Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who is right? Calvinists, or Arminians?

I started this blog post a few weeks ago, but never posted it. I don't want to offend those of the Calvinist doctrine, although I believe they are wrong. However, I have had a rash of anti-Arminian comments made recently,and it isn't the first time. Even my best friend texted me this today: "I'll never understand why so many Calvinists seem to need to find fault with everyone who isn't Calvinist". Indeed. So I am going to discuss how I see Calvinism, and the problems I see with it. If you are Calvinist and can handle some criticism and honest questions, read on. If you're easily offended, go to the top of  your computer screen and click on the "X" in the right hand corner.......

I grew up in the Arminian theology, with Wesleyan and Methodist doctrine and beliefs. I was taught that according to the Bible, God loves the whole world, Jesus died for the whole world, and anyone who believes on Him, repents of their sin, and asks Him into their heart, can be a Christian. I was taught that Christians can fall away, that the Bible shows there is a danger of falling away and missing Heaven in the end, that Christians do not sin, at least habitually.

  I remember studying John Calvin in school, and most likely what Calvinism is all about, but never really understood it until I studied it in Bible college, as a wrong teaching.

  The first blatant Calvinism I ran onto was in a Christian fiction book. In it, a young man had strayed from his Christian upbringing and was involved with some criminals. The statement was made that his older sister wasn't worried about his soul, as it was eternally secure. I remember being horrified. I actually crossed out those words in the book, they bothered me so much.

  The next blatant Calvinism I ran onto was when I was working at a Christian bookstore. The subject of Ash Wednesday came up, and I asked why people do the ashes on the forehead thing. A coworker replied it is for the sins they have committed. I asked "what if you haven't done any lately?" I think I could have announced I am really a woman and got less shocked looks and reactions. That led to a discussion that I was outnumbered on.....my viewpoint being that Christians do not habitually fall.

  The subject would come up occasionally, so I did a scenario once that I have asked other Calvinists: say a young man becomes a Christian in his early teens. As he enters his 20's, life gets rough, he becomes discouraged, loses faith, and gives up. He gets into drugs and crime, and eventually becomes a serial killer. Do you mean to tell me God would let someone like that saunter into Heaven just because he became a Christian back in his teens. The reply I get? "Well if he goes that far, then he was never a Christian in the first place." And I always think "what a cop-out". The owner's older brother, who had a lifelong struggle with alcoholism, killed himself while I was working there, and she hardly looked sad. He was a Christian, in spite of the fact that he fell off the wagon, in spite of the fact he intentionally killed himself, she was sure he went to Heaven.

As the years have passed by, I have become more and more exposed to Calvinism. And I am just as convinced as ever that it is wrong. Just because scores of people believe something, does not make it right or correct.

There are drug addicts who once served God. There are guys on death row for murder who once asked Jesus into their heart. There are guys living the gay lifestyle who were - and some still claim to be - Christians. Some are honest and admit they couldn't handle the temptations and loneliness. Others claim the Bible doesn't really mean it is wrong to have sex with the same gender. There are atheists who were once Christians, but got disillusioned with God and walked away to not believe in Him. Some of the loudest atheist voices are people who once served God, but got disillusioned and walked away.
  And scores of other people who once served God, but gave up and walked away. It is unfathomable to me that people can walk away and live a life of sin, some of them actively fighting God and Christianity, and still have a home assured in Heaven because they had asked God to save them from sin years before. And it is unfathomable that God would pick and choose who He would offer salvation to, and as some Calvinists believe, send some, or all babies to hell. We Arminians believe babies and any children under the age of accountability go to Heaven....... and as I understand it, hardcore Calvinists don't believe babies go to Heaven. I even had a Calvinist admit that to me.

  We Arminians believe sin is a willful transgression of a known law of God, not an accidental sin we commit without even knowing it, not imperfection or mistakes, but a willful step we take to sin.

  Here are some problems I see for the Calvinist, none that have ever been answered well by a Calvinist:

1) If the lost sheep was in the fold and left it, but was still OK, why did the shepherd leave the 99 and go look for it? Does that story even hold meaning for a Calvinist? To the Arminian, it means if we walk away from God, we are lost, and He will come after us and bring us back to Him.

2) What does the story of the prodigal son mean to the Calvinist? If the son was lost - and the father said he was lost....he had been in the father's house, left the father's house and was lost, then came back to the father's house.... to an Arminian, that is a picture of a Christian who walks away from God and comes back. But if they died when they were lost..... they'd have been lost.

3) Why does the Bible say "he that is born of God does not commit sin, but IF he sins, he has an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ." If he sins.... sure sounds like it isn't the norm for Christians to sin, and that it is possible to live above sin.

4) We all believe God can save, deliver, and change the homosexual, the adulterer, the murderer, the thief to the extent that they quit their sin and don't do it anymore. If a murderer became a Christian and kept killing people, or if the thief became a Christian and kept on stealing, we would doubt their Christian experience, and rightly so.... so what sins can God not deliver from? What sins are OK for a Christian to do habitually? What sins can the blood of Jesus NOT deliver from? For if you believe we cannot stop from sinning as a Christian, then the fact has to stand that Jesus' blood can deliver from SOME sins, but not ALL sins.

  And here are some questions that I have, and have asked, but no Calvinist can answer them, or at least answer them well:

1) If God has already predestined who is going to Heaven and hell, why bother preaching? Why bother taking the Gospel to anyone, if they will be saved in the end if it is God's will?

2) If once you are saved from your sin, there is no way you can miss Heaven, why does the devil fight us so hard? And why are there so many warnings in Scripture about falling into sin if it doesn't matter?

3) The Bible says there is a way of escape from giving into temptation...... why bother putting that verse in there if we are going to do some sins every day anyway? And if we can't stop from sinning, is that verse even true??

4) Why would God say He loves the world and that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have eternal life, if He only died for certain people?
5) If a friend or relative who is a Christian goes back into the lifestyle they left - gay, drugs, alcoholism, adultery, thievery, etc - why bother praying for them? Why bother trying to reach them if they are eternally secure?

6) Isn't Calvinism similar to Universalism?  One teaches that God picks and chooses who will be saved and we have no choice. The other teaches we will all be saved and have no choice.

7) How fair is it of God to put people in hell for committing the same sins Christians are committing?

Some verses that shoot holes in Calvinism:

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV): 
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (emphasis on God wanting all to come to repentance, and that none should perish)

1 John 2:2: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 3: 4-7: Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
1 John 2: 1-6 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Romans chapter 6  -I don't want to paste the whole thing here, but the whole chapter is a good argument against Calvinism.
 I have seen people serve God, become discouraged, and walk away from God. Some have come back, some never have.
  And I could say more, but I honestly do want to present some questions and not just rant against a doctrine I don't believe in. I don't have all of the answers, and there are verses I am not sure how to interpret, but I'll admit that. I just believe Calvinism has too many holes in it, and it is not true to the Bible and God's love. I cannot serve a God who picks and chooses who He will save and who He will not save. My God will save any who come to Him in repentance. 

 I will close with this:
If at the end of time, I and other Arminians are wrong, there will be no lasting effects.
However, if Calvinists are truly wrong, there will be multitudes of people surprised at the judgement bar of God that yes, sinning does nullify your eternal security if you don't repent and change.

  Does that mean I believe Calvinists are going to hell? Not the ones who have nothing between their soul and their Savior. Not the ones who strive to live a sinless life.
  I had a conversation once with a Calvinist, and she said something that stuck with me. She said whether we are Calvinist or Arminian, we should all strive not to sin, and to be ready for Jesus when He comes back. 


  1. Completely agree with you! I had heard of John Calvin, but did not know what he taught until the other day. I was totally shocked that people could believe in a god like that. Never heard of the Arminian guy! Are you Arminian by default, if not a Calvinist?

    1. I think that is pretty much the case. Arminians believe in free will, that God offers salvation to all - not a select few, that we don't sin daily in word, thought, and deed, and that once you are a Christian you can walk away from God and miss Heaven.... most Calvinists believe the opposite.