Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Why I'm a Calvinist
I frequently introduce myself as "Reformed" and have even called myself "a card carrying Calvinist" in print. There are a variety of reasons why.
Scripture: In reading Ephesians 1 and Romans 8, it seems clear to me that God is completely sovereign over salvation, from call to the consummation.
The Reformers: I think they were right when they taught that God justifies the ungodly and he saves men and women who cannot save themselves.
Experience: I grew up as a non-Christian and spent several years in the Army living the Army life (I drink therefore I am). I was not a spiritual seeker, I did not want or search for God. I thought all Christians were paedophiles and hypocrits. I sowed the seeds of sin in my own heart and encouraged others to do the same. So when I became a Christian and heard of "total depravity" I did not take much convincing, I was sold. I did not wake up one day and say, "I have decided to let Jesus into my heart". God did not meet me half-way, he did not give me enough grace to overcome sin and leave the rest to me, and he did not woo me into faith. Rather, God took a spiritually dead corpse and breathed life into it.
On the TULIPS scale I'd go for all five, but I would very, very carefully define Perservance and Limited Atonement in such a way that probably pushes the boundaries of classic Calvinism. (a) In sum, perseverance is contingent upon faithfulness and people who profess Christian faith can indeed loose their salvation if they fall-away. But I believe that those who are elect will not apostacize. (b) Some of the proof texts for limited atonement do not work (e.g. Mk. 10.45), and several passages clearly give the atonement a universal dimension, e.g. 1 Jn. 2.2, 2 Cor. 5.19-21. So the atonement has clear cosmic significance and encompasses every living person in its sphere. Still, I think the atonement is only efficacious for the elect, otherwise with universal atonement you do get the problem of double-payment (i.e. if Jesus died for everyone's sins, then how can God demand a second payment/punishment at the final judgment?). The atonement is indeed limited, but the question is whether it is limited by design or effect (Charles Spurgeon is good on this point).
But to be Reformed is to be biblical first and foremost, sola scriptura, so if the Calvinistic system or the Reformed confessions can be shown to deviate from Scripture, well too bad for them.