Well, It's Final. We Resigned From Our Church Because of Calvinism.

The inevitable has finally happened, the day we hoped would never come: The day we officially resigned from our church because of our pastor's dogmatic Calvinist preaching (May 20, 2019).  (From now on, I will be calling him our "ex-pastor.")

It's been a long road.  He came on board about 6 years ago, and began introducing his Calvinist views here and there.  Just a little bit at a time, never really exposing the ugly parts of Calvinism.  Just subtle points that didn't really alarm us.  

And he's not a mean guy or bad guy or anything.  He seems genuinely nice and like he desperately wants to honor God.  And he's got a good "leader-type" personality: strong, confident, bold, forthright, well-educated, great speaker, enthusiastic.  But he does seem a little bit on the domineering side, in a "this is MY church" and "my ways are best" and "I always know best" way.  But at first, he just seemed bold and enthusiastic.  A strong leader.   

But then a little over a year after starting his pastor-ship, he did a 9-month long series on Romans.  (Calvinists love digging into Romans!)  And this is when he began pulling out the Calvinist Big Guns.  And it's only gotten worse from there.  Personally, I think he did a 9-month long series on Romans simply so that he could talk about predestination for 9 long months!  It is clearly one of his favorite topics.  And since then, our "alarm bells" have been going off continuously.  These are things that he or his adult son who preaches sometimes (that guy is CREEPY when he preaches!) has said, but not actual quotes ...

1.  "We don't 'choose' God or obedience.  We are so depraved, so wicked, that we can't choose God or seek God.  God chooses us and has to cause us to seek Him!"  
            [Interesting, because ...  
            Joshua 24:15: "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ..."  
            Psalm 119:30: "But I have chosen the way of truth..."  
            Psalm 119:173: "May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts."  
            Joel 3:14: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!"  
            John 7:17: "If anyone chooses to do God's will ..."  
            Deuteronomy 4:29: "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." 
            Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart..."
            Acts 17:27: "For God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him ..."
            Psalm 14:2: "The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."
            Hebrews 11:6: "... anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
            Isaiah 55:6: "Seek the Lord while he may be found ..."
            Amos 5:4, 14: "Seek me and live ... Seek good, not evil."
            Proverbs 8:17: "... those who seek me find me."
            Jeremiah 50:4: "... the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God."
            Yep, no "choosing" or "seeking" in the Bible anywhere!]  

2.  "We are as dead inside as physical dead bodies, unable to do anything.  Like a dead body that just lays there - all dead - we can't even think about, want, or seek God on our own unless God makes us do it, unless the Holy Spirit first regenerates our hearts and opens our eyes."  
            [Calvinists call it "total depravity," but to them it's really "total inability."  They say we are totally unable to do anything that God doesn't cause us to do.  That everything we do is because God causes it.  But you find me one verse that supports this nonsense!  
            They wrongly - using flawed human logic - equate spiritual death with physical dead bodies.  They insist that if physical "dead" means you can't do anything on your own, like a dead body that just lays there, then spiritual death must also mean you can't do anything on your own.  And that's why God has to cause you to seek Him, to want Him, to believe in Him.  Because you are dead like a dead body.  
            You know who else was considered "dead"?  The prodigal son.  And yet he "came to his senses" and went back to his father.  His father did not drag him back or put some sort of spell over him to draw him back.  He simply waited for the son to come back.  And eventually, the son "came to his senses" on his own after looking around at his life and the condition he was in, and he decided to return to the father.  
            Spiritual death does not mean "like a lifeless dead body."  That is a bad, wrong, misleading analogy!  It simply means that we are dead in our sins, separated from God, headed to hell.  But guess what?  Our brains still work.  Our minds are still alive.  And God expects us to use our living brains to want Him, seek Him, and find Him!
            Look at Amos 5:4 above: "Seek me and live ..."  God is saying, "Seek me and you will find life," which means that if they have to seek Him to find life then they are dead right now because they haven't yet found life in Him.  This means God is talking to "dead people."  He is telling "dead people" to seek Him, to find life in Him.  And He can expect "dead people" to seek Him because He knows that our brains still work.  Contrary to Calvinism, dead people can seek God!  And we know this because God Himself commanded dead people to seek Him!   
            The Bible is absolutely overflowing with examples of the total opposite of "total inability," of God expecting people to make choices, to think and evaluate and make decisions, to seek Him and believe in Him and obey Him.  God gives us the right to make our own choices, and then He holds us accountable for it.]  

3.  "We all, even babies and small children, are depraved and wicked to the core, deserving of death, and we can never come to God on our own."  
            [Calvinists love to remind us of how wicked even babies are.  For some twisted reason, it delights them and makes them feel intellectually-superior and ultra-humble to embrace this "evil baby" idea!  "Look how smart and humble we are to embrace such distasteful teachings!  So much better than those of you who question it because you can't handle it or understand it!"] 

4.  "God didn't have to save any of us.  But in His love and sovereignty, He chose to elect some to salvation, even though we are depraved and wicked and in rebellion against Him.  None of us deserve to be saved.  So the question isn't 'Why would God predestine people to hell.'  It's 'Why did God elect any of us for heaven when no one deserves it?'"  
            [That's right, make people feel like they can't ask the hard questions.  And deflect away from the bad stuff.  It's much easier to sell your poison when you hide the skull-and-crossbones!]

5.  "God ordains (he means "causes") the wickedness that wicked people do, for His purposes and His glory."  
            [Of course, to them, it's absolutely not possible that God could have simply allowed mankind to be wicked and to do evil things, and then in His wisdom and sovereignty, He figured out how to work their self-chosen evilness into His plans.  
            No!  Calvi-God has to cause all the evil that happens because He can't manage anything other than what He causes.  I guess He's not smart enough or sovereign enough to figure out how to factor people's choices into His plans!  (Read the John Piper quotes in this post.  That's pretty much what our pastor says too, while trying to make it sound good, like "Isn't it great to know that God is so in control, that He even controls the bad things!"  Umm, at what cost?  His character?  His goodness?  His love?  His justness?  Our trust in Him?  The eternal souls of those He predestines to hell?)  
            Calvinist logic says, "If God doesn't cause everything then He's not a sovereign God."  
            Yeah, right, it's much better to say, "God shows how sovereign He is by causing the things He commands us not to do, causing rape and murder and child abuse and rebellion against Him."  Makes perfect sense!  So much more God-honoring than simply believing that God allows people to make their own choices!  Way to go, Calvinists.  God's got to be thrilled to have you as His representatives!
            I mean, think about it a moment, people.  Cause vs. Allow.  This is not a minor issue or a small theological disagreement.  It is MAJOR!  It strikes at the very heart and character of God, at the message of the Gospel, at Jesus's sacrifice, at people's chance for salvation, etc.  
            Does God allow us to make our own choices, to choose sin and rebellion, to reject Him?  If it is our choice then He is holy and just when He allows us to go to hell, because we chose it, despite His many attempts and offers to save us from hell.  
            Or does He cause us to sin and to be wicked and to reject Him ... and then punish us for the things He caused us to do?  How is that holy, just, loving, righteous, trustworthy?  Does He command us not to sin but then cause us to sin?  Does He command us to repent and believe but then make it impossible for most people to repent and believe?  Does He predestine most people for hell, and yet dare to say in His Word that He wants all people to be saved and wants no one to perish?  What a liar!  Who did Jesus really die for?  For everyone, and therefore everyone is invited to accept Him as Lord and Savior, to find salvation?  Or did He only die for those God predestined to save, the ones He causes to believe in Him?
            If you aren't sure about whether it's "cause or allow," then you better figure it out pretty soon.  Because it has everything to do with what kind of God He is, what salvation is, what He requires of you, what faith is, etc.  Read the Bible, from beginning to end, and you tell me if it sounds like God lets people make their own choices ... or if He makes people's choices for them.  
            The Bible is really clear on this.  It's only Calvinists who have screwed it all up with their illogical, contradictory, flawed, nonsensical misconceptions and assumptions about God.  They use a few unclear "Calvinist-sounding" verses (that contradict the rest of the Bible) as the lens that they view the rest of the Bible through, instead of simply finding a more biblically-consistent way to read those few "Calvinist" verses.  
            Don't alter the rest of the Bible and God's revealed character for a couple "Calvinist" verses.  Research those "Calvinist" verses more until they fit with the rest of the Bible and with God's revealed character.  And when you do this, the whole Bible (and God Himself) is consistent and makes sense and is reliable.  Unlike Calvinism which alters everything about God and salvation to fit a few misunderstood verses!
            I think Calvinist preachers bank on people not knowing their Bibles well enough for themselves.  That way, they can throw out a few "Calvinist" verses and say, "See, it's in the Bible, so you have to accept it.  Humble Christians accept it and don't fight God on it."  And so we simply trust them and their views, eat whatever garbage they force-feed us, and assume that there must be something wrong with us and our faith if we disagree with them or find it distasteful.  And no one speaks up because we are all afraid of looking "unhumble" or like we're too stupid to get it.  And the heresy spreads and grows stronger!  
            It's very hard for people to break free from Calvinism once it gets a strong hold on you.  Shame, fear of being unhumble, and fear of offending God keeps you captive!  
            But if you take off the Calvinist glasses and read the Bible for yourselves, praying for insight, then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!]

6.  "The Bible teaches both God's sovereignty (he means "God causing all things, even sin") and God holding us accountable for our sins (that He Himself causes, according to them!).  And so we have to accept them both as true.  It teaches both these truths with no tension.  It's only we who have trouble accepting it and understanding it.  But God has no problem with it."
            [Of course God doesn't have a problem with what He teaches, and the Bible absolutely holds everything it says in perfect balance, without any tension.  But it's not the Bible I have a problem with.  It's the pastor's interpretation of the Bible that I have trouble with.  Because he is misunderstanding the biblical idea of God's sovereignty.  And when you misunderstand a biblical truth then it will indeed cause tension.  It's not the Bible that has tension with what it teaches; it's the Calvinist's interpretation of the Bible that screws it all up and creates problems!]

7.  "The Bible clearly teaches predestination, and so we have to accept it.  There are only three possible responses to the truth of predestination: get angry about it, ignore it, or accept it.  Humble people have no trouble accepting it; it's just us proud, self-sufficient people who struggle with it because we are used to being independent, always concerned with having the right to choose."  
            [Nice manipulation, ex-pastor!  You've defined anyone who disagrees with you as "unhumble," as if they're disagreeing with God's Word.  Way to keep people quiet and in their place!  Making them afraid to disagree.  It's brilliant.  Almost cult-like manipulation!  
            But if it's taught so "clearly" in the Bible, then why have theologians debated this for centuries but never yet come to a consensus on it?  Just wondering.]

8.  "God shows His love by saving the elect.  And He shows His justice by damning the unelect to hell."  
            [That's strange, 'cuz my Bible says that God shows His love by saving sinners (Romans 5:8), that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and that God shows His justice by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins (Romans 3:25-26).  
            My ex-pastor must be using the POP translation of the Bible that Calvinists use - the "Pile of Poopies" translation!  Either that, or he forgets to take off his Scripture-warping "Calvinist glasses" before reading the Bible.  No one can see very well when wearing those things!  They make everything all fuzzy, backwards, and twisted up.]

9.  "God is all about His glory and being famous.  That is His main goal in everything.  He loves Himself more than us, and worships Himself above all."
            [Calvinists always talk of God's glory and fame.  But they seldomly talk about His love for us or His desire for a relationship with us.  Because to them, God is not a Relational Being (yet, in the Bible, He is).  To them, He is little more than the Supreme Ruler who does whatever He wants and doesn't really care about us, other than for the glory and fame He gets for Himself through us.  And if they can get you to "humbly submit" to His supreme glory and sovereignty, then they can get you to buy whatever view of God they try to push on you.  Because all they have to do is say, "It's for God's glory.  You don't think God can do whatever He wants for His glory!?!?", and you will shut up and fall in line, like a good little Calvinist.  
            Yes, God's glory is tops and He is sovereign, just not in the way they say.  And contrary to them, God really does care about us, love us, and want a relationship with us.  It's His love that draws many people to Him.  And yet, sadly, Calvinists leave this part out so often.  So it's not just what they say that's a problem; it's also what they fail to say that's a problem!  That destroys people's faith and hope!  (Oh, I want to cry.  I really want to cry about all this.  It's heart-breaking to think of the damage Calvinism does to people's faith, their view of God, their view of themselves, and their relationship with God.  It breaks my heart.  And I think it breaks God's heart too.)]

10.  "God ordained everything that happened in your life, even all the tragedies, even childhood abuse.  It was His 'Plan A' for your life.  For His glory and His purposes and because He knew what it would take to humble you.  So you just have to trust Him."  
            [This was the sermon when I decided I was done listening to that man!  Saying that God caused your childhood abuse for His glory and to humble you.  Wicked, wretched twisting of God's character!  My goodness, do I feel like crying!]

11.  (And most recently, on Mother's Day ...) "Christians love to believe that there is an age of accountability.  (My note: This is when someone becomes old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong.  And most Christians believe that children who die before this "age of accountability" and mentally-handicapped people who can't understand the Gospel are covered by God's grace when they die and go to heaven.  They were mentally incapable of being able to make a choice about Him, so they are not held accountable for being unable to make a choice.)  But nowhere in the Bible does it say there is an age of accountability for babies or children.  No one gets a free pass.  We are all wicked sinners from conception - sinners by birth, by choice (My note: It's strange for a Calvinist to use this word!), and by nature, being cut off completely from God.  This is clear in Romans 3:23 which says 'for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,' and in 1 John 1:8 which says 'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.'  All of us are sinners, and all sinners are required to repent in order to get into heaven."
            [Umm, can babies "claim" anything about themselves?  Can they consider their moral condition and make a declaration like "There's no sin in me!"?  1 John 1:8 simply would not apply to those who do not have the mental capabilities to evaluate their conditions or make declarations about themselves.  (I will write more on this soon.)
            A friend of mine who heard this sermon told me to look it up online.  (I wasn't there to hear it because I don't attend church anymore.)  She was wondering if he was really saying what she thought he was saying.  
            He was!  And I have recently read of others who said their Calvinist pastors said the same thing.  They say that there is no age of accountability, no saving grace for those who die before they're old enough to respond to the Gospel.  That babies and young children who die before they repent are predestined for hell, because God requires us to repent to get into heaven.  And babies and young children didn't repent before they died.  
            "Happy Mother's Day.  I hope you know your deceased baby is in hell.  Now let's give God some glory!"  
            (Did I mention that I feel like crying!?!  And I never even lost a child.  But my heart breaks for those who did, for those who had to listen to this pastor ... ON MOTHER'S DAY ... essentially tell them their baby is in hell. Even if he seriously believes it, what the f*** is wrong with his head that he would say this to mothers on Mother's Day!?!  And those weren't his words exactly, but it was the message.  Oh yes, it was!)  
            (Calvinists also say that predestining people to hell brings God glory.  Because everything He does is for His glory.  So if He predestined people for hell, it's for His glory.  The problem here is that they are trying to look for a reasonable excuse for predestining people to hell, when they should be questioning their erroneous belief that God predestines people to hell in the first place.  And so instead of finding the truth, they come up with more nonsense like "It brings God glory to have people in hell."  
            I've said it before: Calvinist theology is like building a house of cards on a foundation of Jello.  But instead of reexamining the foundation of misconceptions and faulty assumptions, they just keep trying to make the building on top more secure!)  
            But a Calvinist has to say this - that it is God's choice for that baby to die early and go to hell, for His glory - because if they acknowledge an "age of accountability," then they are acknowledging that there is an age where we are accountable for our choices, which would mean that we have the ability to make choices, which would mean that their view of "total inability" and of "God causes all things" is completely wrong.    
            According to Calvinist theology, we cannot make choices on our own.  It is a core, foundational belief in Calvinism, supposedly to honor God's "sovereignty" (their erroneous view of God's sovereignty, that is).  Man cannot make choices about God because man is so dead inside, and so God has to cause us to come to Him.  This means that God had to pre-decide who would come to Him, which means that He predestines us to heaven or hell.  All of this hinges on their view that we cannot make any choices on our own!  
            No wonder Calvinists have to deny an "age of accountability," because it implies that we can make choices and that we are accountable for them!  So they stand instead by their conviction that God is glorified by sending babies who die to hell.  Because at least it doesn't imply that we get to make choices!
            Incidentally, this is also why they don't believe in altar calls.  Because calling people to ask Jesus into their hearts implies that we get a choice about it, that we can do something to "acquire" salvation, which would go against their beliefs that man can do nothing (not even accept God's gift of salvation, which they wrongly consider "working for salvation") and that God has to do it all.  
            My ex-pastor once wrote that he doesn't do altar calls because he doesn't want people to wrongly think they are saved simply because they "walked the aisle."  (Uh, isn't it the pastor's job to tell those who came forward in an altar call that walking the aisle didn't save them, but that it's their belief in Jesus - the fact that they chose to put their faith in Him - that saves them?)  But I don't believe one bit that that's his reason for not doing altar calls.  I believe he just doesn't want people to think they have a choice about their salvation!
            With Calvinism in general, there are no altar calls, no "asking Jesus into your heart."  Because they don't want people thinking they have a choice.  Because that would contradict their whole idea that God chooses for us.]    

You want to understand how Calvinists formulate their theology?  Then think like a Calvinist ... "Let's alter everything in the Bible and completely change God's character to fit our preconceived ideas about how God has to act in order to be God!"

There!  Now you're thinking like a Calvinist!

Anyway, it's finally final.  We sent our resignation letter in yesterday, simply stating that "due to strong doctrinal disagreements with the head pastor, we are resigning from our membership here."  

We've been at that church for almost 20 years.  We've found some good friends there, raised our kids together, loved inviting people to visit our church with us, been part of some great programs, etc.  It's really been a great church.  One of the best and the most biblical in the area.  

And then this pastor came in with his Calvinism.  And after several years of being angry with his manipulative tactics and his twisted-Gospel which turns God into an illogical, contradictory liar, we can no longer stand to be there.  We can no longer support that pastor and his twisted view of God and the Gospel.  We don't even want our names on the membership list, giving the appearance that we support him.  Before we left, we sent a long letter to the elders about our concerns, clearly laying out why we believe he shouldn't be so dogmatic about it.  Yet since then, he's only gotten more dogmatic (which I guessed would happen).  And no one seems to be trying to reign him in or to keep things more "middle of the road," which is the official EFCA stance on this issue.

We weren't asking or hoping for much.  We weren't expecting them to change everything for us.  What we really wanted, by bringing all this up, was to get the people in church talking about this issue amongst themselves.  We wanted them to be able to discuss both sides, to research it for themselves, to have lively, friendly, thought-provoking discussions about it, digging deeper into the Word for answers.  We wanted them to know that someone disagreed with the pastor and that they had the right to disagree too.  We wanted them to realize that there was another way to look at this issue, which the pastor won't even acknowledge.  He always presents his view on this highly-debatable subject with an attitude of "my way is the only right way, and you can either get angry about it, ignore it, or accept it."  There is no room for disagreement.  And this is wrong!  Why not let the people discuss it?  Why not let them have friendly debates over it?  Why not let them disagree?  (If his way is so clearly accurate, it shouldn't hurt him at all.)   

So, we tried.  But the handwriting's been on the wall for a long time.  And it got much more obvious when someone at church deleted a very biblically-based comment I left on the church blog where I disagreed with his view of predestination.  That was the beginning of the end for us.  There is no room for disagreement or for discussion on this issue at this church.  

And now, sadly, we must shake the dust off our feet as we leave, and let them be responsible for the church they want to have.  But we want no part of it anymore.  This is a big loss for us.  It affects our friendships, our kids' friendships, the programs they were involved in, the programs my husband volunteered in, our ability to worship together as a family on Sundays (we are all kinda scattered now, some stay home, some go to kids' classes, some don't know what to do), and the future that we envisioned for our family.

When we first sent the letter of resigning our membership, I was thrilled.  I felt light and free in a way I haven't in a long time.  I was floating on air as I walked the aisles while grocery shopping.  Honestly, I couldn't stop smiling.  And I still feel that way - light and free, thrilled to finally have it be over, feeling like a huge burden has been lifted off, like I don't have to fight it anymore.  It's been a long road, a frustrating journey with this pastor.  And I am immensely glad it's over.  I can finally breathe again! 

But I also want to cry.  I want to cry over what Calvinism does to the Gospel, to God's character, to Jesus's sacrifice, to people's faith.  And I want to cry over what Calvinism did to my wonderful church, the place we cherished and enjoyed and respected and committed to for almost 20 years.  I want to cry over how so many Christians are simply opening their minds wide to this horrible theology, unwilling to question it, failing to explore it more for themselves, because Calvinist pastors and theologians have shamed them into accepting it.  Or at least into keeping quiet about their concerns and doubts.  

And I want to cry for what Calvinism's done to my family.  I don't like changes and endings.  I've had enough of that with my family-of-origin, with losing three (almost four) dads to divorce, and having family members scatter everywhere, and no one gets together anymore.  I don't like changes.  I don't like feeling alone and misunderstood and like I don't understand the Gospel and like I am the problem.  I don't like not being able to worship with my whole family on Sunday, going to church together.  (Some of us have been staying home and simply watching Tony Evans sermons online.  I love this man and his preaching!  I thank God for him!  I am more refreshed staying at home watching him with my kids than I am going to Calvi-church alongside a bunch of friends, listening to our soul-sucking and faith-destroying Calvi-pastor.)   

But ... there's no other way.  This is the way it had to be.  If they want Calvinism at that church, then that's their problem now.  I tried.  I have been angry about it for years.  And I am done now.  No more throwing pearls to pigs.  (Hey, I'm not the one who came up with that analogy; Jesus did!)

I've said this before and I'll say it again: If you don't see a problem with the Calvinist view of the Bible, then you either don't really understand Calvinism or you don't really understand the Bible!

There's no other way to say it!

At the end of the day, while I am still sad about how things turned out, I consider it an honor to be able to lose these things for the sake of the Gospel.  To have the chance to stand up for Truth and for God's character and for Jesus's sacrifice in a big way.  

When you really understand Calvinism and when you really understand what God's Word actually says, you'll know why it makes me want to cry, why I call it "heresy," and why I speak out against it so strongly!

(And if I may point out to our wonderful Calvinist friends at this church - who are some of the sweetest, most humble, most God-honoring people I know - you would call my beliefs "heresy."  And I'm okay with that!  We can still be great friends even if we think each other's theology is heretical and not biblically-accurate.  Because neither of us has tried to force it on the other as "the only way to view the Bible."  It's just our pastor who's been doing this, sowing discord and causing division.  And it's such a shame.  It didn't have to be this way.  But he's forcing it to be this way, which is why we had no choice but to leave our church.)

Yes, it hurts and it's a loss for our family.  But it's an honor.  And I am thrilled to have been able to research this topic very deeply and thoroughly so that I now have real answers for what I believe and for why I believe Calvinism is heresy.  Before all this, I could only hope that Calvinism was wrong.  And I didn't really have much to back me up.  But now I know that it's wrong.  And I have tons to back me up.  And because I know it's so wickedly wrong, I can boldly say, "I'd rather leave this church than look like I agree with the Calvinist theology being taught here!"  

Some things are worth the sacrifice!

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