until man sinned. Since all men inherit Adam’s sin, we are born as slaves to sin and have only the will to choose sin. There are none who do good, not even one. Romans 9 addresses this entire issue and the issue of “fairness” – esp. verse 14.

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    2. Yes, Calvinism teaches predestination because Scripture teaches thus. As Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus reads: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” You see the concept here.

      Secondly, we view this doctrine as a cause for humility, not elitism or pride since all men DESERVE hell because all men have sinned against an eternally, holy being. The just penalty for sinning against such is eternal damnation. It is by God’s grace and covenantal love that He saves some from such an ending.

      Third, fair is that we all get to go to hell.

      Fourth, we are free to be what we choose to be, lost and without God. Left to ourselves, we would not choose Him, nor do we want Him. It is only when He moves in us, by grace, that He gives us new hearts to believe in Christ in order to be saved.

      Regardless, the responsibility for us trusting in Christ for salvation goes to all. That being the case, will you not trust in Him to save you?

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      1. If we are naturally evil and would never choose God on our own – didn’t He create us that way? That’s a bit like me building a robot to be sinful then condemning it for the act. Then randomly continuing to create robots – some to save, some to send to the lava pit. All the while with infinite love for them?

        Also, if our fate is predestined why would God create some men to fail at all? Why not create all men to be “the elect”. Creating some men to live without a chance and some to for heaven seems…well…mean.

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    3. I agree with Atticus. If Calvinism were 100% defensible and true there wouldn’t be a debate or a separate name for it. It would simply be a tenet of Christianity.
      Calvinism is extremely dangerous to the nature of God, especially God’s omnibenevolence. It creates a million theology problems. And I’d like to point out that it is what you think the Bible explicitly teaches. Many other Christians believe that it teaches differently.

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  3. Atticus – the Bible explicitly teaches predestination, Calvinism merely repeats that. God is sovereign and He chooses who to raise up and who to put down.

    Eph 1:3 – 6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

    Rev 13:7 – 8: Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

    Rom 8:29: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

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  4. Atticus,
    Very good questions and necessary to ask. To the first, He created us good when He created Adam and Eve. But Adam freely chose to sin. Since he is our representative, we all fell in his sin as well. This is known as original sin. This original sin, which is passed down to us from our parents, back to Adam, leads to actual sin. Either way, both types of sin are enough to condemn all of us. God created Adam with the ability to not sin. Since he chose freely to sin, we are bound by that sin and cannot freely choose not to sin. It’s only when we trust in Christ for salvation, that we are freed from the bondage of sin, even though we still struggle with sin on this side of glory.

    The answer is that HE created us sinless, but our federal head chose to sin, and we all fell.

    Why not create every as elect? The best answer again is Scripture. In Romans 9, Paul shows us that He created both the elect and non-elect from the same lump of clay. Some glorify Him because of His grace toward us, others glorify Him because they allow Him to display His wrath against, and rightfully so, sinful humanity. The hope is that those who hear of the gospel, Jesus Christ, will believe in Him and be rescued from that plight since He pays the debt of our sin.

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  6. Thanks for this page. I will refer back to it when I start to delve into Soteriology. I really want to nail down the theology and articulate it. Thus far in my shallow studies I think that a hyper stance in either Calvinism or Arminism contradicts the Bible and the relationship that I have with God. I believe God wants everyone to be saved and come to repentance and the election is that of what his perfect will is for your life. At the end of the day both Calvinists and Arminists evangelize. Either with the premise that they are praying for the Holy spirit to convict the set all of humanity(arminism) vs the subset that are destined to say yes(Calvinism). I just don’t want our soteriological stance to be a stumbling block to souls. Everyone won’t choose God because of the cost and of spiritual warfare but there is only one way and the unique and absolute truth about Jesus must go out.

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    1. The best definition of sin that I have heard is the Shorter Catechism’s definition: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. It is being out of line with God’s word. God is the one who decides what sin is. Just look to the Law and you see this being declared.

      Adam’s sin is passed to us by natural progression, since we are all descendants of Adam. Romans 5:12-21 is the passage where we based this belief. Paul is showing that all sinned because all are from Adam.

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