View Full Version : Are most people here Calvinists?

11-13-01, 03:38 PM
I am just wondering...

I have seen a lot who are, and many whom I cannot tell yet. I have a lot of reading to do to catch up on many of these threads. But would you say that most people here are 5 point Calvinists?
I noticed that the rules include an "Anti-Arminian" clause. Why is this?
I don't ask this because I wish to preach Arminianism, I just wonder why that in particular is not allowed to be preached/discussed. If this is not allowed, how many other theological ideas are not allowed to be discussed? I would like to know, as I am NOT Calvinist, and do not wish to offend.

Thanks :)


11-13-01, 06:12 PM
I am the owner of 5solas.org, and I have propped this website up to promote the Biblical doctrines known as Calvinism. I don't mind if Arminians come here to learn and debate. What I don't want are people here with the sole purpose of trying to convert everyone to "free willism"...

Also, if you look around you will probably find the majority of the people here AREN'T Calvinists. We have a few atheists, and this place is teeming with Arminians, so you probably haven't looked hard enough.

So, yes, if you aren't a Calvinist, or a Christian for that matter, you are welcome to participate in the discussions.

11-13-01, 06:18 PM
Thank you kermie,

It is a great Board! Nicely done.

I'm glad I am welcome here. I am in fact a Christian, but not a Calvinist.

I have had a chance to look around a bit more and I see what you mean. There seems to be a very interesting mix here, which ought to make for some great discussions/debates.

Thanks again for welcoming all to the board. I was invited here by someone else who is somewhat new to the board, so I'm not sure how much I will post or if I'll stick around long...mostly just checking the place out.


11-14-01, 01:02 AM
Hi Laika,

I'm not Calvinist and so have been labelled "3- or 4-pt Arminian" or something like that by kermie *LOL*

anyway, this is his site and he can pretty much do as he pleases.

But what i want to say is that i do not believe that any Christian should put a label on himself and hold on so strongly to it be it Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, Baptist or some other label. Why?

1 Cor 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

If you notice in v12, it is even "wrong" to say "I follow Christ!" I say its wrong in terms of attitude -- ie saying it to separate yourself from the other brethren for whatever reasons. That's why Paul asked "Is Christ divided?" of course not. So if Christ is not divided why shld we grp ourselves under labels to "divide/distinguish" ourselves from other parts of Christ?

So i find it best/most neutral to just call anyone and everyone who loves the Lord as fellow Christian or brother or sister.

God bless:D

11-14-01, 09:03 AM
Me, well...I consider myself sort of a "moderate calvinist" or "semi-calvinist".

I'm still learning and studying and searching.

Although I agree mostly with the calvinist point of view, there are a few arminian points that, well...maybe I don't agree with but can see where they are coming from and see their point on issues. Then again, there are one or two points of calvinism that I am not totally sold-out on. OR, perhaps I agree with them but not in exactly the same manner that many others do.

SO see...I'm confusing because I'm still learning and investigating matters.


11-14-01, 09:14 AM
I adhere to the doctrines of grace, only because He opened my eyes to them.

11-14-01, 09:23 AM
Hi Fledge,
I would have thought you to be a 5-pointer. Do you mind elaborating on what you have problems with? I'd just like to know, and it could spark good conversation.

11-14-01, 09:33 AM
Well, see, the problem is that I am still digging in and learning. So, basically I'm not going to get into it deeply until all my thoughts are organized and I know what I am talking about.
It (Calvinism and arminianism and that whole course of study) is something I am really just recently beginning to study and look into in depth.

There are just some issues I am having difficulty with, and that's why I pose questions and arguments (not for arguing's sake, but sort of a "devil's advocate" point of view to help me learn).

SO, hopefully in the near future I will have more knowledge and more organized thoughts on the subject and can really actually discuss the topic in more detail, rather than just pose questions.

11-15-01, 11:40 PM
To bad the Catholics didn't get their hands on him, that's all I have to say. :mad:

11-15-01, 11:46 PM
And what's that supposed to mean?

And, for some information for ya. My grandmother was Catholic, I grew up Episcopalian, my mother is now attending an Anglican church.

11-16-01, 06:09 AM
Originally posted by VwV
To bad the Catholics didn't get their hands on him, that's all I have to say. :mad:

VwV, what did you mean by that? Just wonderin'

11-16-01, 09:02 AM
VwV, a word to you.
As I have noted, I have been around catholics (and "variables" of catholics) all my life.

IF what you said was a statement concerning my search, my studying of the information concerning calvinism, and the fact that I don't know a LOT about it, and that I am learning and somwhat "undecided" at this point and therefore don't want to go spouting off about my beliefs...well then...what does catholics have to do with it?

Only thing I can think of is that your statement had somewhat of a "you don't know anything and will get pushed around by any wind of doctrine that comes your way" feel to it. Or possible something of a "poor guy, doesn't know what he believes" point behind it.

That's not the case at all. I am very set in my beliefs, but when I don't have full knowledge of a topic, before I make a decision I seek both sides of the coin, I seek a fuller understanding so I can make an intelligent decision.
I do know what I believe and why I believe it. I do have a pretty fair understanding of scripture, doctirne, and basic theology. I don't claim to know it all, I don't claim to be a major bible scholar. There ARE things that I haven't studied, there are topics I am not 100% familiar with, so I want to study them, I want to know.

Granted, your statement could well have just been lighthearted joking, and I can deal with that. But I would appreciate it if you made it a little more obvious next time.
If, by chance, it wasn't lighthearted joking, I simply don't appreciate the statement, as it seemed a poke at my personality.

Take it easy VwV.
In Him,

11-16-01, 05:21 PM
Considering the topic is about Calvinism, one could conclude that "him" would be Calvin. So Fledge, it has nothing to do with you.

So, yes, it is a pity that the Catholics didn't grab hold of John Calvin and kill him, like they did with many of the other reformers.

To choice to love something, we must have free will, if we are not here to love God.... bothersome... I have debated this retarded topic enough in my life, it's a waste of time... I'm sticking to the evolution thread...

11-16-01, 05:23 PM
LOL, you do that VwV

11-16-01, 07:39 PM
wow... what a despicable statement:

"So, yes, it is a pity that the Catholics didn't grab hold of John Calvin and kill him, like they did with many of the other reformers"

I for one, am glad the hand of God moved Calvin to write and teach the things he did.

To wish him dead, in such a vile way, really smacks of pure hatred. I'm sorry you feel such hatred for a man of God.


11-16-01, 08:45 PM
On October 27, 1553 John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, had Michael Servetus, the Spanish physician, burned at the stake just outside of Geneva for his doctrinal heresies! Hence, the originator of the popular doctrine of "once saved, always saved" (known in certain circles as "the perseverance of the saints") violated the cry of the Reformation -- "Sola Scriptura" -- by murdering a doctrinal heretic without Scriptural justification. This event was something Calvin had considered long before Servetus was even captured, for Calvin wrote his friend, Farel, on February 13, 1546 (seven years prior to Servetus' arrest) and went on record as saying:

"If he [Servetus] comes [to Geneva], I shall never let him go out alive if my authority has weight."
Evidently, in that day Calvin's authority in Geneva, Switzerland had ultimate "weight." This is why some referred to Geneva as the "Rome of Protestantism" and to Calvin as the "Protestant 'Pope' of Geneva."

During Servetus' trial, Calvin wrote:

"I hope that the verdict will call for the death penalty."
All this reveals a side of John Calvin that is not well-known or very appealing, to say the least! Obviously, he had a prolonged, murderous hate in his heart and was willing to violate Scripture to put another to death and in a most cruel way. Although Calvin consented to Servetus' request to be beheaded, he acquiesced to the mode of execution employed. But why did Calvin have a death wish for Servetus?

"To rescue Servetus from his heresies, Calvin replied with the latest edition of his 'Institutes of the Christian Religion,' which Servetus promptly returned with insulting marginal comments. Despite Servetus's [sic] pleas, Calvin, who developed an intense dislike of Servetus during their correspondence, refused to return any of the incriminating material."

"Convicted of heresy by the Roman Catholic authorities, Servetus escaped the death penalty by a prison break. Heading for Italy, Servetus unaccountably stopped at Geneva, where he had been denounced by Calvin and the Reformers. He was seized the day after his arrival, condemned as a heretic when he refused to recant, and burned in 1553 with the apparent tacit approval of Calvin."

In the course of his flight from Vienne, Servetus stopped in Geneva and made the mistake of attending a sermon by Calvin. He was recognized and arrested after the service.

When the executioner began his work, Servetus whispered with trembling voice: 'Oh God, Oh God!' The thwarted Farel snapped at him: 'Have you nothing else to say?' This time Servetus replied to him: 'What else might I do, but speak of God!' Thereupon he was lifted onto the pyre and chained to the stake. A wreath strewn with sulfur was placed on his head. When the faggots were ignited, a piercing cry of horror broke from him. 'Mercy, mercy!' he cried. For more than half an hour the horrible agony continued, for the pyre had been made of half-green wood, which burned slowly. 'Jesus, Son of the eternal God, have mercy on me,' the tormented man cried from the midst of the flames ...."

"Calvin had thus murdered his enemy, and there is nothing to suggest that he ever repented his crime [sic]. The next year he published a defence [sic] in which further insults were heaped upon his former adversary in most vindictive and intemperate language."

Is it possible for a man such as John Calvin to have been a "great theologian" and at the same time to act in this reprehensible way and afterwards show no remorse? Do you have a heart that could, like John Calvin, burn another person at the stake?


Let us illustrate this another way. Suppose a man from your congregation with a reputation for being a spiritual leader captured your neighbor's dog, chained it to a stake, then used a small amount of green kindling to slowly burn the dog to death. What would you think of such a person, especially if he afterwards showed no remorse? Would you want him to interpret the Bible for you? To make the matter even worse for John Calvin, a person, unlike a dog, is created in the image of God! Like it or not, we can only conclude from this evidence that John Calvin's heart was darkened, and not enlightened, as a result of his murderous hate for Servetus. At best, Calvin was spiritually blinded by this hate and therefore, spiritually hindered from rightly dividing the word of truth. At worst, which was apparently the case, John Calvin himself was unsaved, according to Scripture:

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).

"And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding [continuing]* in him" (1 Jn. 3:15, NKJV).

*The Greek adds an important word to 1 Jn. 3:15 that is sometimes omitted in English translations. That word is "continuing" or "abiding" (NKJV) and states that murderous people don't have eternal life continuing in them.

Can you say Calvin did what was "right" regarding Servetus?

Can John Calvin be Scripturally justified for murdering Michael Servetus?


I guess VWV is not the only one with a bit of hatred eh?

11-16-01, 10:53 PM
Originally posted by ¤Laika¤
I guess VWV is not the only one with a bit of hatred eh?

Oh no, there is plenty of hatred to go around, no worries on the world runnining out of that resource.

FYI, here's a bit more info on the Calvin/Servetus affair...

Did Calvin Have Servetus Burned At The Stake?

There is one event which stands out in our minds concerning Calvin's leadership in the Genevan church, however, which deserves closer consideration: On October 25, 1553, the city council issued the decree that Michael Servetus be burned at the stake for heresy.

Did Calvin "have Servetus burned at the stake," as is the popular impression? The answer, clearly, is no! First, Calvin had corresponded with Servetus and there is some evidence to suggest that he had even tried to clandestinely meet with the anti-Trinitarian in order to try to convince him of his error. After escaping certain execution from Roman Catholic authorities in France and Vienna, Servetus arrived in Geneva and made himself known to Calvin in public. Servetus was arrested and, although Calvin was both a theologian and trained lawyer who had been employed by the city council to draft legislation concerning social welfare, city planning, sanitation, and the like, he was not the prosecuting attorney. Remember, he did not even have the rights of a common citizen!

Second, Calvin was at the height of his battles with the city council at this time. Had he, in fact, urged the execution of Servetus, that might have been just the thing to have saved the victim's life! When Servetus was given the option of facing trial in Vienna or Geneva, Servetus chose Geneva. For some reason, he must have thought his chances of survival were better in Geneva. However, the council, led by the anti-Calvin faction at this time, was determined to demonstrate that Geneva could be trusted as a reformed city committed to upholding the creeds and Servetus was sentenced to death by burning. Calvin pleaded with the council to execute Servetus in a more humane manner than the traditional ritual burning for heretics. But, of course, the city council refused Calvin's plea. Farel visited Calvin during the execution and was, reportedly, so disturbed that he left without even saying farewell.

During this same period, by the way, thirty-nine heretics were burned in Paris, the Inquisition was being enforced in Spain and Italy, and other parts of Europe. In spite of the fact that many sought refuge in Geneva who were less than orthodox, fleeing Catholic authorities, Servetus was the only heretic burned there during Calvin's distinguished career.

In fact, it must be noted that Jews were invited by the reformed cities to find safety from the Inquisition. The Puritan Cromwell was later to make England a safe haven for dissenters, even for those with whom he dissented, and especially for Jews. The same is true of The Netherlands and Strasbourg. It is no small wonder that when we think of human rights and international relations, these reformed (or once-reformed) capitols—Geneva, Strasbourg (home of the Int'l Institute of Human Rights, the European Parliament, and other relief and human rights agencies), Amsterdam, and London, find their way to the top of the list.

Will The Real Calvin Please Stand

The fact is, Calvin was a caring pastor who visited patients dying of the deadly and contagious plague in the newly organized hospital he had established, even though he was warned of the dangers of contact. He "not only risked his life," according to Dutch historian L. Penning, "but accomplished more for the patients by adopting sophisticated hygienic measures." He was the genius behind the establishment of the network of deacons who, according to Dr. Gillian Lewis, "took charge of the day-to-day care of the sick and impotent poor," giving the position "the dignity of being a part of the four-fold ministry of the church."It was he who urged the council to secure low-interest loans in banking for the poor but entrepreneurial exiles who had been trained in a craft through the training and employment agency which was the functioning diaconate.

It was Calvin who urged universal, free education to all inhabitants of the city, as Luther and the other reformers had done, and "from 1541 he always rose and went to bed with this thought uppermost in his mind: 'How can we give Geneva a University?." And it was his students who spread the gospel as well as proto-democratic ideals throughout the western world.

For the reformers in general and for Calvin in particular, Soli Deo Gloria (to God only be glory) was the design of life and good works were caring for one's neighbor, working for justice and right dealings, building churches, pubs, hospitals and universities for the honor of the Great King.

So here is our "tyrant of Geneva," whose ministry was first opposed, then summoned with repeated pleas, then frustrated, and finally held in high honor by the people he is supposed to have abused. Penning writes that, toward the end of his life, when Calvin was seen in the streets, citizens and "famous strangers" would say, "Look, there goes our Master Calvin!"' On March 10, 1564 the council decreed a day of prayer for Calvin's health and the reformer recovered for a time. On Easter, April 2, Calvin was carried to St. Peter's in his chair and after he received communion from Beza, his successor, the congregation began weeping.

The council which had years earlier determined the length of sermons in Geneva and opposed so much of his pastoral ministry voted to give Calvin a substantial financial gift, but the reformer refused to accept any money, since he could no longer fulfill the functions. On Saturday, May 27, Calvin died, aged fifty-five years. "When late at night the news of Calvin's death spread, there was much weeping in the town, as a nation weeps when it loses its benefactor," writes Penning. "Cannon Street was crowded with people; it became a pilgrimage to the Reformer's death-bed, and the Government had to take measures to prevent too great a pressure." The city, with its thousands of exiles, citizens, and foreign dignitaries, followed the procession. Calvin had insisted that he be placed in a simple pine box, buried in an unmarked grave. This surely was not the funeral of a despot.

Even the greatest heroes of the past have blemishes and have made decisions or statements which cause us, centuries later especially, to flinch and Calvin is no exception. But at a time when preachers, much less politicians and celebrities, appear to offer some less than heroic role models, the shy and reluctant man of Geneva seems to have weathered the disdain of those today, like those of his own day, who cannot understand what it is like to be possessed by a passion for God. Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities, told TIME Magazine, "Ours is not an age likely to produce great heroes." May today's Bible-believing heirs of the Reformation prove him wrong.


Dr. Michael Horton is the vice chairman of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and is a graduate of Biola University (B.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary in California (M.A.R.) and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford (Ph.D.). Some of the books Mike has written or edited include Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, Made In America, Beyond Culture Wars, The Law of Perfect Freedom, Power Religion, Where In The World Is The Church, and most recently, In The Face of God: The Dangers and Delights of Spiritual Intimacy.

In all fairness to factual history, I think it's proper to present BOTH sides of this issue.

Calvin was a man, who loved the Lord. As a man, he made mistakes just as any other man would, as a believer, and teacher, he made an impact on the church, for the glory of God that FEW have made since.

There is indeed a hatred for John Calvin, what he taught, what he believed. I've often wondered if those who are so vocal IN their hatred of him, would be so sure of themselves if they would have had the chance to meet the man face to face, and have a conversation with him. Somehow, I doubt it. Even those who disagreed with the man AT the time, generally showed a great respect for the man, that we just don't see now days. That's a shame, but I guess it's just a sign of the times we live in.

Anyway... I'm done with this thread.

11-16-01, 11:24 PM
Thank you CA for that reply. It was well said, and very interesting.
I do not hate Calvin. I'm certainly not a "Calvinist". I prefer not to find my identity as a Christian in some man, whether he was a man of God or not. I do respect many things he taught, but I do not feel it represents orthodox, apostolic teaching. I suppose we are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs, with no fear of being burned at the stake for heresy. Thank God!

I was not trying to excuse VWV's words, but simply point out that none of us, including Calvin are blameless. I'm sure you would agree. :)

God bless †

Nay Nay
11-17-01, 12:14 AM
I am certainly not a Calvinist, but I used to wear Calvin Klines does that count?


robert higgins
11-17-01, 05:18 PM
I would have to say I am a 5 point calvinist altho I don't like labels. I fought it all the way when I was first saved tho. I am thankful to God every day that He has given me the grace to see that He is soverign and does as He pleases to the praise of His glory. Without this I would still think I chose Him first and He had to respond to my wishes.

Nay Nay
11-17-01, 05:23 PM
A 5 point Calvinists? wazzat?

Well I just want to ask all you Calvinist people if you think that the so-called Arminians aren't saved because they don't believe in your personal theory?

Amazing Grace was a song that was Holy Spirit inspired, you should read the background and history of the author and song. Keep in mind that God Himself inspired the song to be written as it is. I don't think God's a Calvinist or an Armnian. ;)

11-17-01, 07:08 PM
Originally posted by robert higgins
I would have to say I am a 5 point calvinist altho I don't like labels.

I really don't mind labels so much, we all wear them in one form or another, such as sister, mom, friend, baptist, neighbor, etc.

Although the label of Calvinist does annoy me, for 1 simple reason. Well, 2, actually.

# 1 - John Calvin was a man who loved the Lord, and just preached what he was led to preach. The very idea that Christians might call themselves by his name, instead of the name of Christ, would have probably not only upset the modest man, but would have also probably earned a strong rebuke from him.

# 2 - the very term itself was originally, and is still, by many, used as an insult to the intelligence of anyone who agreed with the Biblical doctrines Calvin taught on.

With that said, I understand that folks have this need to categorize, so in that regard, I would say that yes, I am calvinistic in my theology, since what he preached on is pure Bible.

11-17-01, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by Nay Nay
A 5 point Calvinists? wazzat?

The five points being referred to here, are the doctrines of grace, also known as TULIP.

Many people have heard the term, but do not know what it means. In essence, it is the acronymn-word, made up from the 5 points that declare the Sovereignty of God, and the doctrines of grace. While these explainations are in no way exhaustive, they will help you understand, why we believe, what we believe.

Total Depravity

Because of the fall in Adam, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the Gospel. The sinner is spiritually dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free but is in bondage to his sinful nature. He is as spiritually dead and estranged from God as are the fallen angels. Therefore he will not, indeed cannot, choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently it takes regeneration by which the Spirit brings a sinner to Christ - it takes regeneration by which the Spirit brings a sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of Salvation - it is God's gift to the sinner , not the sinner's gift to God.

Key Verses :
John 6:44
Romans 5:6 and 8:7,8
Ephesians 2:1,5
Colossians 2:13
Titus 3:3-5

Unconditional Election

God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation, before the foundation of the world, rested soley on His own Sovereign Will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause, of God's choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon an virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God's choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.

Key Verses:
Romans 9:11 ; 11:5,7 ; 11:28 ; 8:38-39
1 Thessalonians 1:4
2 Thessalonians 2:13 ; 14:2
2 Peter 1:10
Ephesians 1:3-14
2 Timothy 1:9,10

Limited Atonement

Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. his death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything neccessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.

Key Verses :

Matt. 1:21
John 6:37-40 , 10:14-16,26-28 , 15:13-14
Acts 20:28
Heb. 10:14
Rom. 8:31-34
1 Cor. 8:11
Eph. 5:25-27
1 John 4:10-11

Irresistible Grace

In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the Gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected, whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistible draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man's will, nor is He dependent upon man's cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God's grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
"Nothing in my hands I bring-
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked come to Thee for dress-
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to thy fountain fly -
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

Key Verses:

Eph. 1:19, 20
Ezek. 11:19
I Cor. 4:7
John 17:2
John 5:21
Acts 13:48

Perserverance Of The Saints

All who were chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

Key Verses

John 6:37-39
Phil. 1:6
1 Thess. 5:23-24
2 Tim. 4:18
1 Peter 1:23

robert higgins
11-17-01, 08:20 PM
thanks c-a I couldent have said it better altho I was preparing a response. Thanks again!!

11-17-01, 10:46 PM
Originally posted by robert higgins
thanks c-a I couldent have said it better altho I was preparing a response. Thanks again!!

You're welcome, after all, that's why we're here:

Equipping the New Covenant Believer

11-30-01, 11:14 PM
I myself am not a Calvinist but I do believe in Total Depravity. I do believe God had to open my eyes for me to see. But I had to choose either to reject him or come to and receive the free gift of salvation. Man is dead in sins and trespasses, but God is not willing that any should perish.

It is great to be among many believers in Christ who are loving.
New here so be kind...

12-01-01, 05:49 AM
We'll be kind..

Welcome to the forums!

Now if you see any of us get a bit upset, or angry, don't worry about it, we try not to lash out at each other...

We can talk about free will in the soteriology forum..... :D

Nay Nay
12-02-01, 06:30 PM

Yes welcome aboard! :)

As long as you agree with Calvinism, you'll be fine ;)

Just kidding guys!!!!!! :p

Be Blessed....

12-10-01, 07:12 PM
Does a Calvinist believe then that certain people wont ever be saved no matter how much they want to be? No matter how much they try to be? That God just doesn't like some folks? That he denies salvation to some who are not predestined to be saved? For example, the nicest person you ever met believes in Jesus, but may not be saved cause God doesnt like him? I'm not sure how to ask, But I see the predestined attitude. NO WONDER THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ON HERE DON'T BELIEVE THE SAME WAY I DO!!!!! LOL. whAT IS ARMENISM? TY DEBBIE

12-10-01, 11:22 PM
Originally posted by Debbiek
Does a Calvinist believe then that certain people wont ever be saved no matter how much they want to be? No matter how much they try to be? That God just doesn't like some folks? That he denies salvation to some who are not predestined to be saved? For example, the nicest person you ever met believes in Jesus, but may not be saved cause God doesnt like him? I'm not sure how to ask, But I see the predestined attitude. NO WONDER THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ON HERE DON'T BELIEVE THE SAME WAY I DO!!!!! LOL. whAT IS ARMENISM? TY DEBBIE

I don't know what the majority of Calvinists think or believe, since I have not had a chance to speak with them directly - however - I will answer your question from a Biblical perspective.

The Bible teaches that there is no man that wants to be saved. In our natural (carnal, flesh) state, we are at odds (enmity, opposed to) the holiness and purity that is God.

Further, the Bible teaches that no man will seek Christ, unless he is drawn by God to do so, and as a result, will have godly repentance, and humble his heart before the Lord.

Nice people die everyday and go to hell. Why? Because being nice doesn't cut it with God. Being redeemed, does. Believing Jesus was a real person, and trusting His finished work on the cross, for your salvation, are 2 different topics completely.

In a nutshell, the way Arminianism is best described is, the set of beliefs folks have, that believe they can choose to be saved if they want to, or choose not to be saved. It is not Biblical, it's a set of beliefs in part, taught by the minority of the church at one time, accredited to Jacob Arminius. As time has gone on over the last many hundreds of years, more and more Christians have left the Biblical doctrine of election, and embraced the man-centered doctrine of Arminianism.

We now have entire church congregations that never even so much as heard of election, depravity of man, particular redemption, and/or any of the other points of the doctrines of grace, that were once CONSTANT within the Christian church.

12-11-01, 10:28 AM
could someone define the basic principles of arminianism?

12-11-01, 10:47 AM


1. Free Will or Human Ability
Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man's freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man's freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God's Spirit and be regenerated or resist God's grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit's assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man's act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner's gift to God; it is man's contribution to salvation.

2. Conditional Election
God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do. The faith which God foresaw and upon which He based His choice was not given to the sinner by God (it was not created by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit) but resulted solely from man's will. It was left entirely up to man as to who would believe and therefore as to who would be elected unto salvation. God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ. Thus the sinner's choice of Christ, not God's choice of the sinner, is the ultimate cause of salvation.

3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement
Christ's redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone's sins. Christ's redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.

4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted
The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation; He does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit's call. The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man's contribution) precedes and makes possible the new birth. Thus, man's free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ's saving work. The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them. Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life. God's grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by man.

5. Falling From Grace
Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith. etc.

All Arminian, have not been agreed on this point; some have held that believers are eternally secure in Christ — that once a sinner is regenerated. he can never be lost

According to Arminianism:
Salvation is accomplished through the combined efforts of God (who takes the initiative) and man (who must respond)—man's response being the determining factor. God has provided salvation for everyone, but His provision becomes effective only for those who, of their own free will, "choose" to cooperate with Him and accept His offer of grace. At the crucial point, man's will plays a decisive role; thus man, not God, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.

1. Total Inability or Total Depravity
Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not — indeed he cannot — choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to bring a sinner to Christ — it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation— it is God's gift to the sinner, not the sinner's gift to God.

2. Unconditional Election
God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before fore the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause God's choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to choose Christ. Thus God's choice of the sinner, not the sinner's choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.

3. Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement
Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.

4. The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace
In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The eternal call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected; whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By mean, of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man's will, nor is He dependent upon man's cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent. to come freely and willingly to Christ. God', grace. therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.

5. Perseverance of the Saints
All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

According to Calvinism:

Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.

12-11-01, 11:24 AM

I agree with Chris_t_Alone's answer to you about predestination. It's a cart-and-horse kind of issue. Before anyone desires salvation, or even recognizes the need for it, God must apply Grace to that individual. Paul aptly described the state of sinners left to themselves this way:

Romans 1:
28. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29. being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30. backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31. without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful:
32. who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.

This would perfectly describe you and I without God's Gracious intervention in our very souls.

Just as a cart cannot pull a horse, belief cannot come before God's Grace. You and I believed because God intervened in our lives, showed us our sinful and hopeless condition, and then showed us that he had provided a way out of that condition through Christ's death and resurrection.

This Grace is not only restorative, giving us ability to believe, it is regenerative (John 3:5), giving us new birth through the Holy Spirit. Read that verse carefully, looking for cause and effect. Birth by the Spirit is not something we ask for because we have believed; it is the very reason we believed!

You see, God loved his very own children, the ones he chose for himself, so much, that he was willing to do whatever it would take to ensure our salvation from sin and death, to reconcile us to himself so that we will never die (spiritually) and will always be with him!

Faith, then, is the evidence of God's election. Election does not exclude anyone who wants to believe, for no one wants to believe apart from Grace.

Oh, and welcome to MKirk!

12-11-01, 11:51 AM

Many arminians do believe according to the information you gave. However, your representation of the five points of arminiansim does not accurately reflect the original 5 statements:

This can be read at either of the following websites:

The Five Articles of the Remonstrants, 1610

The Articles of the Remonstrants given below, though published by his followers a year after his death, expresses the confession of Arminius and his followers.

1. That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundations of the world were laid, determined to save, out of the human race which had fallen into sin, in Christ, for Christ’s sake and through Christ, those who through the grace of the Holy Spirit shall believe on the same his son and shall through the same grace persevere in this same faith and obedience of faith even to the end; and on the other hand to leave under sin and wrath the contumacious and unbelieving and to condemn them as aliens from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36, and other passages of Scripture.

2. That, accordingly, Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for all, by his death on the cross, reconciliation and remission of sins; yet so that no one is partaker of this remission except the believers (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2).

3. That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the working of his free-will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he can for himself and by himself think nothing that is good—nothing, that is, truly good, such as saving faith is, above all else. But that it is necessary that by God, in Christ and through his Holy Spirit he be born again and renewed in understanding, affections and will and in his faculties, that he may be able to understand, think, will, and perform what is truly good, according to the Word of God (John 15:5).

4. That this grace of God is the beginning, the progress and the end of all good; so that even the regenerate man can neither think, will nor effect any good, nor withstand any temptation to evil, without grace precedent (or prevenient), awakening, following and co-operating. So that all good deeds and all movements towards good that can be conceived in through must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But with respect to the mode of operation, grace is not irresistible; for it is written of many that they resisted the Holy Spirit (Acts 7 and elsewhere passim).

5. That those who are grafted into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby been made partakers of his life giving Spirit, are abundantly endowed with power to strive against Satan, sin, the world and their own flesh, and to win the victory; always, be it understood, with the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit, with Jesus Christ assisting them in all temptations, through his Spirit; stretching out his hand to them and (providing only that they are themselves prepared for the fight, that they entreat his aid and do not fail to help themselves) propping and upbuilding them so that by no guile or violence of Satan can they be led astray or plucked from Christ’s hands (John 10:28). But for the question whether they are not able through sloth or negligence to forsake the beginning of their life in Christ, to embrace again this present world, to depart from the holy doctrine once delivered to them, to lose their good conscience and to neglect grace, this must be the subject of more exact inquiry in the Holy Scriptures, before we can teach it with full confidence of our mind.

Nay Nay
12-12-01, 01:35 PM

I am not a Calvinist nor an Arminian just a Christian. I know that God desires for all of us to come to repentance and acknowledgement of Him as Lord, but unfortunately many will not because of their pride.

The Lord will not come back until the gospel reaches the four corners of the Earth so that all have a chance to hear it and receive it as the Truth.

The way Calvinism has been perceived by me from all I have read here on this board is that it isn't even necessary for the gospel to be preached to the four corners of the Earth because God has chosen whom He's chosen and Jesus therefore is just wasting His time, grace and mercy and might as well return now and the *literal Hell* with the unsaved who never heard the gospel. It wouldn't matter if they did.

12-12-01, 03:19 PM
Nay Nay,

Labels aren't the main thing; that's for sure! But it looks to me as though you've misunderstood Calvinism. Unconditional predestination does not mean that the elect don't have to hear and believe in the gospel.

Romans 10: (ASV)
14. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15. and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!
16. But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17. So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hearing and believing are absolutely necessary, and that's why evangelism is absolutely necessary.

Here's what unconditional predestination does mean: none of us earns God's favor by anything we do. We can't please God without faith, but we can't have faith apart from the work of God's Grace in our lives. God has chosen according to His own will in order to display his glory (Romans 8-9, 1 Corinthians 1) through the weak and lowly, demonstrating that his Grace is sufficient for us.

Grace to you!

12-13-01, 09:01 AM
I think that it is dangerous to put "labels" on our belief,especially when the Bible tranlation of free-will vs. predestination is not completely clear.Sometimes the enemy can use our "divisions" to separate us from the body of Christ, and like Peter, we begin to focus more on the waves than on Jesus.Paul preached "Christ crucified", his resurrection,ascension, and his atoning sacrifice,the heart of the gospel, and I think that is what we should adhere to. Let us all "work out our own salvation in fear and trembling".(Phillipians 2:12)

12-13-01, 01:33 PM
Originally posted by kermie
3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement
"...His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone's sins."
Kermie...I'm not sure I follow the second part of this quote above. Can you explain what is meant by the statement that Christ's death did not actually put away anyone's sins.

Note: I know this is not what you believe and you are only quoting from another source. I just want to make sure I understand the disclaimer...

Thanks, and God bless


12-13-01, 04:25 PM
Originally posted by Judy
I think that it is dangerous to put "labels" on our belief,especially when the Bible tranlation of free-will vs. predestination is not completely clear.

I'm not sure how you mean it's dangerous to label our beliefs, but I know for me, and for many, when I read the Scriptures pertaining to who did the choosing in salvation, it's very, very clear, that God does, and did, the choosing.

Can you go into a little more detail on why you think it's dangerous to label what we believe?

12-14-01, 08:40 AM
By using labels such as "Calvanist", "pre-trib" "post-trib",etc.we may segment the Body of Christ instead of all working together to bring the gospel to the nations.I agree that pre-destination is implied in certain scriptures such as "fore-ordained" but there are just as many scriptures that imply free will such as "whosoever believeth in Him". As for me, I choose to believe because doing so has turned my life around.Whether I am "pre-destined","chosen" or because I responded to the "light" that was given me-I leave this in God's hands, and focus more on what he has called me to do, which is to "love one another as He has loved us" and to share my faith with others.

12-14-01, 11:06 AM
Okay Judy,

I understand what you're saying about segmenting, and that CAN happen.

On the other hand, it doesn't bother me if folks want to use labels to define the particulars about what they believe, such as election, pre-trib, free will, etc.

The good part about that, is that you understand where a person is coming from on certain key issues, if you know what they believe, about it. (such as election, or free will).

12-14-01, 12:56 PM
Hi, Judy:)

You're right that we must do everything we do out of love! Labels can be harmful if we use them to rope ourselves off into camps, to square off against each other. I don't think that's been happening on this discussion board, at least not noticeably.

Labels can also be handy, efficient ways of letting each other know what our basic points of view are. I could either go into a lengthy and detailed explanation of what I believe Scripture teaches, or I could say, "Basically, my beliefs are Calvinist." I've noticed that most people who've taken part in threads related to that issue basically understand what that means. If someone says their beliefs are Wesleyan or Arminian or Dispensationalist, I know what they mean, and if I don't, I can find plenty of articles on the web that explain those positions.

I participate in this discussion group because people are intelligently and patiently discussing interesting and important theological issues here. I've passed up a few other discussion boards along the way because they either dissolved into catfights or were not designed for laypeople.

This board gives all of us an opportunity to learn from each other and challenge each other to grow in our understanding of God's word. The debate is friendly and meaningful! I'm thankful for it, and I'm glad you and all these other folks are part of it!

Blessings to you all,

12-27-01, 05:06 PM
So when Jesus said, "You will be with me in Paradise this day" to the thief on the cross beside Him, the thief just happened to get chosen by God at the last minute huh? I believe the thief chose to believe in Jesus & by faith alone he was saved. Im not armenian or calvinist.

12-27-01, 06:27 PM
Hello, DebbieK!

Calvinists would not say that Jesus chose the thief on the cross "at the last minute." We believe that God chose all the elect from the beginning, as Paul said to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:
4. even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:

"...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world..."


I don't mind if you don't want to label yourself. That's your decision to make. However, if some of the rest of us wish to use a familiar label to describe certain things we believe, we have the right to do so. It's not the same thing as the Corinthians saying, "I am of this person or that person." We all depend upon what God has done for us through Christ.

12-27-01, 07:46 PM
ok, so the thief on the cross just so happened to FIND OUT he was "elected" JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME? WHEW!

12-28-01, 07:42 AM
Originally posted by Debbiek
ok, so the thief on the cross just so happened to FIND OUT he was "elected" JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME? WHEW!

That man was chosen by God before he was ever born...
(Ephesians 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)

it was only at that specific time in his life, God opened his eyes
(Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses)

Jesus even addressed this VERY thing, right here:

Matthew 20:

1 ¶ For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Ever heard the term "the 11th hour" being used in place of saying "just in time" or just at the very end? THIS is where that term came from.

My grandfather was an 11th hour laborer, he was saved at 83, and died a year later. His inheritance was exactly the same as someone who had been saved for 50 years.

Read verse 15 again. God opens the eyes of His elect, on HIS time, not ours, and we have nothing to say about it, but we tend to anyway (exactly like the laborers in verses 11 & 12).

It's funny how some will refuse to believe God will awaken the spiritual eyes and ears of some, JUST before they die, yet they fully accept the teaching that the man himself, made a choice at that very point in his life.

We need to remember who the potter is, and who the clay is.

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

12-28-01, 12:01 PM
It works both ways per the Bible in my opinion. Some draw near to God & GOd draws near to some. I don't think it's important to stand fast to one side or the other. I understand the calvinist thinking now. ty for taking the time to explain. It sounds a s though a Calvinist would not attempt to "save" an atheist or someone he deems as unchosen or unelected? Is that correct?

12-28-01, 12:07 PM
I don't think anyone should attempt to "save" anyone else.... that's Jesus' job. But I believe we should evangelize the world, including atheists and agnostics. Why? Because the Bible tells us to.

12-28-01, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by Debbiek
I don't think it's important to stand fast to one side or the other. I understand the calvinist thinking now. ty for taking the time to explain. It sounds a s though a Calvinist would not attempt to "save" an atheist or someone he deems as unchosen or unelected? Is that correct?

I do think it's important to understand at least as much as possible, the soveriegn power of the God we serve.

Not important in the aspect that it's REQUIRED to fully grasp His sovereign nature to be saved, but important in the aspect that once we do, or begin to, it makes our walk all the more humble, and does indeed allow us to grow in Him. It's truly a wonderful process.

If you have been left with the impression that a Calvinist would never attempt to as much as share the gospel with an atheist, you really do not have a proper understanding of what a Calvinist does believe.

I do not call myself a Calvinist, but I am indeed reformed in my theology, as John Calvin was, by the grace of God.

Understanding that it IS that grace that redeems us, we (fellow reformers) know that it is none of our business who is of the elect, and who might not be. We know that some of the most seemingly "godly" people are not saved at all, and some of the most vile of sinners, do get saved and have seriously powerful testimonies to share.

It is not our business to determine who is of the elect, and who is not, and to even suggest that we do think this, is nonsense. No man, I don't care who he is, knows who God will save. Our obligation, as His people, is to share His word with EVERYONE.

Motivation for doing that, as if we needed any, is the GUARANTEE, that some who do hear it, WILL be saved.

Please do take some time to read through some of what the reformers here have posted on this topic, before coming to any conclusions on what we believe.

12-28-01, 12:25 PM
I had not come to any conclusion, I asked a question, Hence the "?" question mark.

01-02-02, 08:01 PM
Why does a calvinist label himself & what does a calvinist do differently from other Christians? I read the 5 points of calvinism & none matter in salvation which way a person believes. I don't care whether the egg came before the chicken or vice versa. Although calvinists believe that only the preselected will be allowed God's grace, they continue to preach the word of God to everyone. So I really don't see where it's different from mainstream Christianity or a need to identify oneself. What am I not noticing? Is it that calvinists wish to be separate from mainstream Christianity? Someone posted earlier that they read that the only thing not allowed to be discussed on this website was arminism, or the belief that anyone can be saved by God's grace, not just the elect or chosen. I'm not wanting to debate it, but if this is true, is there anything else, besides being rude , which isn't allowed? (such as blasphemy). thank you, Debbie

01-02-02, 09:38 PM

I hope you're having a happy new year!

"Why does a Calvinist label himself?" (or herself)

You'll probably get a different answer from each Calvinist you ask. I'll not be so foolish as to pretend that none of us do it out of pride or to exclude others from fellowship. However, that is not my purpose, and I don't think that's the purpose of any Calvinist I've met on this discussion board.

I don't tell everyone I meet, "Hey, I'm a Calvinist." To most people, it would be meaningless, and many Christians have such a misinformed understanding of Calvinism that making that statement to them would be counterproductive.

However, when I'm discussing Biblical doctrines, especially teachings about God's grace and soteriology, I'll use the label to clarify my position if I think the other person will know what I'm talking about, or if I think it's necessary for clear communication. I don't think of this as taking sides. While I do think that the "five points of Calvinism" are important to a correct understanding of soteriology, I don't think that non-Calvinists are all unsaved. I've believed in Christ and have been a part of his covenant since childhood; yet I've only come to understand and accept these five points in the last few years. I know that I was already in Christ before I understood these things, but I am grateful to him for continuing to lead me into more truth.

I wish, because this understanding has been such a great blessing to me, that I could somehow make everyone understand it! But I can't. I am convinced that God deals with each of us according to his own wisdom and will. But if anyone wants to talk about it, I'm always ready!

Blessings to you, DebbieK
from countrymouse

PS...It isn't really 1:38 am; I can't get this time thing figured out!

Carlos Soler
01-21-04, 05:21 PM
Hello Debbiek,

Here is an article I think you should read.

A Defense of Calvinism as the Gospel

by Prof David J. Engelsma
The term, "Calvinism," is not the name by which we Calvinists prefer to have our faith called; nor do we prefer to call ourselves "Calvinists." Calvin was the name of a man, a great servant of God, John Calvin. He was one of the Reformers by whom the Holy Spirit reformed the Church in the 16th century. To call ourselves "Calvinists" and our faith "Calvinism" leaves the impression that we follow a man and that these beliefs are the invention of a man. In fact, these terms originally were terms of derision used by our enemies, as were also the names, "Christian," and "Protestant." Therefore, from the very beginiing, Calvinists called themselves "Reformed," or "Presbyterian." Thus, they deliberately distinguished themselves from the other great branch of the Protestant Reformation, the Lutheran Church, which did call itself by the name of a man (contrary to the wishes of Luther himself).

Nevertheless, "Calvinism" and "Calvinist" are useful terms, today. They are widely known, even though that be, in part, through the attack upon, and reproach of, Calvinism by its enemies. Also, the name, "Calvinist," is embraced by persons and churches who are not Reformed, or Presbyterian, but who confess those tenets of Calvinism which they call "the doctrines of grace." "Calvinism" has come to stand for certain doctrines, a certain system of truth. We have no objection to calling these doctrines "Calvinism" as long as two things are clearly understood. First, it must be understood that not the man, John Calvin, but Holy Scripture is the source of them. Second, it must be understood that we who embrace these truths are not disciples of a man, Calvin, but are concerned exclusively to follow God's eternal Son in our flesh, Jesus Christ, exactly by confessing these doctrines.

There are different ways of viewing Calvinism. Some have discovered political implications in Calvinism, e.g., strong opposition to every form of tyranny. Others have found Calvinism important for economics. Max Weber thought to trace the spirit of capitalism to Calvinism, indeed, to Calvinism's doctrine of double predestination. We could examine Calvinism as a total world-and-life-view. It is more, much more, than a set of doctrines, and certainly much more than five points of doctrine. Like humanism or Marxism, Calvinism is a world-and-life-view with which a man takes a stand in every area of human life. Also, Calvinism involves one with the Church, the instituted Church, and is not only the personal beliefs of the individual; it is through and through ecclesiastical. With the early Church, Calvinism fervently holds that "outside the Church is no salvation."

At its heart, however, Calvinism is theology, true religion; and this means doctrine. This is how we will be viewing Calvinism, here. We limit ourselves to a consideration of Calvinism as the Gospel.

Calvinism is the Gospel. Its outstanding doctrines are simply the truths that make up the Gospel. Departure from Calvinism, therefore, is apostasy from the Gospel of God's grace in Christ. Our defense of Calvinism, then, will proceed as follows. First, we will show that Calvinism is the Gospel. This is necessary because of its detractors, who criticize it as a perversion of the Gospel. Second, we will defend it as the Gospel. In doing this, we carry out the calling that every believer has from God. Paul wrote that he was "set for the defense of the Gospel" (Philippians 1:17 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dPhilippia ns%2b1%3a17)). I Peter 3:15 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dI%2bPeter %2b3%3a15) calls every believer to give an answer, an "apology," or defense, to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us. As the name indicates, Calvinism is a certain teaching associated with John Calvin; it refers to Biblical doctrines that he propounded.

Calvin was a Frenchman, born in 1509 and died at 55 in 1564, who lived during the Reformation of the Church, a contemporary of Martin Luther. He was converted from Roman Catholicism early in his life, "by a sudden conversion," he tells us in his preface to his commentary on the Psalms, "since I was too obstinately devoted to the superstitions of Popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire," and labored on behalf of the Protestant Faith all the rest of his life. He lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland as a pastor and theologian. His labor was prodigious. He preached almost daily; did an immense pastoral work; carried on a massive correspondence; and wrote commentaries, tracts, and other theological works. He is remembered especially for his great work on Christian theology, Institutes of the Christian Religion (which still exercises great influence, which every professing Protestant could profitably read, and which every critic of Calvinism ought to have studied, if he wishes to be taken seriously), and for his commentaries on almost every book of the Bible. Calvin's Protestant contemporaries recognized his outstanding gifts, especially in theology and exposition of Scripture. They referred to him simply as "the Theologian."

Calvin's influence in all the world, already during his lifetime and ever afterwards, was tremendous. Luther, of course, stands alone, as the founder of the Protestant Reformation. But Calvin, benefiting from Luther, outstripped even Luther in influencing the Church of Christ in all the world.

In the history of the Church, Calvinism is the name for the faith of the Reformed and Presbyterian branch of the Protestant Reformation. These Churches were called "Reformed" in Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. In England, Scotland, and the north of Ireland, they were called "Presbyterian." This faith was early expressed in written confessions, or creeds. Among the confessions of the Reformed Churches are the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dordt. The great Presbyterian creeds are the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Catechisms. All of these confessions are in essential agreement.

The Reformed and Presbyterian Churches insisted that the teaching embodied in these creeds, that which is now called Calvinism, was the revelation of God in Holy Scripture. Calvinism bases itself on Scripture. It holds fully the Protestant principle of sola scriptura (Scripture alone). The doctrine of Scripture is the very foundation of Calvinism. It is a mistake, therefore, to define Calvinism apart from its belief concerning Scripture.

The Bible is the only authority in and over the Church. It is this because it is the inspired Word of God, as II Timothy 3:16 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dII%2bTimo thy%2b3%3a16) claims: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." As such, Scripture is the "infallible rule" (Belgic Confession, Article VII). It may not be ignored, questioned, or subjected to criticism, but must be received, believed, and obeyed. This is vital for Calvinism because Calvinism teaches many things about which man complains, "These are hard sayings, who can hear them?" For Calvinism, the question is not, "will men in the 20th century like these things?" But the question is, "Does the Word of God say so?"

Calvinism is concerned to proclaim the Scriptures. The preaching of Scripture, both within the Church and outside the Church, is the central interest of Calvinism. It is false to conceive of Calvinism as a theoretical, abstruse science carried on by heady intellectuals in ivory towers. With the entire Reformation, it wanted, and wants today, to preach the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes.

Calvinism, then, can rightly be viewed as certain basic doctrines, the so-called "five points of Calvinism." But even here, a word of caution is in order. Historically, it is something of a misnomer to call these doctrines "Calvinism." On these doctrines, there was no difference between Luther and Calvin. These two leading Reformers were in agreement in their teaching on the doctrines of predestination, the depravity of the fallen man, and justification by faith alone. Indeed, almost without exception, all of the Reformers embraced what we now call "Calvinism." Besides, the "five points of Calvinism," as five particular doctrines that distinguish Calvinism, originated after Calvin's death. They were formulated by a Synod of Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, in 1618-l619, the Synod of Dordt, in response to an attack on these five doctrines by a group within the Reformed Churches that were known as the Remonstrants, or Arminians. This Synod set forth, confessed, explained, and defended these five truths in the Canons of the Synod of Dordt. But it was Calvin who developed these truths, systematically and fully; and therefore, they came to be called by his name.

Total depravity is one of the five points of Calvinism. This doctrine teaches that man, every man, is by nature sinful and evil -- only and completely sinful and evil. There is in man, apart from God's grace in Christ, no good and no ability for good. By "good" is meant that which pleases God, namely, a deed that has its origin in the faith of Jesus, its standard in the Law of God, and its goal in God's glory. From conception and birth, every man is guilty before God and worthy of everlasting damnation. This is man's plight because of the fall of the entire human race m Adam, as Romans 5:12-21 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 5%3a12%2d21) teaches: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned..." Not only is every man guilty from conception and birth, but he is also corrupt, or depraved. This depravity is total. One aspect of this misery of man is the bondage, or slavery, of man's will. The will of every man, apart from the liberating grace of the Spirit of Christ, is enslaved to the Devil and to sin. It is willingly enslaved, but it is enslaved. It is unable to will, desire, or choose God, Christ, salvation, or the good. It is not free to choose good.

It is not Calvinism, that God forces men to sin or that men sin unwillingly, but that the natural man's spiritual condition is such that he cannot think, will, or do anything good. On this doctrine, Luther and Calvin were in perfect agreement. Luther, in fact, wrote a book called The Bondage of the Will in which he asserted that the fundamental issue of the Reformation, the basic difference between genuine Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, is this issue, whether the will of the natural man is bound or free. Calvinism shows itself as pure Protestantism by its confession concerning the will in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chap. IX,III,IV:
Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good....

Another of the five points of Calvinism is the truth of limited atonement. There is deliverance for fallen men only in Jesus Christ, God's eternal Son in our flesh. This deliverance occurred in the death of Christ on the cross. His death was atonement for sins, inasmuch as He satisfied the righteousness of God, suffering the penalty of God's wrath in our stead who deserved that wrath because of our sins. Jesus' death was efficacious; it saved! It saved everyone for whom He died. It removed, in full, the punishment of everyone in whose stead Jesus died. He atoned for some, particular men, not for all without exception His atonement was limited as regards the number of men for whom He died and whom He redeemed. They are "His people" (Matthew 1:21 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dMatthew%2 b1%3a21)); His "sheep" (John 10:15 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b10 %3a15): "I lay down my life for the sheep"); and "as many as (the Father) hast given (Jesus)" (John 17:2 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b17 %3a2)).

It is not Calvinism, that any, even one, who seeks salvation will be denied, but that the death of Jesus saved, that it was efficacious, that it was not in vain.
The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same ... (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chap. VIII,V,VIII)

Irresistible grace, or efficacious grace, is a third of the five points of Calvinism. This doctrine refers to the actual saving of fallen men by the Holy Spirit, in applying to them the redemption accomplished on the cross. This work of salvation is wholly the work of God; it takes place by grace alone. Negatively, this means two things. First, the salvation of a man is not something that any man deserves, or makes himself worthy of, in any way. Second, salvation is not a work that man accomplishes, in whole or in part. Man does not co-operate with God in bringing about his salvation. Positively, that salvation takes place by grace alone means that salvation is freely given to men by God, merely out of His love and goodness. Also, it means that this salvation is accomplished by God's power, the Holy Spirit. He regenerates; He calls; He gives faith; He sanctifies; He glorifies. This work of saving and the power of grace by which the Holy Spirit performs this work are efficacious. In carrying out this work, the Spirit and His grace do not make a man's salvation possible, but effectually save him. It is not on the order of a mere attempt by God that depends, ultimately, on the man whom God tries to save and that may, therefore, be frustrated and come to naught; but it is on the order of a work of creation that sovereignly and unfailingly makes the man whom God is pleased to save a new creature in Jesus Christ.

It is not Calvinism, that God forces men, kicking and screaming, into heaven, but that God makes a man willing, who before was unwilling. In the Canons of Dordt, the Reformed believer describes the saving work of irresistible grace this way:
...it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead... so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectively regenerated, and do actually believe ... (III,W,12)

The doctrine of the perseverance of saints, or "eternal security," as some call it, follows from the truth of irresistible grace. Not one person to whom God gives the grace of the Holy Spirit will perish, because that grace and Spirit preserve him unto the perfect salvation of the Day of Christ.

It is not Calvinism, that one may do as he pleases and still be saved, or that a saint can never fall into sin. Against the charge that the doctrine of perseverance implies that one may do as he pleases and still go to heaven, Calvinism replies that the Holy Spirit preserves us by sanctifying us, by strengthening our faith, and by giving us the gift of endurance. As for the "melancholy falls" of Christians, the saints can, and sometimes do, fall into sin, even "great and heinous sins," but the indwelling Spirit, never wholly withdrawn from them, brings them to repentance. Calvinism imparts to all true believers the inestimably precious comfort of the "certain persuasion, that they ever will continue true and living members of the church; and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last inherit eternal life" (Canons of Dordt, V,9).

All of the salvation described above has its source in God's eternal election. The truth of election is another of the characteristic Calvinistic doctrines. God has from eternity elected, or chosen, in Christ, some of the fallen human race - a certain, definite number of persons - unto salvation. This choice was unconditional, gracious, and free; it was not due to anything foreseen in those who were chosen. Reprobation is implied. God did not choose all men; but He rejected some men, in the eternal decree. It makes no essential difference whether one views reprobation as God's passing by some men with His decree of election in eternity (which is, in fact, a Divine decision about their eternal destiny), or whether one views it as a positive decree that some men perish in their sin, their unbelief and disobedience. Election and reprobation make up predestination, the doctrine that God has determined the destiny of all men from eternity. This truth is regarded, not inaccurately, as the hallmark of Calvinism. The very heart of the Reformed Church is election, God's gracious choice of us sinners, guilty and depraved, worthy only of damnation, unto salvation.

Election is the fountain of all salvation! As such, it is the ultimate, decisive, convincing proof and guarantee that salvation is gracious - that salvation does not depend upon man, but upon God; that salvation is not man's idea, but God's; that salvation is not man's work, but God's; that salvation is not due to man's decision for God, but to God's eternal decision for man.

This is how Calvin himself viewed predestination - as the final, conclusive, incontrovertible testimony to, and guarantee of, gracious salvation. Therefore, in his definitive edition of the Institutes (1559), Calvin treated predestination at the end of Book III, after his treatment of redemption in Christ and his treatment of the application of redemption by the Holy Spirit. Calvin wrote:
We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with His eternal election, the grace of God being illustrated by the contrast - viz, that He does not adopt promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what He denies to others" (III,XXI,1).

This is Calvinism!

This is the Gospel!

The Gospel proclaims man's misery as total depravity, including the bondage of his will. Ephesians 2:1 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dEphesians %2b2%3a1) diagnoses the spiritual condition of the sinner, prior to the quickening of the Spirit of Christ, thus: "dead in trespasses and sins." Spiritually dead, the sinner is lacking all good, any ability for good, and both the power and the inclination to effect a change in this condition. Himself is helpless and his condition, hopeless - the helplessness and hopelessness of death. Romans 8:7-8 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 8%3a7%2d8) passes the same judgment upon fallen man: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." The "carnal mind" is human nature as it is by virtue of natural birth. Its condition is such that it is incapable of being in subjection to God's law. Those who are in the flesh are those who are not born again by the Spirit of Christ, those who are outside of Christ. Their spiritual condition is such that they are incapable of pleasing God; all that they are able to do is sin. For a sinner to will and to do of God's good pleasure, God must work in him both the willing and the doing, by the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:13 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dPhilippia ns%2b2%3a13)).

The Gospel proclaims the death of Christ as a death that effectively redeems some men, rather than as a death that merely makes salvation possible for all men. Scripture teaches limited atonement. Jesus Himself taught this about His own death in John 10:15 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b10 %3a15) "... and I lay down my life for the sheep." A little further in the same chapter, the Lord specifically states that some men are not included among "the sheep": "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you" (v.26). He died for some men, "the sheep," in distinction from other men, who are not of His sheep. Jesus described His death similarly in Matthew 20:28 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dMatthew%2 b20%3a28): "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for (Greek: 'in the stead of') many." The important point is not so much that He spoke of those for whom He died as "many," not as "all," as it is that he spoke of His death as the ransom given in the stead of others. By dying, He paid the ransom-price to God on behalf of many sinners. He did this by taking their place, giving up his own life where theirs was forfeit. The effect of this death is that everyone for whom He died is freed from sin, death, and hell. Not one for whom He died will perish. None may perish, for the ransom is paid. This Gospel (and there is no other) was preached already by the evangelistic prophet, Isaiah, in Isaiah 53 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dIsaiah%2b 53): the suffering Christ bears away the iniquities of God's people by being smitten of God as their substitute.

The Gospel proclaims an irresistible grace, as the power that saves elect sinners. It cannot be otherwise, if the sinner is "dead in trespasses and sins." Having taught this in Ephesians 2:1 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dEphesians %2b2%3a1), the apostle goes on to teach irresistible grace in verses 4,5: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)." The saving of the sinner, in every case, is God's raising him from the dead, comparable to Jesus' wonders of raising the physically dead. Now two things are true about resurrection: it is the act of God alone, in which the one who is raised does not cooperate; and it is effectual - God never fails to accomplish the resurrection of any whom He purposes to raise. In verse 10 of this chapter, Paul likens the work by which we were saved to the work of creation, thus making dear that this work is exclusively the work of God the Creator, and not at all the work of the creature that is created: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works ..." Jesus explained that salvation takes place by the sovereign drawing-power of Almighty God, in John 6:44 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b6% 3a44): "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him."

The Gospel proclaims the perseverance of the saints. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one" (John 10:27-30 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b10 %3a27%2d30)). Jesus gives eternal life to every one of His sheep; and not one of those saints shall ever perish. It is impossible that anyone could pluck a saint out of God's hand, that is, cause a regenerated child to fall away to perdition. The reason is not the strength of the saints, but the power of the grace of God ("my Father ... is greater than all"). These words of Jesus make plain that the comforting truth of perseverance depends upon election and irresistible grace. The saints persevere, because the Father gave them to Jesus and because Jesus gives (not: tries to give, but: gives) them eternal life.

As the source and foundation of salvation, the Gospel proclaims Divine election. This truth is on the very face of the entire Old Testament Bible: God chose Israel unto salvation, rejecting the other nations. The mediator of the old covenant tells Israel, "the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you ..." (Deut. 7:6-8 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dDeut%2b7% 3a6%2d8)).

In perfect harmony with this obvious truth of the old covenant, the Mediator of the new covenant traces every aspect of His salvation back to Divine election. His life-giving death stems from election: "that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (John 17:2 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b17 %3a2)). His priestly pity and intercessory prayer are regulated by election: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine" (John 17:9 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b17 %3a9)). His saving revelation of the truth to men depends upon election: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world..." (John 17:6 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b17 %3a6)). The coming of men to Him in true faith is effected by election: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me..." (John 6:37 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b6% 3a37)). His preservation of men in faith and His resurrection of these men in glory are due to election: "... that of all which he bath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dJohn%2b6% 3a39)).

Election has a prominent place in the Gospel preached by the apostles. It is the cause of the salvation of every one who is saved, and the source of every blessing of salvation: "... the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings ... according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world ." (Ephesians 1:3,4 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dEphesians %2b1%3a3%2c4)). Upon eternal predestination was forged the golden (and unbreakable) chain of salvation: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Romans 8:30 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 8%3a30)). The entire river of the mercy of God in Jesus flows out of His will of election; and the sovereign graciousness of this will is illustrated by this, that God hardens some men according to His eternal decree of reprobation: "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth" (Romans 9:18 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 9%3a18)).

There can be no ignoring of these doctrines, called "Calvinism"; if they are not preached and confessed, they are denied. Every preacher, every Church, every member of every Church must take a stand regarding them, and does take a stand. It is impossible not to. For they are writ large on the pages of Scripture, as essential elements of the gospel. Whoever rejects Calvinism embraces the only alternative to Calvinism - a system of doctrine that is opposed to Calvinism in every point.

Does a man reject total depravity? Then he believes that fallen, natural man yet retains some good and some ability for good, specifically a will that is able to make a decision for Christ; that man outside of Christ is not dead in sins, but merely sick, that is, not dead, but alive.

Does a man reject limited atonement? Then he believes that Jesus died for each and every human being without exception. Because both Scripture and the hard facts of life teach that some men do perish in hell, this advocate of universal atonement believes that the death of Jesus did not actually atone for sins at all, but merely made atonement possible; that the cross was not the payment of the ransom in the stead of every one for whom Christ died, but merely an example of love; that the suffering of the Son of God did not effectually satisfy the justice of God by bearing sins away, but merely...? Did what? Anything at all? And if not, was He really the eternal Son of God in the flesh?

Does a man reject irresistible grace? Then he believes that God's call to salvation and the grace of the Holy Spirit depend upon the acceptance of the sinner by the exercise of his "free will," so that God's grace can be defeated and fail. Further, he believes that, whenever a sinner does come to Jesus in true faith and receives salvation, this is not due to the grace of God, but to the good will of the sinner.

Does a man reject the perseverance of saints? Then he believes that every believer can fall away and perish at any time, including himself.

Does a man reject predestination? Then he believes that the ultimate source and foundation of salvation is man's choice, decision, and will.

In the end, there are two, and only two, possible faiths. The one maintains that all mankind lies in death; that God in free and sovereign grace eternally chose some; that God gave Christ to die for those whom He chose; that the Holy Spirit regenerates them and calls them efficaciously to faith; and that the Spirit preserves these elect, redeemed, and reborn sinners unto everlasting glory. This is Calvinism.

The other faith maintains that fallen man retains some spiritual ability for good, some life; that God's choice of men depends upon their exercise of the ability for good that is in them; that Christ's death depends upon that good in man; and that the attainment of final glory depends upon that good in man. This is the enemy of Calvinism. This is the enemy of the Gospel! For Calvinism proclaims salvation by grace; the other faith preaches salvation by man's will and works and worth.

Calvinism is the Gospel! God's Gospel is the message of wholly gracious salvation. This does not mean that Calvinism is unoffensive. On the contrary! Calvin himself took note, long ago, of the offensiveness of the truth that he taught, with reference specifically to total depravity:
I am not unaware how much more plausible the view is, which invites us rather to ponder on our good qualities than to contemplate what must overwhelm us with shame - our miserable destitution and ignominy. There is nothing more acceptable to the human mind than flattery... if a discourse is pronounced which flatters the pride spontaneously springing up in man's inmost heart, nothing seems more delightful. Accordingly, in every age, he who is most forward in extolling the excellence of human nature, is received with the loudest applause. (Institutes, 11,1,2)

But the offensiveness of Calvinism to men is nothing other than the offense of the cross of Christ. In Galatians 5:11 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dGalatians %2b5%3a11), Paul speaks of "the offense of the cross," an offense that ceases only in the preaching of a cross-denying heresy. The cross of Christ, which is the very heart of the Gospel, is not pleasing to man, or acceptable to him. "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness" (I Corinthians 1:23 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dI%2bCorin thians%2b1%3a23)). The cross, as the cross of the eternal Son of God in our flesh, shows the extent of fallen man's misery: he can be saved only by the death of the Son of God. Words finally fail to do justice to the greatness of the misery of the sinner, brought out by the cross: utterly lost, completely ruined, totally depraved. The cross shows that salvation is of the Lord, wholly of Divine grace, and not at all of man. As the cross of the Prince of life, the cross is powerful to save. Nothing and no one can nullify or defeat the blood and Spirit of Christ crucified. The Gospel of the cross is this message: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 9%3a16)).

Just because this is the message of Calvinism, Calvinism is offensive to men. It is offensive to proud man to hear that he is spiritually dead, totally devoid of anything pleasing to God, unable at all to save himself, nothing more than a child of wrath. But this is the judgment passed upon him in Calvinism - and in the Gospel. It is offensive to proud man to hear that salvation is exclusively God's free gift and sovereign, gracious work. But this is what Calvinism - and the Gospel - proclaim.

Just because of this, Calvinism is good news! It is Gospel, glad tidings! As the message of grace, it comforts us and all those who, by the grace of the Spirit, believe in Christ. Only this message provides hope for lost, sinful, and otherwise hopeless men. There is salvation, only because salvation is gracious.

Defending Calvinism is simply a matter of defending the Gospel. Therefore, we do not defend it apologetically, or defensively, or even as if its fortunes were doubtful, dependent on our defense. As the truth of God, Calvinism stands, and will stand - victorious, invincible. God Himself maintains it; and God Himself sends it forth on an irresistible course of conquest throughout the world.

Calvinism is the Gospel for every age. It is the truth for which and by which the Reformation of the Church of Jesus Christ took place in the 16th century. The Gospel has not changed since that time; Jesus Christ in His truth is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. But the truth of the Gospel is largely lost and buried in the Protestant Churches in our day, including many who pride themselves on being "fundamental" and "evangelical." The Gospel is perverted by a message that is essentially the same as that message against which the Reformation fought and which on its part bitterly opposed the Reformation. In those days, Rome preached a salvation that had to be earned by man's own works, as indeed it still preaches today; Rome taught that men were righteous before God, in part, by their own works, as indeed it still teaches today. In our day, the Protestant Churches teach and preach that salvation depends upon man's own will; they proclaim that the sinner must achieve his own salvation by willing. This "gospel" of much of Protestantism and the "gospel" of Rome are one and the same. Essentially, there is no difference between them. This is the reason why many Protestant Churches, preachers, evangelists, and people find it possible to co-operate closely with the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the work of evangelism; and this is the reason why a great reunion with Rome on the part of many Protestants is in the offing. Rome says, "Salvation depends upon man working;" modern Protestantism says, "Salvation depends upon man willing." Both are saying the same thing: "Salvation depends upon man." The apostle lumps both of these variations of the same basic doctrine together in Romans 9:16 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 9%3a16), and condemns them: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

Having condemned these heresies, Paul declares that the source of our salvation is God showing mercy - only God showing mercy; he proclaims that salvation depends upon God showing mercy - only upon God showing mercy. This is the message of Calvinism; and because it is, our defense of Calvinism is a bold, uncompromisingly, unashamed defense. We say of Calvinism what B. B. Warfield once said of it: "the future of Christianity - as its past has done - lies in its hands."

We repudiate the false accusations made against Calvinism, and the caricatures made of it. Men say of Calvinism that it is destructive of good works and of the law of God, that it produces careless Christians. Men say that it is destructive of zeal for preaching and missions. Men say that it is terrifying to poor consciences, that it is cold and hard, and that Calvinists are all head and no heart. These are old charges, hoary with age. You will find them, almost word-for-word, lodged against the apostle, Paul, and the Gospel that he preached (cf. Romans 3:8 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 3%3a8); 3:31; 6:1f.; and 9:19ff.).

Would that men were not so ready to accept the caricature of Calvinism contrived by its enemies, but rather let Calvinism speak for itself, in its confessions. Read the Heidelberg Catechism, or the Westminster Catechisms, and see for yourself whether Calvinism is hard and cold and cruel, or whether it is warm and comforting. Read the Belgic Confession, or the Westminster Confession of Faith, and see whether Calvinism goes lightly over the law of God and over the good works of the Christian man, or whether it trembles before the law, stresses sanctification, and insists on the necessity of good works. Read the Canons of Dordt, the Reformed creed that is unsurpassed in its statement of predestination and in its defense of salvation by grace alone, and see whether Calvinism cuts the nerve of a lively preaching of the Gospel, including the serious call of the Gospel to all who come under the preaching. See also the tenderness of the Reformed Faith towards penitent sinners, and its deep pastoral concern for afflicted consciences.

At the same time, we Reformed people and churches must refute the caricatures of Calvinism by our life and deeds. This also belongs to an "apology for Calvinism." We do well to take heed to ourselves, as well as to our doctrine. Are we zealous for good works? Are we ready to preach the Gospel to every creature and to give an answer to every man that asks us a reason for the hope that is in us? Do we manifest ourselves as joyful, hopeful, confident saints? This we will do, by God's grace, if we live out of the truth of Calvinism, that is, the Gospel.

We have a powerful motive for defending Calvinism. For one thing, as the Gospel it is the only hope for sinful men - the only power of God unto salvation, the only means of the gathering and preserving of the Church. Even more compelling, Calvinism glorifies God. The glory of God is the heartbeat of Calvinism, and the heart of hearts of every Calvinist. Calvin's enemies have always seen this and have sneered at him as "that God-intoxicated man." Calvinism gives the magnificent answer to the question, "What is the chief end of man?": "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever." (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Quest. 1). But the glory of God is the goal of the Gospel, that is, the goal of God Himself through the Gospel: "...to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Ephesians 1:6 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dEphesians %2b1%3a6)). His glory He will not give to another (Isaiah 42:8 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dIsaiah%2b 42%3a8)). "Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things;" to Him, therefore, be glory for ever. (Romans 11:36 ( fbible%3fversion%3dKJV%26amp%3bpassage%3dRomans%2b 11%3a36))

In Christ,

C. Soler

01-21-04, 05:29 PM
I closed this thread. Carlos, when posting, make sure that the topic isn't ancient.