I’m Fine Calling Myself a Calvinist

An article by J.D. Greear recently published, titled, “Don’t Be a Fundamentalist (Calvinist or Otherwise).” I felt compelled to share my own thoughts about Calvinism after reading Greear’s position.

There’s a number of people who say to keep your Calvinism to yourself. Many say it’s not helpful to talk about such beliefs. 

I believe Calvinism is not only biblical, but helpful. I recognize there’s a difference between what we believe versus the weight we give it. And we must balance the weights in wisdom. No true Calvinist would disagree. That’s common ground we can stand on.

What’s unsettling to me is that we hardly get around to discussing what we actually believe.

Where’s the real error within Calvinism?

J.D. Greear’s article provided no real arguments against the actual doctrines of Calvinism. It was all about bad Calvinists abusing its theology. This isn’t an effective angle to convince me not to be fundamental about biblical doctrine.

There are people in every camp that abuse its own theology somehow.

Take Greear’s rationale a step further. Why be denominational? There are Southern Baptist fans that give too much weight to its beliefs. Do we just tuck it away then? Absolutely not, if the beliefs are true. And let’s stay humble about it.

I have yet to find any compelling reason not to agree with Calvinism. Maybe I’m not educated enough. Maybe I just haven’t found the bad theology yet. I’m still waiting…

Now, when I mention Calvinism I am alluding to the TULIP. I’m not saying John Calvin is our savior. And you can certainly be saved without being a Calvinist.

I want to hear substantial arguments against the actual doctrines of Calvinism. Where is the substance, the evidence, and objective mistakes within Calvinism?

For those who need a refresher, or don’t know what the TULIP stands for, here’s a rundown.

T — Total Depravity
U — Unconditional Election
L — Limited Atonement
I — Irresistible Grace
P — Perseverance of the Saints

To read a fuller explanation of these, visit the SBC LIFE site’s article here.

Try to ignore today’s Calvinism culture—the Spurgeon beards, the craft beer, and leather boots. Help me see the objective, doctrinal slips and cracks. I can understand its culture being stupid, but its doctrine is biblical. No true Calvinist became one because of tobacco pipes and whiskey.

I don’t mind calling myself a Calvinist because it seems like the most consistent, helpful, biblical theology.

Some argue that Calvinism doesn’t carry near as much weight as the gospel message. Of course! That’s a no-brainer! Calvinism doesn’t substitute the biblical gospel; it helps explain it.

Because it’s not required for salvation doesn’t mean we tuck it away. Calvinism is helpful. It’s a resource to better articulate the biblical gospel and sovereignty of God.

How did you become alive?

Here’s a question worth honestly asking—how did you become saved? Most people can easily acknowledge that regeneration is a complete work of God.

We took no part in becoming born-again believers. We played no part in our physical birth. Likewise, we played no part in our spiritual birth. It came from above. It came from God by his grace as a gift. And it happened because God chose us to be saved.

“[H]e chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

If it is true that regeneration is a complete work of God—being chosen by God—then God chose to not choose those who lack regeneration. In other words, if God chose the saved then he chose the unsaved. And those whom God chose will stay chosen. This is pretty much the TULIP.

(Check out Romans 9 for further reading.)

The goal is Christ, not Calvin.

Calvinism is not a theology required for you to receive pardon. In fact, I believe none of us completely understand the gospel in one sense. We cannot fully comprehend the immense work Jesus accomplished at Calvary. A childlike faith is sufficient.

Take this, coming from a Calvinist—the goal isn’t to become Calvinist. The goal is Christ and to become more like him. For some, the preaching may include Calvinistic language, but the heart is set on Christ, not Calvin.

I say this in order to make a few of you feel better. Hopefully, my thoughts are not communicating a harsh spirit, but an honest one. Really, I don’t care if you’re not a Calvinist. I will consider you a bro.

I’m not afraid to call myself a Calvinist for now. It seems consistent, biblical, God-glorifying, and encouraging. Those who are over-the-top about Calvinism do need humbled. As for the doctrines, they seem good to me.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

78 thoughts on “I’m Fine Calling Myself a Calvinist

  1. Payte,

    I used to think in those Calvinistic terms. I used to say, “I’m saved” (past tense). I found, however, “being saved” (present tense) to be Scriptural. I will “be saved” when I see God face to face, and live. In my blog at https://withmyowneyes.blog I try to explain my journey. Blessings to you, brother.


      1. Since the writers of the New Testament never cobbled and twisted Scripture to articulate TULIP, and since the Church Fathers likewise did not seek to put the Sovereign Lord in anything resembling the Calvinistic box, on what authority, beyond the clever, Western mind of John Calvin, would a Christian trumpet TULIP?

        1. Hi, Danny. It was not Calvin who designed TULIP, but those who took up the challenge to refute Calvin’s teachings: the Dutch Remonstrants. TULIP was then broadly recognized as a distinctive between the Calvinistic (Reformed) view and the emerging Arminian view. Calvinism, Arminianism, and TULIP are conveniences of communication. Calvin’s theology was not his own, he considered himself an Augustinian (i.e. a follower of St. Augustine, as Augustine followed Christ; just as Paul exhorted the brethren to follow him as he follows Christ). It is very important to view these things historically. Then they begin to make better sense biblically.

          1. I appreciate your kind correction. I had always heard TULIP associated with Calvinism, but I can see how that might be a development on his work.

            That said, I don’t get the thousand-plus-year leap from St. Augustine to Calvin. St. Augustine’s work can stand within the Church, without the denial and negation by the Reformers. Blessings to you.

  2. As unpopular as theological labels are among the pop-evangelical community these days, they’re really very useful. I agree that it’s better to own such labels rather than hide from them in the name of quiet murky lowest-common-denominator agreement. With a clear opinion, tradition, and turf to stand on, it’s actually much easier to hold dialogue with differing views.

    Like the previous commenter, I’m not a Calvinist either. But I love to see people clarifying their understanding of the Gospel such that they can systematically explain it!