I really don’t care what you call it.
It could be called “Tacoism” or “Fat Catism” for all I care, but the world calls it “Calvinism.” To me, it’s just a name to describe a set of beliefs drawn from Scripture. Yes…John Calvin was very instrumental in the revival of theses beliefs in the 16th century, but they don’t belong to him. It could have been Bea O’Problem instead of John Calvin. It doesn’t matter who it is.
I’m a Calvinist because I see these things taught in Scripture. I didn’t become a Calvinist and then sought out the Scriptures to pack it up. In fact, quite the opposite happened. I didn’t want to become a Calvinist since I heard all kinds of bad things associated with it when I was younger.
“Calvinist believe God is like some sort of mean first team captain on the playground who picks his favorites.” No thank you.
Then one day, at a home Bible study, the leader turned to me and said, “Ryan….would you like to describe the doctrine of predestination?” I hadn’t really thought about it much, but I gave it a shot.
“Isn’t it when God looks into the future to see who will accept him?” I said.
He graciously and gently disagreed with me in front of everyone where I didn’t feel attacked, stressing that it’s an “open-handed” issue not worth getting worked up about. He explained the position; God determined before the creation of the world who would be saved and who wouldn’t.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I pulled him aside and tried to get more out of him, but he rightly knew it wasn’t the time of the place, but hit me with a bombshell. “You don’t have to believe that, but you should know that all the pastors you like believe predestination like I’ve presented it.” I couldn’t believe it. All these men I highly respected believed in *that* predestination. Of course, to me, that didn’t mean I had to believe it, but it did mean I had a lot to think about. Arguing with them over the Bible, to me, is kind of like trying to argue with the Surgeon General with a WebMD.com level of medical understanding.
Two days later, I flew back home and had dinner with an old friend who just happened to be in town. I hadn’t seen him in over 10 years, but we kind of kept up via social media. I asked him how the last 10 years have been and when he mentioned that he had graduated from seminary, I immediately shifted the conversation to my theological questions.
“So…..I was just in a Bible study where they were teaching that God “predestines” people for heaven and hell. Is that what the Bible teaches?”
For the next two hours, I drilled him with question after question trying to wrap my brain around what he was saying….and I didn’t like it at all. I’d fire a “zinger” at him thinking I’ve caught him in a contradiction only to have him calmly refute it which just made me question my own position. I didn’t want to admit it, but I felt like I was backed into a corner by my own beliefs. Question after question swirled in my head trying to find a way out of my own theological conundrum. I’d try to think of a verse that refutes what he was saying only to find two that support it.
I went home feeling frustrated, mad, and concerned that almost everything I believed about God and salvation had been wrong for almost 20 years. TWENTY YEARS! How embarrassing especially since I had worked as an associate pastor for close to 10?!?!
The questions swirled in my head. “How did he have an answer for all my objections?” I knew the only way to refute his Calvinism was with the Word so I started studying and reading. I’d look up a scripture and wrestle with it, trying to wrangle it into my position, only to find myself being dragged behind it. I fought and fought this Calvinism, but scripture after scripture showed me I was wrong.
God is completely sovereign. (Ps 115:3)
God has providence over all things. (Matt 10:29-31)
All sinners are totally unable to do literally anything for their own salvation. (Rom 3:23, Eph Ch.2)
All people deserve hell. (Rom 3:9-19)
God predestines some for salvation. (Eph 1:4)
I knew I had a choice. Either I could stand my ground and insist that what I had believed for 20 years was right or I could bend my knee to the Word of God which would mean I would become a Calvinist.
So….if it isn’t obvious….I’m a Calvinist.
I still don’t care for the name “Calvinist”. I’m first and foremost a “Christian”, but I have to use “Calvinist” since that’s how people associate my particular set of Biblical beliefs.
Perhaps in my next post, I’ll discuss the things I wrestled with that led me to see that my former position, Arminianism, doesn’t hold up against Scripture.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Leave a comment below, please or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org