Monday, February 11, 2013

Why the Calvinism Discussion Matters

Last week Dave Miller posted a great article with the hopes of outlining what a productive discussion of Calvinism would require. For the most part I’m in agreement with David Rogers who said in a comment, “Calvinism schmalvinism. I never have understood why we get so hung on this one…I like your suggestions, Dave, but I will probably check out of any new round of Calvinism debate marathons.”

Entering into another season of Calvinism discussions is about as appealing as repeatedly whacking myself in the head with a hammer.

I’m fatigued by unhelpful debates about all things Calvinism/Traditionalism etc. I’m not clear of guilt myself. Though I hit “cancel reply” far more than I actually post a comment, even still I’m not immune to leaving a comment I wish I hadn’t. I’d say that my fatigue has even shown in some posts that I’ve written.

A good part of me wants to only write an article that shows why this Calvinism discussion doesn’t matter and we all ought to just move on. (That article will be posted later today). Yet I do believe that Calvinism matters. I don’t think it’s just some tertiary issue that has no bearing on the Christian life.

I don’t want to surrender the truth of Calvinism. I say that not for the sake of some “ism” but because I believe that it best describes how God saves sinners. You can call it Billy-Bobism for all I care. The name means little. What matters to me is a theology that unblushingly proclaims that God saves sinners. At its core I believe that God revealing how He has saved us is for our joy and comfort and His glory.

If God has revealed Himself to us in this fashion for our comfort far be it from me to say that it doesn’t matter. So in one sense Calvinism does matter. I believe it leads to greater joy and comfort for us and greater glory for the Lord. I believe it is the truth of Scripture and as such it needs to be embraced.

But at the end of the day you can’t make someone swallow it. God can change affections, I cannot. God can mold us to truth, I cannot. Therefore, I want to pursue this balance that John Newton spoke of:

I allow that every branch of gospel truth is precious, that errors are abounding, and that it is our duty to bear an honest testimony to what the Lord has enabled us to find comfort in, and to instruct with meekness such as are willing to be instructed; but I cannot set it my duty, nay, I believe it would be my sin, to attempt to beat notions into other people’s heads.

Later today I’ll show in what way this discussion doesn’t matter…


If you dig this article you may also like this one: What Should a Newtonian Calvinist Say in a Pastoral Interview?


  1. Calvinism gets some things right, but in the process they destroy people's assurance (of salvation) by placing people's focus on themselves for their assurance, rather than the external Word.

    Here's some great resources to help people understand what the Bible has to say about predestination, free-will, etc. ...without forcing people to wonder if they are of "the elect"...or not;

    Anyway, even if you don't agree with everything, you'll at least have another viewpoint and a better understanding of other's beliefs. That will help you in your own arguments.

    1. And yet the WCF says this:
      II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope;[5] but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation,[6] the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,[7] the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God,[8] which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.[9]

      Brother, I really think that you should at least give Joel Beeke's book A Quest for Assurance a thorough reading before you continue making this assertion that "Calvinism destroy's peoples assurance of salvation".

      You are painting with far too broad of a brush. Can Calvinist/Calvinism go askew and do what you say? Absolutely. But that is a deviation from such.

  2. Mike, I wanted to start by saying I enjoyed the post.

    As an elder of a church with 2 Calvinist and 1 Arminian, I can attest that the gospel "differences" can be put aside by wise men. Let us all accept Paul's definition (1 Cor 15:1-11). I believe the debates that attempt to define words and language are best kept for intelligent fun amongst intelligent men. Currently, I'm not sure that either of those can describe what is going on within the SBC right now. :-)




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