"God preordained...a part of the human race, without
any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.
" John Calvin
What is Calvinism:
It is a series of theological beliefs first promoted by John Calvin
(1509-1564), one of the leaders of the Protestant reformation. They were
affirmed by the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619 CE) as
being the doctrine of salvation which is contained in the Bible.
It laid the foundation for Reformed Theology.
Calvinism is often summarized by The Five Points of Calvinism, which
are easy to recall by using the acrostic "TULIP:"
T: This usually stands for "Total depravity:" This is often mistaken to mean that humans
are all hopelessly, intensely sinful. Actually, it means something quite
different: as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God -- the Fall
of Man -- sin has extended to all parts of every person's being: "his
thinking, his emotions and his will." 1
Sometimes, this has been called "Total inability." This is the
concept that it is impossible for the ordinary "natural" human to
understand the Gospel's message. They are spiritually helpless. First,
God must first decide to intervene in the form of the third personality
within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the person is lost
Romans 5:12: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that
all have sinned." (KJV)
Mark 4:11: "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know
the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all
these things are done in parables."
U: This stands for "Unconditional Election." This is
the concept of predestination: that God has divided humanity into two
groups. One group is "the elected." It includes all those whom God has
chosen to make knowledgeable about himself. The rest will remain
ignorant of God, and the Gospel. They are damned and will spend eternity
in Hell without any hope of mercy or cessation of the extreme tortures.
God made this selection before the universe was created, and thus before
any humans existed. The ground or grounds that God uses to select the
lucky few is unknown. What is known is that it is not through any good
works on the part of the individual. It is not that he extends knowledge
to some in order to find out who will accept salvation and who will not.
There is a degree of tension within the Bible concerning precise
division of responsibility between God and humans on this matter. The
Bible does not resolve this issue.
Hyper-Calvinists believe that a person has zero responsibility for
their own salvation; it is all up to God.
Arminians teach that humans have free will and thus can accept or resist the call of God.
Romans 9:15: "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom
I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have
Romans 9:21: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the
same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"
L: This stands for "Limited
or "Particular Redemption." This is the belief that Jesus did not die
to save all humans. He only died for the sake of specific sins of those
sinners who are saved.
Matthew 26:28: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is
shed for many for the remission of sins."
Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also
loved the church, and gave himself for it."
I: This stands for "Irresistible Grace:"
This is the belief that every human whom God has elected will inevitably come to a
knowledge of God. The elect cannot resist the call.
John 6:44: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath
sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Romans 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are
the sons of God."
1 Peter 5:10: "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto
his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
P: This stands for "Perseverance of the
saints:" This is the "Once saved, always
saved" belief -- that everyone who has been
remain in that state. God will begin and continue a process of
sanctification which will continue until they reach heaven. None are lost;
it is impossible for them to lose their salvation.
Philippians 1:6: "That ye may approve things that are excellent;
that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ."
Romans 8:28-39: "And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the
image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he
called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also
glorified....Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or
peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to
come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
John 6:39: "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that
of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it
up again at the last day."
Objections to Calvinism:
There are many conflicting belief systems within Christianity which are
opposed to Calvinism:
Universalism: This term has many meanings. Today's most
common meaning is that all individuals will eventually attain Heaven.
None will be lost forever in Hell. Whether or not they have been saved
during their lifetime is unimportant; the number and degree of sins that
they have committed is also of no consequence.
Arminiansm: This is comprised of a series of beliefs which
were first advocated by a break-away group of Dutch Calvinists. They
teach beliefs that deviate significantly from each of The Five Points
That each person is not spiritually helpless. She/he has free will
and can choose to be saved
God selected the Elect on the basis of his foreknowledge of who
would respond and be saved.
Jesus died so that everyone had a chance to be saved. But first,
the person must choose to accept salvation.
Man has free will and thus can resist the call of God.
Arminians differ on whether a person can lose their salvation or
Some religious liberals There is little unanimity of belief
among this group, Many conservative Christians would call them
non-Christians or pseudo-Christians. Liberals place little emphasis on
the doctrines of salvation and
Hell. Some believe:
It would be irrational for God to create the universe, the Earth
and humans, and have predestined almost all of people to spend
eternity being tortured in Hell.
The concept that, because of a single act performed by Adam and
Eve, some 240 generations (6,000 years) ago, every human is now
intrinsically sinful, is irrational.
Supporters of Calvinism believe that individuals are sent to Hell
because of their beliefs: i.e. they have not trusted Jesus as Lord and
Savior who died for their sins. There are countries of this world who
incarcerate and even torture people for their beliefs. But they are
considered pariah nations. The best of humanity considers it immoral
to imprison or punish people because of thought crimes.
They believe that people have free will. We are quite capable of
resisting a call by God.
Calvinism asserts that God does not select some people to be the
elect on the basis of any virtuous quality or positive act. Rather it
is outside of one's power to become a part of the elect.
If a person chose to reward individuals on the basis of race, then we
would call that person a racist. If they chose on the basis of gender,
we would call him/her sexist. If the choice was made on the basis of
sexual orientation, she/he would be called homophobic. Modern ethics
condemn sexism and racism; many liberals consider homophobia equally
unethical. We don't know the criteria that God chooses. But it would
appear to be immoral by today's religious and secular ethical standards.
Some religious conservatives who are not Calvinists also object to
Calvinism. Feelings run high on this topic. Reviewing a book by Dave
Well known Christian author Tim Lahaye said that "...Calvinism
is perilously close to blasphemy."
Joseph Chambers, a pastor, author and radio host wrote: "Calvinism
makes our Heavenly Father look like the worst of despots"
Elmer Towns, Dean of the School of Religious Liberty, said "Hunts'
book exposes traditional Calvinism for portraying God in a totally
Michael T calls, a book reviewer for Amazon.com refers to
Calvinism as "A God-dishonoring scheme." He quotes A.
"...Such is Calvinism, the most unreasonable, incongruous,
self-contradictory, man-belittling and God-dishonoring scheme of
theology that ever appeared in Christian thought. No one can accept
its contradictory, mutually exclusive propositions without
intellectual self-debasement.... It holds up a self-centered selfish,
heartless, remorseless tyrant for God, and bids us worship Him."
Some of the other reviews of Dave Hunt's book are also
quite vitriolic. 3