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1.13.2012

The problem with Calvinism

Every so often over the years I encounter extreme Five-Point Calvinists who aren't content to leave the topic at "polite conversation about a centuries-old debate." I don't think that the nuances of our theologies about an infinite God reflect on our salvation... but I do think that our attitudes about those theologies might be cause for concern.

Put bluntly: If you're convinced that you have God's mind all figured out, that's a frighteningly clear sign that you don't.

Roger Thompson (of Berean Baptist Church), when speaking on Galatians, happened to perfectly sum up why I get concerned about people who brag about their Calvinism:

"A small inaccuracy about the gospel is a lie about God and it steals your oxygen of Grace."

He goes on to explain the reasoning behind our shunning of grace:

"And we desert Grace for one simple reason: We want to improve God's idea. We believe it's inadequate. It's too simple, it's too open, it's too relational."

I don't pretend to understand why Calvinists reject the blatantly-Biblical notion of "God's free gift to all that some choose to reject" ...but the idea that such a Truth is too simple, open or relational (especially since salvation is freely extended toward "people who aren't like me") seems like a good candidate for an explanation.

Extreme Calvinists, of course, would challenge that they're "improving" anything and claim that they're attempting to clarify and profess the "true" gospel.

The problem is that their view contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture. Suddenly, God didn't love the world that He gave His Son -- He loves only the elect. Christ died, not for all, but for the elect. When Jesus is longing over Jerusalem, He really wasn't longing for them because he actually chose for them to not return to Him. When He wept for Lazarus it was a form of crocodile tears because the entry of sin and death into the world was part of His plan.

Throwing up your hands and declaring "It's a mystery!" doesn't work when you've already made an un-Biblical assertion about God and his relationship to human persons.

Yes, there's a mystery as to how and why people can freely reject a sovereign God. Let's not trash God's character and make Him out to be a liar by packing that rejection into His will.

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