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Not a Calvinist? No, You Are Not a Moron (Necessarily).

I just received another email, much like other emails I’ve received since writing a post several years ago called Free to Decide: Confessions of a Former Calvinist. This email was from another brother in the faith, ridiculed and shamed for apparently not being smart enough to grasp the deep truths of the reformed faith. This breaks the heart of Jesus.

If you’re a non-Calvinist (or a “moderate Calvinist” as Norm Geisler would define it) or a former Calvinist, let me shout some things to you loud and clear:

  • This doesn’t make you stupid. You are not a moron. You are not intellectually inferior.
  • This doesn’t mean you are dumbing down the Scriptures, reducing the sovereignty of God, or watering down the gospel.
  • This doesn’t mean you are casting the pearls of the gospel before swine or cheapening the grace of God.
  • This doesn’t make you a universalist, a liberal, or an Arminian.
  • This doesn’t mean you teach easy believism.
  • This doesn’t mean that Al Mohler, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, or Matt Chandler will look down their noses at you – these are good guys.
  • Unfortunately, it probably does mean that some prideful, intellectually arrogant, theological know-it-all’s will try to make you look like an idiot. Don’t waste your time arguing with them.
  • This doesn’t give you liberty to treat your calvinistic brethren with disrespect. Recognize their contribution to the defense of God’s sovereignty and glory and their part in advancing the gospel to the nations.
  • This doesn’t mean you should assume calvinists “don’t care about the lost.” Don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions, especially since that’s been the source of your own pain.

By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?

I’m not a Calvinist, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to have their faith defined by others under a particular label. Calvinists can’t agree with each other on the specific tenets of calvinism, and I don’t think John Calvin would agree with most calvinists today on some of their conclusions. I don’t even claim a number of “points.” I’m not a 4-point or a 2-point Calvinist. What do I believe about the doctrines of grace? Let me put forth some solid affirmations of my heart.

  • I believe that man is thoroughly sinful, by both birth and by choice, but that man can and must choose to embrace Jesus as Savior. Otherwise, no command to repent and believe would ever have been given. This choice steals no glory from God, but rather brings Him greater glory as the only saving power to which we can willfully cling.
  • I believe in election, or predestination. Both are Bible words. God chooses all who will be saved. God also leaves the invitation wide open and makes it plain that anyone who comes to Him will never be rejected.
  • I believe that the atonement that Jesus offered on the cross is sufficient (available) for the propitiation of the entire human race, but is efficient (applied) to those who believe in Jesus Christ. The words “limited” and “atonement” really don’t belong in the same sentence in reference to Jesus.
  • Grace can be resisted, else it isn’t grace at all. This in no way thwarts the purposes of a sovereign God.
  • To say that all true saints will “persevere” in their faith is to ignore the guy in 1 Corinthians 5 who was turned over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his soul may be saved because of his gross immorality, along with plenty of other examples of people who have never matured in their faith, fallen prey to old habits, or otherwise strayed from the faith. I do affirm strongly the eternal security of the believer, but not the calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.

Further, I still agree with this statement by Dave Hunt: “If Calvinism is true, the God does not love everyone, and is pleased to damn billions.” You can be a calvinist if you want to, but you have to deal with Dave’s statement.

In that previous post, I referenced Adrian Rogers’ message entitled Predestined for Hell? Absolutely Not! and I’ve been asked if I could locate that message. Thankfully, it’s on Youtube in four parts…

I rarely talk about this issue. I don’t like that it’s such a fasionable debate right now. I sat last week in a coffee shop with a calvinistic, reformed, Acts 29 church planter. We had an awesome time. We’re talking about how we can partner together to reach our community for Jesus. This is how things ought to be. I don’t have to convince you, and you don’t have to convince me, but our disagreements do not make either of us intellectually inferior. It simply affirms the fact that none of us can quite figure out the awesome God of this universe.

The ones who waste time arguing about calvinism while the world goes to hell are the morons.

Together, let’s praise the One to whom we all owe everything.

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  • Rich Kirkpatrick

    Academics has not necessarily done well for theology when we are forced to serve it rather than it serve theology. Calvanism is a system that academically-minded people have put together, not to be studied like the words of Jesus should be. So, I have problems with it as I do with some other systems that are lines in the sand we should not draw. Anyway, thanks for your article and sensibilities! 

    • Brandon A. Cox

      No problem, bro!

  • Scotty

    Brandon, I appreciated this article. I’m NOT a Calvinist. In fact, I believe I’ve seen the insistence of Calvinism do some damage in people’s lives. Yet, like yourself, I’ve been able to have fellowship and serve with those who are Calvinists. It’s interesting how so many who talk about making and keeping the “main thing, the main thing” quite often don’t, and allow anything (especially theology) to fracture unity of the faith. What a waste, when there’s a loving God to serve and a lost world to reach.

  • Mark Haines

    Brandon, as a Wesleyan I’m always on the outside in terms of Calvinism. However, thanks to John Piper, I’ve come to a deeper understanding and appreciation for John Wesley’s declaration that there’s just “a hair’s breadth difference” between us. I often think when we get to heaven we’ll all shake our heads and confess that we were close but not 100% correct in our theologies. Thanks for calling us all to focus on the kingdom and what unites us in following Jesus. After all, he is the one who said “They will know you are my disciples by your love for each other.” He did not say, “They will know you are my disciples by your refusal to fellowship with each other because of your doctrinal differences.” Praying for the expansion of God’s kingdom in northwest Arkansas.

    • Brandon A. Cox

      Mark, thanks a ton for that encouragement – and I’m with you!