Why Address Calvinism?

Written on September 5, 2010

While I do not intend to make Calvinism a major focus of this website, I have decided to write this article to clear up some misunderstandings about why I (and a few others) feel the need to address Calvinism in the first place. Many in the church today feel that it is a wast of time to address this issue since many Calvinists are genuine Christians. In fact, I have come across many Calvinists who certainly do have a better handle on Christianity than the lukewarm church in our day. And in case you haven't noticed, some of the products that I recommend on my Recommended Products Page are by Calvinist authors, including Bob DeWaay, Gary E. Gilley, Andrew Murray and Mike Gendron. I may not agree with everything that these authors has ever said or written, but I recommend the particular products on that page simply because I feel that the majority of their content is worthwhile, and I don't feel that these particular products contain any error that is serious enough that they should not be shared.

Any disagreements that I have with any of those products are on minor issues, and I feel that they contain far more valuable info than anything (I also expect people to use their own discernment). So I hope it has become clear by now that I do not feel the need to break fellowship with Calvinists over my disagreements with Calvinist theology, as long as they are not being unreasonable about it or suggesting that someone is not a Christian if they are not a Calvinist.

So why should Calvinism be addressed if many Calvinists are genuine Christians who often have insights that are worth sharing with the world? After all, none of us may have all of our doctrine correct until we meet Jesus one day, and "see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).

First, I feel that many people are missing the point of why I and others have addressed these issues. One of the main problems is that many Calvinists are so zealous to defend the sovereignty of God that they forget the love of God. For example, some Calvinists have said that it is an erroneous statement to say that God hates the sin but loves the sinner.

In stark contrast to that view however, the apostle Paul wrote, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we where still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Does that verse not make it clear that it is sinners whom God demonstrates His love toward?

My main concern about Calvinism is that it maligns God's character and makes him look less loving than we expect each other to be, although that is not the Calvinists intention. In fact, I have come across cases where people have been turned away from God because of Calvinism. It plays into the atheists hands and makes them feel like they have a valid excuse to reject God (which they don't). So my main concern about Calvinism is that it diminishes the subject of God's love, thereby turning people away from Him. And that is the point which I think a lot of people are missing (both Calvinists and non Calvinists) whenever these issues are raised. In fact, it is the very reason that Dave Hunt titled his Calvinism critique What Love is This?! Yet people still seem to miss the point.

For example, when someone defends the biblical doctrine of free will (which Calvinists, Muslims and many atheists all deny), some Calvinists will jump to the conclusion that it is really their pride which they are defending. However, as I explained in my article titled Is Free Will a Myth, a lack of free will would mean that there is no just basis for condemnation, because it would make God the author of sin rather than man. That is the real issue, not pride! No free will would also mean no free will to sin apart from God, and that would have to mean that God is causing man to sin while condemning them for the very sin that He caused them to do! That is a gross misrepresentation of God's just character, and I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that the punishment for mans sin is based on what man has willingly rejected - not on what God has caused man to do. That is why I wrote my article titled Is Free Will a Myth?

While I commend Calvinists for having a zeal for the glory of God, I only hope that they will come to see that much of their theology has been turning people away from Him, because I know that is not their intention. They have a sincere passion to defend God's glory, and I believe that is where their zeal for His sovereignty is derived. However, I also think that they need to acknowledge this: The very fact that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8) is a major part of His glory. One of the main reasons that God is so glorious is because of how loving He is! So to diminish the subject of His love is to diminish the subject of His glory, and that is what I am so concerned about here. I believe that the subject of God's love is just as important as the subject of His sovereignty, and neither one of them should be diminished over the other.

Since I have acknowledged many Calvinists sincere passion for God's glory, I hope they will acknowledge that this is my passion as well, even if they disagree with what I am saying. I have no desire to cause division here, but only to see God glorified as many Calvinists do. Even though we may disagree on some things, I hope we can agree that we are both concerned about defending God's just character.