The X-Calvinist Corner is a page on this website that shares the stories of people who were once Calvinist but have left Calvinism for a more Arminian theology. Here is the latest addition to the page:
craigb said: Here’s the short version (I could write a book!)
HOW DID I BECOME A CALVINIST?
Just before Bible College, at the age of 26, I sat under a very articulate and persuasive Calvinistic preacher for about 7 months. Then, during Bible College, I started listening to John Piper and I was overcome by his convincing rhetoric. This heavily influenced me to choose Calvinism over and against Arminianism as the only legitimate biblical option. Piper became my hero – I read and listened to him intensively and he just drew me deeper and deeper.
WHAT DID I FIND MOST COMPELLING ABOUT CALVINISM?
The supposed coherence of the whole system helped me (at least for a while) to eliminate doubt and find certainty. Now, I see this as a trap – certainty can be an idol, whereas doubt can be a useful thing that leads to curiosity, creativity and real learning. So, initially, I found that Calvinism’s answers gave me a sense of security but eventually I found that this led me to being arrogant and suspicious of everything which was actually very counter productive for both personal growth and ministry. I should also add that the influential online new Calvinist community (e.g. The Gospel Coalition) made me feel like an insider – like I was part of something unique and special and superior – which is very sad, I know.
WHY DID I BEGIN TO QUESTION MY CALVINISTIC CONVICTIONS?
I encountered some mean-spirited non-Calvinistic fundamentalists and I had such a bad experience with them that they made question the whole idea “tribalism” in Christianity. As I mentioned, John Piper was my hero, and everyone knows that his two main heroes are Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis. I suddenly realised that what I liked in Piper came from Lewis and what I disliked in Piper came from Edwards. So, I started reading Lewis and found him to be a breath of fresh air. It was then that I started questioning Calvinism and I started to perceive a very unpleasant arrogance in the Calvinism tribe (even against Lewis who is lauded as one of their supposed heroes). Around this time, I loaned Piper’s TULIP videos to a friend and he returned them saying, “If that’s what God is like, I’d rather go to hell.” This really shook me. So, I eventually bit the bullet and read Roger Olson’s book, “Against Calvinism” and I was very surprised to find that he put together a good, well-reasoned and biblical case for non-Calvinism – and best of all, he did it in a very irenic way. To be fair, I tried to read Michael Horton’s rebuttal, “For Calvinism” but I found it to contain nothing I didn’t already know from what I’d learned in my ten years under John Piper. I simply found the arguments no longer compelling. This led me to start reading books and listening to podcasts outside of Calvinism and it woke me up to the reality that Calvinism isn’t the be all and end all of Christianity.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT OR OPPOSITION DID YOU ENCOUNTER WHILE QUESTIONING YOUR CALVINISTIC BELIEFS?
I found a great deal of support on the Internet but it wasn’t easy to find initially! One important starting place for me was Leighton Flowers’ Soteriology 101 especially h podcast titled, “The 5 Points That Led Me to Leave Calvinism.” This really sealed the deal for me, and I listened to heaps of his podcasts which literally cured me of Calvinism! That was just the beginning of a journey of deconstruction that I am now on and I continue to find support from various people and in various places on the Internet. I’ve kept my change quite private – largely because I haven’t needed to be very public with it for two reasons: (1) I emigrated to another country 5 years ago and so I haven’t really needed to engage the Calvinists in my previous country; and (2) I’ve decided to leave the church I’ve been pastoring for the past 5 years and move to another state to pastor a non-Calvinistic church. I did share my change with one Calvinist friend, and he was quite upset and dismayed. He gave me some reading material to consider. Thankfully, we remain friends – I am pleased to say that our friendship transcends our theological viewpoints. I have realised, having been a Calvinist for 10 years, that it’s not worth debating Calvinists (IMHO). A change in this regard requires a major crisis, which is what precipitated my change.
WHAT PRIMARILY LED YOU TO ABANDONING CALVINISM?
It occurred to me that in the Calvinistic system, the Father could conceivably unconditionally elect everyone, and Jesus could conceivably atone for everyone, and the Holy Spirit could conceivably irresistibly regenerate everyone – so why doesn’t the Father, Son, and Spirit do this? This question eventually bested me for two reasons: (1) The Calvinistic answer is wholly unsatisfying and in congruent with who I understand God to be as revealed in Jesus Christ; and (2) Scripture is abundantly clear that Jesus did atone for everyone – and, IMHO, once Limited Atonement falls, the house of cars cannot stand. And so, I now hold to corporate election, universal atonement, and I believe everyone is able to make a real choice (not a choice that has already been determined).
If you read all the way to this sentence, thanks and may I ask you to say a prayer for me?