Why Is Calvinism So Dangerous?

Because it teaches the opposite of what the Bible teaches!

Calvinism thinks it correctly understands the Word.  But what it does is twist each verse until it supports its view of predestination, of God micromanaging everything (their definition of "sovereignty"), and of "total human depravity" where people are so depraved that no one can think about, want, or come to God unless God makes them do it (which is absolutely not in the Bible.  In fact, the exact opposite is in the Bible.  God calls us over and over again to seek Him, and He says He will hold us accountable if we resist Him or ignore Him).  


[Hey, Calvinists ... Do you want a test to see what's driving your view of this issue?  Pray and ask God to reveal to you if you are wrong in your understanding of this issue, if you are reading the Word wrong, trying to make it fit your own ideas of what it says.  Tell God that you want to know the truth and give Him permission to open your eyes to truth, even if it means finding out you've been wrong this whole time.


Now ... how did it make you feel to think about doing that?  Did you get offended at the suggestion that Calvinism is wrong?  Did you bristle and stiffen your neck, as in "I'm not praying that!  I know I'm right!"?  Did you scoff?  Do you want to throw away everything I am saying - and going to say - because you've predetermined that I don't know what I'm talking about, simply because I disagree with your view?  Did you start coming up with all sorts of reasons for why you're right and rehearsing all the theological arguments that "support" Calvinism?  


Are you more concerned with protecting and defending your view than you are with God's opinion of it?  How much is your pride driving your theology?  Are you willing for God to correct you if you are wrong?  Do you want to know His truth more than you want to cling to your pride and your feeling of intellectual and theological "superiority"?


What's in your heart?


So now, pray and ask God to reveal truth to you, to show you if you've been wrong.  Determine in your heart that you really do want to know the truth, no matter the cost.  Don't just think about praying it.  DO IT!]

   

Many Christians don't want to get into this issue.  It's messy and uncomfortable and confusing.  And so we straddle the fence, saying "Oh, it doesn't really matter what we think about this as long as the Gospel is preached and people come to Jesus."

But does it really "not matter"?

We also don't want to get into this issue because Calvinists have made it seem like their view of the Gospel is absolutely "what the Bible says."  We've been fed that line so many times by the multitudes of popular Calvinist preachers and authors that we don't even think to doubt it.  We don't even realize that they could possibly be wrong.  We just keep drinking the Kool-Aid we're given.  

But I think it's definitely worth doubting.  Worth thinking about deeply.  Worth researching.  Worth debating.  



And to be fair, most Calvinists do not have some sinister plan to lead people astray.  Yes, some of them are smug and dogmatic and condescending and rude.  But most are truly good, humble people who are simply trying their best to honor God and His Word.  Some of our favorite church-friends are Calvinists.  They are some of the best, most kind-hearted, godly people we know.  And it was never an issue between us or between others in the congregation because no one ever pushed their views excessively and dogmatically.  (Not until our new pastor came along.)     

So I am not necessarily speaking against the average Calvinist, but against Calvinism and the dogmatic Calvinist teachers.  I think most Calvinists in the congregation are just good people doing their best to honor God and to be true to the Word.  It's just that they've been taught a view that has added little twists and tweaks to Scripture until it "fits so nicely" with Calvinism that they don't even know to question it.  And they have been taught that to be a good, God-honoring, humble Christian, they have to accept this Calvinist teaching and not dig too deeply for reasonable answers because it offends God and because, as mere humans, they can't understand it anyway.  (That's how I started to get sucked into Calvinism in my high-school/college years.  We were taught that Calvinism is just the way it is and that to be a good humble Christian meant accepting it.  And so I humbly, faithfully did.)    

But once you start really researching Calvinism and what the Bible really says, without twists or tweaks, it all falls apart.

And maybe that's what makes it so dangerous:  Calvinists truly believe it and think they are honoring God and the Word by spreading it.  




(Also see "What's The Best Way To Make People Agree With Your Calvinist Views?"  I am speaking out about this loud and often.  Because I think it's worth it!  And I think you'll see it, too.  If you let yourself.  If you are willing to let God show you the truth.  And if I may say, I don't want to hurt my wonderful Calvinist friends.  It distresses me to have to bring this issue up, to speak so forcefully against it.  It honestly makes me want to cry to be put in this position, to risk hurting others or unsettling their beliefs.  But I don't feel I have a choice.  Calvinism contradicts the Word, yet it has been pushed on us more and more by our pastor ... and we have been told that we can't disagree with it ... and recently someone at church deleted my very-biblically-based comment on the church's blog where I disagreed with the pastor's pro-predestination post.  And I cannot sit by anymore as this church gets more entrenched in Calvinism, while they tell us we can't disagree and they block biblically-based opposing views.  That's scary.)



So let's see some of what Calvinism says and how different it is from what the Bible teaches.  (I'll add verses where appropriate.)  And ask yourself if it really "doesn't matter."  



1.  
The Bible says ... Jesus died for all, loves all, and wants all men to be saved
(John 3:16-17 and 5:24Titus 2:11, 1 Timothy 2:4-6 and 4:10, Romans 5:18 and 10:13.  This first point alone is really all you need to see how twisted and dangerous Calvinism is.)


Calvinism says ... Jesus died only for the elect, loves only the elect, and only wanted the elect to be saved

[To make this work, Calvinists say "all men" and "whosoever" and "the world" really mean "just the elect" or "all KINDS of men, but not ALL men."  Lots of verses to twist.  Calvinist authors will literally say, "Jesus does not love everybody and did not die for everyone."  

But look at 2 Peter 2:1This verse says that Jesus's death even bought the false teachers, the very ones who deny Him.  Jesus's death paid for all men's sins, even those who "bring destruction on themselves."  

If Calvinism is correct, then either God is lying about Jesus "buying" the false teachers ... or God "elects" false teachers because Jesus only bought the "elect" with His blood, and those guys were "bought" by Jesus, according to the verse.  (And then, of course, the "destruction" they brought on themselves would have to be something other than hell, because the "elect" can't go to hell).  

So which is it:  Lying God or Elected False Teachers?

And if Calvinism is correct, then God is lying about whatever "destruction" they brought on themselves.  They didn't do it; God did.  For His glory ... right, Calvinists!?!  So why would He give them credit for saying they "brought destruction on themselves," making it sound like they have power over their choices and some sort of effect over their lives.  Wouldn't that be "stealing God's glory" and saying God is not as sovereign and "in control" as Calvinists say He is!?!   

You know, I kinda wish Calvinists would stop "sneaking" their theology into churches, softening it up to make it more palatable, to infiltrate deeper and deeper without being noticed until it's too late.  Have the guts and integrity to honestly tell hurting people and God-seekers what you really believe:  "Well, I don't know if God loves you or if Jesus died for you or if you are one of the elect.  He only loves and died for and saves a few select people.  But there's nothing you can do about it anyway.  Your eternity is already sealed.  And none of us will truly know who's elected and who's not until eternity.  So best of luck to you.  May you win the 'salvation lottery'!"  

It would be a lot easier to identify them if they just said it like they really think it is.] 





2.
The Bible says ... God is not willing that any man should perish, and no one is beyond God's saving grace.  
(2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 33:11, Romans 11:32, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Romans 3:23-24, Titus 2:11)


Calvinism says ... God predestined most people for hell, they were never offered grace

[Calvinism will try to weasel out of this one by saying that God doesn't really predestine the unelect for hell; He just doesn't elect them for heaven, which means they end up in hell.  HOGWASH!  It's the same thing.  It's just trying to soften up a terrible belief, to make it seem like God doesn't really predestine people for hell.  But if God is the one who preplans who goes to heaven, and the rest have to go to hell because He didn't plan for them to go to heaven, then He indeed preplans who goes to hell.  Don't buy into Calvinism's double-talk.  They talk out of both sides of their mouth and expect people to accept it.]   





3.
The Bible says ... We are responsible for our choices, sins, and unbelief
(Rom 10:3 and 11:20,23Joshua 24:15, Matthew 23:37James 1:13-15,  2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 2:10)


Calvinism says ... God causes all sin and unbelief, but we are still held accountable for it.

[Calvinism expects you to accept the absurd, illogical idea that God causes sin and unbelief but is not responsible for it, and that even though we don't choose to be unbelievers, according to them, we can still be justly held accountable for it.  It's more double-talk and nonsense.  If God causes it, He's responsible for it.  And there would be nothing just or righteous about holding us responsible for something He causes.  It's nonsense.  But when you question Calvinists on this, they say, "Well, we might not like it but we have to believe it because it's what the Bible says.  Who are we to question God!?!  And you won't be able to really understand it till eternity anyway, so don't think too hard about it."  They shame you into not disagreeing with them, making you feel unhumble if you do.] 






4.
The Bible says ... When we repent and believe, we become saved and receive the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2:38, Ephesians 1:13)


Calvinism says ... The "elect" are prechosen to be saved, then the Holy Spirit comes to the elect to make them repent and believe.  Being chosen comes before salvation, and receiving the Holy Spirit comes before repentance and belief.

[In many areas, they ignore or explain away the verses that clearly contradict them.  And they build their theology on a collection of vague verse or verses taken out of context, trying to make their view sound legitimate.]






5.  
The Bible says ... God expects us to seek Him                  
(Amos 5:4, Isaiah 55:6, Deuteronomy 4:29, Hebrews 11:6, Acts 17:27)


Calvinism says ... No one can seek God unless God makes them seek

[Calvinists support this idea by saying we are "dead people," that we are like dead bodies who can't do anything unless God makes us do it.  But this is simply a ridiculously bad and wrong analogy.  We are not physically dead, just spiritually dead, which means we are separated from God.  Our brains still work, and God expects us to use our brains to seek Him.  

Calvinists also get this idea by reading into Romans 3:10-11.  They say it means we are so depraved that we can't possible want, seek or believe in God, unless He makes us do it. But the verses don't say that.  They are simply saying that we are self-centered by nature and don't generally desire or seek the things of God, and that we can't do anything to save ourselves.  We have no righteousness of our own to earn our salvation, and neither will our bloodline save us.  And this is why God has to be the one to get our attention, to make Himself known, and to make salvation possible.  He wants us to see what's missing in our lives, to desire Him, to seek Him, and to accept the gift of salvation He made possible.  And if we refuse Him, He can hold us accountable because He has made Himself abundantly clear through His creation - Romans 1:20.]




6.  
The Bible says ... Satan blinds eyes, but Jesus takes the veil away when we turn to Him.  (2 Corinthians 4:4 and 3:16)  And "receive" and "believe" (in the concordance) are active, not passive.  We do them.  "Receive" means to reach out and grab ahold of what is being offered to you (salvation).  And "believe" is to let yourself be persuaded by something (the truth) and to commit to it.
(Romans 1:5, 5:11, 5:17, 8:15, 10:4, 10:13, Ephesians 1:13, John 1:12)                  


Calvinism says ... God blinds eyes (causes the unelect to not believe in Him) and opens eyes.  If He doesn't open your eyes, you can't find Him.  He causes the elect to believe in and receive Jesus, with no response needed on our parts.  It's done to us, not by us.

[I think they partly think this because Acts 16:14 talks about God opening Lydia's heart to believe Paul's message.  Calvinists say this means that God caused her to believe.  But if you look at that verse, you'll see that she was already a worshipper of God, a believer.  Most likely, it's that God caused her to see the need to be baptized, because the very next thing she does is get her family baptized.  And Calvinists will point to Luke 24:45, about God opening the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures.  But once again, this isn't causing unbelievers to believe.  It's opening the minds of those who already believe to help them grow in their wisdom and faith.]





7.
The Bible says ... Generally, according to the concordance, a "hardened" heart is retribution for having first hardened our own hearts and resisted God for so long, even after He's been patient and long-suffering with us.
(Romans 9:18.  And in John 12:37-39"they would not believe" resulted in "they could not believe."  And in Ezekiel 20:21-25 and Romans 1:21-24the people rebel against God, so He lets them become hardened and defiled, handing them over to their own sinful rebellion.  A simple study of what the concordance says about many of the words Calvinists hinge Calvinism on will defeat the idea of Calvinism.)


Calvinism says ... God chooses whose hearts to harden and whose to turn to Him, with no input/responsibility on our parts.  

[2 Peter 3:9 says God is patient with us, wanting everyone to be saved. But what's patience for, if He's already predestined who goes to heaven and if He controls when we get saved?  And notice in Romans 11:4-5 how God chooses His people.  The people chose whether they would serve Baal or not.  Then God chooses those who did not worship Baal.  The people's choice of whom they worshipped affected whether God chose them or not.  And for further biblical proof that WE choose to harden our hearts, see Zechariah 7:11-13.  Why would God get angry with them if He caused them to resist Him?  He must like making Himself angry, because He's the only one responsible for anything in this world.  According to Calvinism.]



  

8.  
The Bible says ... We are to evangelize because it's how people will hear the Gospel so that they can believe.  That by hearing the Gospel, we can believe, and by believing, we inherit eternal life.
(Romans 10:14, John 20:31)


Calvinism says ... Evangelize because God told you to, even though God's already decided where everyone will go. The elect will be saved and the unelect will be damned, no matter what.  But we still have to obey God's command to spread the Gospel.

[Makes no sense!  Calvinism says that we are elected before we can even respond to the Gospel, and that we can't respond to the Gospel or believe in Jesus unless God first regenerates us and gives us the Holy Spirit.  

So then, why should we spread the Gospel if it can have no influence over a person anyway, because their eternities have already been decided?

But the Bible says, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."  (John 20:31)

So according to the Bible, the very reason God gave us the Scriptures was so that we could learn about Jesus and believe in Him, and that by believing, we could inherit eternal life.  Biblically, it's "read the Bible, learn about Jesus, want Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believe in Jesus and put your faith in Him, get the Holy Spirit and inherit eternal life."  

But Calvinism flips that all around.  It's "get chosen for eternal life before you ever encounter Jesus or the Gospels, then God gives you the Holy Spirit to regenerate you and to make you want Jesus, and now you can understand the Gospel, which really had no effect on your salvation anyway because you were elected/saved before you could read, understand, or respond to the Gospel.  There is no 'choosing' to believe in Jesus.  You believe because God made you believe.  And you inherit eternal life even before God makes you believe in Jesus." 

And here's something else for Calvinists to consider:  If we have to obey God's command to evangelize, it means we can disobey.  And if we can choose between obeying and disobeying, we are right back to free-will, to us having a choice.

On a different but similar note: I also think Calvinism affects our prayer life.  If Calvinists believe that God causes everything that happens, they might not see prayer accurately.  After all, why pray if everything's already been planned and if prayer doesn't make a difference because humans can't affect anything that happens?  

Calvinists will say that prayer is about showing our dependence on God, about humbling ourselves before Him, about connecting with Him.  And yes, that's all a part of it.  But I also believe that the Bible clearly shows that prayer does have an effect on what happens.  I believe God has chosen to work through and with mankind's cooperation and prayers, to a degree.  Prayer is what activates God to do His Will.  And without it, God doesn't always intervene.  Prayer is not just for show; it really does matter and make a difference and affect what happens.  For more on this, see my Bible Study lesson on Prayer and see "Prayer, Faith, and God's Will" (about the times prayer doesn't seem to "work").] 




9.
The Bible says ... God shows His love and His justice by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins.
(Romans 3:25-26, Romans 5:8)


Calvinism says ... God shows His love by saving the elect (and by caring for the unelect on earth) and He shows His justice by damning the unelect to hell.

[They change God's love from one kind to another, saying that God shows His love to the elect by saving them and to the "unelect" by caring for them while they're on earth.  But God Himself says He shows His love by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins.  And contrary to Calvinism, He doesn't say He shows His justice by sending the "unelect" to hell.  He says He shows His justice by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins.  

Why is this so hard to understand?  

Calvinists believe God's love necessarily leads to saved people.  Therefore, He could only really love those He saves, those who are "elected to be saved," according to them.  And then, they have to try to find another "godly-sounding reason" for why God would damn the unelect to hell, like they believe.  And I guess calling it "His justice" sounds godly enough to make it believable.]





10.
The Bible shows that ... "Sovereignty" means that God is the highest authority there is.  There is no one above Him and no one He is accountable to.  He has the power to do whatever He wants.  But I believe part of what He wants is to allow us to make decisions, within any boundaries He sets up.  And, being sovereign, He knows what we will choose to do and how to work it for good.  He also knows how to manipulate circumstances to encourage us to get on the path He wants us on, but He doesn't over-ride our free-will.  He calls us to obey and believe, but the final choice is ours.  
(Such as when He blinded Saul on the road to Damascus, calling Saul to become Paul.  He didn't override Saul's right to decide, He just made a very strong case for why Saul should believe in Him, making Himself so clear that Saul was self-compelled to become a believer.)  

He holds all things in His hands, is aware of everything, and knows how to work everything into His plans.  Sometimes He works out His will by causing things to happen (but never by causing sin), and sometimes He works out His will by just allowing things to happen, such as letting us choose to sin/disobey and then working it into His plans.  But He can and will work everything - even the things He lets us choose to do - into something good.
(Remember that in Job's story, God didn't cause the tragedies that hit Job.  God let Satan pick the tragedies, within boundaries.  God doesn't always "cause."  Many times, He simply "allows.")


Calvinism says ... "Sovereignty" means that God preplans and causes everything that happens, even sin and unbelief, for His plans and glory.

[So God causes the very sin that He died to save us from?  And He causes unbelief, even though He calls us to believe in Him over and over again?  Yep, makes perfect sense!  

Did you know that the NIV has the word "sovereign" in it almost 300 times.  But it's not in the KJV anywhere.  Where the NIV says "Sovereign Lord," the KJV simply says "Lord."  For some reason they felt the need to add it to Scripture.  And keep in mind that the definition of "sovereign" refers to the position a person is in - it's being the highest authority/ruler there is - but it doesn't specify how the person uses their authority.  

Calvinists build their whole theological framework on the belief that "sovereignty" means "micromanaging," that since God is "all powerful," He always uses His power all the time to control everything.  But "sovereign" basically just means "the one who is in ultimate control over all," not "He has to use His power to control/cause everything that happens."  This is adding things to the definition of "sovereignty."  Sovereignty doesn't mean God has to control everything, but that He is in a position to control everything, that He gets the final say on everything, that He is accountable to no one because there is no one above Him.  

When you misunderstand "sovereignty," your whole theological view will be wrong from the very beginning because you are trying to force Scripture to fit your view of sovereignty, instead of simply correcting your view of sovereignty to fit Scripture.  

Essentially, I think most Calvinists are trying to be humble when they view "sovereignty" as "God controls and causes everything."  They are trying to lift God up as high as they can and to lower humans as low as they can.  But if their view of "sovereignty" and of how God acts is contradicting Scripture - and they refuse to consider if they're wrong and to correct it - how humble are they really?]

(See "What Does 'God Is Sovereign' Mean?"  And see Tony Evan's sermon on God's sovereignty, which says that sometimes God causes things and sometimes He just allows things, but that He holds all things in His hands and works it all out for good.  Also see "Connecting With God For A Breakthrough" - a good biblical view of man's responsibility and God's actions.)





11.
The Bible says ... God is glorified when people praise Him, trust Him, believe in Him, preach the good news, obey Him, etc.
(Psalm 29:1-2, 86:12, 96, 115:1- glorify God for His lovingkindness and truth, Isaiah 42:12, Matthew 5:16, John 15:8, Romans 15:9- glorify Him for His mercy, 1 Cor. 10:31, 2 Cor. 4:15- spreading grace and thanksgiving glorifies God, 2 Cor. 9:13, 2 Thess. 1:11-12)



Calvinism says ... It glorifies God to send people to hell.

[This is simply Calvinists trying to find a "good" explanation for why God "predestines" people to hell.  They say everything God does is for His glory.  And so we have to simply accept that if He predestines men to hell, it must be for His glory somehow.  Find me the verse that says this!  It's simply more convoluted reasoning to try to make their view legitimate.  And if God causes everything for His glory - even sin, unbelief, and "predestining" people for hell - Calvinists would have to conclude that murder glorifies God ... and abortion and child abuse and suicide and rape and every other sin out there.  Because, after all, God "causes" everything that happens for His glory.  Right!?!  Why then should we take a stand against any of this?  Why be concerned for those going to hell?  Wouldn't that be fighting against the things God is doing to bring Himself "glory"?  Wouldn't it, Calvinists!?!]




12.
The Bible says ... Jesus's death accomplished what it was supposed to, buying salvation for all men so that we can believe and be saved.  Salvation is a gift, bought by Jesus's blood, that we choose to accept or reject.
(1 Timothy 2:6 and 4:10, Romans 5:18)           


Calvinism says ... God didn't give people the choice to accept or reject Jesus, because if people could reject Him, it would be a waste of His blood.  And if we claim we can "accept Jesus," then we are "working for our salvation," unhumbly believing we can earn salvation.  The only way it can be all God's doing is if we do nothing to get it, not even "accept it."  The only way for Him to be in total
control is for Him to be the one who chooses the elect and causes them to believe.


[There is not one verse in the Bible that teaches any of this.  It's purely man-made reasoning to support a flawed theology.  Jesus's blood was never wasted.  It did exactly what it was supposed to do.  And how can accepting a free gift that was made available to us because God planned for it and sacrificed His life for it be considered "working for/earning salvation"?  On the contrary, accepting a gift we know we could never create or earn for ourselves - eternal life in heaven - is an act of humility, of thankfulness, of love.]




13.

The Bible says ... Some "predestination" verses are about God predestining believers to grow to be more like Christ and to bring God glory (not about God predestining "the elect" for heaven).
(Ephesians 1:11-12.  And Romans 8:28-30 says those God foreknows - those whom He foreknows will become believers - are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus.  And other "predestination" verses, I believe, are actually about things like Israel's destiny, specific biblical people, God's general plans for mankind, God choosing which generation would be the first to have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and - as a couple writers suggest - about God predestining the means of salvation, forgiveness of sins through Jesus's death.  You have to look at each one in context.  I believe that every verse that sounds like "predestined to heaven or hell" can and should be read in one of these other ways.)

Calvinism says ... "Predestination" verses are always about God predestining if we go to heaven or hell.
(No wonder they have so much support for their view.  I wonder, how can Calvinists ignore all the verses that say Jesus died for all, God loves all, salvation is available to all, God wants us to seek Him, we have to choose between obedience and obedience, etc. - all those many verses that clearly contradict Calvinism - and they zero in on a just a couple verses about predestination and election that seem to support Calvinism, building their whole theology on a misunderstanding of those verses?  It's strange.  Instead of questioning those few "Calvinist" verses, studying what they really mean until it falls in line with the rest of the Word, they alter what the rest of the Bible says to uphold their misunderstanding of those few verses.  Really, it's amazing!)



14.
The Bible says ... Some verses about salvation, according to the concordance, are not about eternal salvation.  They are about God planning to spare believers from the wrath that He will pour out on the ungodly in the end times.             
(1 Thessalonians 5:8-9, Romans 13:11, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 1:5.  Particularly of note is 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which says "God chose you to be saved."  This sounds very "predestined to heaven," until you see that the concordance doesn't say this "saved" is about eternal salvation.  It says this "saved" is about God promising to spare believers from the upcoming, end-times wrath.)


Calvinism says ... Verses about "chosen to be saved" are always used to prove that God chooses/predestines who gets eternal salvation and who doesn't.
(If you research carefully, you'll see that many of the so-called "predestination" verses are not really "predestined to heaven or hell" verses at all.)




15.
The Bible calls us to search the Scriptures, to be discerning about what we are taught, to carefully and correctly handle the Word.              
(2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11)                    


Calvinists tell us that we don't have to understand predestination or Calvinism, but that we need to simply accept it because it's "what the Bible says."  And they will make you feel like an unhumble Christian if you question this view, accusing you of rebelling against God's Word.

[As I pointed out earlier, watch out for their double-talk.  They speak out of both sides of their mouth and expect you to accept it without question.  They'll say "I'm not saying God predestines people to hell.  I'm just saying He doesn't predestine them for heaven."  And "I'm not saying God is responsible for sin.  I'm saying that God is sovereign and causes all things for His purposes, even sin, but we are still responsible for it."  And "I'm not saying God doesn't love everyone, just that God has chosen to show His love to the elect by saving them."  Lots and lots of nonsense!]





16.
The Bible can be read and understood by all, and it's quite clear and consistent in its teachings.  It makes sense.


Only Calvinists can really understand the Bible because they "know the code" (my own wording, not theirs), like claiming that "whoever" and "all" and "world" really mean "the elect."  And their views only seem valid by building their theology around the few Bible verses that sound "predestination" at first, and then by explaining away or twisting the multitudes of verses that contradict Calvinism.  But their theological view falls apart in the face of Scripture as a whole and in light of how God acts in the rest of the Bible.  In the end, Calvinism creates many more questions (unanswerable questions) than it answers, and it creates tons of illogical contradictions about Scripture and God's character.  This is why they have to always come back to "You don't have to understand it.  You just have to accept it because it's what the Bible says."

(Umm ... No! It's not!)  




17.
And lastly, I think Calvinism overemphasizes God's wrath/glory, while underemphasizing His love.  In fact, they believe God doesn't even really love all people, only the elect.  They believe it brings God glory to predestined most people to hell.  And since it's about His glory, we just have to accept this teaching.  Because we are too tiny to understand it.  

But of course we can't understand it.  You can't understand an unbiblical, imbalanced view.

Yes, God's glory should be held up high.  The highest.  But to do this, Calvinists reduce humans too low.  They base our value only on the glory we can being God.  

But ... God Himself believes we have value and He loves us tremendously, enough to send Jesus to die for all of our sins, no matter how "low and insignificant" we are in comparison to Him.  Just so we could have a relationship with Him in heaven.  Because, I believe, He wanted it.  He wanted us!



Here is an excerpt from my "Letter To Our Elders" post:


Another reason I don't care for our pastor's preaching is that it's all information for the head, theological academic stuff.  It's not preaching for the heart, for the hurting heart, for life.  There's no encouragement in there, no "God loves you and you matter to Him," no "let's figure out how to get through these hard trials of life together," etc.  It's always just more theological and academic information for the mind. 


Calvinist teaching is always loaded with how depraved we are, how insignificant we should feel before God, how virtually worthless we are apart from the glory God gets through us, about how God has predetermined everything, about how we have no effect on God or on our lives, about how our choices are not really our choices because we are just acting out the parts God's already written for us, about how our eternity has already been decided for us and we can't change it, and about how God causes everything but we are still accountable.  And how we don't have to understand how that works, we just have to accept it!  Or else we'll be dishonoring God.  (Which is kinda ironic because if we bring God dishonor it would have to be because He caused us to bring Him dishonor, because, according to Calvinism, God causes everything.)



But sometimes, we just need to be reminded of how much God loves us, how valuable we are to Him, how He can and will help us through this hard life.  But when the sermons are all about God being so far above us, about how low in the dirt we should view ourselves, about God only being concerned with His own glory and how we should only be concerned with that too ... well, it's really hard to connect with a God like that, to want a relationship with a God like that, to feel like He wants a relationship with us.



Sometimes we don't need another theological beating.  Sometimes we just need a heavenly hug.



And it's interesting because in this link, the writer tells us that a Calvinist pastor usually avoids messages about how God loves you and Jesus died for you.  They have to avoid these because they don't know, according to their Calvinism, if God loves everyone in the audience or if Jesus died for everyone in the audience.  Because, according to Calvinists, God only loved the elect and Jesus only died for the elect.  So you won't hear those general "God loves you" kinds of messages from them.



And Calvinists are not about God's love.  They're all about God's glory, our insignificance, His ultimate control, our complete inability to do anything.  And I kinda see that it's true.  Calvinists like to remind us regularly about how we are only here for God's glory, so that He can glorify Himself through us.  I have no problem with God being glorified and with bringing Himself glory in what He does (that's only appropriate), but sometimes it's nice to hear that He made us because He loves us, because He wants a relationship with us, not just because He is looking for another way to bring Himself glory.

I don't think God made us just for His glory.  I think He also made us for His enjoyment.  Because He wants people to love, and He wants people to love Him.  Because it brings Him joy.  I found a verse - 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 - about one of the reasons why God made us, and this passage doesn't say it's only all about His glory:  "... we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who made us for this very purpose ..."  To me, this sounds like the very reason God made us was so that we could have eternal life in heaven with Him.  He wants us in heaven with Him.  And that is the reason He made us.  Even though He is glorified through everything, I think one reason He made us is because He wanted us, not just because He needed to glorify Himself by creating us.  And that's a God I want to get close to and to love; One who wants to get close to me because He loves me.

What is it that Paul prayed about for the Ephesians?

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  (Ephesians 3:17-19)

God is not just about using us to get more glory.  God was completely complete in Himself before we ever came along.  He needs nothing from us.

But He does want us!  He wants us to know His love fully, deeply.  Knowing His love is what will fill us completely with the fullness of God.  Not reducing ourselves to such tiny, insignificant worms who are only here because God wanted to bring Himself more glory.

God made us out of love!  God wants us to come to Him, to spend eternity with Him, because of love!

My heart is aching for some good, godly encouragement about God's love.  For some practical messages about how He'll carry us through the hard times and how His love for us spurs us on to love Him more, etc.  I don't need more academic information, especially when it's loaded with Calvinism.  My soul is drying up there.  Ugh!  But that's my own personal thoughts about this.  And yet, I know I'm not the only one thinking it.  Ugh!  Ugh!  Ugh!

Calvinism is dangerous because it draws people away from the heart of God, from the Truth about His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, character, Jesus's sacrifice, etc.
 




And this is just a little bit of it.    

Calvinists believe they are being true to the Word and that those who disagree with Calvinism are not.  They will say that we are ignoring "hard truths" taught in Scripture - like God is all-controlling and we have no control of our own and God predestines people to hell for a reason - because we don't like those ideas, because they make us uncomfortable or we can't understand them.  And so they say we ignore Scripture or twist it to make it say something that we like better, to give us more "control."

But as you can see, I haven't twisted Scripture at all.  In fact, I am simply stating it just as it is, no twists, no changing the meanings of words (like "all" and "whoever"), no confusing conclusions that force me to say "But you don't have to understand it; you just have to accept it."

It's Calvinism that twists Scripture, that reads into it things that aren't there, that uses confusing double-talk, that ignores the verses that clearly contradict it, that changes the meanings of words, that takes verses out of context, that comes up with convoluted reasoning for its views (such as "If people could reject Jesus, it would be a waste of His blood" and "It glorifies God to put people in hell"), etc.  

Instead of being able to point to Bible verses that clearly teach their views, they have to create biblical support by mashing together various verses, oftentimes taken out of context or slightly altered to fit what they want it to say.  And they take their own ideas of things - such as their views of what "ordains" and "sovereignty" mean - and build Scripture around it, instead of building their ideas around Scripture.  (You can see this in their arguments like, "If God really loved all people then He would save all people; but since all people are not saved, it must mean He doesn't love all people the same."  Instead of believing, as the Bible says, that God shows His love by sending Jesus to die for us so that He could offer salvation to all of us, they view it as "He saves those He loves, which means He only really loves those He has chosen to save - the elect."  And so they have to redefine "God's love" and "the world" and "whosoever" in John 3:16 to make it fit with their idea that God saves those whom He loves and only really loves those whom He saves.  When all along, God says He shows His love by sending Jesus to pay for our sins, buying us all the opportunity for eternal life, but it's up to us to accept it.)        

Calvinists are master manipulators, trying to validate a confusing view that contradicts what the rest of the Bible clearly, plainly, and consistently tells us about salvation and grace and Jesus's sacrifice and God's character and His attributes, etc.  No wonder they always have to end with "You don't have to understand it; you just have to accept it.  But it will all make sense in eternity.  We humans are just too limited to truly understand it now."  


I wonder if Calvinist theologians have unconsciously complicated Scripture - if they came up with all their convoluted reasonings and "hidden meanings" - because it feels more "intelligent" that way - as if the more complicated and "hidden" the truths of Scripture are, the more intelligent they are to understand it, to have discovered what God's really trying to say "between the lines."  And being so "wise" about difficult teachings and being willing to accept these difficult teachings in faith makes them feel more humble, like they are willing to accept distasteful and confusing teachings that we "stubborn, blinded, prideful" believers aren't willing to accept.  

But I think sometimes we can miss the forest for the trees.  I wonder if Calvinists fail to see the clear teachings of Scripture because they are trying to complicate it, because it makes them feel more intelligent and more humble.  I wonder if the Calvinist theologians unconsciously think, "Scripture can't really be that clear and simple and straightforward, can it?  That even the most simple-minded, common person can understand it?  No ... it has to be more complicated than that, and so it takes us super-minds to understand it, to tell the simple people what God's really trying to say."  

But sometimes, God uses the foolish things, the simple things, to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).  The "wise" can't see the simple things - the plain truth of Scripture - because they are too busy being "wise."  And so the plain truth of Scripture sounds like foolishness to them.  And they actually unconsciously elevate their intellect and humility, while all along talking about how tiny, low, and insignificant we humans are and how humble it makes us to accept, in faith, the confusing, illogical things they teach us. 


If this doesn't make you deep-down-in-your-soul angry, if you don't see how Calvinism twists what Scripture really says, then you either don't really understand Calvinism or you don't really understand the Gospel.  (I'm not saying this condescendingly, but matter-of-factly.  There's just really no other way to put it.  And to be honest, I myself didn't really understand the Gospel for a long time - because I was trying to force it into a "Calvinist" mindset.)



And considering all the differences I've shown you - about how differently they view Jesus's sacrifice, God's character, salvation, man's responsibility, etc. - can anyone really say that it "doesn't matter" what we believe about this?

It matters.  

It matters greatly!  

Our view of God and faith and salvation and the Gospel will be greatly affected by our view of this.  And it's worth really studying until you come to an answer on it.  Don't ever let a Calvinist church or preacher or author make you feel like a bad Christian if you doubt or disagree with Calvinism.  

(Honestly, the more I learn about how twisted Calvinism is, the more angry I get and the more I want to cry - to literally sit down and weep - about how it's destroying the Gospel Truth, the character of God, and people's faith.  That's why it was time for me to stop tolerating it at my church and to finally speak up.  And it may be time for me to remove my name from membership at our church, something I've been contemplating for years.  I can't support our pastor's view of Scripture and God and salvation.  It breaks my heart to hear God and the Gospel preached this way!  To see the grace of God limited so much.  To see Jesus's precious sacrifice reduced to a "gift" that's only available to a special few.)  



I'm not saying that this issue isn't confusing or that there aren't verses that do sound like "predestination" at first reading.  And second reading.  And third reading.  It took me years to work through this and to find the view that fits best with Scripture and God's character.  

And what I found is that those "predestination" verses - the few that seem to support Calvinism - only support Calvinism if you read them with "Calvinist glasses" on.  And if you don't dig any deeper.  (And for every verse that sounds like predestination, there are so many more that contradict that idea.)  

What you need to do is look up older translations of those verses and look up the words in the concordance and keep Scripture in context and keep God's revealed character in mind (and be willing to find out that you might have been wrong all along).  And when you do this, you begin to see that it's not predestination/Calvinism and that the Bible isn't as confusing as it seems and that it does actually reveal a consistent character of God from one end to the other - a truly loving, just, and righteous God. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Calvinism makes a mess of the Gospel.  But once you get rid of Calvinism and predestination, it all makes sense. 

(Now, you'll have to excuse me while I go sit down and cry for awhile.)



[And for the record, there is one thing Calvinism and I agree on, and it's that a true believer can't lose their salvation.  I believe that a true believer who has the Holy Spirit will not be able to "lose their salvation," even if it might seem like it for a time, such as during a tragedy or a particularly hard season of life.  If you are truly a believer but have drifted from the Lord, you will always feel the pull of the Holy Spirit, trying to call you back.  And if anyone does "leave the faith," they were never really a Christian to begin with.  The information might have been in their head, but not in their heart.  (Here is a post on that.)  

However, where I disagree with Calvinism is that they say God makes someone a believer, that no one can ever really be sure that they are one of the elect until heaven, and that sometimes God causes the unelect to feel secure in their "fake salvation" so that He can solidify their damnation in hell more.  (I don't know if current Calvinists hold to this, or if it was just from John Calvin's time.)  

I believe that we can know we are saved if we did what God requires of us in the Bible: believed in the Lord Jesus and accepted His sacrifice on our behalf.  And if we have the Holy Spirit, He will guide us in our faith and godly wisdom and help us grow to be more like Christ, even though we won't do it perfectly and we will stumble and fall and struggle along the way.  We grow to reflect Christ more because we are saved, not to "prove" or " earn" or "secure" our salvation.  It's just the natural result of a true believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit and abiding in God, through prayer and His Word.]       




For more on this:
Does Ephesians Teach Predestination?
I broke up the four large posts above into smaller posts and put them in a series, starting with "Is Our Eternity Decided For Us?" (follow the links at the end to the next post in the series).

Acts 13:48: Not As "Predestination" As It Sounds
Sovereignty and Free-Will Working Together
What's The Best Way To Make People Agree With Your Calvinist Views?
Letter To Our Elders Regarding Calvinism Growing In Our Church
Why is Calvinism So Dangerous?
Anti-Calvinism Memes and Links
If Calvinism is true, then God is a liar!
Links To My Anti-Calvinism Posts




And an excerpt from my "Letter To Our Elders" post:

If you are so sure about your Calvinism, then how about taking my challenge:  

Read my blog posts on this issue (find them in "Links To My Anti-Calvinism posts"), and then do your best to defend your Calvinism against what I say, to find loopholes in what I say, to try to defeat what I say.  (Defend it in your own head, not to me.  This is between you and God.)  If I am wrong and you are right, you should be able to do this.  And it should only help to strengthen your position.  (How about giving my blog posts to your church and making it a church-wide study?  Challenge the people to seriously study this issue to figure out what the Bible says.)  

BUT ... you can only do it using the Bible and a good concordance.  That's basically the way I did it.  I didn't quote commentaries or theologians or authors or use my own reasoning as a foundation for my beliefs.  I formulated my view, specifically and first-and-foremost, from the Bible and a good concordance.  So no referencing Calvinist authors or theologians to see what they say or how they interpret a verse.  Study this issue using a Bible and concordance only.  

But it has to be more of a "word for word" translation of the Bible, such as RSV, NASB, KJV.  And I would use a couple different ones to cross-reference because each version has its own "issues" - such as where the NIV says "elect" in one verse (sounding Calvinistic), the RSV says "exiles" (sounding like it's talking about the Jewish exiles at that time).  Big difference!  

DO NOT use one of those recent, conversational-style Bibles like The Message or The Living Bible or The New Living Translation.  The way they write, you won't be able to look up words in the concordance.  Those translations were not trying to be true to the original words.  They are simply trying to get across the general thoughts of the Bible verses.  It makes it hard to do a serious study.  Click here for a quick comparison of Bible Translations (this is only one person's review, you can find more online), to see which versions are going for word accuracy and which are just trying to get across the general thoughts of the authors.    

Just found this, still thinking about it.  But it shares some concerns about the ESV and the NIV, about how they are Calvinist-leaning.  Apparently, it seems most Calvinists prefer the ESV.  Must be a reason why.  (I'm still looking for info on if the KJV leans towards Calvinism.)  Also be careful with the ESV Study Bible, because its general editor, Wayne Grudem, and its theological editor, JI Packer, are both huge Calvinists ... and with the MacArthur Study Bible, as in John MacArthur, Calvinist hero to many ... and with the HCSB Study Bible (updated to CSB), a Study Bible meant for those in the "reformed" tradition, a code word for "Calvinist."  


Be careful about where you get your theology from.  


So, what will it be?  The red or blue pill?

I am challenging you, right now, to take the red pill, even if it makes you feel sick to your stomach at first!  Open your eyes to the truth of what Calvinism teaches and what the Bible teaches, and see if you can really reconcile the two!


A few tips on how to read Scripture critically:

... Read each verse you look up IN CONTEXT.  Read the entire section, not just the supposed "Calvinist" verse.  Who is speaking?  Who are they speaking to?  Are they talking to Jews or Gentiles, about Jews or Gentiles, about all believers, about mankind in general, etc.?  What is the message they are trying to get across, for the people they are speaking to, in their time period?  (And only after this should you try to figure out what it means for us today.)


...  Read more of the book (or read the whole book) that the verse is from.  See what else the author says about the issue you are studying.  This gives a fuller picture of what the author is really trying to say.  (In fact, read other books in the Bible by that author.  Or read books by other authors, taking note of the times they refer to what you are researching, to see what the Bible in general says about it.)

... Look up the verses in other translations of the Bible.  Cross-reference other translations to get a better idea of which one is the most accurate.

... Look up words, especially those that supposedly confirm Calvinism, in the concordance, even words you assume you know the meaning to.  [For example, as I said above, one version will say "elect," but another says "exiles."  But when you look up the word that's in the concordance, it's talking about strangers who are wandering in a strange land.  And metaphorically it's about Christians, whose true home is in heaven, being residents on this earth.  In the world, but not of the world.  It says nothing of being "chosen" for salvation.  Another example is 2 Thess. 2:13 which says that we were chosen to be "saved," which could sound very much like predestination.  But when you look up "saved" in the concordance, it's not talking about eternal salvation in the "heaven or hell" sense, but it's basically about God promising to spare believers from the end-times wrath He will pour out on staunch unbelievers.

... In the concordance, find other verses that have the same word meaning (the same number assigned to them) so that you can cross-reference the verse you are considering with others that use the same word.  (When I did this, the "whosoever believes" in John 3:16 couldn't possibly mean "just the elect" or "the believers," as Calvinists like to say.  Because the use of this same word in other verses can't mean "the believers."  See near the bottom of this post.)

... If you have to, I suggest after studying it on your own, look up other people's interpretations of the verse online.  But do not put too much weight on them.  It's just what others think the verse means.  But it might shed some light on a verse, especially when you are stumped.

... Always ask yourself if there is anything about the verse that you are assuming, if you are reading it with some sort of preconceived interpretation (of your own or from someone else, like a Calvinist theologian).  And then reread the verse (and the whole passage) AS IF you are reading it for the first time, as if you have no previous assumption of what it means, as if you were in the audience while the author was preaching it for the first time.  How would you interpret it if you had no previous ideas of what it should mean?

... When reading Calvinist interpretations of verses, look for the things they are assuming.  Always ask yourself, "What verse confirms this?"  

      Such as, Calvinists says that when Adam ate the fruit, mankind became "totally depraved," which, to Calvinists, means that humans can't possibly think about God on their own, want God in their life unless God makes them do it, and that they can't seek God unless He causes them to seek.  Where is this in the Bible?  Where is the verse that says this was a consequence of the Fall?  
      Calvinists also say that if God really loved all people then He would save all people.  But since He doesn't save all people, it must mean He doesn't love them all in the same way.  They say this because they assume that God's true love has to always end in saved people.  Where is the verse that says this?  God's saving love doesn't always end in everyone being saved.  What it did was buy salvation for everyone - it paid for everyone's sin - but it's up to us to accept or reject it.
      They also so that if anyone could reject Jesus then it means His blood was wasted, that it would be a disgrace to Him and His sacrifice.  And so therefore, they conclude, people cannot reject Jesus, which means that Jesus only really died for those who would surely be saved, that Jesus only died for the elect.  Where is this in the Bible?
      Pay careful attention to the assumptions and misconceptions that Calvinists start with, that they build their whole theology on.  This, I believe, is the essence of Calvinism.  It's all built on their own ideas of who God is and how He has to act, in order to be considered the sovereign God they think He is, according to their definition of "sovereign".  (See also "Problems in John Calvin's Institutes ...".)

... Also pay attention to the contradictions in their theology.  See "Some of Calvin's Contradictory Nonsense."  DO NOT allow them to convince you that these contradictions are not real or that they don't matter.  It's these contradictions that turn God into an illogical, untrustworthy monster.  
      Such as they say "God is not the cause of sin, but He controls everything we do and everything that happens is because He planned it to happen that way."  "But," they say, "God is not really the cause of sin.  We are still responsible for our sins because ..." and then they come up with all sorts of confusing, rambling, nonsensical ideas to try to make man the cause of sin while still holding to the idea that God causes everything that happens.  And when you try to dig deeper, they say, "Well, you don't have to understand it because it's a mystery.  So you just have to accept it.  Because it's what the Bible teaches."  
      NO, IT'S NOT!!!  It's what THEY SAY the Bible teaches because they are basing their interpretation of the Bible on their own ideas of how God has to be.  These contradictions can't be brushed away so easily.  And they cannot be meshed into one seamless, reliable, accurate theology.  Do not accept these contradictions and the Calvinist's twisted efforts to weasel out of them.  If something doesn't make sense and doesn't seem to fit with God's character and the rest of the Bible, research it more deeply, until you find a way to read it that does fit, that keeps everything in harmony.
      The Bible makes sense and God's character makes sense and it's all consistent ... when you throw Calvinism out!

... Also, when reading or listening to Calvinist theologians, authors, and pastors, take careful notice of the ways they try to manipulate you into agreeing with them, into not questioning them, into feeling unhumble if you dig too deeply into this issue or if you disagree with it.  See "Predestination Manipulation" for more of this.  Don't let Calvinists bully you into agreeing with them, into making you feel like a "less than" Christian because you disagree with them or want to look into it more.

These are just a few ways to critically research this issue and read the Bible.  If you do this, it will open your eyes in ways you didn't even know they needed to be opened.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  From the contradictory, nonsensical prison of Calvinism.

You do not need Calvinist theologians to tell you what God meant to say in His Word.  Let God tell you what He says, right from His Word!


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