Some Calvinists Aren’t Calvinists

If you have followed the old Bit of Orange for any amount of time, you have seen me explaining to Atheists and Evolutionists that they are not actually Atheists and Evolutionists. I’ve had to show people who believe the Big Bang cosmology that they don’t actually believe it because they don’t know what it is. This kind of thing happens on the regular around these parts, because people are a lot quicker, it would seem, to adopt a label than to completely research it and make sure they want to adopt it.

Our latest group to join the club of “I didn’t actually do all that much research” is Calvinists. Here is a screen shot from an apologetics YouTube channel (a Calvinistic youtuber that goes by “TreasureChrist” or “reformedwiki”) which was explaining the difference between Calvinism and non-Calvinism by critiquing Mike Winger and Allen Parr (both of whom I recommend).

This image is a screen shot of a Soteriology 101 video about that video, that you can watch here (about 18 min in for this screen shot). This brings us to my article about Dr Flower’s video about Reformedwiki’s video about Mike and Allen’s videos about Calvinism.

Let’s just take these one at a time:

T- Total Depravity

What Reformed Wiki has described here is not Total Depravity or total inability, but Original Sin. Those are VERY different ideas. Allow me to contrast:

Original Sin is the idea that we are born sinners as a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve sinned, and we inherited a sin nature from them ever since. That’s kind of it, and I’m not certain I believe that the Bible teaches it, but that is besides the point. The point is, this is only the TIP of the Calvinist iceberg.

Total Depravity/inability is the belief that we are born HATING GOD, and so addicted to our sin that we CANNOT and WILL NOT accept that we are sinners and repent, nor understand and accept the Gospel. It’s not just a BENT toward sin, but a complete blindness and inability to turn to God which they often call being “dead.” As the dead cannot admit to his state and ask for help, the spiritually dead cannot either.

As a metaphor- it’s possible to be born addicted to drugs because your mother was a drug-addict. This is original sin. You inherit their sin nature. Total Depravity means you CANNOT AND WILL NOT accept the fact that you are an addict and you absolutely will not go to rehab. You are born not only addicted to drugs, but HATING rehab and sobriety and can do no other. Only, drugs here is sin.

Can you see how those are different? Because they are.

U- Unconditional Election

While this may be on account of how few words with which they chose to define the term, it’s still worth noting that they did not define it in a way which clearly distinguishes this concept as uniquely Calvinistic, or different from non-Calvinists. Yes, God “saves” those he wishes (and I’m not sure why “saves” is in quotes like that) but the difference between what Calvinism and non-Calvinism means by this is rather pivotal. The Non-Calvinist says the Bible teaches that God “saves” those who are “in Christ,” or those who put their trust in, believe in, call on the name of, etc. Jesus Christ. There are a lot of ways in which it is expressed in the Bible, both in the words of Jesus himself and in the writings which follow the Gospels. But however you put it, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, died as the blood sacrifice for our sins, giving his life for ours to pay for our sin debt. Three days later he rose bodily from the tomb, defeating sin, death and hell.

Jesus describes himself as a door: John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. A door is the opportunity to enter or exit, but you have to actually take advantage of the door to go in or out. Jesus death and resurrection unlocked the door. The door is open, and he invites us to “enter in” through him, because he alone is the way.

Calvinism says “No! That’s Man-Centered heresy! WE can’t enter in by the door. God PUSHES us through that door. We don’t even WANT to enter in until we’re on the other side! Otherwise you are claiming that you HELPED God to “Save” you.”

Of course I am paraphrasing a little, but the idea is what I have heard from many Calvinists. God chooses those who he wants to save- but his choosing happened long before any of us were born. Before the world began, God chose the “elect” to be “saved.” Like everyone else, they are born desperately and totally depraved God-hating sinners, but at some point God “regenerates them,” by which they mean brings the spiritually dead to life so they can look back and say, “Goodness! I used to be dead! But I am alive now!”

Because of the T of TULIP, we cannot and will not enter in through the door. Jesus was… being sarcastic? I’m not actually sure what they say here but I guarantee they say something. If I had to guess, they would say this verse is about who can get to salvation (those who believe/enter through Jesus) but it’s not about who will believe/enter through Jesus (those who are the “elect”). This is what they do with John 3:16, and I don’t buy it there either.

I think the way he defines Limited Atonement is pretty much how I have heard it.

I- Irresistible Grace

This says “God’s grace is given freely; it cannot be earned or denied.” And I think we’re all in agreement up until “or denied.” But it’s a little misleading to call it “given freely” when it CANNOT BE DENIED. This is like saying the police offer criminals jail time free of charge. Technically it is true, but to call it an OFFER, or to say it is GIVEN FREELY sort of implies that it can be accepted or not accepted. But on Calvinism, it is not a free gift, as a gift can be rejected. Those last two words, “OR DENIED” are the core of this doctrine of Calvinism, as they explain how a Totally Depraved person can be saved. God doesn’t wait for you to accept His offer of grace, because you Totally cannot. Thus, if anyone is to be saved, God must force grace onto them and change them with absolutely no consent.

I think it would be more accurate to say “God’s grace is imposed irresistibly. It cannot be accepted or denied.” Again, this is not what I think the Bible teaches, but what Calvinists have explained as the doctrines of Calvinism.

And I’ll be honest, I don’t think there is any consensus about the P of Tulip. So I can’t fault him for this one even though I’m not entirely sure what he means here. But I digress.

In conclusion, a lot of people take labels without really finding out what all of it means. Calvinists aren’t unique in this manner. But when I hear people call themselves a four point Calvinist, or a three point Calvinist, or when they define Calvinism this way I just think, “Hey. You’re not really a Calvinist.”

I guess what I want is for people to do their homework. If you’re going to adopt a label, then do us all a favor and find out what it means first. Thank you.

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