Monday, February 18, 2008

Why I Am Not A Calvinist (Part 2)

Again, this is not a confession that I do not adhere to the doctrines of grace. As far as my theological beliefs I am indeed a Calvinist. This series, however, is exploring the truth that even though in my soteriology I may be Reformed, in my practice I am not certain I deserve such a title. Today we will explore the doctrine of Total Depravity and its implications.

In the Westminister Confession (Chapter 9, Section 3) it states, "Man, by his fall Into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”

In other words because of the Fall, every man born into the world is born into a state of sin. Because of this we have lost all ability of our will to do any spiritual good. This means that because our hearts are so corrupt, we will NEVER desire, for the correct reasons, to do that which is spiritually good. Nor will we ever desire to take hold of Christ or venture out in faith. It is because of this inability and corruption that "no man will come to the Father unless drawn" (John 6:44). Without Jesus we are altogether opposed to the good. We are dead in our sin. We cannot convert ourselves, nor even put ourselves in the place for such a thing to happen.

John Piper builds upon this by showing four ways in which man's depravity is total:
  1. Our rebellion against God is total. Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.
  2. In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.
  3. Man's inability to submit to God and do good is total.
  4. Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.

Everyone of these I agree with, doctrinally speaking. However, I am left to ask myself whether or not I REALLY believe what this says. What are the implications of such statements?

  • Whenever I preach the gospel (whether in personal evangelism or corporately) the only hope that my hearer(s) have of responding to the gospel is the sovereign work of God in regeneration. Therefore, I ought to spend much time in prayer. I do not.
  • No matter how catchy, exegetical, expository, or true my sermons are they will never convert a person unless the Father draws them. Therefore, I ought to faithfully proclaim the word of God and leave the results to God. I should never be discouraged but only driven to more prayer. I get discouraged.
  • There will be no "glad submission" nor a treasuring Christ without the Spirit's work. I should never be suprised when our students do not treasure Christ as they ought. Yet, I am astonished.
  • The only hope that we have of not being cast in hell is the work of Christ and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, no outreach program, no purpose statement, no mission project, no books given to the community, nothing but God will bring about conversion. I might get this one. But, again, my soft knees reveal that I do not.
  • Unregenerate men will not do good. Therefore, it should not come as a suprise that our politicians are passing laws to allow abortion. The school shootings should not suprise us, nor should we think they will change through policies. It does not matter if Mike Huckabee, Barak Obama, or even the Apostle Paul is the President of the United States. Unless the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of people there will still be abortions (though maybe illegal), there will still be school shootings, there will still be immorality in our land. No political strategy or political leader can save us from the tyranny of our own hearts. I think I actually get this one. So maybe I am actually 1/40th a Calvinist in practice.
  • It is natural for people to be jerks. Therefore, I should not be offended (at least as deeply) when people are doing what they do by nature. Yet, I find myself not liking people. I ought to instead pity them and pray for them.
  • This depravity is so deep and each act of rebellion is deserving of hell. That means that every moment that a sinner stands outside the blood of Christ he is heaping sin upon sin to his account. He is adding to the wrath of God that will be meted out upon himself. Therefore, this ought to move me to love people and passionately share the gospel. Knowing that it is only through the Word and the Spirit working through this Word that men will be converted. Yet, I watch television and play Madden on PS2. Do I really believe in hell? Do I really believe that the totally depraved will be cast there unless God rich in mercy saves them?
  • Every act of rebellion is an offense to God. We know that those of the Reformed persuasion are constantly talking about the glory of God. Every act of rebellion is a trampling of that glory. Ought a Calvinist be passionate about stamping out every act of rebellion? Ought we not preach as a dying man to dying men?

So, until I pray, plead, and proclaim like a Calvinist I should not dare call myself one. Dear God, make me in action what I profess to be in doctrine!

Read Part 3...


  1. Mike
    I'm so confused with all of thisC Calvinism stuff. I don't know what I think, I've never thought much about it, and now I can't help but think that I'm sitting here wanting to choose God, but because of things I do, he must not want me. What do you say to someone, who wants to be chosen, but feels they are not.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    I will do my best to answer your questions, given my limited information.

    1) The Gospel says that WHOEVER calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Therefore, if God has so worked in your heart that you desire to be a part of Christ then by all means take hold!

    2) If you truly are "sitting here wanting to choose God" then act off that. Certainly, we know that this desire comes from God Himself. If God has implanted that desire in you, do you not also think that He is more than willing to save you? To "want you".

    3) While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. There is nothing that you can do, or are doing that can disqualify you from the glorious gospel. We cannot out sin God's grace.

    4) As for your last question, what do I say to someone who wants to be chosen, but feels they are not? I simply would say that there is no man on earth that desires God, that God has not already chosen and implanted that desire in their heart. No one seeks God on their own. If you are desiring God, then certainly, it is because God is doing that work in your heart. Therefore, you question is really not an issue. Either you really do not want God, or your feelings are wrong. My advice would be upon the name of the Lord. Cry out to Jesus. Seek the Lord.

  3. This is a truly great post, my brother. My heart beats along the very same lines.

    It's probably not very spiritual of me to say this, but I am glad and somewhat relieved to see a Calvinistic SBC pastor struggling along the very same lines as I do.

    Again, one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time...and I waste a shameful amount of time on blog posts. (Don't tell anyone.)

  4. Gordon,

    Thank you very much for you kind words. I have been enjoying your blog as of late as well.

    You are right it is very encouraging having like-minded brothers struggling with the same things.

    And your blog reading secret is probably safe with my 35ish readers :-)

    May God be Glorified.

  5. Like the friend above, I don't usually post a lot of comments on blogs. But this one was worthy of mention. It was very well thought out and very well said. You've given us a lot to think about. Well done!


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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Okay, after thinking this over, the point of this article is not to debate Calvinism. The second anonymous poster has detracted from the original intent. Therefore, I am going to delete his well as mine underneath it...I figure that he/she is nothing more than a drive-by commenting...but in the odd chance that you are not feel free to e-mail me to discuss this...this is just not the correct forum to do so.

  9. I don't see where a debate over Calvinism was occurring in what I posted earlier. The original Anon. poster asked a question; I answered it.

    Such was neither a instigation of debate, nor a detraction from the post, given that the question raised was based upon the post, and the answer was directly aimed at the question.

    I see no reason why all possible answers to the question cannot be explored; such is the foundation of reasonable dialogue, after all, and its antithesis the stuff of oppressive regimes of thought.

  10. 2nd Anon,

    First of all, I really dislike the anonymous there any way we could get a name or it's not me discussing such an issue with someone I have to call
    2nd Anon?

    Secondly, the reason that this discussion will not appear on this post is two fold. 1) You do not talk the way that you did/nor does the Bible talk that way to unbelievers. Or maybe even someone questioning that. Whether your are an Arminian or Calvinist you hold forth what the Bible says--whosoever will may come. Anything different is Hyper-Calvinism. 2) I will, however, allow a discussion on this topic. Keep checking back and I will try to post on this Monday or Tuesday. Then you can comment all that you want...until then, it's not going to happen this oppressive regime. :-)

  11. Awesome post... I can totally relate.

  12. Thanks for the great insight!
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