10 things I hope every Calvinist understands.

14 thoughts on “10 things I hope every Calvinist understands.”

  1. Hey Josh, thanks for your thoughts and comments here. I especially thought #9 and #10 are needed in order to come to the discussion table about this issue or any other for that matter. You raise really good points about our inability to see past our own convictions; we think our ideas are better than the “other” brother’s, and we can’t see the weaknesses in our ideas. When Jesus was talking about taking the log out of our own eye before we take the speck out of our brothers, this points to what you are talking about in item # 9, when we are discussing different views. It is tough to see the brilliance of the ideas that someone else buys into but we don’t. I do wonder whether items #1,3,5 and 8 appeal greatly to the popularity of a belief.

    I’m not sure that theology is a popularity contest. (ok, so #3 and # 5, and perhaps #1 for pre-1536 are anachronistic because they came before Calvin wrote his “Institutes of the Christian Religion” in Latin, so these could not entirely embrace what Calvin embraced, nor what others known as hyperCalvinits (??) came to believe.) So, I’m not being flippant about that point, because on the otherhand, much of what has been considered orthodox has been what was practiced by believers as they strove to understand what was written in the word. So, your point #4 is well-taken, Calvinists are not the arbiters of orthodoxy (straight practice). It is good to discuss these issues so that we can learn more about how to live out our lives before God, as we truly seek Him and see what He wants us to know. I think Romans 14 has some good ideas regarding disputable matters, and I’m not trying to take it out of the context of weaker / stronger brothers and sisters, I think the principle of not judging our brother here applies.

    I myself have struggled long and hard with the issue of man’s free will vs God’s sovereignty. At the end of it I’ve come to understand that God is able to do what He purposes, yet we have choices to make too and that one of the things which we as humans have is choice to do good or evil. (We would not have understood the choice not having understood the knowledge of good or evil until Adam & Eve took the bite.) I think that this side of heaven we proabably aren’t going to be able to get God into one of our nicely crafted shoeboxes (actually will we ever?) that we like to think contains all there is to know about the topic. He is not a “tame Lion” you know! I for one, hold my theology in the palm of my hands so that the one who took nails in the palms of His could correct it, especially in the area of disputable matters.

    Josh, I love that fact that you love God with all your mind as evidenced by the depth of your study as an “ordinary guy”. I’ve done a masters in Linguistics and Biblical exegesis and I rarely find anyone so engaged with the writings and the Word as it seems you are.

    May the Living God guide you and your family, and may you continue to love God with all your being, and love your neighbour as yourself, ’cause that’s basically what it comes down too, eh?
    Your brother in Christ,

  2. A friend linked my to this article over Facebook and as a Molinist I couldn’t resonate any more with your points. Good read.

  3. I was disappointed in #8 as a “point” in what otherwise was a stellar post. Being raised semi-Arminian (“semi” meaning that my parents believed in eternal security), I met a lot of non-Calvinists who were all of the things mentioned on your google search and drove my family out of a lot of churches with their hate and hostility. Those traits you mention are also the same traits that Democrats attribute to Republicans, while Republicans call Democrats “bleeding hearts” etc. I am not comparing non-Calvinists to Democrats, but rather intending to say that any time one finds themselves on one side of a debate we can tend to villianize the other side. It would be just as easy for a Calvinist to write a post generalizing all non-Calvinists as anti-intellectual, emotion-driven heretics, but it would not make the post right. Calling one another names and creating “reputations” for various groups of people is immaturity. One could say “stereotypes exist for a reason” but we must also ask if stereotypes encourage or discourage discussion and understanding between us.

    I belong to a church of Presbyterian Calvinists (PCA) and I can tell you I have never, ever, ever met a group of more grace-filled, gospel speaking, loving people in my life (including the myriad of Arminian Baptist [yes, they do exist] and Christian and Missionary Alliance churches I’ve belonged to). Intellectual, yes. Willing to debate on the issues of free-will and predestination, yes. Devoted to “Sola Scriptura” and the glory of God, yes. More devoted to love of the church, absolutely. I am sure we have our issues just as any non-Calvinist church would, but I haven’t found a member there that could be characterized by #8. Perhaps Mr. Porter needs to consider that his point #8, rather than encouraging unity and understanding, discourages it.

    1. All wonderful points, Christine. Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply.

      I understand your push-back, but if I may, my intent with point #8 was less about characterization—i.e., alleging these stereotypes are or are not founded—and more about an issue that has begun to permeate the consciousness of Reformed thinkers themselves. Consider those thoughts from Dr. Paul Owen. When serious thinkers are drawing this level of scrutiny on their own school of thought, I think it’s worth mentioning. Certainly, this critique can not be applied to any and all Calvinists, but the pervasive nature of the stigma seems to suggest an issue has permeated the movement, at least to a degree.

      Thus, I mention this, believe it or not, as “food for thought.” It behooves me personally to maintain some level of awareness of the stigmas that surround my own views, if for no other reason than to work to dispel the ones I feel are misplaced however I can.

      I have several Calvinist friends who are not arrogant or negative or smug. I do not pretend to believe there is a one size fits all for the disposition of Calvinists.

  4. These are Google’s top results when one searches “why are Christians ”

    Why Are Christians Such Bad Tippers? –

    Christians Are Hypocrites – Evil Bible
    Why Are Christians So Judgmental? – Explore God

    Why are Christians so judgmental? – GotQuestions.org

    Why are Christians always arguing? – GotQuestions.org

    How do we know that Christians are delusional? – God is …
    Why Are Christians So Weird? – Commonsense Christianity

    It is logical that most of the people that use the question “Why are Calvinist… ” are arminians and they will always use something negative.

    So using a search engine to prove a point it is fallacious 🙂

    1. Ha ha ha ha, totally valid, Gabe. My personal favorite, “why are Christians so weird?” Why indeed.

      But, bit of friendly push-back, aren’t most of these searches about Christians at least a tad valid? I’m not sure the comparison proves any illegitimacy on the search engine point.

      And again, the essay I’ve referenced from Dr. Owen (a Calvinist) I think proves that, at least to a certain degree, there are Calvinist who agree the stereotype is based in reality. I know many Calvinists personally who would say as much. Even John Piper has agreed that Calvinists are often assumed to be negative and arrogant.

      You’re obviously dead-on in pointing out that a search engine does not prove a point, but I think it might be worth mentioning, as it isn’t the only point, but meant to reinforce what other calvinists are already talking about themselves. Know what I mean?

  5. Josh, that was a really great post!

    “To date, I have met, befriended, and entertained discussions and debated with dozens of calvinists who condemn non-calvinist viewpoints, but I have not met or entertained a discussion with a single calvinist who was able to accurately describe exactly what the non-calvinists they condemn actually believe. One of the major goals in understanding a view that is not your own is being able to explain the view to the view-holder in such a way that they might be able to agree, “yes, that is exactly what I believe.”

    Oftentimes, people share their views so loudly and with such confidence that they never even hear what an opposing view might actually be saying. Those kind of discussions just end up in shouting matches and do more harm than good. The truth of the matter is that where you actually stand on the Armenian or Calvinist debate doesn’t really matter. So instead of trying to change someone’s view on this, seek to understand what their view is. Let them explain it. Then agree to disagree if you must!

  6. So glad to come across this post. I recently left my church after 10 years of membership, because I finally figured out our pastor for the last 3 years is calvinist. I did not want to cause division in the church, but could not stomach staying. When I questioned him specifically regarding all the whosoever/every/all statements in the New Testament, he told me point blank that he did not believe them. How can I discuss scripture with someone who changes the basic meaning of scripture, in order to make those scriptures fit their definitions of predestination/election/sovereignty? Anyway, it is a growing experience for me. I will be reading more of your posts. God bless!

  7. Great post. You just hit the nail on the head right there, brother. I’ve met a lot of Calvinist who are so proud of their knowledge and theology. It hurts me so much to the point that I can see them causing their non-calvinist brothers and sisters stumble. Too much arrogance! God bless you all the more and may the Holy Spirit give you more revelations that unite the Body!

  8. Wow…great post! Its amazing how few people understand the historical issues with Calvinism. I was beginning to think I was the only one!

  9. Despite its veneer, calvinism is a cult indeed, and evil. Go a bit deeper than the childish TULIP philosophies, and you’ll cover your face in horror.

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