Embracing Calvinism….Then Rejecting It

This (Classical Arminianism: Fallen From Calvinism) was posted over at Classical Arminianism. In the post he describes his “conversion” to Calvinism and what led him eventually to reject it and revert back to Arminianism. It is interesting to read how someone goes through this. He does make the point that he went beyond Calvinism into Hyper-Calvinism.

I read this post with much interest because I am at a place where I am considering accepting Calvinism myself. I have not yet embraced Calvinism. The one thing holding me back is Limited Atonement. I am still having trouble accepting that Jesus only intended to die for the elect and not everyone. I understand the logic behind it in the Calvinistic system of theology but it is still hard to accept.

About these ads

21 Responses to Embracing Calvinism….Then Rejecting It

  1. Brett says:

    You are at a point few people reach…

    You believe it with your head, but are struggling with your heart. The doctrines of grace are accepted mentally before they are accepted emotionally.

    ..which, of course, means that you are a goner. Welcome to the air the Reformers breathed…ah, fresh, invigorating, life-changing.

    Like

  2. Brett says:

    Oh, an one more thing…

    GO VOLS!!!

    Like

  3. David Hewitt says:

    Why is it hard to accept do you think?

    Like

  4. David Hewitt says:

    heh. I wrote that before seeing Brett’s comments. What he says indeed is true.

    SDG,
    dbh

    Like

  5. David Hewitt says:

    As I read what the guy over at Classical Arminianism said, I noticed one of his problems was that he began to move over into hyper Calvinism, as you indicated. His reaction was to move into the Arminian camp rather than to correct his human logical conclusions that evangelism wasn’t necessary, conclusions that of course are not supported by Scripture.

    However, (and some wrongly say that this is an exclusively hyper-C belief) it seems that the main turning point was that he couldn’t accept that God would choose to save some and not others.

    Though I did not necessarily have to abandon Calvinism in order to amend my heart and theology, I concluded that if the underlying theme of Calvinism was the defining of God’s Sovereignty in terms of those whom He intended to save and those whom He intended not to save, then I would, of necessity, have to abandon Calvinism once and for all.

    Of course, God’s sovereignty extends into salvation, but is not exclusively limited to it. The thing is, the writer’s denial of God’s work in election in this manner was an embracing of other human logical (perhaps even emotional) conclusions, again that are not supported by Scripture.

    In essence, he exchanged one set of fallacious conclusions (those of hyper-Calvinism’s anti-evangelistic tendencies) for another (denial of the biblical doctrine of election). Further, he included in his post a denial that God does all things for His glory though he misses a part of it:

    And if that was the truth, then I was dealing with a God who is passionate for His own glory rather than passionate for the souls whom He created in His image who will endure hell forever merely because He refused to save them.

    Of course, God does have passion for His people that He is saving. He has a desire to save a lost, and a desire to show love and goodness to them (I’m writing a book that talks about this a bit). However, first and foremost is His glory above all (Isaiah 48 comes to mind, as does Ezekiel 36). A fuller understanding helps alleviate error. :)

    SDG,
    dbh

    Like

  6. Askelon says:

    I wholly agree with you, David. Either extreme rejects Biblical truth. The Bible is clear that God is in ultimate control and he has chosen us; but he doesn’t exclude anyone either, and he has ultimately given man free will to choose. It is hard for us with our presently finite minds to comprehend how God can ultimately be picking us and we also choose ourselves, but this is the way the Bible shows it to be. We are the elect, and yet we have been elected because we have chosen to follow God, yet we have chosen to follow God because He has chosen us to choose this…the cycle goes on and on. We have free will AND God has control. Again, it is hard to understand because we are not infinite like He is. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but it was Pharaoh’s choice not to let the people of Israel go.

    Like

  7. Tom says:

    Brett said

    You are at a point few people reach…

    You believe it with your head, but are struggling with your heart. The doctrines of grace are accepted mentally before they are accepted emotionally.

    ..which, of course, means that you are a goner. Welcome to the air the Reformers breathed…ah, fresh, invigorating, life-changing.

    I think you are correct, I am not having a problem with what is in my head but it is difficult to accept it in my heart.

    Is this a common occurrence? If so, I wonder why it is like that. It seems that if we know something in our mind we should be able to accept it in our hearts. Maybe I am being a bit naive.

    Like

  8. David Hewitt says:

    Askelon:

    We have some points of agreement, but not as many as you might think. ;)

    SDG,
    dbh

    Like

  9. Ryan says:

    umm… yeah. sounds like what I went through. it realy really helped me to stop putting a label on it such as calvanism or arminianism. The way i see it is this… and this is just me personally but i try to stick to the bible( im not saying at all the calvanism is not biblical). I’m just not into the whole label system. you can call my theology reformed but i’ll say that it is biblical. this helpped me a lot in the area of limited atonment and stuff. go explore it for your self with pure prayer and reading of scripture and nothing else. this may help solidify it in you heart if it is biblical. if it is not then God will show you whats right because sound doctrine is important to living a life worthy of the gospel.

    Thats just my take on it.

    Like

  10. Candace says:

    David,

    I am a reformed believer. Just browsing the net and saw your post where you asked why is it so hard for us to emotionally accept the idea of limited atonement, why it’s so difficult for our hearts to accept. My thought is that it is because of the severity of our sinful nature. We are so self-centered that even when our minds come to understand this truth of limited atonement, our deceptive, sinful hearts STILL resist it. We are so man-centered in our hearts, we don’t want to acknowledge all the implications of God’s sovereignty, even when they pertain to salvation. Just something to think about.

    Like

  11. Tom says:

    Hi Candace,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comment. I am still wrestling with limited atonement myself but I can see the way it fits into the system.

    Like

  12. Pastor John says:

    hi tom,
    thanks for the honesty of your post. i grew up with arminian theology without knowing that was what it was called. then i went to college and was presented with reformed theology. i resisted. hard. i fought and yelled and griped and complained. but in the end, it wasn’t the system the got me – it was scripture.

    i was trying to reconcile what i believed with what God’s word said (particularly Ephesians 1) and i was coming up short. in the end, my mind did go first and eventually my heart followed. i think this is actually the biblical way of things. God is revealed to us, we understand it with the mind, and then are moved to respond with our affections and actions. so, don’t think there is something wrong with you! ;-)

    again, i was like you in that limited atonement was a hold up. again, though, scripture convinced me. read John 10. Jesus himself clearly says he is the good shepherd who dies for his sheep. then he tell those angered at him that they do not believe BECAUSE they are not his sheep. two things seem to be indicated here. first, God had left them in their sin and so they remained unwilling to believe (election). second, Jesus teaches he dies for some and not others (limited atonement).

    now, that being said, i think that is only half the picture. i follow d. a. carson, bruce ware, mark driscoll, and others who argue that the design of the atonement was complex. there is a since in which Jesus died for the sins of the world – a cosmic purpose of reconciling the world to God. at the same time though, i believe his death only brings atonement for the elect. that is, his death to make salvation possible, but actually secured it – thus only those who believe receive saving benefit from it. some have called this being a 4 1/2 pointer. i consider myself a 5 pointer, but think that the L in tulip only presents part of the picture. does that make sense?

    finally, if you want help bringing your heart along to match your theology listen to message by c j mahaney from http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org and john piper from http://www.desiringGod.org (both are free!)

    blessings,
    john

    Like

  13. Pastor John says:

    p.s. nice website!

    Like

  14. Tom says:

    Pastor John,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for the comment. I have realized through my studies that I actually was always a 4 pointer. It took me about a year or year and a half to come to this realization. Maybe I am just hard headed – I know my wife would agree with that.

    At this point I would be surprised if I don’t come to embrace Limited Atonement. One of the things slowing me down is that I want to be able to anticipate and be prepared to answer the inevitable questions that will arise. If I cannot answer the questions people bring to me then it hurts my witness and also my confidence in what I have learned…..I don’t want either to happen.

    Thanks for the references. I am very familiar with John Piper and listen to him fairly regularly. I am not familiar with CJ Mahaney so I will check him out.

    Like

  15. Anonymous says:

    Askelon said:
    “We are the elect, and yet we have been elected because we have chosen to follow God, yet we have chosen to follow God because He has chosen us to choose this…the cycle goes on and on. We have free will AND God has control. ”

    Comment: We chose it because God chose us to choose it. – How is that “free will”? I think I can see why it is “hard” for you to understand it.

    Like

  16. Bill says:

    Askelon said:
    “We are the elect, and yet we have been elected because we have chosen to follow God, yet we have chosen to follow God because He has chosen us to choose this…the cycle goes on and on. We have free will AND God has control. ”

    Comment: We chose it because God chose us to choose it. – How is that “free will”? I think I can see why it is “hard” for you to understand it.

    Like

  17. Dudley Robertson says:

    Why do we have to be either?

    The internal logic of both systems is complete. You can not challenge the logic therefore if you think logically you will be drawn to the system that seems most logical to you. It is entirely a mind game. Both systems rest on the Bible so once you have accepted the logic the Bible then supports those conclusions.

    The falicy in all this is that we must choose among two 16th century phylosophies both of which narowly interpret the Biblicle record and in so doing miss what Christianity is really about: “Christ in you the hope of Glory.” We can maintain our orthodoxy while safely rejecting these systems.

    May I suggest you look at what Dr. James Fowler has written (christinyou.net) on this subject. HIs approach emphasises Christ plus nothing. He presents a strong argument for the living (ontic) presense of Christ in our lives that is sufficient for our living out God’s expression of His character through us. He chooses a Christocentric election and recognizes an ability in man to freely choose what spiritual power he will be under (he rejects libertarian free will).

    He is well worth a read and his writting is extensive.

    Like

  18. Tom says:

    Dudley,

    All people have a theology that they follow though some just don’t realize it. In no way did I mean to suggest that there are only two and that people must choose one of them. Having said that I think we must focus on what the Bible teaches…Sola Scriptura. If we follow that our theology will conform to that which God wants us to have. I personally have come to the conclusion that the theology of the Bible is best represented by the reformed position.

    Like

  19. Dudley Robertson says:

    Well put.

    My personal problem is that most theological positions lay claim to Sola Scriptura. I too would reject one that did not make its sole basis the Biblical record. I respect your conclusion concerning the Biblical record and your choice of reformed theology. Been there done that for me. The logic of reformed theology leads naturally to hyper calvinism and I don’t find Biblical support for this pisition and I haven’t figured out logically how to stop before I get to the hyper part.

    Arminianism leads logically and naturally to Christian humanism and a works based religion that puts salvation at risk. Again, not a Biblically sound doctrine.

    I have come to appreciate a theology that is sola Christos. Christ in me the hope of glory.

    Thanks for the respnse. I appologize for putting words in your mouth.

    Like

  20. Jonathan says:

    tom,

    I think it is great for you to be in the place that you are in. I myself have not accepted everything that Calvanist believe and even with some of the points of calvanism that I do believe, I have some reservations. I would like to quote you if I could,

    “I am still having trouble accepting that Jesus only intended to die for the elect and not everyone.”

    Many times you hear from Calvanist that Christ died ONLY for the elect. Now I know I am going to get some responses to what I am about to say, but the truth is that Christ did die for our sins, but not only ours but for the sins of the whole world (according to 1 John 2:2). I understand the implication, and I understand the complication that Calvanist have with this (Esp. in reference to the Will of God – singular). Look, I am not going to try and sway you one way or another, I just wanted to respond to your delima. I believe that the correct stand is somewhere in the middle.

    Enjoy the journey,
    Jonathan

    Like

  21. Tom Shelton says:

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for the encouragement and thanks for visiting my blog. I originally wrote this post nearly 1.5 years ago and since then I have completed my “journey”. I am now a full 5 point Calvinist. It took a great deal of study and prayer but God allowed me to reach my current understanding. I am still studying and God is continually refining my position. My goal is to seek God first and let His word guide my theology. If you do the same, even though we may come to different understanding, God will still be glorified and that is what we ultimately need to see happen.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 418 other followers

%d bloggers like this: