Why I am Not a Calvinist

I was raised Catholic, and if there’s any confusion among Protestants reading this, that means, “Roman Catholic,” or my preferred label of “Romanist.” Their dogma is about as far from Calvinism as ideologically possible, but that’s not why I have a problem with Calvinism.

Considering my conservative view of God’s Word, it’s a wonder that I don’t embrace Calvinism; some of the best Bible scholars, both now and throughout history, are or were Calvinists. Yet, they are missing one significant fact about God: The eternal, self-existent One governs His universe outside of our temporal constraints. Yes, God understands time. He aught to; He created it. Thing is, we limit God according to our understanding of creation. For example, we call God, “Him,” even though He is neither male nor female. The Bible anthropomorphizes Him by speaking of His hands or wings, and non-believers do the same by thinking of Him as a wizened old man with a long white beard, gazing at us through a heavenly telescope to catch us in misdeeds.

Why do we limit our ideas of what’s possible by our understanding of cause-and-effect? Calvinism teaches that we’re saved because God “elected” those who would be saved, individually, from time’s very beginning. In other words, we’re saved because He chose us. Isn’t it also possible that He chose us because we’re saved? Why not both at the same time?

Without going into a hodgepodge of doctrinal proof verses, I can say there is enough solid Scriptural evidence supporting both Calvinism and Wesleyan/Arminian holiness positions that I hesitate to align myself with either side. Can I lose my salvation? Absolutely not, if I am truly saved. Am I truly saved? I have the witness of the Spirit (Romans 8:16), so I must be. Right? Why, then, have so many who claimed that promise apostatized, not only leaving the faith, but vehemently opposing it?

When attempting to evangelize people we often ask them if they’re saved. When they answer, “I hope I’m saved,” we assume they aren’t. But God’s Word tells us, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:24-25) Apostle Paul said we “were saved,” meaning it’s a done deal. But we can’t “see” that hope, or it wouldn’t be hope. So we can’t know with a certainty that we’re saved. Claiming that would be claiming the same foreknowledge that only God possesses. According to Paul’s words, “perseverance” is the key to our ultimate salvation.

My intent here isn’t to place your faith in doubt. Rather, I hope to shake it just enough to send you into God’s Word to prove me wrong, and I look forward to seeing those proofs in the comments.

Bible Doctrine—What Really Matters?

Huh?

Today I happened upon two words that intrigued me: Supralapsarianism, and Infralapsarianism (just sound them out). Only a theologian could come up with stuff like that. So I Googled them and found they are two schools of thought about “ordering the soteriological elements of God’s eternal decree.” That enlightening information simply lit the mud-puddle more brightly. But wait! There are two more, for no extra charge: Amyraldism and Arminianism (don’t ask). Here’s a sample of what the first two describe, as far as the order of events in God’s Plan of Salvation (soteriology):

Supralapsarianism
1. Elect Some, Reject the Rest (before creation)
2. Create
3. Permit Fall
4. Provide Salvation for the Elect
5. Call Elect to Salvation

And just for comparison, here’s another:

Infralapsarianism
1. Create
2. Permit Fall
3. Elect Some, Pass Over the Rest (after creation)
4. Provide Salvation for the Elect
5. Call the Elect to Salvation

As you can see, there’s not a whole heck of a lot of difference between them, and Calvinistic theologians get into long, involved debates over which is God’s honest truth. Funny thing is, most of those fancy, theological words aren’t even in the Bible.

Actually, that’s not funny at all.

My question: Does splitting theological hairs really matter, except for proving oneself right and another wrong? Tell you what, that smacks pretty strongly of vain pride.

Apostle Paul stated this soteriological thing most simply:

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Sure, other Biblical teachings matter a lot, but once you are reborn by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s all a matter of growing toward spiritual maturity. Should you put yourself before the brethren? Of course not; God’s Word teaches us to love others, and put their welfare before your own. In fact, that’s pretty much the bottom line of spiritual maturity.

Trouble is, you and I have witnessed lots of church folks who don’t seem to have grasped love’s importance. Sure, they’re religious enough, but Apostle James had some choice things to say about that:

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:26-27)

See that last part, about widows and orphans? That’s called putting others first. God’s requirements are all fulfilled in one word: LOVE. Apostle John put it best:

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:10,11)

And that’s what really matters.

Calvinism: Sovereignty, or Sophistry?

Calvin contended that not a wind blows, not a drop of rain falls, without the express command of God. “He so regulates all things,” Calvin wrote, “that nothing takes place without His deliberation.”
      Calvinism teaches, among other things, absolute divine sovereignty, as John Calvin expressed in the above quote. All else that Calvinism contends flows from this teaching.
      Without getting deeply into the Calvinist TULIP, (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints), one fault of that teaching stands out conspicuously: Without maintaining a precarious, logical balance, one can too easily tip over the edge into a fatalistic conclusion. I can’t say how many times I’ve allowed the enemy to use Calvinistic teaching to trap me into self-condemnation, even though the Bible says, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV)
      Problem is, Satan counters even that wonderful truth with a spurious argument (Imagine it spoken with a pronounced hiss): “But how do you know you are in him? Are you acting like a Christian? Thinking like a Christian? Admit it, you are full of doubts!”  The solution is to respond to him like Jesus did: Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10 ESV)

Real Assurance of Salvation

Apostle Paul answered the enemy’s challenge: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17 ESV)
      So, how do we suffer with Jesus? First, by fighting the temptation to doubt. Everyone, even Jesus, had doubts. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV) And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42 ESV)
      Second, by standing with Christ in spite of social disapproval. As long as our religion is loving, and not dogmatic or sanctimonious, no one has valid reason for putting us down. And if it is those things, we will likely be so self-assured that we won’t entertain doubts to begin with.
      Third, by keeping our personal priorities in line with Christ’s. So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ESV) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)
      Fourth, by dying to self. And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV) To Jesus, his cross was both his curse and his means of death. To obey Jesus’ command, we will have to endure the curses of the world and die to ourselves. Apostle Paul dealt with this principle in his letter to the Roman church:

Romans 6:1-11 ESV
(1) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
(2) By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
(3) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
(4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
(5) For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
(6) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
(7) For one who has died has been set free from sin.
(8) Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
(9) We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
(10) For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
(11) So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This passage is hard to grasp. With our natural view of death as being something final and corrupt, it obstructs our grasp of Christ’s substitutional death for us, and our proper response of dying to sin that we might live with him. Romans chapter six is one of those Scripture passages that, if we truly want to live for Christ, we must study and meditate on until we make its truth an integral part of ourselves.

Giving Calvin His Due

Calvinists, by and large, handle Scripture with tender loving care, with no attempt at deception as I’ve implied in this writing’s title. If not delivered with the same TLC, though, its message can lead sophomoric believers to one of two tragically wrong conclusions: They can fall prey to Satan’s condemnation, or they can gain an unwarranted
assurance of salvation despite continuing in sin. John Calvin would come out of his grave screaming bloody murder if he could see the number of people captured by either deception.

      Well-meant deception, however, can’t be laid exclusively at Calvinism’s doorstep. The other side of the theological coin, Arminianism, can be misapplied just as badly. But that’s grist for another grind. 

I Hate Politics!

I know I’m not alone in that sentiment, but a time comes when even passive voters such as I must at least try to make waves. And being a non-swimmer, when I get in deep water I make plenty of waves.

The vast majority of voters loyal to either major political party haven’t the foggiest idea what really goes on in those smoke-filled rooms. And yes, they’re still smoke-filled, despite the Politically Correct dogma of smoke freedom. So, confession time: Down deep we’ve realized our woeful ignorance since we first began shedding our cockeyed idealism, and responded by imitating the mythical, head-burying kangaroo. “If it was good enough for Kennedy or Reagan, it’s good enough for me.”

The problem is, that was then, and this is now. What dragged my head out of the proverbial sand is this video of Anita Moncrief’s statements at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Suite Tea Breakfast in Orlando, Florida on September 23, 2011. If you’re now shaking your head and looking askance at this obvious conservative propaganda, please excuse my audacity for publishing my opinion on my own blog. But despite the mainstream media’s smear tactics, this deserves an unbiased hearing. If you claim to be open-minded, please sacrifice the twenty minutes that viewing both parts of this video will cost you. It will either cement your liberalness or open your eyes. Either way, it will be well worth your time. (If the following videos don’t work in your browser, copy/paste the following URL into its address bar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CmkbShVqNA )

If you agree that this is vital information in this pivotal election cycle, please break your silence and do everything you can to broadcast it, whether or not you will be popular for doing so. Because the liberal news media will certainly try to conceal it.