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5 Misconceptions of Calvinist

January 27, 2011

I have in the past 2 years changed the way I think when it comes to theology. I guess I just started thinking for myself, and not blindly accepting whatever was being taught to me. Here is the truth… I know Calvin came up with what has become known as “Tulip” but I honestly have never read anything by the man. I do know this though, some of my favorite preachers and some of the most biblical guys I know would line up under what Calvin had to say when it comes to understanding the Bible and salvation.

As I have journeyed down this road of “Calvinism” I have noticed that there are many who are uncomfortable with what the guy taught and have some major issues with certain items. I would say this, no one is perfect but you can’t fault a guy whose was attempting to know God more.

For the life of me I can not figure out why people hate on Calvinist but I guess someone will tell me sooner or later… maybe at the end of this post? Who knows.



Here are 5 misconceptions of Calvinist that I see.

  1. Calvinist do not think they are smarter than everyone else. Yes, I know we all have met that guy who wants to argue the 5 points to the death, but he does not represent everyone and certainly not me. I have found most Calvinist to be some of the most humble people I know.
  2. Just because the Calvinist believe in “pre-destination” doesn’t mean we throw the rest of the Bible out. I hear the argument of “well if people are pre-destined then why preach, isn’t it already decided for them?” To which I normally walk away from that conversation  because that person isn’t thinking clearly. It’s not our job to decide who the Gospel changes, it’s just our job to preach it.
  3. We don’t  believe in “free will.” This is false. You would have to be an idiot to look at the world and think that we don’t. With God being in control, that does not mean that we throw personal responsibility out the window. Matt Chandler often refers to it as “grace driven effort.”
  4. We are anti the Holy Spirit. This is simply not the case. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is present and is still moving. In fact I have heard a few “big named” Calvinist call for more emphasis on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. We need more of the Holy Spirit in our Churches.
  5. John Piper is a downer and is anti faith. Look you don’t have to like Dr. Piper, but you would be hard pressed to find another man in the world who loves Jesus Christ more. The more I listen to Piper the more I believe that the man knows what he is talking about when it comes to faith, loving Jesus and a hope for a future. Don’t hate.

Look I write this, not to start a riot but to simply put my thoughts out there in hopes that it might calm some fears and anger towards Calvinists.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 10:29 am

    Good insights. I love piper and I think Calvin was brilliant…but I don’t think it’s free will or predestination. I think it could be both. And calvinists have a sense of pride to it… Can we still be friends

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 27, 2011 11:10 pm

      Al we can be friends. And being a Calvinist doesn’t make you anymore prideful ; )

      Thanks for reading bro.

  2. January 27, 2011 10:34 am

    Good article. People hate Calvinist for many reasons. Primarily if they really get Calvinist it is because it really believes and shouts “IT IS BY GRACE YOU ARE SAVED NOT OF WORKS LESS ANY OF YOU MIGHT DARE TO BOAST.”

  3. January 27, 2011 10:40 am

    BTW, the TULIP thing probably wouldn’t jive with Calvin as to reductionistic. He wouldn’t have started with the T. He would have started with the U. The early Calvinist coined TULIP as a response to the Remonstrance. That is the problem when our theology is derived from reaction instead of worship. Calvin’s Institutes is about worship. It begins with God, ends with God, and talks about God’s plan for man.

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 27, 2011 11:13 pm

      Will thank for helping with my education. I appreciate it.

  4. Jim Mercuri permalink
    January 27, 2011 12:26 pm

    Good article, there is scripture to support both sides of this theological position Calvin and Arminian. I think that the emotional response you see is reaction to the over rationalization and certainty of the Calvinist position. Reducing salvation theology to 5 points misses the tension created by scripture. Understanding God’s plan for salvation includes: wonder, mystical experience of grace, and an unexplainable connection to a real, vast, and unfathomable entity Almighty God. This never fits in the 5 point grid system. But we need both the rational and emotional to relate with God. Anger at Calvinism is an indicator of where that person is at in their spiritual development.

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 27, 2011 11:15 pm

      Good stuff Jim and welcome to the comment section. I like what you said “Reducing salvation theology to 5 points misses the tension created by scripture. ”

      That’s a good thought and I am gonna think about that more.

  5. January 27, 2011 2:17 pm

    I enjoy your blogs. And agree with your points.

    But I quote you here, “Here is the truth… I know Calvin came up with what has become known as “Tulip” but I honestly have never read anything by the man.

    But in truth regarding T.U.L.I.P. as to its orgin:
    Calvinist theology is sometimes identified with the five points of Calvinism, also called the doctrines of grace, which are a point-by-point response [T.U.L.I.P] to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance and which serve as a summation of the judgments rendered by the Synod of Dort in 1619 [55 years AFTER Calvin’s death]. Calvin himself never used such a model and never combated Arminianism directly. In fact, Calvin died in 1564 and Joseph Arminias was born in 1560, and so the men were not contemporaries. The Articles of Remonstrance were authored by opponents of reformed doctrine and Biblical Monergism.

    That being said Calvin had nothing to do with the acronym T.U.L.I.P.
    He was in the grave before they were first used in the Synod of Dort in 1619.

    I personally have not read but short clips of Calvin myself (some day I will read more). My “Reformed” or “Doctrines of Grace” beliefs really have little to do with Calvin, Luther or any man for that matter. So personally I avoid calling myself a “calvinist” as much as possible.
    I respect what light on the word these and other men have shed on the scriptures, but when it is all said and done my foundation is on the Bible (66 books) only.

    Thanks again for a great blog 🙂

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 27, 2011 11:22 pm

      Jim thanks for reading man, and thanks for all the info. I don’t claim to have all the answers or know everything so I am glad you shed some light on things I was ignorant about. Thanks!

  6. January 27, 2011 5:46 pm

    Good stuff Ben. I just wanted to add a thought to each of your points. Here we go. Disclaimer for anyone else who reads this; I am Reformed.

    1. All Christians have pride issues this side of heaven and we all believe that we have the correct theology and we all look down on anyone who doesn’t believe what we believe. Arminians are just as prideful as Calvinists because we are all sinners, and pride is pretty much weaved into all other sins. The reason why Arminians are rarely fingered as prideful is because arminian thought is the lay of the land. Very rarely does anybody label the majority as prideful.

    2. Predestination isn’t the issue. Predestination falls under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty, along with election and reprobation. People have an issue with God being the true Lord and King and in control of everything because they want to be the captain of their own ship.

    3. Free will, if we must believe in such a thing, is really only this; we have free will in the sense that we freely choose what we, out of the nature that we have, desire from our heart. If I want to wear a sweater and dress pants or a t-shirt and jeans, I can do what I WANT to do. We have a big problem though. Romans 8:7-8 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” But see, this isn’t the definition most people have of free will. Most people believe free will is to be able to choose things free from any power of God. And if that is how people want to believe in free will, then I don’t believe in it.

    4. If anybody is truly Reformed, they understand how they came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus… by the power of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:8)

    5. I love John Piper. I love God more because of the Holy Spirit’s use of that man’s exegetical preaching.

    Well, that’s all I’m saying… for now. lol.

    P.s. Thanks for the shout-out in number one. lol j/k

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 27, 2011 11:24 pm

      Good stuff Chris. And for the record I don’t think you are that guy, although it never hurts to listen to others once in a while haha! jkjk!

  7. Jim Mercuri permalink
    January 28, 2011 8:45 am

    Is it true that after the Synod of Dort several followers of Arminian were executed and imprisoned?

  8. January 28, 2011 11:44 am

    Good stuff Ben. I certainly do not fear or have anger towards Calvinism, I tend to be against any pendulum swing towards one way or the other.

    However, posts like this are why I enjoy your mind and always appreciate your thoughts.

  9. January 29, 2011 11:49 am

    John Calvin…great writer and incredible theologian. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      February 3, 2011 2:02 pm

      Thank you for reading bro. Hope all is well in the OC.

  10. February 3, 2011 1:24 pm

    Excellent post, Ben. You said it perfectly when speaking of John Calvin….. “I would say this, no one is perfect but you can’t fault a guy who was attempting to know God more.” <–I so agree with that point. We as true regenerated believers want to know God.

    As my walk with Christ has intensified over the last few years, God has been revealing His truth to me in ways I never thought imaginable. When I first realized that my line of thinking was starting to tilt towards the teachings of Calvin, it scared me. I didn't want to think in terms of "limited atonement" but after years of studying God's word and leaning not on my understanding but on what He has revealed in His word, I now see it all so clearly. God is Sovereign and Just and His perfect will be done.

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      February 3, 2011 2:03 pm

      Bobby good stuff man. Thanks for the comment and read!

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