P.O. Box 432 | Spring Hill, TN 37174 l (904) 200-1671
There is an infection sweeping our churches today,
especially Southern Baptist Churches, regarding the system of
Calvinism and Reformed Theology. The virulent impact of this
doctrine has been exacerbated by notable advocates such as Albert
Mohler, John MacArthur and John Piper. These well-meaning men have
wielded tremendous destructive influence over the minds and
ministries of young preachers.
There is no desire on my part to disparage these men. My intent is to share my personal experience with Calvinism, how the Lord delivered me from its clutches and what I believe to be its fundamental flaw. It is my humble opinion that one of the evidences of genuine revival, if God should grant it to his churches, will be sweeping repentance by Calvinist pastors and professors for propagating this false doctrine and infecting their congregations and classrooms.
I've been a Five-Point Calvinist twice in my life.
After the Lord called me to preach in 1971, I began my studies at
Miami Bible College (Miami, FL) in the fall of that year. At age 23,
like most Baptists, I knew little about theological or doctrinal
issues. The professorial staff, however, was almost entirely
Calvinist. Little by little I got exposed to election,
predestination and the Five Points, and wondered why I had never
heard this from my pastor.
I spent dozens of hours in the library pouring
through commentaries on Romans, Ephesians and other books looking
for consistent interpretations of Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:4,
etc. Like all novices in Calvinistic thought, I was in search of
something confirmatory to bolster this newfound ‘truth’ that no one
had heretofore bothered to teach me. As I came to realize later, NONE
of these ‘proof text’ passages was grounded in CONTEXTUAL exegesis
or exposition. It was mostly regurgitation of conventional Calvinist
thought. Proof texts are seldom used for their exegetical-expository
Calvinist theory is built almost entirely upon the proof text method
that fails to account for the context of the verses it cites.
Well, it wasn't long before I became a
'Predestination' zealot. I was involved with our church youth, and
exposed my training union class one Sunday evening to the doctrine
of Election. One of the teens told her parents, her parents told the
pastor, and the pastor called me into his study for a conference.
Out of respect for him, I cooled my jets on teaching Calvinism. I
believed I was right and the pastor was wrong. But I also knew my
time would come to freely articulate the ‘glories’ of Calvinism from
a pulpit of my own.
In the summer of 1973, I went to Alaska for three
weeks to help a missionary establish a youth camp. A few months
before making the trip, I remember being on my knees in prayer at
our apartment. I had been called to preach and had come to realize
there might be negative consequences to preaching Calvinism in
churches I would pastor. So I told the Lord that no matter the
consequences I would preach ‘the whole counsel of God’ (i.e.,
Calvinism) without regard for favorable-unfavorable responses. But I
added: “Lord, if Calvinism is NOT the truth, and there is more light
I need to see, please reveal that light to me BEFORE I embark upon
my first pastorate.”
A few months later I was in Alaska with Baptist
missionary Lindsey Williams. The Lord woke me up about 4 a.m. one
morning with this scripture dancing in my mind: "Who shall lay
anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth"
(Romans 8:33). It was the light for which I had prayed. In that
scripture, the Lord showed me that ALL of his elect are justified.
In other words, there are NO lost elect men. Since lost, unjustified
men ARE chargeable, NO lost man can be among the elect. God’s elect
are ALL justified; they are ALL chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:4).
The Calvinist tries to make much of the phrase “before the foundation of the world” in Ephesians 1:4 as proof that election took place before time began. In like manner, Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). But in what sense was he slain? He was slain by the Father in the eternal sense as to his redemptive purpose. But Jesus was actually slain in the temporal sense outside the walls of Jerusalem circa 33 A.D.
God’s eternal purpose of election in Christ was to save to the uttermost those who came to the Father through his Son. In the eternal sense, based on that eternal purpose, God first elected Christ to serve as the Redeemer of lost men and then elected believers 'in Christ' before the foundation of the world to serve him as well. In the temporal sense, God actually elected them when they believed. Failure to compare scripture with scripture and distinguish between the eternal and the temporal will cause a Calvinist to break his theological neck.
Election is IN CHRIST and therefore applies to NO ONE who is OUTSIDE of Christ. The Calvinist places himself in the untenable position of having to explain how those who were IN Christ before the foundation of the world got themselves OUT of Christ.
The light from that one scripture – Romans 8:33 – laid the groundwork for my deliverance from Calvinism. After returning from Alaska, I spent hundreds of hours going back over all the ‘proof text’ passages I was using to defend Calvinism, interpreting them in context. God granted more light. When Christ is at the center of one’s election doctrine as THE ELECT of God (1 Peter 2:6, 9), he or she will NEVER arrive at Calvinism. Peter understood that a 'chosen generation' of believers derived its 'elect' status from the Elected One. One of the flaws of Calvinism is failure to put Christ at the center of election!
In the mid-1990's, I reverted back to five-point
Calvinism for a short period of time. The reasons are not important.
As a result, the Lord granted me more light and clarity on the
fundamental errors of Calvinistic thought and made me a better
Biblical election has nothing to do with God choosing lost men with a view to justifying them. It has to do with God choosing the justified (1) to serve him according to the gifts-calling he bestows upon them, and (2) to be recipients of the spiritual-eternal benefits to which God entitled them by virtue of their union with Christ, the Elect One. The truths that the Father 'elected' Jesus to be the chief cornerstone of our redemption (1 Peter 2:6) and that Jesus 'elected' Judas to be one of the Twelve (John 6:70) are in harmony with and confirm the view that election is all about service and privilege.
The Fundamental Flaw