Ten Thoughts About Calvinism

image leavealegacy asked:

Hey there sir, do you agree with Calvinism?

My short answer: Yes!

I’ve been known to pick on Calvinists a lot, but the truth is: I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters, and the best way to describe my own theology is Calvinism. I just no longer associate with them.

I was deeply entrenched in the Calvinist circles for quite a while, but I stopped identifying myself as a Reformed Calvinist many months ago.  At the time, I wrote some angry things about them, but really I was grieving at their overwhelmingly superior snobby attitude. 

It wasn’t just a few of them — it was the majority of the whole camp.  Nearly every pastor I have met says the same thing: “Calvinists?  Those guys are effing a-holes.”  I would laugh, but it actually breaks my heart.

Here are just a few quick thoughts about it, and I’ll leave it at that.  I’m aware I’ll be making some blanket statements here, but I’m also aware this does not include everyone nor am I demonizing anyone.  If anything, I am preaching to myself.


1) John Calvin’s theology has been distorted beyond recognition, so what passes for Calvinism today would probably not pass with Pastor John.


2) Today’s Reformed Neo-Calvinism overemphasizes predestination way too much.  You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, but it tends to be the psychological basis for a lot of the religious Pharisee-ism.  Lest we forget: God invented free will, too.


3) The need for Doctrinal Perfection in Calvinist circles has caused what I’ve called “Gospel Idolatry,” in which the tenets of a specific doctrine overtake intimacy with Jesus and his mission.  This is why you have twenty year old blogger kings dissecting each other’s words while they fail to lift a finger to help the poor.  You can be doctrinally right without being right.


4) The Five Points of Calvinism are pretty biblical, but you don’t need to know them to be saved.  We’re done arguing about this. 


5) The Calvinist subculture will always be a ghetto within Christianity.  No one else cares about Calvinism except — surprise! — Calvinists.


6) Dude: it’s a pretty serious thing to accuse someone of heresy, but this happens like every other hour in the Reformed camp.  You might as well accuse a five year old of heresy because he doesn’t believe in a pretribulational rapture. 


7) I believe most Calvinists are actually just scared.  They want to look doctrinally sound in front of their other Calvinist buddies, so they have to act tough online or someone will yell heresy.  Really they’re just trying to impress everyone by flexing their theological muscles and it’s a constant paranoid show of false machismo.  To meet a relaxed Reformed guy is just as likely as a three-horned unicorn.


8) I’ve met very awesome Reformed Calvinists, and you know what — I can hardly tell they were “Calvinists.”  They just loved Jesus and loved people.  Too many Calvinists make it known that they’re this prophetic doctrinally sound super-blogger, while truly Reformed brothers and sisters don’t make a big deal out of it.  They’re actually in the mess of people.


9) Arminians are saved too.  So are Pentecostals, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics.  The common thread is Jesus.


10) Jesus was not a Calvinist.  John Calvin was a Jesus-ist.


— J.S.

8 thoughts on “Ten Thoughts About Calvinism

  1. I often ask my reformed brothers and sisters ( I am “continental” or “Dutch” reformed – although I am not dutch) what they think would happen if they went into a small farming community in the american south where there is only a methodist church and no other towns for miles around…what would happen if you shared the Gospel with them? What would likely happen is that they would welcome you into their hearts and homes as a brother in Christ. What would we do if they shared the gospel with us? Probably pick it apart until we discovered the lack of Calvinism and then call them false teachers and heretics… 🙂


  2. #3 is the heart of what you say.
    As a Calvinistic-Arminian I have it all worked out (NOT!), except to live with and for the very real Jesus.


  3. I used to be one of those arrogant 20 year olds fighting tulip on the internet.. I cringe at the thought. It’s not that I’ve necessarily changed majorly any doctrinal thinking, I’m much more comfortable with tensions and unanswered questions now, realise the folly of needing all my doctrinal boxes to be ticked, or taking things like election out of the pastoral context in which I see the NT teaching it.. as soon as we take it out of the context of ‘hey, persevere because God has saved you, so you can hang in there!’ and make it about ‘well, who is saved, and what the ratio of what I do, blah blah blah’ we do violence to the NT texts. Unless our theology leads us to doxology (and our doxology to mission) then we’ve missed the point big time! It doesn’t bother me if my gospel co-workers don’t share my soteriology or eschatology etc.. just that we have the same heart for the glory of Jesus and for people to meet him.


    1. Thank you for being so transparent. Have you written a blog post about this? You’re free to share here if you have.
      It’s great to meet Recovered Calvinists. We can poke fun while keeping the doctrine part intact. 🙂


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