Is Calvinism the Standard of Historic Christianity?

Calvinism is often portrayed as the standard of historic Christianity, but is this true?

If we imagine that Christianity started in the 16th century we might be able to make that claim. This is when its doctrines were widely embraced, and some of them were created. But of course, the Church of Jesus Christ began in the 1st century.

Calvinism’s distinct doctrines consist of the TULIP acronym, namely Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. 3 of these doctrines were created by Augustine in the 5th century. Before that, Christian writers did not teach these doctrines. These 3 doctrines were Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Irresistible Grace. Though Augustine invented them in the 5th century, they were not embraced by many until the Reformation. Luther and Calvin accepted and promoted these doctrines. But until then, most Christians had rejected them.

The other 2 doctrines, namely Limited Atonement and Perseverance of the Saints were not heard of until Calvin’s day. And in fact, it is debatable whether or not Calvin himself held to the doctrine of Limited Atonment. Some argue that it was created later by his disciples.

So Calvinism is only historic and orthodox if we change the definitions of the terms orthodox and historic.

This is discussed more in this video:

Why Do People Become Calvinists?

There are several reasons why people gravitate towards the Calvinistic theological system.

Calvinism has a reputation for being a standard of historic Christianity, even though some of its core doctrines were not known in the early church and were not invented until the 5th century, and some not until the 16th century. So many are open to Calvinism because of this reputation, but most do not commit to it for that reason.

Others are drawn to Calvinism because it is an airtight theological system. People with a philosophical bent gravitate towards this aspect of Calvinism. But again, this is not usually what causes people to fully embrace Reformed Theology.

The #1 reason people commit to Calvinism is a misunderstanding of a few passages of Scripture. Once a false interpretation of some passages like Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and others are embraced, the rest is history. The false interpretation of these passages then becomes the lens through which all other passages in the Bible are interpreted. For this reason, it is imperative that biblical interpretations are made available to those on the fence.

So, what is the big deal? Well, the most dangerous aspect of Calvinism is that it replaces the correct interpretation of Scripture with a false interpretation. This causes many important passages of God’s word to be made null and void. There are other dangers as well, but this is the key problem.

This is discussed in the video below:

What Is Calvinism?

Calvinism is a system of thought that has been embraced by many since the time of the Reformation. And some of its philosophical concepts go back all the way to Augustine.

The first main concept is a form of soft determinism called “compatibilism.” Simply put, compatibilism teaches that God unilaterally determines every thought, word, and deed of every creature in all of history, and yet this determinism is deemed to be compatible with the idea that each creature is still morally responsible for their thoughts, words, and deeds.

The acronym TULIP sums up the 5 points of Calvinism’s idea about the nature of salvation.

T stands for Total Depravity. This doctrine teaches that each person is so corrupt from birth that they could never respond in repentance or faith towards God and Christ even if the Holy Spirit comes to the person and convicts them of their sin.

U stands for Unconditional Election. This doctrine teaches that God unilaterally chose before the world began whom He would give the gift of faith and repentance to so they could be saved. And it further teaches that He left the rest of mankind without the ability to repent or believe so that He could show His wrath on them forever.

L stands for Limited Atonement. This doctrine teaches that Jesus paid the penalty for specific sinners and their sins. He only died for those whom God unconditionally elected for His own purposes.

I stands for Irresistible Grace. This doctrine teaches that God unilaterally causes a person to be born again, and made into a new creature in Christ, without the will of the sinner being involved. And then, since the person is made new, he then naturally repents and believes unto justification.

P stands for Perseverance of the Saints. This doctrine teaches that God will make sure that those whom He saves, will continue in holiness until the end of their lives and thus inherit eternal life.

The last main perspective in the Calvinistic philosophy is Covenant Theology. This paradigm teaches that God has saved people in history, both in the Old and New Testaments through faith. And that in the Old Testament they had different signs, but the same salvation as those in the New. For example, in the Old Testament, male children were made part of God’s people by being circumcised as babies. In the same way, people are now made part of God’s people through baptism as babies. (Note: Baptist Calvinists have adjusted their view on Covenant Theology for obvious reasons)

Here is a short video on this topic:

“SavED” In The Past Tense

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

The Bible speaks of being saved in 3 tenses, past, present, and future. What does it mean that we were “saved in the past.” When the Bible speaks like this it is referring to the fact that there was a time in our past when we turned from our rebellion and through faith submitted to Jesus Christ. It was at this moment that we were reconciled to God. Salvation in the past tense refers that time when we were reconciled to God.

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14 NKJV

In Luke 18 we see an illustration of this in one of Jesus’ parables. Here we see that the moment the tax collector humbled himself in repentance towards God and called out for mercy he was justified. That is, he was accepted by God. This later happens in reality in Luke 19 when Zacchaeus repented of his sins during dinner and Jesus immediately declared, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

For more on this topic, here is a short video:

Devilish Men & An Angry God

No one can be born a Christian, we must be born again. We have all joined Satan’s rebellion against God and we must be reconciled to God. Satan sought to set himself on God’s throne. Adam and Even ate the fruit so they could become like God. And each of us have chosen to be lord of our own lives, living for our desires instead of the will of God.

On the other side, God is holy and hates sin and rebellion. The Bible teaches that He will take vengeance on His enemies. Consider this description of God:

God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies…

Nahum 1:2 NKJV

The situation is bleak indeed. But God desires to reconcile rebellious men, so He sent His Son to bridge the divide. But we must repent and submit to Him.

Here is a short video with more detail on this issue:

A Gate, A Way & An End

Matthew 7:13-14

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. -NKJV

Jesus compares Christianity to a gate, a way, and an end.

All people have turned away from God and must be converted through repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must be born again. We must enter the gate.

After we enter the gate the journey is not over, it has only just begun. We must walk the narrow road that leads to life by continuing to trust in Christ and submit to Him as Lord. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we must put sin to death.

At the end of the road, we will be judged according to our works. We are reconciled to God through faith in Christ, but our faith will be judged by what we have done.

For more on this topic here is a short video:

God So Loved The World & Hated Esau

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 NKJV

…(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

Romans 9:11-13 NKJV

These 2 passages are often used in the good old-fashioned Free Will vs. Sovereignty debate. Maybe a Calvinist will post the Romans 9:11-13 passage to stump the non-Calvinist, and then the Free-Willer will respond by saying, “Well, what about John 3:16?! Aha!” It would be a humorous exchange if it was not so depressing. First of all, both are setting up one passage of Holy Writ against another, which seems a strange thing for Christians who believe in the inspiration of Scripture to do. But, to be fair, each of them thinks that their opponent is misinterpreting the passage they reference, and so they attempt to give them a clearer passage that they cannot possibly fail to understand. But instead of dealing with the first passage quoted, each side runs to its storehouse of verses with which to respond.

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