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. This series (The X-Calvinist Corner Files) highlights one of the testimonies from the X-Calvinist Corner in each installment.
Today’s testimony is from a woman named Theresa:
Hello everyone! This is a bit long but trust me, I left out many, many details so bear with me here:
I was born again when I was seventeen years old (about twenty seven years ago). I attended churches through the years and interacted with Christians that believed a wide variety of doctrinal ideas (a little Calvinism, a little Arminianism, a touch of word faith a dash of dispensationalism, etc.) so I was a walking mixed bag of ideas without any real grasp of pure doctrine or really knowing exactly what I believed doctrinally. But, I have to also say that I, like many others, didn’t particularly find that bothersome. Somewhere along the line, probably about twelve or so years ago, I began to see the importance of doctrine. I realized that I really did need to know what I believed if I were to know Whom I believed. Also, I felt my spiritual life was stagnant and saw little if any fruit in myself and sensed a lukewarmness in me that bothered me a lot.
Somehow I came across the Reformed teachings (I think through RC Sproul’s radio ministry) and began to open my ears. I found his teaching clear, consistent, convincing. Eventually I purchased the book “Chosen by God”. Well, I have to say that I was pretty amazed. Sproul’s ability to take confusing concepts and bring them down to a laymen’s level of understanding fueled me to look further into Reformed theology. I was convinced about predestination and was overjoyed that I was learning “deeper truths” of scripture I hadn’t learned before. I loved that Reformed theology made everything fit like a perfect puzzle and saw it as the truth because of that. I even easily swallowed contradictions as they just did not appear contradictory at all. I saw Arminian teaching as full of contradictions and full of loose ends with no real cohesive doctrine. They just didn’t know what they believed, nor did they care to (that’s what I began believing). I was convinced that there were no Arminians who could successfully refute Reformed teaching because it was the truth.
I wanted to find a church that taught this way so I began searching. I managed to find a small (two couples besides me plus a pastor and his wife) group that met in a small day care for services on Sunday and began attending. I had a lot of questions and spent a lot of time on the phone and in person with the pastor and his wife. But the more they taught me the more the sweetness of predestination turned sour as these people (who I consider hyper-Calvinist) taught me more than I bargained for. I saw a disdainful attitude toward not only Arminians but toward even other Calvinists. They were associated with a Reformed Baptist church and I attended with them. They told me it was once Arminian and when the new pastor came in he brought in Reformed theology and there was a church split. They informed me in cryptic tones that among those who left, many died soon after (I realize now though that IF that were true it would not surprisingly be because the majority of people I saw there were older than Methuselah and would have died had they stayed!) I also sensed a cold, rigid, deadness…..I remember thinking “it’s like a tomb in here” with no feeling of life whatsover just a scary creepy fear like if you sneezed in the “holy sanctuary” God would strike you dead.
I began thinking more about double predestination and what that really meant. The picture they were drawing of the Reformed God seemed dark, cold and very distant (by using pet words and catch phrases like “damnable apostates”, “providence” rather than leading, “damnable heresy”, etc.) It seemed to me that God wanted to, in fact enjoyed, damning everyone and everything. I began to feel frightened of God and began searching desperately to disprove this horrifying ugliness. I won’t even go into all the details of the “hell on earth” I went through, to the point of being tempted to hate and curse God (Praise God He kept me from crossing that line!)
In the midst of all this, I tried attending my previous church and found that a frightening experience (especially after this couples damning attitude toward churches who didn’t believe like them). I saw them as being deceived and didn’t believe they even knew Christ, probably were “damnable apostates”. I tried getting answers from my Christian friends and family but they didn’t have a solid enough grasp of doctrine to be able to help (this is why it is SO important to “watch your life and DOCTRINE closely”) My sister started staying away from me as she felt “There’s something dark and cold about that teaching, Theresa”. In the process, I called this couple and told them I had to back away from all this before I had a nervous breakdown (they informed me at that time that the other two couples in the church were going through the same thing….that says A LOT!).
In the course of time I just came to a point where I had to shelve it all and go on taking care of my kids and living life. I left it to God to lead me into the truth or help me accept this. And over time the torment went away and I just accepted it for what it is with the realization that God is GOOD and if he predestined some to hell, who was I to question? I just preferred not to think about it.
Here and there I would take opportunities to read anything that might disprove this doctrine but, nothing. I didn’t happen to find people or books that had a good enough grasp of scripture or critical thinking skills to poke even a single hole in this system)……UNTIL this website (AND in less than a week of reading!!!!) and I wasn’t even looking to disprove anything, just reading various things and one link led to another! I really didn’t think anyone could convince me otherwise but I see people here who KNOW the scriptures and God’s character, have critical thinking skills and understand how to handle scripture intelligently. People who know the importance of doctrine yet are not Calvinist.
I have been convinced (once again) that man can have free will and it really is not a threat to God’s sovereignty. God isn’t insecure so he can allow his creatures freedom while He himself is still King over and above all and not the least bit threatened by free will. Makes me think of the definition of love in 1 Cor. and that is the summation of Him and to be perfectly those things is the essence of strength and vulnerability (meaning he makes himself open to us knowing that men can and will reject Him) which I think Calvinists wish to deny in God……he COULDN’T be vulnerable or He isn’t sovereign…….but He’s BOTH and that’s what makes Him WONDERFUL! Man! I’ve lost sight of this stuff!
My eyes are opened to the circular thinking, contradictions, word plays and bait-and-switch games that Calvinism really is based on. “Arminians” really DO have brains, and pretty darn good ones at that! I want to say for the record that when I informed this couple that I had to back away, after probably about a year, I found their number and called and left a message just to say hello and to return the books they lent me. They never called me back so I know that I am in the “damnable apostate” category now. BUT, I appreciate all the hours they spent sharing the word with me. He and his wife both are scholarly and intelligent and not everything they taught me was bad. I learned some wonderful things from them. I feel no bitterness toward them, rather the opposite. I feel so sad that they don’t know the sweetness of Christ but only fear and anger and a sense of duty (yes, they opened up and shared with me that they struggle with anger and don’t really have any assurance of salvation, ironic as that is one of the very foundations of their doctrine). I pray for them every time they come to mind that God will bring them out of that twisted system. Also I realize that not all Calvinists are as extreme as they and not everyone who accepts this doctrine goes through what I did. I thank God for this website and believers who understand that doctrine IS important. I am a good example of why it is important. His character is truly at stake here!!! Keep fighting for the truth!!! You’re helping people!!!
In the truth,