I am at the end of the road with the issue of calvinism in the SBC.
I do not believe the Bible comes close to teaching that God hand picks who is and is not saved. I do not believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus died for a select group of individuals and that eternity is reserved for “God’s four and no more.” I do not believe the Bible teaches that man is dead in his trespass and sin to the extent that he is totally incapable of responding to God’s revelatory work found in the Scriptures nor His reconciliatory work rooted in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an unbeliever. I do not believe a lost person must be “born again” so that he MAY repent and then exercise believing or saving faith to become part of God’s forever family. I do not believe the Bible ANYWHERE teaches that God’s call to salvation is an irresistible call that the lost person automatically responds too… like Lazarus did when Jesus called him by name to come out of the grave.
I do not understand how anyone who reads the Bible can come to conclusions similar to these. I really cannot understand that.
I have been asked the question on a number of times, “Do you believe that Calvinism is not the gospel? Do you believe that Calvinism is heresy?” In all fairness, calvinism cannot be heresy if one uses the following definition of heresy, “Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (esp. Christian) doctrine.” Calvinism is OBVIOUSLY in line with orthodox religious belief and as such cannot be heresy, using THAT definition. However, if one were to define heresy as being contrary to what the Scriptures teach then I would answer with a resounding “yes”. Does calvinism promote the gospel? Yes it does in that it is firmly based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. However, it goes beyond what the gospel declares in that it seeks to establish a select group that is able to receive and respond to this gospel.
Calvinism seeks to establish God as being solely responsible for those who are and are not saved. According to the consistent calvinist, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation not for everyone who believes, but for all that God gives the ability to believe. Apart from God’s efficacious grace and His effectual calling, NO ONE WILL BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.
The calvinist will argue that they are evangelistic since they do not know who is and is not the elect and so they preach the gospel to everyone and leave the choosing up to God. In all fairness, that is what every preacher does. I do not know a preacher who believes that the words he speaks either in a sermon or a one on one gospel presentation has any salvific power. God is the ONE who saves every single time. Here is the great news as I see it; God can still save individuals who listen to a calvinist preacher; most of them preach the Word with the possible exception of dwelling on the DOG exclusively, which most do not openly do because of the repercussions and ramifications of doing so in most Southern Baptist Churches. One MUST also understand that God can save someone listening to Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen as well IF they present a gospel message along with the rest of what they say. Fortunately for the lost, God can and does use inept presentations of the gospel to touch lost men’s hearts and bring them to repentance and reconciliation.
The issue is the underlying theological position that calvinism posits. It simply amazes me that anyone can read the Bible and come to the conclusion that God requires repentance so that an individual CAN be forgiven and be saved but the only way one CAN repent is if God gives him the ability to do so. It amazes me that anyone could teach that God requires faith on the part of the lost person to be saved but the caveat here is that God is the only ONE who can give the lost person that faith. If God does not give the unregenerate the faith to be saved then he CANNOT be saved.
This is like telling a dying man to drink but I am holding the cup that has the life giving water that he needs to live. If I do not give it to him, he dies. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone, especially God, could declare that this kind of message is “good news” to the world. Calvinism posits that the gospel is good news for the elect, those whom God has chosen to saved. Many will go on to say that the gospel is even “good news” to the non-elect in that His glory is magnified as those NOT CHOSEN are condemned to hell. The interesting caveat here is that the ones making that pitiful statement ALWAYS use THEM to describe the non-elect. There is no reference to any possibility of THEM being in danger of eternal damnation; it is always THEM.
One final note. If calvinism were correct and God hand picks who is and is not saved, then Christianity is reduced to being an extension of Judaism. The Jews believed then and still do that they are the “chosen ones of God” because they are born physically into the Jewish family. God most certainly is the One responsible for a person being born a Jew. That is an undeniable fact. If calvinism is correct, then a Christian is born again because God chooses to save him, which is no different than God choosing to make someone a Jew.
The Scriptures are clear; the true chosen one in God’s eye is not the one born into a family, the one who is truly chosen is the one who by faith repents and believes God as Abraham did and follows Him.
Calvinism as far as I am concerned is an abominable theological position.