If you have watched the recent Truth and Freedom Radio Show episode entitled “Predestination” (if you haven’t, click here to check it out), you may have noticed that I have some issues with being labeled a Calvinist.
(Side Note: If you need a primer, John Piper does an excellent job of explaining Calvinism in this series.)
As far as my personal belief’s go, I fall pretty close to the traditional TULIP understanding, with some back and forth when it comes to Limited Atonement.
So, why would I be uncomfortable with being called a Calvinist?
Well, let’s take a look at a few reasons…
In 1 Corinthians, Paul begins by describing divisions that took place in the Church at Corinth. These divisions seem to be based on doctrines taught by the apostles, and Paul is quick to rebuke the Corinthians for their disagreements and quarreling, arguing instead that Christ is the only one worthy of recognition as the head. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)
Fast forwarding to today, what do we generally see taking place in the Church at large? Division.
We have five-point Calvinists and Arminians, along with everything in between. We have Anglicans, Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants.
Move into Protestant circles, and the divisions get even more absurd and trite. All of these sects claim some amount of truth, and point to their contemporaries’ falsities.
Each denomination usually has a banner it flies under, and more often than not those banner’s are more derived from fleshly, vain, superficial doctrines than they are the Word of God.
The seeds of this practice have been planted as long as the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has been preached, and I believe this comes from a common error that has it’s base in idolatry.
We must get this straight. It is all about Christ, and Him crucified.
All kinds of men throughout church history have come to some understanding of the greater glories of God, but we must not follow those men. We follow Christ! Let us move on from this saint worship that has taken hold of our church. If not, we may find ourselves on the wrong side of another reformation stemmed from a generation of believers crying out, “We just want to follow Jesus!”
Paul doesn’t stop in Corinthians though. Looking in 1 Timothy, we also see him echoing the same warnings to a young preacher. Only now, the concern isn’t so much on church division. Now Paul is concerned with the rise of false teachers, and he urges Timothy not to get caught up in vain discussions as an extension of this concern. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)
Now, I am not suggesting that the sovereignty of God is a vain discussion. But, I am willing to put forward that while John Calvin had a high sense of God’s role in salvation, he himself was a man capable of sin. We see this in his dealings with Michael Servetus. There are many arguments both against, and for Calvin’s role in Servetus’ burning at the stake, but the main issue is this; why would we even entertain the thought of flying under a man’s banner when we have believed in the perfect one? By following Christ and Christ alone we never have to worry about such matters.
So, in conclusion, I am not a Calvinist. I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
John Calvin, along with many others, have made great strides in advancing a high view of Christ. But it would do us well brothers and sisters, to hold man as lowly, and to revere the Lamb as the only one worthy of glory.