In this article, I will only cover how I became a Calvinist, what I believed in and how I got out.
Before I get into my testimony, I need to mention two important points:
First, I can’t wait until Jesus returns because He will end this on-going theological debate which has been raging since the early 17th century. Secondly, I am not posting this to say that those who are Calvinists aren’t my brethren in the faith. However, I will say that they were probably saved by the gospel first and believed in Calvinism later. As my contention is that Calvinism cannot be arrived at by rightly dividing the Word of God.
How I became a Calvinist
Back in 2008, I watched a YouTube video called “The Shocking Youth Message by Paul Washer”. The message gripped my heart so much that I started to listen to Paul Washer’s messages on a regular basis. The reason why his messages had an impact on me was because no one had ever preached the whole truth to me: I was never told what I deserved as a sinner and that Jesus Christ is the all sufficient Savior. I wasn’t even told that becoming a Christian meant that I was to be a walking martyr for Christ.
As a result of listening to Washer’s teachings, I was slowly introduced to Reformed Theology. It wasn’t my intention to become a Calvinist. I didn’t even understand what a Calvinist was when I was labeled as one. This was only because I believed that God is Sovereign.
The first Christian book that I purchased was “‘Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims’ by Daniel R. Hyde”. It helped me to understand the reformed faith. From thereon most of my orders were bought from Monergismbooks.com, a reformed faith bookstore.
I was encouraged to read a lot of Calvinistic books so that whenever I debated non-Calvinists, I would be prepared in a debate. My bookshelf consisted of 95% Reformed Theology books. It was also essential to own a DVD copy of “Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism (2004)” So I got myself a copy! My audio library was completely Calvinistic with very few exceptions such as Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Dave Hunt, Kent Hovind and Bob Jennings.
What I believed in
I was known as a staunch Calvinist. I contended for…
+ Total Inability: the teaching that humanity is spiritually dead from birth, as a result of the Fall. His will is not free; it is in bondage with his evil nature. Faith doesn’t contribute to his salvation since faith is a gift from God. [I was persuaded that free will is a myth by reading “The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther”.]
+ Unconditional Election: Before the foundation of the world, God preselected certain individuals unto salvation by his own sovereign will. He did not foresee who would accept or reject Him through the corridors of time. Man’s will has no bearing on God’s sovereign will.
+ Limited Atonement: Christ bled only for the Elect. Not a drop of blood was spilled in vain on those who are not chosen. Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save only the elect (those for whom the Father had given his Son).
+ Irresistible Grace: The Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He sweetly (and graciously) changes their will to be able to believe the gospel. They cannot resist His grace.
+ Perseverance of the Saints: All whom were chosen by God, purchased by Christ and given faith by the Spirit are saved forever. They will persevere. They will bear fruits unto salvation. They cannot lose their salvation. They are kept not by their own strength but by the triune God alone.
In conclusion, God in salvation will not fail. For whom salvation was intended for, for them it is secure and none can pluck them out from the hands of God.
How I got out
After I left the camp of Reformed Theology, I was asked multiple times and on different occasions, “Did Christ die to secure the salvation of only the specific group God the Father has chosen from eternity past?”. My departure from this erroneous teaching had primarily everything to do with the character of God depicted through the lenses of Calvinism. You see, who God is determines what He does and what he does has to do with who he is. You cannot avoid that by only asking one side of the question. If God is love but only chooses to save some, that makes Him inconsistent with His own character. Let me illustrate this point from Scripture:
We see Jesus in Matthew 23:37 saying,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
In debates, when I post this verse, I am told that this passage deals with Jesus condemning the Jews for rejecting Him. But the fact that “He is frustrated with the Jews, and wants them to come to him but they choose not to” is often downplayed or disregarded by my Calvinist friends. Notice that at the end of that verse it says, “and ye would not!”. So one must ask, if he has a sound mind, why is the immutable God expressing sorrow for a people He knows have been decreed by his sovereign will from eternity past to reject Him? Does God have a split personality disorder? Didn’t Jesus want to gather them all? Does Jesus show that God has two wills: one that desires to save everyone but the other only some?
So God has the power to save everyone but doesn’t do a thing to save them. Then He makes a scene by expressing His desire to be their God, knowing very well they can’t believe unless the Spirit of God gives them faith first so that they could effectually grab hold of the truth! And on top of that, God holds unelected sinners responsible for unbelief, and sends them to hell for eternity!
To strongly believe that the Holy Trinity is Calvinistic, the Holy Spirit should have written Matthew 23:37 in this way,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how I am only gathering some and I know that others would be unwilling to come to me, just as it was decreed to be from eternity past!”.
And there you have it, this is mainly the first reason why I departed.
In conclusion, I was debating a non-Calvinist at one time when I held firmly to Reformed Theology, I was told: there cannot be two truths! I agree.
[Continue to Part II]
For your own interest:
- 116 Contradictions from Calvinist
- What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt
- Facebook closed group: Dismantling the Heresies of Luther & Calvin (Read The RULES Before Joining: HERE)