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Is Calvinism heresy?

(Garth D. Wiebe, 8/23/2023)

Is Calvinism heresy? Depending on how staunch a person is about it, it may be. Consequently, a person's "salvation," that is, whether he will be justified in the sight of God and can expect to be saved from the judgment and wrath of God to come, may be at stake by believing in a different gospel.

I am marveling that you are thus quickly being transitioned from the one calling you in the favor of Christ into a different gospel, which is not another, but that some are disturbing you and willing to change the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1:6-7)
When I use the term "Calvinism," I am using a broad and general label. Historically, John Calvin was not the Calvinist extremist that many are today.

What I speak of in this article is mainly the "predestination" aspect that "Calvinists" speak of. There is also the issue of "Limited Atonement," but I will not address that here. From "predestination" comes the "Unconditional election," "Irresistible grace," and "Perseverance of the saints" points of their TULIP ideology, the "U," the "I," and the "P" in the acronym.

Many years ago I put together a simple but unique, short video that should resolve the "predestination vs. free will" issue in a succinct and easy to understand way:

As I explained in the video, there are two perspectives, or frames of reference: that of the Creator outside of creation and that of the creation constrained to that creation. To be sure, we need to understand that the Creator is outside of creation and is timeless. He is not constrained to the creation he created, except perhaps where he has willfully placed constraints upon himself for preordained purposes. (If he is "sovereign," and can do anything he wants, then he can do that.) Our lives, on the other hand, have a beginning from biological conception, and we are locked into a timeline within that creation. It is from that frame of reference that scripture addresses us.

The scriptures and all teaching that concern us address us as ones operating within a timeline within God's creation, speaking to us from that perspective. We are instructed to do this thing and not that thing; we are instructed to be wise and not foolish; we are expected to make free will decisions, including the free will decision to believe in the provisions and promises of God, if we are to be justified in his sight. And we can blame no one else for those decisions we make. (If God gave us "faith," then he would be to blame for our lack of faith if we did not have it!)

In my article, "'Predestination vs. Free Will': scripture analysis", I showed what the scriptures say about "predestination," including the very definition of the word προωριζω, and covered all the proof-texts of the Calvinists, which are not many, considering the sheer volume of scripture that the whole Bible represents:
Now let me expand on the consequences of those conclusions, as it applies to Calvinists and their view of predestination, since I was only addressing the word/scripture translation and debunking the Calvinist proof-texts, mostly as a lexical, grammatical, and contextual exercise.

The Calvinist, instead of taking the role of a man created by God, takes the role of God; that is, he puts himself in God's shoes, so to speak, in heavenly places, and dictates a paradigm that conflates and confuses the realm of the Creator vs. the realm of creation, the distinction between the eternal, heavenly things and the practical, earthly things. That is where we get the "Unconditional Election" that results in "Irresistable grace" and "Perseverance of the saints." (For those who are not familiar, "Perseverance of the saints" means that one cannot fall away from the faith. The other two points should be self-explanatory.)

For those three points to be true, "faith" must be a gift given by God. (Refer to my article, "What is faith according to the scriptures?") In its extreme -- and I realize that there is a spectrum of "Calvinists," some more staunch and extreme than others who tend to compromise -- there cannot be any free will, because for a man to have arbitrary free will it is supposed that God's will for any situation, whatever it may be, would be contradicted, since he would supposedly lose control. This, again, is conflating and confusing the realm of the Creator with the realm of creation, as if God was constrained to and by the realm of creation.

Now, all these mental gymnastics are mysticism, plain and simple, and akin to Gnosticism, or at least a bedfellow to Gnosticism. Christianity is reduced to knowledge, theory and theology, and mere confident speculations.

Ultimately, and this is where the heresy comes in, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not about faith in Jesus Christ -- for "faith" is supposedly a predestined "gift" -- but in the principle of election. Now we aren't saved from the coming judgment and wrath of God by a decision for Christ, but by election, and that election happened even before we were conceived in the womb, before we had anything to do with it or any knowledge of it.

So, if you are a Calvinist, what is "the gospel"? Your "gospel," which is really no gospel at all, but a false gospel, is that God has elected some and damned others from the creation of time, gifting some with "faith" and others not. Any protests to this point that I am making, to the effect of "No, we also say that the gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his atonement for our sins, and faith in him," are foregone points and moot talk, if "faith" is a gift that is predestined. Scripture gives the following rebuke to this:

"You will be saying to me, then, 'Why is he still blaming? For who has withstood his intention?' Indeed, surely, who, O man, are you, the one answering in place of God?..." (Rom 9:19-20)
This is what Calvinists do, which is "answer in the place of God."

Let's get back to the Bible. As I said, we are instructed to do this thing and not that thing; we are instructed to be wise and not foolish; we are expected to make free will decisions, including the free will decision to believe in the provisions and promises of God, if we are to be justified in his sight. Anyone who claims that he cannot make a decision, or that he cannot help but make a decision, owing to the premise that God ordained it beforehand, is a mystic and a fool, perhaps even demonized, if he can't think through the contradictions in his own logic and reasoning. The Bible tells us what to do, so we should do that. The Bible tells us what to believe, so we should commit to believe accordingly. Leave the abode of God to God, and the timeless things outside of the creation to God. That is God's business. Your job is to make a choice to listen, learn, and commit to obey. Both your earthly life and your eternal destiny depends on it.

No copyrightI grant this work to the public domain.