What is this? This is for some an introduction into what Calvinism is about. For others this will be a highlighting of what Calvinism stands for. It is a belief system that is by default in the world of Christians; It should not exist in anything named Christian or the Bible or a church. Calvinism is a divider and a cancer in Christendom. This is not a systematic explanation of what Calvinism is, but a highlighting, a flavour of its distance from truth. Yes, it is a rebuke and strong denier of its association with the scripture or the Church.
John Calvin (1509-1564) was a Christian man who wrote during the time of the Reformation. He followed Martin Luther (1483-1546) and others in the timeline of the Reformation which began the Protestant movement away from the Catholic deviated example of Rome.
Basically, Calvinism is Augustine of Hippo (354-430) retaught. But the term Calvinism arose because Calvin wrote an exposé entitled the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This work became popular among the Reformed assemblies and the terms Reformed Doctrine or Grace Theology are synonymous today in regular language of Christian theology with the term Calvinism.
But what is it?
Someone might simply say it is all about the predestination taught in the bible. You think of predestination as valid, then you must believe in Calvinism, right?!
Calvinism is like a rubber stamp upon what Augustine of Hippo later wrote. For up to 400 years the early church universally held as orthodox the concept of free will. So did Augustine, until he later turned to and, introduced in the Christian world of theology, the idea that free-will is limited, to the fallen nature man is allegedly born with. A whole new departure from what the Church persistently held as true.
In harmony with the foregoing views as to human freedom and responsibility, conditional predestination is the doctrine inculcated by the Greek Fathers.
HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE page 165
by George Park Fisher DD LLD. T&T Clark. (italics mine)
Inculcated means it was the teaching urged or impressed persistently by the early Church Fathers. Conditional means in God's desire for you, if you work with Him it will happen; if you don't want Him, it cannot happen. Which, of course, is true due to His Self control (Galatians 5:23). Immediately preceding this statement, but after his various quotes from the Early Church Fathers, Professor Fisher states:
...the renewal of the soul is made to be the result of the factors, divine grace and the exertion of man's free-will. As a rule, the exertion of free-will, human efforts in a right direction, precede the divine aid, and render men worthy of it. It is a doctrine of synergism. God and man cooperate.
(also page 165)
Right there in Calvinism we have already 3 deviations from the theology of the early church. Deviations from,
2. Conditional predestination
Of course, Calvinism alleges to be taught in the bible. The scripture of Christians is said to contain Calvinism. So much so that Calvinists would say it is the gospel.
Far from it.
The bible texts used by Calvinists are taken out of context or mistranslated then, strung up with others equally wrenched from their hermeneutic whole.
There is not one tenet of Calvinism that is biblical. By tenet, the 5 letters that make up the acronym TULIP is in view: Total Depravity (or, Total Inability), Unconditional Election (or, Unconditional Predestination), Limited Atonement (though this tenet is not held by all Calvinists), Irresistible Grace and, Preservation of the Saints (once saved, always saved).
Calvinism is the idea that God decided everything that is to happen. God is said to know everything future because He has decided, He has decreed, He has ordained everything that comes to pass.
What we must prove is that single events are ordered by God and that every event comes from his intended will. Nothing happens by chance.
John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Ch. 16, Section 4
Which is contrary to scripture as Jesus clearly says,
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
In Calvinism all evil that happens is not just God's permission for it to happen, but God's very decree and detailed decision.
If God decreed any evil or sin to happen directly
then His kingdom is divided against itself.
In salvation of a man, God is said to do it all. There is nothing of man in salvation. It is all of God, by God and with God. This is also known as Monergism.
Instead, the bible reveals that God and man co-operate and work together which is synergism. Man repents and asks for help; God does the rest.
A group of people known as "the elect" are said to be a set number chosen by God from or before the foundation of the world. Only they will be saved and everyone else is God's decision to be and to remain lost, since they are not part of the elect chosen.
So that in Calvinism God respects the elect persons over everyone else.
This is in complete contrast to the truth of the bible where God is repeatedly mentioned as no respecter of persons.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.
2 Chronicles 19:7
For there is no partiality with God.
Indeed, there are no "elect" in the bible since the very word is a mistranslation with no historical validation for that meaning in the original language the scripture was written, but the Greek and the Hebrew word from which it has been rendered, instead, means "excellent".
Jesus did not say, many are called, few are chosen;
Jesus said many are called, few have mettle.
Paul did not write about the elect angels; Paul wrote about the good angels (though "good" here is a paraphrase of the more literal "excellent"; it is in contrast to the "bad" angels that fell by rebellion).
The historical evidence the Septuagint (LXX) gives us for the meaning of the Greek word EKLEKTOS leaves no room for the idea of "selected, chosen, elect"; it shows well instead the only meaning of "excellent, the best, tops".
Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) was a student of Beza who himself was Calvin's designated successor. When asked to speak in defence of Calvinism, in his preparations and fresh study of scripture, Arminius found he could no longer support it. This happened late in his life so that he began to lead an opposition to Calvinism but was out of time to himself provide a full explanation of his position. His followers known as Remonstrants, since Calvinism had become a strong standard, then set out to proclaim the main points of Arminianism.
The thing is, both Calvinism and Arminianism have strayed from the bible in their common affirmation of God knowing all future things, especially the elect who would be saved. In Calvinism it is because God chose these elect that He foreknows; in Arminianism it is because God foresaw those who would believe that God's future knowledge of this exists.
But how can God know you by name as to be saved from before your grand-parents birth, let alone yours, when He declares not knowing who was to be made king in Israel or where the temple was to be built, right up to the time of the exodus?
Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel.
2 Chronicles 6:5
Since God declares not choosing, not deciding these specifics, He learned of them after making those new decisions in history.
Notice the complete contrast with this Scripture to Calvin's quote above.
With these important milestones for Israel and mankind in view, and God yet not knowing them until after the exodus, God cannot be said to have chosen every man that will exist as to their eventual destiny.
God making a new decision during mankind's history shows us well that God learns of the new decisions He makes, when He makes them.
God is free to make new decisions. This shows us that God is not outside of time or exists in the Classical Greek idea of eternity. Indeed, the scripture is explicit that God is,
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
There is no "from" and "to" in a timeless eternity, such as is described by Plato in his Timaeus. An alleged "place" or "situation" from which God then creates time and must therefore know everything that happens in time. Yet there are Christians that view God like this and colour their reading of the bible by that. Augustine and Calvin approved of Plato.
God really means it when He says He had done all He could and could do no more to save the wicked in Israel:
What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?
God is not play acting and deceitful here.
A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. God has made no decision for any man to sin.
God's very nature limits His so-called sovereignty whereby He will not give grace to the proud, but only to the humble. And it is not God's will that man should walk in pride. It is those who have (humility, for example) who are given more and those, full of themselves instead, have taken from them what they had still, since no man exists without some means which had already been given them. And even those means will be taken from those who walk in pride.
For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
Jesus is quoted saying this in 5 places in the gospels.
In Calvinism man is said to have nothing of spiritual worth until a divine act of regeneration imparts such life.
Jesus instead said all "have" something, or else there would indeed be nothing to be "taken away". Jesus made clear it was because - the very reason - Pharisees and others like them, those hard hearted, could actually (really) repent, that he spoke in parables: there is no need to speak in parables if only the God breathed upon, are the only ones who can repent.
For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them.
Jesus takes for granted they can repent, they can "turn" here. They are able to do so. But they won't do so only because, when they hear parables, they are unable to see what is meant and it's very application to them.
In Calvinism man is dead and thus devoid of any spiritual life: whatever free will he is said to have is within the confines of a fallen nature he is born with and thus, totally unable to make a choice for God: man is born a sinner and guilty before making any choices of any kind. He is a soul with a body not unlike all the other animals. So for salvation to occur, a man is said to be gifted with spirit life and is thus born again, and faith for salvation is a gift of God at this time and only given to those whom God chose to save: the "elect".
Man is made up of a soul, a spirit and a body "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:23).
Man is formed in his mother's womb by God "Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?" (Job 31:15).
God makes no sinners.
Every man has a spirit from God "But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding" (Job 32:8); "Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it" (Isaiah 42:5).
Man is not a sinner until he sins in his youth, so that he is mentioned as "turning to his own way": man is not mentioned as beginning in Adam's "fallen" way, but from his own, innocent way: we "cannot go astray" if we already began astray, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6); "Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes." (Ecclesiastes 7:29) - we sin from youth "…the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth." (Jeremiah 32:30a); "For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day," (Jeremiah 3:25b); "…the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21b).
When Jesus spoke of the new birth - about being born again - he identified it as similar with the birth of the body, the flesh (John 3:1-8). The flesh is formed and exits the womb out of water. The spirit is also thus birthed, but out of Spirit. This is why it is called a 2nd birth (born again). So that man's spirit given him at conception (in my understanding) is formed within him by God ready for this birthing of or, indeed, completion, as a fully formed spirit: the new birth "…the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him" (Zechariah 12:1b).
What is heresy?
It is defined as a "belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine".
I mentioned above the universal orthodoxy of free will, of conditional Predestination, then of God being impartial.
How does Calvinism compare?
In Calvinism there is no free will, there is unconditional predestination and God is respecter of the "elect" over everyone else: a sinner is said to be so from birth and unable to repent unless given fresh ability from God given only to those He chose from long before their lifetime: they have no free will to act against their nature (allegedly fallen).
Yes, the historical and biblical pointers show Calvinism is heresy.
…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
If this article has helped you see the truth about Calvinism, but you would like help to process it or, you would like to make sure it is the truth indeed, then I recommend this following article and wholeheartedly also recommend you say and mean the prayer at the end, as the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and, asking His help will lead you to be guided into the truth:
MAKING AN IDOL?