"Calvinism is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life that emphasizes God's sovereignty in all things. It falls within the realm of Protestant Christianity and is sometimes called the Reformed tradition or Reformed theology." "Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches, of which Calvin was an early leader, and the system is perhaps best known for its doctrines of predestination and total depravity."
"The five points of Calvinism, which can be remembered by the English mnemonic TULIP are:
Total depravity (or total inability): As a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. According to the view, people are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures.
Unconditional election: God's choice from eternity of those whom he will bring to himself is not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people. Rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy.
Limited atonement (or particular redemption or definite atonement): The death of Christ actually takes away the penalty of sins of those on whom God has chosen to have mercy. It is "limited" to taking away the sins of the elect, not of all humanity, and it is "definite" and "particular" because atonement is certain for those particular persons.
Irresistible grace (or efficacious grace): The saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith in Christ.
Perseverance of the saints (or preservation of the saints): Any person who has once been truly saved from damnation must necessarily persevere and cannot later be condemned. The word saints is used in the sense in which it is used in the Bible to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven (see Saint)."
Source for all of the above is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism
(See also www.carm.org/list/calvinism.htm )
Issues/Concerns we have regarding this doctrine:
We at BibleTruthForToday believe that Calvinism is the theology of a religious system that is ultimately contrary to the overall revelation of God in the Bible. Calvinism, which includes predestination (divine election), is often very closely associated with covenant theology and its related infant baptism (and baptismal salvation), although there are also Calvinist churches (e.g. Reformed Baptist Churches) that do not practice infant baptism and are not sacramentalists. We direct you to the following sites for further evaluation:
"What Love is This?", Dave Hunt, Loyal Publishing, 2002
"The Five Points of Calvinism", George Bryson,The Word For Today, 1996
Of the five points of Calvinism listed above, Arminianism is diametrically opposed to the last four.
"Unconditional Election" deals with divine election which has to do with predestination.
The Calvinist says God's divine election pertaining to salvation is unconditional.
The Arminian says God elects for salvation those who place their faith in God.
We at BibleTruthforToday believe that many people have placed the emphasis in the wrong place - that divine election is NOT about God picking who (individually) will be "saved", but rather that God "elected" (foreordained) that Jesus Christ would be the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of man, and that those who put their trust in Him are saved because they are "in Him", not because God picked and chose them, nor are they excluded solely on the basis that God did NOT pick them.
Secondly, God "elected" a people called Israel through which He would demonstrate to the world things concerning Himself, and through which He would bring to pass His promises made to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden regarding a future deliverer (namely, Jesus Christ, the Messiah). Similarly, God also "elected" that there would be a group of believers (those who believed the fulfillment of those promises to Adam and Eve) who would constitute the "body of Christ" (the Church).
Thirdly, God "elected" or chose people to do certain jobs - sometimes based on the very abilities which God had given them, and sometimes in spite of the lack of any natural ability. Following are just a few examples of being chosen for specific service, not for "salvation".
God chose Abraham for a purpose ("Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gen. 12:1-3) ;
God chose Moses to be the "deliverer" of Israel from Egypt; ("Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10)
God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet ("I ordained you a prophet to the nations" Jer. 1:4)
God chose Jonah to go on a specific mission ("Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me".” Jonah 1:2)
Jesus chose men to be his disciples ("And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." Matt. 4:18-22)
Regarding "Limited Atonement",
The Calvinist says that Jesus died only for those who He had pre-determined He would save.
The Arminian says that Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient for all people, not just "the elect".
We at BibleTruthForToday believe that the Scriptures as a whole are clearly in line with the Arminians on this particular point. Furthermore, we deny that this position in any way lends credibility to the idea of universal salvation (meaning that ALL people of all time are automatically redeemed by Jesus' substitutionary atonement). We believe an excellent example for our position on this particular point is provided in the Passover. Historically recorded in Exodus 12, and explained further at Leviticus 23, (if unfamiliar with those passages, we strongly recommend reading those), it would have been possible for the passover lamb to be properly selected and even to have been properly killed, but unless (through obedience to God's revelation of what must be done and how it must be done) the blood was actually applied to the doorpost and lintel, the blood had no power to prevent the angel of death from taking the life of each firstborn within that house. The blood of the lamb had all the power necessary to spare the family from death, but it was only effectual for those who obeyed God. So it is with Jesus Christ - His blood shed at Calvary was clearly adequate and sufficient for the sins of all men for all time. However, its effectiveness is only for those who will obey - God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance! (2 Peter 3:9). If you sincerely want to know this sacrificial Lamb (Jesus Christ) Who died for YOUR sins, and you want to know how to "apply His blood" to the doorpost and lintel of your life, please feel free to contact us and we would be delighted to share the Gospel (Good News) with you.
"Irresistible Grace" deals with God's grace and man's response.
The Calvinist says God's grace in electing someone to salvation cannot be avoided - that God's grace which picked a person will SURELY see that the person hears the Gospel, believes the Gospel and obeys the Gospel unto eternal life.
The Arminian says that man has freedom to reject God's grace and to resist God.
We at BibleTruthForToday fear that we try so hard to put everything into one theology or the other that we place the emphasis in the wrong place. We believe, based on the Bible, that God is the Almighty (all-mighty) God Who is clearly able to do whatsoever He pleases and in that ultimate sense, we have to agree that ultimately God's grace IS irresistible. God planned that when the fullness of time had come He would send forth His Son to be born of a virgin - that actually happened and no man (yea, not even Satan!) was able to "resist", to deter, to prevent what God determined to carry out. (Hallelujah!)
However, we cannot deny what that same Bible also says:
that God created man in His likeness,
that Jesus (Who IS God) died for the sins of the whole world (not just the "elect"),
that God Who is Himself love, created man with the purpose that man would relate to God, interact with God, in a love relationship which entails willing, voluntary responses to God -
that God would reveal Himself to man and offer Himself to man - but leave the choice with man whether to accept the revelation and the offer and be "with God", or to reject the revelation and the invitation and be "without God".
In conjunction with the Calvinist position of Irresistible Grace is the idea of God’s “effectual call”, in other words, that when God “calls” a person, it is to salvation and it cannot be refused or rejected. The ramifications of this teaching include that either God can/will save an unwilling person; or, that God makes a person “willing” who otherwise is not willing (in other words, humans have no will of their own). There are several issues with that idea, the main one being that the idea is not Biblical/Scriptural.
Let’s look first at the Old Testament. The Hebrew word qara is mostly translated as: call, call to, name, proclaim, summon, invite. In the numerous texts where this Hebrew word appears, there is no clear usage that supports a doctrine involving an “effectual call” to salvation. In fact, IF such a connection did exist, then there are numerous inconsistencies with other texts, such as:
Isaiah 50:2 – “Why, when I came, was there no man? Why, when I called, was there none to answer? Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?...”
Isaiah 65:12 – “Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”
Isaiah 66:4 – “So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”
Jeremiah 7:13-14 – “And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
The same basic meanings are attributed to the Greek word kaleo in the New Testament, and once again, there is no clear instruction concerning a doctrine of an “effectual call”. In fact, there are verses that would certainly cause suspicion about any doctrine of an “effectual call”, such as Galatians 1:6 “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,” If the call was effectual, how could people turn away from it?
We encourage you to use a concordance and study the Hebrew word “qara” (Strong’s H7121) and the Greek word “kaleo” (Strong’s G2564) to see how often those words are used and what they mean. We haven’t the space here to list them all – they are numerous.
There are quite a few examples in the New Testament where kaleo refers to something God “calls” people to – in very much the same way that a preacher would “call” his listeners to do or be something – not that he effectually makes them become that, but that he beckons them to be that way, invites them to come that way, instructs them to live that way, etc. with that sense of the word in mind, we are “called” to:
Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
1 Peter 1:14-15 “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,”
1 Peter 2:9 “…Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
1 Peter 2:20-21 “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps”
1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
2 Peter 1:3 “…the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,”
1 Thes. 4:7 “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
"Perseverance of the Saints" deals with what is often called the "security of the believer", or sometimes "eternal security". We at BibleTruthForToday do not agree with the Arminian viewpoint on security. We agree with the position of the Calvinists but not for the same reason as the Calvinists. Please see our link on Assurance of Salvation.