What is Calvinism, aka, Reformed Theology? It is a series of theological beliefs first promoted by John Calvin (1509-1564), one of the leaders of the Protestant reformation. Here is a quote from John Calvin that is very telling: "God preordained...a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part (of the human race), in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation. " John Calvin
The author of this website does not believe Calvinism is Scriptural and here are the words off of one church's website that says my thoughts on it in a very succinct and thorough way:
If you've never heard of Calvinism, here is an acronym that explains it, TULIP:
T = Total depravity of mankind - Since Adam's fall, mankind is incapable of doing anything righteous such as reach up to God to accept His gift of salvation through Jesus, only the Holy Spirit can regenerate a man so he can be saved.
U = Unconditional election - God has predetermined before the creation of the world who will be saved and who will be lost.
L = Limited atonement - Since God has only chosen the elect to be saved, Jesus didn't die for the whole world or all of mankind, but only those God has given Him.
I = Irresistible grace - When God calls someone they are unable to resist .Him.
P = Perseverance of the saints - None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure.
Calvinism is so named because John Calvin (1509-1564) a prominent French theologian during the Protestant Reformation created this systematic theology. There is another system of theology that opposes Calvinism and it's called Arminianism. Arminianism is named after Jacob Arminius (1560-1609), a Dutch theologian. If Arminianism was to be broken down into 5 tenets of faith (so we can compare it with Calvinism), it would appear like this:
(1) Partial Depravity – Humanity is tainted by sin, but not to the extent that we cannot chose to come to God on our own. We are capable of choosing to accept salvation or reject it without any influence from God.
(2) Conditional Election – God chose who would be saved based on knowing beforehand who would believe. God chooses those who He knows will believe.
(3) Unlimited Atonement – Jesus’ death was for all of humanity, and anyone can be saved by belief in Him.
(4) Resistible Grace – God’s call to be saved can be resisted and/or rejected. We can resist God’s pull toward salvation if we choose to.
(5) Conditional Salvation – Christians can lose their salvation if they continue in a life of sin and/or fall away from faith..
There are Bible verses that seem to support both belief systems but the Bible as a whole does not support either completely. The problem with Calvinism though is a person must believe all 5 tenets listed above or they are shunned by other Calvinists. There is no acceptance within Calvinism for people to think of themselves as a 4 point or 3 point or lesser point Calvinist. The 5 point belief system comes as a package and Calvinists even go so far as to say Arminians are heretics and damned to hell as idolators for believing in their own power to come to Christ.
Here are some links to testimonies of former Calvinists that explain why they left that belief system and then some links for articles by people who refute Calvinism:
Arminian Perspectives, X Calvinists Corner - http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/x-calvinist-corner/
Calvinism Critiqued by a Former Calvinist - http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html
Why I Disagree With All 5 Points of Calvinism - http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Doctrines/Calvinism/calvinism-hutson.htm
Arguments against Calvinism and Predestination - http://people.cis.ksu.edu/~bbp9857/calvinism.html
Now for some personal experience and thoughts from the author of this website on Calvinism:
The first Calvinist I ever met was on Face Book. A lovely young Christian woman who had a husband and small child who I met from a friend of a friend. I didn't mind her posts about Calvinism at first because I really didn't understand much about it and figured it wasn't really a problem. But then I started seeing posts that were "us against them" type comments and realized that because she saw herself as elect, she had no compassion for the lost. She and her friends never did any type of outreach work, such as pass out tracts, because they truly believed the lost were just not chosen of God. Our friendship didn't last much past my seeing these types of posts.
The next encounter I had with Calvinism is through Don Piper books - I almost ordered one because the title sounded so devout in seeking after God's heart but then read further that he was a Calvinist. I decided to stay clear of his materials. I later started listening to a morning preacher on a local radio station as my "wake-up music" and it turns out it was John MacArthur. I liked his sermons (from what I could tell in my sleepy state) but noticed after about a week of listening to him that I was in a bad mood throughout each day. I got the idea (probably after spending time in the Word, thanks to the Holy Spirit's way of warning us when we spend time in the Word) to stop listening to this preacher in the mornings and see if my mood improved. It did right away! I then delved into "who is John MacArthur?" and found out he is one of the most prominent modern day Calvinist preachers there is! There was also just a subtle angry tone in John MacArthur's voice, not so much actual sound because he's not a yelling preacher but it was like a feeling that I got from him - I can't explain it but it was like spiritually I felt I was being pelted with anger. This would be a good time to show you an article written about John McArthur's yearly camp for the youth of his church, you may have to copy and paste into your URL, also the first part of the article has been overlaid with John MacArthur's website information somehow and is hard to read but scroll down and you will see plenty to be concerned about: http://www.thewatchmanwakes.com/John-Macarthur-hosts-rapper.html (Please see comments below by someone who encountered his summer youth program more than I have.) It appears John MacArthur presents ones side of himself to adults, looking so upright and devout, even exposing heresies like the Charismatic movement, while secretly he is outright ruining the next generation by making them participate in pagan practices. Whether his influence is on adults or the youth, he is leading souls to hell by telling them to follow Christ AND Calvin! Anytime you add anything or anyone to Christ, you have damnable heresy! (Please also see videos below on John MacArthur.)
My last encounter with Calvinism also came from a radio preacher. I really liked this man's verse-by-verse teaching and his calm, easy to listen to sermons and I found out his church was in the area of where I live. I decided to give it a try, I was in the market for a church to attend. I went and liked it there, the people were nice looking families and not too richy-rich but not poor either, and they were friendly, the music was pretty good and each of the sermons were just explaining what the verses said. He was covering books in Psalms for a few months and things were lining up with my Bible the way he was teaching so I was happy attending there. However, I did notice he would quote sometimes from John MacArthur which made me wonder if he was a Calvinist, but I temporarily dismissed it because he also quoted from other Christian men. The problem became apparent to me though as I continued to listen to him on his radio show because he began to cover "Eternal Security of the Believer aka Once-Saved, Always Saved". Now I believe Jesus keeps the saved but some of this preacher's words were words Calvinists used and after about a week of listening to his sermons it dawned on me he is not just preaching on the saved being secure in Christ, he is preaching pre-destination! Then the sad reality hit me: I am attending a Calvinist's church and I am not a Calvinist and will never be one, so I have to now leave my church I have gotten comfortable in and go and find another church. Of course I researched further and found out that he is of the Reformed Theology and he says on one of the back pages of his website that John MacArthur is his main influence. I was sad and kind of stunned that I had gotten duped by someone who obviously plays down the fact that he is a Calvinist because out of the list of all of the sermons on his website - that goes back to like 2008 - there wasn't one sermon on there that was titled anything about predestination, Calvinism, reformed theology or any of the buzz words. The only time I saw a sermon that had Calvinism in the title "Calvinism explained" is when I actually googled the name of the church and the word Calvinism after it and a sermon dated 2014 showed up. Yet, when I looked up the 2014 sermons on the church sermon list, it was not on there. So, for some reason he seems to not want to make it apparent that he is peddling his theological stance while teaching the Bible. It makes me wonder how many of the nice families in that church actually know there is a choice of whether they have to believe his way of seeing things or not - they may only know the one way of understanding the Gospel. I left that church and stopped listening to his radio broadcasts because I noticed his Calvinistic twist on things was distressing me in my soul and because I refuse to believe God is the type of God who acts like a puppeteer, choosing who He will save and who He will pass over, thereby controlling the saved in every little thing, (even forcing them to go to heaven because they have no choice to choose for themselves) and condemning the rest to hell, just because he can or wants to. This is not the God I know which is love, so much love that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) and why would God want puppets when he could have real relationships with His creation that choose to love Him and follow Him?
So finally, I believe mankind needs to see himself (or herself) as a Christian only; not a specific denomination Christian and not as a specific system theology Christian. Christians need to be free from all designations so they can be free to learn as the Holy Spirit teaches them understanding when they read the Word. To come to the Word with a man-made system in mind puts chains on you and it won't be long before you feel depressed and unsure of your salvation. And if you find you have no desire to see the lost saved you know you've replaced the Great Commission with a great deception of some sort and it might just be Calvinism, even on a subtle level from a preacher that is dipping into that theology more than he admits to openly.
This is one blogger’s thoughts on the Macarthur youth camp, she has apparently seen video footage of it that I have not seen:
John Macarthur's church hosts youth camps every summer, that offer different events, programs, whatever they're called, that cannot be called anything less than mind twisting evil. They aren't even subtle about what the program offers these kids. I was stunned when I watched the different events, in action, under supposed "Christian" adult leaders! These activities were so twisted that even Freud, an atheist humanist, would have questioned the sanity and purpose of it all... Things like teenage girls, crawling through mud, wearing tight bathing suits. They throwing mud at each other, crawling over each other, pushing each other out of way, kicking, hitting, and even dunking other girl's faces in the mud, all to be the first ones to get to the other side of the slime pit they were in... But this one was tame compared to other event activities, and especially tame compared to what some of the guys events were. I can't remember them all, but if kids in any secular high school were doing these kinds of things, they'd be expelled from school! By the time I got through the video, watching the carnage of teenage souls, I was convinced that John Macarthur and his sidekicks would have to had to been trained in MK Ultra mind control. The kids looked like they'd been through hell at the end of each activity. Many of them were crying, were angry, shocked and hurt, amid other negative reactions and emotions. I just can't figure out how anyone could okay this stuff, let alone Christian parent's whom are paying to send their kids there!
I do want to confess that there are a few Reformed preachers that I have listened to and/or read that have edified me very much. All of them are deceased and I am of the theory that Reformed preaching of older generations was not hyper-Calvinism like we are seeing today with the John MacArthur movement. The Reformed preachers I have enjoyed listening or reading sermons from are 1) Charles Spurgeon, 2) William Hughes and 3) Martin Lloyd Jones. However, I stay out of any of their sermons that preach on election and tend to stay with only their sermons about living the Christian life.
As the Bible Broadcasting Network (a non-Calvinist radio station that actually booted John MacArthur off their radio station once they found out he was a Calvinist) puts it, (I am paraphrasing), "There are some things we will not understand in this life because our minds are too inferior to God's mind, such as where God's sovereignty and man's free will intersect in matters of salvation".
My final thought is "We need to put Christ and His Word first in our lives, and let the men or women who want to be intellectually superior in their man-made systems, stay outside of our beliefs, lest they pull us into their misery".
If you want to get born again in Christ Jesus, please take this time now to talk to God. You can say something like this: God I know I am a sinner and I need a Savior and I believe Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. I believe Jesus Christ was born of a virgin mother, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that He lived a sinless life because He was God in the flesh, and that He was crucified as the once for all sacrifice for mankind's sins. I believe he was buried and rose from the grave and was witnessed alive before ascending to heaven where He now sits on the throne as King of Kings. I repent of my sins and accept Jesus' gift of salvation today and I ask Him to be my Savior and Lord. I ask the Holy Spirit to come and make a dwelling in my heart and to lead me into all righteousness. Thank you God for hearing my prayer and for sending your Son to save me by dying in my place at the Cross so I can be in the family of God. And Father, I understand that while I am saved by my confession of faith, it is also Your will for me to get water baptized to show my private confession in a public way, and so I ask you to lead me to the church or baptismal situation you have for me so I can get baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen!