We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why I Don’t Like to Discuss Calvinism

First, I want to apologize to one of my readers whose blog I commented on.  I am sorry that the comment string got hijacked away from the topic you presented, and devolved into a debate about Calvinism.  Perhaps I should have ignored the first comment directed at me, but I thought the statement the commenter made needed to be rebutted — never dreaming what would happen after that.

This blog is one of the several excellent blogs I like to follow, and the subject of an article was about a problem with the use of the word “Christians” because so many people believe there is a negative connotation in that title, so the suggestion was made that we use the term “Christ Followers.”  So I made this comment:

My only problem with the new tag of "Christ followers" is that many followed Him yet never accepted him as their Savior.

Another commenter responded with pure Calvinism, including that we need to proclaim the “doctrines of grace.”  She stated that the idea of “accepting Christ” is not found in the Bible.  In my response to her I proceeded to explain her error in that the Bible gives us the option of either accepting or denying who Christ is, and that John 1 even discusses the need to “receive” Christ — receive and accept being synonymous.

Her next Calvinist comment led to my responding with this:
My understanding of this statement is that you are saying that people following Jesus yet never accepting him "as their savior” is not something found in Scripture. The fact that people followed Jesus and yet did not accept the fact that he was the Messiah, the Son of God who could save them from their sins, is everywhere found in the Gospels. To either accept that Christ is the Savior or deny that He is the savior are the only two choices. There is no in between.

I even clarified that I was not agreeing with the idea of “accepting Jesus into your heart” nonsense.

She again said “accept Jesus” is not in the Bible.  Only now she continued with the Calvinist doctrine of the need to be regenerated because man is unable to make choices about God/Christ.  So I finally said her problem with my comments is that she is approaching them with a Calvinist view.  I stated plainly that we do indeed have a choice to accept or reject Christ.  She then denied teaching Calvinism.

After again explaining what I meant by my use of the word “accepted” in my first statement, I commented thusly, thinking she was being against the idea of accepting Jesus into one’s heart:
Now, the Scripture also says that a sinner can come to faith in Christ as his savior, while the Calvinist says he can't unless the Holy Spirit first regenerates him. That is a different subject and I don't want to pursue it here, but I'm trying to show you the contrast between what you are saying I am saying and what I am really saying.

Notice that I said that I didn’t want to discuss the Calvinism.  Besides, it was getting off the topic of the post from the time she responded to my first comment!  But from then on, she never went to the topic of the post, rather she continued to attack me as not knowing what I was talking about, which I find to be a typical response from Calvinists.  And then she posted a long comment with the routine Calvinist “proof texts” to demonstrate how wrong I was in my very first statement.

At that point I provided some Scripture passages and stated that the plain teaching of the passage did not support her claims, and re-iterated that she was teaching Calvinism.  I said that we can indeed choose to accept or reject Christ.  Then I sent her to my article about Calvinism to explain my stance, and I again stated that I did not want to continue the subject.

Ah, but she wasn’t through.  She declared she wasn’t a Calvinist (even though her entire comment string was Calvinist through and through with the “doctrines of grace” statement, the Calvinist bullet points and proof-texts, etc) and that she was not going to waste time reading my article —  and yet she still claimed that I refused to give her verses from the Bible to prove my claims.  So I made a short comment explaining that “doctrines of grace” is Calvinist, and I told her that my article gives her the answers she was demanding.

She again posted Calvinist “proof texts” to demonstrate man’s “Total Depravity.”  I responded that she was indeed posting Calvinist/Augustinian Reformed theology, and that I would stick to the Bible.  Then she stated all I presented was “childish name-calling and unfounded accusations” because I said what she was teaching was Calvinist!!!  Sigh.  If it talks like a duck….

I responded that I made my argument in my article and also demonstrated that her entire argument was point-by-point Calvinist, and explained that is isn’t “name-calling” to identify one’s theological perspective.

Ah, but then a Calvinist man posted a comment stating that I was posting “fantasy theology.”  He said that I was re-writing Scriptures, and that I have a stoney heart and am in open rebellion against God, with a need to repent— all because I refuse to accept Calvinist teaching!!!!

So I just cut and pasted the first two sections from my article to demonstrate to him the Biblical problems with Calvinist claims that we have no ability to choose for God or even to seek God.

So the lady then told me that all my passages were taken out of context and practicing eisegesis!  She finished off with this statement:  “Your problem is that you seem to think English was the original language in which the Bible was written.

Do you see how this whole conversation devolved once I denied the Calvinist theology?  I was first accused of name-calling, and then I am told that I think the Bible was written in English!!!  
Then I’m accused of being in rebellion against God with a stoney heart!!

The woman’s whole comment string was continually telling me how ignorant I was of Scripture. She followed that up by saying I was following Charles Finney and not Christ.  (Funny how when I pointed out that her theology was Calvinist that she said I was “name-calling” and yet she was able to say I was a follower of Finney — which anyone reading my blog would know was false).  Sigh.

I stated that to suggest I believed the Bible was written in English bordered on bearing false witness, and that I was never a follower of Finney.  To demonstrate the foolishness of her claims against my ignorance of both the Bible and proper theology, I gave a short testimony of my studies and asked her to not treat me like an idiot.

She said I never proved anything from Scripture with my article, that all I did was “rattle of some verses, out of context.”  Then she had the audacity to say that I was not treating her properly!! While just making basic responses from Scripture, identifying her theology as Calvinist, I have suddenly been accused of poor treatment of those I disagree with, and that I was bragging when I posted my defense against her claims of ignorance!! (double sigh).

At this point I stated that we both had had our say and that we should go back to the topic of the article.  I then closed the window, and then went back and unsubscribed from the comment string.

Well, I obviously didn’t unsubscribe quickly enough because one last comment was in my inbox - by the man who was so adamant that I was in rebellion against God.  With his long comment promoting Calvinism, he said that I was teaching that it didn’t matter how a person got to be Christian as long as the person claims to be one, and he brought in examples of the Pope, Glenn Beck, Rick Warren, and Billy Graham, and said my “pudding is rancid.”  I was told I was holding hands with Arminius and Pelagius (more common Calvinist assaults), that I had fantasies about man having a choice, and that I had refused to answer questions presented by the lady!!  Of course he also included that my belief was “untenable, unbiblical nonsense.”

The man’s last comment was this slam:
There must be thousands of people in your own home town who have not heard the Gospel from your lips, WHY? If you don't want people to talk to you like you are an "ignorant idiot" then don't talk like one. You have proven nothing but your ignorance of the Scriptures, will you prove the 'idiot' part also by continuing in rebellion?

So there are “thousands of people in [my] own home town” that haven’t heard the Gospel from me?  SO?  I’m only human and can only reach so many people!  But I’d bet my bottom dollar the same could be said of him!  It really is an absurd attack.  But he continued with me being totally ignorant of Scripture and in rebellion against God.

At no time in any of my comments did I treat anyone poorly, nor were there any “attacks” by me unless stating one’s theological system can be an attack.  And yet both Calvinists were insulting, and the guy downright hostile!

This is why I have said over and over that I don’t like to discuss Calvinism; they refuse to let it end, and it always devolves into nastiness by the Calvinists; I’m just surprised I wasn’t told I that I am a heretic as some Calvinists have done!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

Doug Evans said...

This is a really good example of why I refuse to say I'm a Calvinist, or Arminian, or pre-trib, or post-trib, or any other title... ok maybe a paeanophile (one who prefers hymns over Contemporary "Christian" Music), but other than that call me a pan-millenialist (we believe that God is in charge so it will all pan out in the end)

I can see positives in the works of Calvin and Arminius and Augustine and Pelagius but I don't follow any of them. In the end Paul had the very best say about the whole matter in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

And as I write this the thought came to my head that with these discussions (I pray we all hold them in love) we're preaching to each other, and not to the unsaved as we should be doing.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think we can have these discussions AND preach to the unsaved. I know I do.

Ron Livesay said...

Did you ever notice how there are those on both sides of this issue who will hide behind "I am not a Calvinist or an Arminian. I am a Biblicist." I believe people who say that actually believe it, regardless of which side they tend to take. It can become a way of putting down those with whom we disagree as being less biblical than we are. This just leads to pride, arrogance, and disunity. There are issues worth dividing over - the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the Resurrection, salvation by grace through faith, etc. Otherwise, the Reformation would never have happened.

While I personally lean quite far toward a "Calvinistic" view of salvation, I do not make it a point of fellowship or use it as an opportunity for name-calling, as the lady you mentioned obviously does. I know there are many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with me on this, but they are part of the family of God just like I am. I imagine some of my "Calvinist" friends would call me a compromiser over my position, but I can live with that.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

When a person uses Calvinist phrases and standard Calvinist teaching about proof texts, it pretty much sets them up as a Calvinist. I find it sometimes amusing when I'm told that the person isn't Calvinist - they are Reformed. Same thing

I know there are those who teach similar to Calvinism, such as Lutherans, so I don't automatically assume Calvinism.

However, on the other hand I have found that most Calvinists will immediately label anyone who doesn't agree with Calvinism as "Arminian".

I admit that Calvin had some good understanding of Scripture in many areas, as did Arminius. But just because people find for themselves what they believe the Bible to say which doesn't agree with Calvin, that doesn't make them Arminians!

I have never made it a point of fellowship and have some good Calvinist friends - and I read lots of good books by Calvinists.

Drew said...

If Calvinists are getting too embarrassed by Calvinism to admit to being Calvinists, I consider that a positive sign.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Long time, no "see." You gave me a good chuckle.

David Brainerd said...

Rather than saying that you "don't want to discuss Calvinism" just take a strong biblical position, so you can move on. Namely,

All Calvinists are going to hell because they blaspheme God and accuse him of being the author of sin and more foul than Satan. By denying freewill, Calvinism demolishes the entire point of existence, and this proves it was clearly engineered by Satan to maximize conversion of Christians into atheists. And the past 30 years and the rise of loudmouthed New Atheism corresponding to the rise of New Calvinism proves that Calvinist runs people out of Christianity and makes them atheists. So God has a special place in hell for Calvinists.

Then you can move on. And you don't have to go for the effiminate liberal limp-wristed "I don't want to discuss Calvinism" option.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


So all Calvinists are going to hell? Your whole attitude is why it is so difficult to discuss Calvinism. I don't see Calvinists as unbelievers - I see them as deceived with the burden of not being able to KNOW they are saved.

I do take a biblical stance, but to argue back and forth with a Calvinist gets one nowhere, is not edifying, not fruitful and a total waste of time

To not want to discuss Calvinism is NOT effiminate liberal limp-wristed. It's proper stewardship of my time.

Perri Nelson said...

Sounds a lot like conversations on another site recently, over leftist theology vs "fundamentalist" theology. The same tactics being played by a certain amoral "pro-lifer" espousing "choice" who doesn't need to play devil's advocate because it's his nature.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Perri,

Welcome to my blog! I've seen your great responses over there and have had a lot of good chuckles seeing the reaction. That individual has done the same thing on ever blog he's been on. I banned him from this blog and another one I used to have on social issues because of his nonsense. I only know one person who still allows him there.

Jesse said...

If anybody is looking for a detailed critique of Calvinism, then here is a good article:


I've also critiqued some Calvinist proof-texts for total depravity: