The revelation of God’s attributes and character, His power, His purpose and His plans are seen in the Scriptures. The understanding of who God is, is made possible to every believer through the Word of God explained by the person of the Holy Spirit. God’s purpose for writing the Scriptures is, so He can be known for who He is. God is not mystically showing deeper truths through higher illumination to certain individuals who in turn contain the keys to explain God’s ‘glory’.
Calvinism, despite what some believe, is not God’s answer to man’s problem. It is man’s answer to man’s problem. It is highly Gnostic by nature, philosophical in language and even reasonable to the logical mind. It has one major problem, it cannot be biblically produced. It must be read into the Text and not extracted from It.
If we are to accept a depiction of God that is not according to the Scriptures, we create an idol of sorts to fit our fancy. It ceases being YAHWEH of the Bible and becomes a god. Calvinism has so altered the attributes of God, it has produced a new god, a deterministic god that is really better called fatalistic. We will state a simple definition of fatalism for the purpose of this article:
Fatalism, the attitude of mind which accepts whatever happens as having been bound or decreed to happen. Such acceptance may be taken to imply belief in a binding or decreeing agent. The development of this implication can be found in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, with its personification of Fate, and in Norse mythology with the Norns.Encyclopedia Britannica
The purpose of this article is to show how Calvinism changes the attributes of the God of the Bible into a god marked by fatalism (as defined above) which He is not.
Disclaimer: The teaching of Calvinism reaches far beyond the scope of this little article and in no way do I intend to debunk it with a few paragraphs but I would hope that the information given here might encourage the reader to investigate the Scriptures further to see if what I am saying is true (Acts 17:11).
Let’s get a really brief background. Calvinism gets its name from a young man by the name of John Calvin (1509-1564), a leading theologian during the 16th-century protestant reformation who was heavily influenced by Augustine.
Calvin (by then 25 years deceased) was challenged on five points by a follower of his, a Dutch theologian, named Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). This happened at a church council (Synod of Dort). Many church clergy were present and it caused quite a riff. This continues in theological circles today and it is in the ability of the student to somehow merge or harmonize the two. This, I might add, is not the solution. The solution lies in what the Bible actually has to say.
Today the adherents to John Calvin are known as Calvinists and those followers of Jacobus Arminius are known as Arminianists (more here).
Calvinism is a major theological line in mainstream Christianity today and its influences, either direct or indirect, are seen in vast amounts of writings, seminary curriculum, and pulpits everywhere. Calvinism has so permeated Christian writings, it has been futile to speak out against it, until recently. People are going to the source of Truth, they are seeing the light that Calvinism has created a veil over the Bible’s teaching, causing nearsightedness.
My intention for writing this article is to show how Calvinism is a theology that alters the perfect balance of the attributes of the God of the Bible to create a different man-made god of its imaginings.
Please do not underestimate Calvinism’s ability to defend itself. In fact, I’ve personally never won a discussion (others perhaps have) with a Calvinist in His own Philo-theological arena. Only on the basis of the context of Scripture can this heresy be confronted.
I certainly do not intend to offend any person who considers themselves a Calvinist to some degree or another. Perhaps though, I can cause them to reflect on Calvinism in light of Scripture. (Below I will post some more articles that have to do with what Calvinism teaches).
I must admit that there have been many great ‘soft’ (1-3 point) Calvinists out there of which not a few have been helpful to me to some degree, but all despite their Calvinism. I would consider many of these men of old spiritual, mature Christians but poor Calvinists to the degree in which they adhered to it. Evidently their understanding of what the Scriptures teach was greater than their entertainment of Calvinistic thought.
Through my limited seminary studies, quickly, I too became a Calvinist, enamored by a fanciful notion of a fatalistic, predetermining god who had a select few people that were his objects of mercy on the basis of pure whimsical choosing (favourites). “Oh! But that was great”, “Oh! The glory!”, and great sorrow did the wrath of god produce in the totally depraved being (the illuminated new me) which had supposedly ascended in deeper spiritual thought and yet simultaneously a great intellectual pride was brooding deep within. (Please note, election does not remove pride!)
“It was vain to resist the wrath of God; and so a wretched fatalism bowed to a more utter prostration the cowed and spiritless race.” – “History of Latin Christianity” by Henry Hart Milman
It was a romantic notion of prostration and humiliation of the soul and to the degree in which my mystical learned-ness grew, greater yet the pride disguised though it was in ‘meekness’ to the god of sovereign choice. Again, ‘election’ does not remove pride, only the true grace of God does!
“Fatalism benumbs and paralyzes the will, and apathy and stoical submission are the only resource. To accept the inevitable without a murmur, with passionless calm to wrap one’s mantle around one’s self and with bowed head to say impassive tone, kismet, it is ordered, this is fatalism and this is what a fatalistic belief engenders.”“Fatalism of the Greeks” article written by Abby Leach
The God of creation is known through His Word. His character and attributes as we know them must come from Scripture. His will and His purposes are also learned from Scripture. There are areas that God has kept from us but other areas that He tells us and that He has actually purposely limited himself. What I mean by that is that there are things God will and will not do! For instance, God cannot (will not) lie! (Tit 1:2) God has limited Himself and kept himself separate from creation. Creation could have been an extension of Himself, but He chose to do it this way. He limits himself to being invisible and spirit. Not because He is somehow limited in power but simply because it is who He is (to say otherwise would be to depict him falsely). God limited himself to never judging the world with a flood again. He did it once and he could do it again before but He willed never do it again! You can count on it!
“I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”Genesis 9:11
God also limited himself from attachment to sin. Since God’s character is pure and holy these are certain things that God has separated Himself from. This does not mean God is not sovereign or above all, it means God’s interaction with creation is in the way that accords with whom He is. This can be seen clearly in the teaching of Scripture. Calvin had a more secretive god in mind…
“Men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what he has previously decreed with himself, and brings to pass by his secret direction.”“Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin
In a similar way, God has limited giving salvation only to those who believe the Gospel. God sent His Son, who became a man and limited himself to being one man in one place at a time. That man died in substitution for the sins of every person. God limits himself to be glorified through the sacrifice of His son and those who respond to it by faith. This in no way takes from God’s sovereignty, on the contrary, it shows that even in His limiting Himself, he is super-sovereign. God limited himself to bringing the redemption of all of mankind through one Man and one act of righteousness in love. God’s grace is not a ‘persuasion’ or an ‘unrejectable force’ of sorts. It is simply the unmerited favor of salvation bestowed upon all those who believe, afforded through the work of the cross.
God limits his salvation to be on the basis of grace and not works. God could have determined not to, but He is not a fatalist god. He allows all who hear the good news to come to himself on the simple basis of faith. In fact, Christ is full of joy to see the soul expressing faith. God makes an equal invitation to all. To believe in the person (attributes, character) and work (death of the cross) of Christ and resurrection.
The notion that God chooses randomly who would be His before the foundation of the world on a subjective basis of demonstrating mercy to some while condemning the rest He was able to save, is a slanderous idea born of human philosophy and never from the teaching of Scripture. This is some god made up in the minds of fatalistic men stemming back to Greek and Roman philosophy. This is not who the Bible calls Yahweh Elohim, it is fatalism regurgitated and disguised in a theological system.
And we find that today, there’s certain cults, I won’t call them by name, but actually it’s fatalism. You gather sometimes the impression that they have a glorious faith in God, but it’s fatalism actually, and not really faith in God.J. Vernon McGee
Calvinism is not a biblically-constructed theology. It is a philosophical system supported by certain specific verses taken out of the intended purpose and context of Scripture. When I was a Calvinist I sincerely believed that Calvinism was synonymous with the term biblical! However, when one carefully studies its verses within their context, their injected meanings to the words and ideas cannot but disappear within the meaning within the context. The power of Calvinism to enslave and benumb falls as the truth of Scripture liberates. Yet this is not done overnight. Though Scripture is clear, the mind of the Calvinist is muddled and washing of the mind by the Word is necessary. It takes time and the Bible student’s willingness to the Holy Spirit’s teaching.
Here are some examples of what some renowned Calvinists say…
“Plainly it was God’s will that sin should enter this world, otherwise it would not have entered, for nothing happens except what God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a simple permission, for God only permits things that fulfill his purpose.”
Arthur W. Pink
“The Sovereignty of God”
“God wills all things that come to pass…God desired for man to fall into sin. I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that God created sin.
“Almighty over all”
Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe, such as dust particles in the air and all of our besetting sins? Yes… Now the reason I believe that is because the Bible says, “The dice are thrown in the lap, and every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).
Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe including sin?
Yes, because if not then it’s meaningless and purposeless and though God knew it was going to happen he created it without a purpose… and God is responsible for the creation of despair… If He didn‟t [decree child rape] then that rape is an element of meaningless evil that has no purpose.
debate with Hank Hannegraaf and George Bryson
I wish very frankly and pointedly to assert that if a man gets drunk and shoots his family, it was the will of God that he should do it…” … “Let it be unequivocally said that this view certainly makes God the cause of sin. God is the sole ultimate cause of everything. There is absolutely nothing independent of him. He alone is the eternal being. He alone is omnipotent. He alone is sovereign. Some people who do not wish to extend God’s power over evil things, and particularly over moral evils…The Bible therefore explicitly teaches that God creates sin.
These quotes show the absurd conclusions Calvinistic teaching leads to. The Calvinist that hasn’t arrived at these conclusions is just not a full-fledged Calvinist yet, but that’s a good thing in my book, maybe there’s hope for him, and he can change his mind by seeing what Scripture actually says!
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.Isaiah 53:6
How could the same God that created sin, cause our fall, cause the iniquity of us all to punish his own Son? How does that make any sense? “Oh, but …” Calvinism says, “that is a great mystery about God…isn’t it glorious?” No! That’s just plain ludicrous! This is a clear sign that Calvinism is so exaggerated on making the aspects of God to be wholly His sovereignty and the wrath he has against ungodliness that it contradicts his justice, righteousness, and love. There’s a real problem with that. Each of these character traits is equally the same and part of the perfect and holy God of the Bible. They must all be factored in together.
Are we to say when a woman gets raped the God from eternity, willed she be raped? That’s problematic to me!
The future of the believer lies in the future restoration of all things. If we accepted Calvinism’s god, what hope are we to have in a god who does not stand perfectly for justice and love?
But nothing unclean will ever enter it [heaven], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.Revelation 21:27
So let’s try to interpret this verse in light of what we’ve read. The Calvinistic god, who predetermined sin to exist, now determines (after sending the world to hell forever) that nothing ‘unclean‘ will exist in eternity with him. The question begging to be asked is, “what is meant by unclean and who determines what that is?” The god who created sin in the first place? The god who predeterminate sent those He caused to sin to hell? I guess you have figured out by now that I am not a subscriber of Calvinism.
Please understand, this does not have to make me Armenian. I do not hold to Armenian theology either (or semi-Pelagianism for that matter). I build my theology from the understanding I get out of the teaching of the Text, not from a theology (passed down from higher ‘illuminated ones’) that determines what the deeper meaning of the Text should be. A Calvinist is always talking about the latest book he read from some ‘deep’ thinker to more ‘profoundly’ view the Scriptures.
I trust that this effort will be well-received for what it is, simply trying to point out that Calvinism is not drawn from the Bible but rather a system that alters the God of the Bible by changing His attributes and character into something He is not. The god of Calvinism today is not God as He makes Himself known throughout Scripture.
It is now up to the reader to see if what I say is true or not in the light of Scripture through careful study. May God bless your studies! Acts 17:11