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 Nathaniel:
My story isn’t too long, doesn’t involve too much technical jargon (as I’m relatively new to deep theological studies), and is relatively un-impressive. But, it’s a story nonetheless.
I was raised…Baptist, I will say. My family church hopped quite often, and most of the churches had “baptist” in the name (although I can’t attest to the theology) but the first pastor I can clearly remember the voice of is Chuck Swindoll, followed shortly thereafter by Jon Courson. I sat under Dr. Swindoll for a number of years in Texas before moving back to Southern California (from whence I came), and ended up going to Calvary Chapel, and that’s where I’ve been for 3.5 years solidly, on and off prior to that (whenever I would visit my grandparents in Southern California).
Calvary Chapel-ites (or as I like to refer to CC faithfuls as, Dovites) are decidedly Arminian, but I had never taken a soteriological stance. I just knew I loved Jesus and wanted more of Him, but I didn’t want to align myself with any organized theological camp. I enrolled, attended, and graduated from the Calvary Chapel School of Ministry, and during those two years I, ironically enough, ended up taking a Reformed stance. If you’ve ever read or listened to Chuck Smith’s stance on Calvinism (or pretty much anyone of the Calvary Chapel vein), you know why that’s ironic. They hate it. Through my two years of schooling we were taught the different soteriological camps, had studied church history and the synods and whatnot, but I was kind of tired of Chuck answering questions about Reformed theology with his chuckle, a quick verse reference that Calvinists had not read, and zero exegesis on the passage he referenced to. Or a verse that Calvinists lean on, and then zero exegesis on the passage he referenced to. I don’t know if I was genuinely restless or if I was just prideful (or maybe both?) but I ended up running into the all-too-welcoming arms of Reformed teachers and pastors.
I was definitely part of the YRR, as I am currently 21 years old and was 19 at the time, and I’ve got to say: everything about Calvinism appealed to me. The terminology, the emphasis on God’s grace and sovereignty, Tim Chaddick’s hair…it all appealed to me, especially as an impressionable youngin’. I felt I had “been saved again” as many Reformed teachers are fond of saying. All of my favorite YouTube sermons and books were of the Reformed persuasion, and thus I was persuaded, by the likes of: Tim Chaddick, Britt Merrick, Al Abdulla, Mark Driscoll, John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Wayne Grudem, etc., etc. Also, the music of men like Trip Lee, Lecrae, Shai Linne, Hazakim, Benjah and Dillavou, and others of the Reformed tradition had me nodding my head and filling my brain with Calvinistic thought. I’m not saying that their music is “bad” now, it’s better than garbage hiphop from the world, just not what I subscribe to anymore. Between the music, the pastors, the literature, the evidence from church history and Scripture, I was persuaded. And probably most applicable to myself: I wanted to fit in. I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines of theological debates and just resort to, “Well, I just love Jesus”, or be the proverbial nerd on the dodgeball team line-up, being picked last when it came to my knowledge of Scripture and theology. I wanted to know what I was talking about, fit in with guys that appeared to know what they were talking about, and take a stance. And ultimately, I would say that my desires now are similar, but different as well. I want to:
1. Glorify God in my speech, actions, desires, thoughts, and especially what I think of Him
2. Known God in a real and intimate way
3. Take a stance so that when I teach, I am not questioning the very words that are coming out of my mouth, but rather speak words that I am convinced have come from God Himself
4. Represent God in a way that is not disrespectful, questionable, or downright fallacious, but is instead accurate, glorifying, and Scripturally based. (Who I associate with is no longer on my radar, as “white-washed tombs” comes to mind in regards to appearance).
The fourth point really hit home with me when, during a rather deep theological monologue which my loving fiancée graciously endured, my fiancée told me that her God would not do what I was saying God does, and that she couldn’t support me during any ministry God put me in because she doesn’t support that view of God, and that she took God seriously and would break off the marriage if I didn’t represent God correctly. Now, I don’t like to change the way I think or view God based off of peoples opinions about my theology, but that really got me thinking. This was after two years of being a closet Calvinist and I was finally letting it all out, and she didn’t agree. I, of course, was angry, because if this is how God really operates, then I was in no wise going to change my preaching of the “doctrines of grace”. But I realized that I had been completely one-sided in my approach to my soteriological stance, and only…5 or 6 days ago now stumbled across this wordpress as well as evangelicalarminians.org, and not to sound Gnostic in any way, but…my eyes have been opened! I had never been told by anyone but my teachers who I assumed were biased that Calvinism had philosophical and Scriptural holes in it, and I had never been told by anyone, including teachers, that Arminianism wasn’t heresy! Not as it was originally taught, anyway. I have been open to the fact that Calvinism may be wrong for about a month now, but didn’t begin researching Arminianism until about a week ago.
I have quite literally spent hours and hours and hours pouring over articles and blog posts on both of these websites as well as Scripture over this past week or so, and I must say: it is a freeing, burden-lifting, God-glorifying truth that God has come to offer salvation to ALL men. And to know that I can freely proclaim the real, actualized love of God to ALL men without any kind of double-talk is overwhelming, and a couple times over the last week has brought me to tears. What a glorious God we serve!
I hope to learn more from wise men and women such as yourselves, and to represent God accurately to the world. I know it’s only been a week after having been Reformed for two years (I would NEVER have called myself a Calvinist during that time, btw), but I’m rather convinced of the Arminian position, although I have much more study and prayer to labor through, and it’s my prayer that other young people such as myself open their eyes to the fact that in our generation, Calvinism is not the only way.