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Monday, November 09, 2015

Calvinism Discarded

Despite the title, I am not actually going to discuss Calvinism. I'm going to discuss something dimly related. I cannot tell you how many times people have discovered that I believe that humans are sinful from birth (Rom 5:12; Psa 51:5; Gen 8:21; 1 Cor 2:14), that we are chosen for salvation apart from our own actions or choices (John 15:16; Eph 1:3-5; John 1:12-13; Rom 9:16; 2 Tim 1:9), that Christ saves everyone He intends to save (John 17:9; John 10:15; John 6:37), that we come to Christ by God's gift, not by our choice (John 6:44, 65; Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 2:25; John 10:16), and that in the final analysis God will insure that His own are ultimately saved (John 5:24; 1 John 5:1; John 10:27; Phil 1:6; Jude 1:24-25) (All these Scriptures are samples, not an exhaustive list of references), people label me as a "Calvinist", and accuse me of "following a man." I mean, it's an easy mistake, to be sure. "It is called 'Calvinism', after all. That's the teachings of John Calvin, right? So you're following the teachings of John Calvin. Right?"

I don't know if you've caught the error, but I've already laid it out. I believe in what are called "the doctrines of grace" not because John Calvin taught them, but because it's what I see in Scripture. Indeed, there was a time that I did not believe most of that stuff. Why? Because other people told me other things. "We're not really sinners to the core. People are basically good." "God chooses you based on your choice of Him." "God plans to save everyone." "Anyone can ignore God's calling." "It is possible to lose your salvation." (Okay, of the "5 points", that last one was never one I actually believed. But people told me that.) But when Scripture reached out and struck me in the face, I was forced to change my views. I had never (in fact, still haven't really) read Calvin. Indeed, as I understand it, the so-called "Five Points of Calvinism" came from a later date than John Calvin (see "the synod of Dort"). So I am convinced of these "doctrines of grace" not because I am a follower of John Calvin or "Calvinism", but because Scripture leads me to this point.

You see, that's the case in all of my theology of which I'm aware. I've been accused of following "the teachings of men". I believe in the Trinity ("Constantine made that up, you know.") and that Christ paid the price for our sins ("A fiction of the Reformation, you know.") and ... well, you know, what turns out to be historical Christian orthodoxy. And I make the case for these things from Scripture. I believe in the Trinity (even if the word "Trinity" doesn't appear in Scripture) because Scripture demands it. I am convinced that Christ paid for sin because the Bible says so in multiple places. I see the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith and practice for biblical reasons. "You complain about embellishing the Bible with traditions of men and then you do it," they say. As a "Calvinist" or a Trinitarian or being convinced of Penal Substitutionary Atonement or that the Bible clearly calls homosexual behavior sin (and so many other apparently controversial positions I hold), I will stand not on philosophy or the teachings of others, but on Scripture. As such, I discard the labels. I'm a biblicist. When you can show me that the Bible does not say what it seems to say, I'll gladly side with you. Until then, you're on your own.


Charles said...

Beautiful explanation of this topic. I appreciate your writings, they are very clear and easy to understand. Have you ever thought about writing a book? Keep up the good work.

May God continue to bless you for His Glory and by His grace.


Stan said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

A couple readers have suggested I write a book. (About the same number who have suggested I don't write anything at all.) Nothing in the works.

It's a little funny that the name says "Charles" but the signature says "Mike".

Charles said...

I used my middle name for this application.