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 Lionel Woods:
Here are my brief responses, we can get into details later, but for the most part I agree with many above.
How did you become a Calvinist?
I became a Calvinist through the preaching of the John’s (MacArthur and Piper). Through their preaching ministry I was introduced to the Doctrines (at least systematically). I came to them through a rejection of the Hyper Charsimatic/WOF type churches. I was involved in a few Hyper Charismatic and one WOF church and this pushed me into the arms of the John’s and eventually led me to read all the books on the Doctrines of Grace and so forth. I later became a Monergism fiend and almost a Presbyterian but couldn’t go that far. So I was introduced through them.
What did you find most compelling about Calvinism?
The very simple answers and responses and the fact that those who preached and taught it were very knowledgeable of the Scriptures and very good exegetes. I was impressed by the eloquence and the historicity of the system also. It felt good being in the know, you know being different and smart and it easily began to puff me up, that changed but that was very compelling. Not to mention the answers for John 10, Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 1 (not to mention a few times in Acts) were very persuasive. But mostly it was the nice packaged, systematic approach to Salvation that really hooked me. After that it was just the exercise of proof texting when something contradicted that soteriological system.
Why did you begin to question your Calvinistic convictions?
To take Calvinism to its necessary end FAITHFULLY you really have to believe like a Hyper-Calvinist. Though many would say they are not. At the end of the day, we have to ask, does it really matter if we evangelize or not from a proclamation perspective. If all Christians failed to evangelize one more day, those who are saved will be saved and those who are lost will be lost, thus investing in the gathered church is what is important and not so much the proclamation of the Gospel (in deed and word). Many Calvinists would say “no way” but to be 100% truthful it really doesn’t matter because the elect does not change!
Not to mention I struggled with the irresistable grace and eternal security. There are way too many scriptures that outright reject such notions, though I am still a preacher of security but the condition is a real condition and that condition is perseverance and a continual lively faith!
Not to mention the proof texting can get out of hand and I really believe in my hearts of hearts that the Gospel is a real proclamation which gives man a real choice and I don’t believe that choice robs God of any of His glory no more than any other choice. Also after reading many of the Anabaptist, it seems that Calvinism is not void of some political-religious influence as it is shaping the governmental horizon in Geneva and abroad.
What kind of support or opposition did you encounter while questioning your Calvinistic beliefs?
There is still some toughness as it relates to Romans 8-11 (8:27-30 or so), Ephesians 1 and a few other portions of scripture; however, at the end of the day, that is a minority of scripture compared to the public proclamation and what responsibility that proclamation lays at the feet of the hearers! I also began to meet some brothers like Arminian today who have very persuasive arguments and some brothers from other movements who are beast of Exegetes (Boyd comes to mind).
What primarily led to you abandoning Calvinism?
The Gospel being a real opportunity. The fact that my zeal began to be zapped to proclaim this Gospel and the fact that there are way too many unanswered questions to speak in such definite terms.