The Top Five Reasons Why I am NOT A Calvinist
Updated: Apr 8
Calvinism is growing increasingly popular in Western churches, but it is not a belief system Christians should ascribe to. Here are the top five reasons why.
The Reformed doctrine known as Calvinism is gaining vast popularity in Western Christianity. Every year more and more seminarians graduate from school with a zealous mission to import Reformed, Calvinist theology into mainstream Christianity. Today, many well-known pastors teach Reformed Theology, from Tim Keller to John Piper, John Macarthur, David Platt, and many others. But is Calvinism true? Does it accurately convey a complete, well-rounded biblical soteriology? And more importantly, does it accurately represent the God of Scripture? The answer is NO. It does not. In today's blog post, I bring you the top five reasons why I am NOT a Calvinist.
5) Calvinism Misrepresents the God of Scripture
The God of the Bible is a God who is just, loving, gracious, wrathful, and merciful. Perhaps most of all, he is righteous. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. The God of the Bible created man in his image to reflect his glory. Sin corrupted humanity, but the story of the Bible is the story of God working to redeem humankind from sin and its effects even though God's creation has been utterly corrupted by sin. He does this because he loves the world. The God of Calvinism does not love the world, He only loves certain people in the world, and his love has nothing to do with who those people are or the choices they make. Calvinism misrepresents the God of the Bible because it teaches that God has created certain people with the very purpose of sending them to hell for eternity. It teaches that God hates certain people not because they are evil, but because he chose to make them evil so that they could become the objects of His wrath. The fifth reason I am not a Calvinist is that it severely misrepresents the God of the Bible, who loves the world so much that he offered his son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
4) Calvinism Requires a Lens to See It in the Bible
Calvinism is taught by many theologians using the Bible, but it cannot be evidently seen in the Bible. The Bible is used to teach Calvinism, but the conclusions that Calvinism draws cannot be found in Scripture unless a reader is taught how to interpret the Bible Calvinistically. In other words, Calvinism requires a lens – a particular way of looking at and interpreting Scripture – for it to be seen in the Bible. If a person were never sent to seminary (or a Reformed Church) and taught Calvinism, the chances of them reading the Bible and "discovering" it on their own are minute at best. A Bible reader would likely never come to the conclusions that Calvinism draws by simply reading the Bible. Calvinism is a logical system based on some aspects of truth, but it is not the whole truth. If you were not taught Calvinism using a theological and philosophical system invented in the fourth century, you would never read the Bible and come to its conclusions on your own.
3) Calvinism is Rooted in Manichean, Stoic, and Gnostic Philosophy
During the early centuries of the church, heresies began to crop up that were rooted in certain un-Christian, un-Hebraic philosophies. The church did a fabulous job warding these off through the mid-4th century until one of the most influential Christians of the time, who also happened to be a former Manichean philosopher, began using Manichean philosophy to interpret and teach the Bible. The God of Scripture is NOT an authoritarian demagogue who overrides the free will of people OR who creates people with the very purpose of condemning them to hell. Unlike what some Calvinists believe, humanity's free will is not a demonic deception. It is a biblical and empirical fact of creation. It is reality. Suppose I do something of my own volition that God says he has never considered doing and finds abominable. In that case, I do not get to attribute my ungodly actions to God using the Calvinistic understanding of predestination. God is not righteous apart from acting righteously at all times. His nature and his actions are not distinct or incoherent. Everything that God does is righteous because he is righteous and always acts righteously. He doesn't do evil things and then call them righteous. Every time a person says that they were predestined to sin, they are saying that God is ultimately responsible for their ungodly actions. That is not the picture that Bible paints. This understanding of God was imported into the church when Augustine began using his Manichean background to explain God's nature in the fourth century. Before then, no Christian would have ever attributed their sinful actions to predestination.
2) Calvinism Did Not Exist in the Church Until the Fourth Century
As I've already alluded to, Calvinism did not exist in the church until the fourth century, when its earliest form was invented and imported into the church by Augustine of Hippo. It was reinvigorated centuries later by the Protestant Reformers, who desperately needed a cohesive, logical, watertight theological system to teach the church since they could no longer appeal to Roman Catholic theology's tradition and authority. Remember, Calvinism is not illogical; it's just inaccurate. Zero records exist of Christians believing or teaching any one of the five points of Calvinism before the fourth century. Which brings up a great question: do you want to endorse, let alone believe in a theological system that Jesus, the disciples, and the Apostle Paul, had never heard of?
1) Calvinism DIRECTLY Contradicts Scripture
As I've said several times already, there are elements of Calvinism that are true, but Calvinism does not capture the whole truth of Scripture. This can be seen no more clearly than in the fact that every point of Calvinism in some way directly contradicts the Bible. To be a Calvinist, you have to choose specific passages of Scripture at the exclusion of others. While the right way to do theology is to let the whole of Scripture speak to and inform our understanding, Calvinism straight-up ignores or attempts to alter the passages of Scripture that directly refute it. This can be seen most clearly in the third point of Calvinism – the pillar by which the whole system is propped up – which teaches that Christ did NOT die for all people and that God does NOT want all people to be saved, rather only the elect that he has predestined for salvation. Does this sound like it is coherent with what the Bible teaches in 1 Timothy 2:4 ("God desires all people to be saved"), 1 John 2:2 ("Christ died not for our sins only, but the sins of the whole world"), or John 3:16 ("God loves the world and gave his Son, that whoever believes in him will have eternal life")? That's because it's not. Calvinism directly contradicts Scripture, which is the most important reason why I do not believe it.