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 man named Jonathan. He was not an Arminian when he wrote this in 2011, but he was searching the Scripture to have a more biblically grounded theology than what he left behind. I did edit one phrase for being graphic; I apologize to Jonathan for that. His unedited testimony can be found at the original site:
I grew up in the church and had very little convictions all the way through high school. During my sophomore year in college myself, my roommate, and a few other very close friends had a spiritual awakening of some sort. We were very impacted by the reality of God’s holiness and the seriousness of sin. At that point I cared for nothing but the pursuit of God. However, I knew absolutely nothing theologically speaking.
Another friend gave us a sermon by the now infamous Paul Washer. I had never heard preaching of that sort before and I was convinced this is what would “save the church in America.” Naturally, I listened to every message of his I could get my hands on. He preached a message on regeneration which, in my opinion at the time, explained my spiritual awakening. In this message he declared he was a Calvinist. I did not know what that was, but I investigated, and was then sucked into the world of the modern day neo-reformed movement. I was “Young, Restless, and Reformed” at that point, and everyone was going to know about it. I even preached this stuff at my college thinking I knew what I was talking about.
I became a Pre-Seminary student and began taking Greek and classes in hermeneutics. Once I entered the realm of Biblical Studies (not necessarily systematics) I discovered how little people discussed the issue of Calvinism or Arminianism. It just wasn’t that big of a deal in those circles. That was when I began to de-emphasize Calvinism, though I still adhered to it.
The first year out of college, and the first year in seminary, I had my existential crisis. My grandfather, who had rejected Christ on numerous occasions, committed suicide. He had been depressed for many years and finally decided he had enough. I intellectually adhered to reprobation though never considered it for longer than 10 seconds and certainly always in the abstract. The reality that my grandfather was determined to reject Christ, be depressed, take his own life, and spend an eternity separated from God… as a result of some arbitrary decision that, in some way, brought God glory, became utterly repugnant to me. I didn’t even have to think about it… it just was. I was no longer a Calvinist because I could not stomach the idea any longer. The implications had been brought to my front door in a very unattractive light.
What sealed the deal was when I listened to Sam Storm’s reasoning regarding God’s two wills. How can God desire all people to be saved but yet only elect some? He replied, “Sometimes it pleases God to eternally decree his own displeasure for the sake of the greater good, namely, his glory.” I thought this to be the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard and finally declared my break with Calvinistic thinking.
I’m now in the process of reconstructing my theology, which is spiritually taxing and mentally frustrating. I am not an Arminian, per say, though I would adhere more to the ideas of corporate election and the like. It has been a difficult road but I trust that in time, I will have come to terms with a theology that honors God and honors man.