Reasons to Remain a Calvinist

, posted by SEA

As much as I disagree with Calvinism as an interpretive scheme for understanding soteriology, there are worse errors to fall into. As an olive branch to my brothers and sisters in Christ, I’d like to offer some valid reasons I can think of to remain within the Calvinist camp.

1. If becoming an Arminian would really be a temptation to boast for you, then please remain a Calvinist.

Arminians are typically accused of holding to a view that allows us to boast, because we chose to receive God’s gift when others did not. Now, most people are grateful to receive gifts, and thank those who give them to us. But perhaps you’re the type who, on Christmas morning, jumps up after unwrapping presents and starts gloating about the great gifts you were smart enough to receive. Maybe you compare yourself to those who scorn gifts, and brag about how much better you are than they are. If this describes you, then I heartily recommend that you hang on to your Calvinism. It is protecting you against a temptation to vainglory that you evidently would fall into otherwise.

2. If you think that God empowering people to accept or reject Jesus somehow makes Him weak, impotent, or powerless, then you really should continue in your Calvinism.

Most of us consider it a sign of strength and confidence to give someone else the opportunity to accept or reject something–love, a job, a gift, whatever. In God’s case, it would be the offer of salvation. Giving us the power to accept or reject that gift shows us that He is sovereign regardless of what our choice is. His deity does not depend on controlling our response. He is God whether we acknowledge Him or not; He just graciously invites us into His family. But if giving us the opportunity to respond would somehow diminish God in your eyes–if God can’t be God without predetermining the individual response of each person–then by all means, hold tight to Calvinism.

3. If you actually think that God cannot remain sovereign without dictating the minutiae of every event that occurs, then by all means, remain a Calvinist.

Some–not all–Calvinists believe that God’s sovereignty necessitates an absolute determinism in which He predetermines every event that has occurred or will occur. We Arminians believe that God remains sovereign–that His reign will be established and His will will be accomplished–despite allowing room for creaturely freedom, or even rebellion against His plan. He is so great that creaturely rebellion against Him cannot possibly have any impact on His final plan–He is so great that He doesn’t need to directly control every event in the universe. But if you can’t get your head around this–if your view of God is so small that He must micromanage His creation in order to get His will done, then by all means, cling to Calvinism.

4. If you actually believe that accepting a freely-given gift of salvation somehow would make you your own “co-savior,” then please don’t abandon your Calvinism.

Personally, I can’t fathom this. I can’t imagine thinking, “Yes, God became flesh and Jesus lived a sinless life and sacrificed Himself, dying a brutal, torturous death, all the while restraining Himself from calling a legion of angels to rescue him; He died and then rose, conquering death and the grave, showed Himself to His disciples and empowered them through the Holy Spirit to share this gospel and pass it down the generations; God did all this–but I get credit too, because I accepted the invitation! I’m my own co-savior!” But since this charge is thrown against Arminians as the “logical consequence” of our soteriology, I can only conclude that that is precisely how many Calvinists would view their own salvation if they adopted the Arminian view. If that’s you, then please grab hold of your Calvinism and don’t let go.

5. If adopting an Arminian view of salvation would somehow make you really feel that salvation is “man-centered” rather than “God-centered,” then for God’s sake, hold on to your Calvinism.

If you can take a plan of salvation that was chosen before the foundations of the world by God, provision for that plan made by God, an offer based on that plan made available by God, our own ability to respond positively to it graciously granted to us by God–if you can take this whole thing and somehow make it “man-centered,” just because human beings are empowered to accept it and be included, or reject it and exclude themselves–if you don’t see how salvation is, from beginning to end, Christ-centered, then whatever you do, please do not abandon the Calvinism that cuts you out of any active participation in the process whatever. Better to think that salvation has nothing to do with you than to believe that somehow you place yourself in the center of the process simply by virtue of your acceptance or rejection of it.

So basically, if Calvinism would make you into the stereotype of an Arminian that you seem to believe us to be, then please don’t become an Arminian. You’ll only make us look ridiculous.

Keith Schooley

[This post was originally posted at Keith Schooley’s blog, but does not seem to be available there any longer.]