by Dr. Tom Johnson
In this final article, I will relate some reasons why I believe that Calvinism’s TULIP doctrine is NOT supported in scripture. Let me again list the Five Points as defined by Calvinism:
Total Depravity: Calvinists believe that men are so dead in the trespasses of sin that they are spiritually unable to freely accept Christ on their own. They claim, due to Total Depravity, that God must directly intervene to save some men.
Unconditional Election: Calvinists teach that God intervenes by electing some men to be saved, and passes by the rest, the non-elect. Nothing that these elected (or non-elected) men could do would change their destiny. This is Predestination. They claim that God uses Predestination to save some men because men, due to Total Depravity, are unable to accept Christ on their own.
Limited Atonement: Calvinists state that Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for the sins of the elect only. They claim that Christ did not atone for the non-elect because they are unable, due to Total Depravity, to change their destiny.
Irresistible Grace: Calvinists say that the Holy Spirit’s grace forcibly overpowers a sinner’s depraved will and regenerates him. This regeneration provides faith to repent and accept Christ. They claim that regeneration must occur before faith can be acquired because men, due to Total Depravity, are unable to repent or have faith on their own to accept Christ.
Perseverance of the Saints: Calvinists claim that the elect will persevere in the faith and will die in a state of grace, due to Predestination.
Notice the common thread that weaves through the doctrine: the five points are based on Calvinism’s definition of Total Depravity. Even Calvinists admit that without Total Depravity, Calvinism collapses like a house of cards. But, is the biblical view of unregenerate man’s condition different from that of Calvinism? No and Yes! No, it is not different because Calvinism teaches that unregenerate men are depraved, and yes, it is different because Calvinism teaches that the result of that depravity is inevitable. To illustrate: the Bible teaches that unregenerate men are corrupt in all they do, their hearts are desperately wicked, they are shapen in iniquity, they do not seek after God, and they are dead in the trespasses of their sins. This is the essence of depravity. Here, Calvinism is biblical. Despite that, however, the Bible never teaches that unregenerate men, through their own will, are unable to accept Christ and be saved. In fact, it teaches just the opposite. Here, Calvinism is unbiblical. For example: in Acts 14:16, God commands all men to repent, not just some men. If only elect men can repent, as Calvinists claim, then God commands the non-elect to do something that He specifically created them not to be able to do. God is no deceiver, so all men have the ability or free will to repent on their own. Further, in John 5:40, Jesus tells religious leaders, “ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” He did not say that they cannot come to Him, but that they will not come to Him. If they did not have the ability to come to Him, as Calvinists claim, then Jesus played a cruel joke on them. He would have known that they could not come to Him.
In conclusion, Calvinism teaches that unregenerate men are unwilling and unable to choose Christ because they do not have free will, so the Holy Spirit forces regeneration on some of them (the elect) to make them willing and able to accept Christ; the non-elect are abandoned by God and end up in hell. That is not the all-loving and all-just God that I know from scripture. In contrast, the Bible teaches that unregenerate men are unwilling but able to choose Christ because they do have free will. The Holy Spirit entreats men to choose Christ; those that do not, end up in hell. However, it was their own free will that placed them there, not God’s abandonment. Again, I recommend that you read What Love is This? by Dave Hunt and The Other Side of Calvinism by Lawrence M. Vance, if you desire a more detailed, academic refutation of Calvinism.
|The Other Side of Calvinism, Revised Edition
By Laurence M. Vance