How To Talk To An Angry Calvinist

October 22, 2019

Faith & Scripture, Uncategorized

How do we woo stringent Calvinists out of their echo chambers and circular arguments?

The times call for answers. An especially surly brand of Calvinism has throttled American evangelical Christianity in recent years. Its spokesmen (and, I emphasize, they’re mostly spokesmen) demand we lift aloft our TULIP (Total Depravity; Unconditional Election; Limited Atonement; Irresistible Grace; Perseverance of the Saints) and pay homage to John Piper, Wayne Grudem, DA Carson, and Albert Mohler. This is not the gentlemanly Calvinism of John Jefferson Davis of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary or Fuller Seminary’s Richard Mouw. Both bear-hug Arminians and others outside their fold. This is an everyone-else-is-a-heretic Calvinism.

Two videos point the way. One is a confessional sermon from a former angry Calvinist pastor, Brad Saab of Missoula, Montana. A key point: Calvinists love their Bibles (as they should). Please avoid appeals to sentimentality and philosophy; just dwell on the Scriptures. Saab then demonstrates how to do that by examining Ephesians 1:1-14, a favorite Calvinist go-to text. The passage simply does not say what Calvinists claim it says. Find Saab’s sermon here.

Leighton Flowers gives the other. The former Calvinist and Director of Evangelism and Apologetics for Texas Baptists describes “The Five Points That Lead Me Out Of Calvinism.” First, don’t limit the debate to allegedly weak traditional Arminian replies; second, please distinguish total depravity (sin has infiltrated humanity in all aspects) from total inability. Even classic Calvinists agree that common grace pervades all humanity. We’re not wildebeests. Third, Calvinists often call any human act a “work” and, thus, beyond our capability. Even “humility” is a work. That’s nonsense, says Flowers. Fourth, I don’t diminish God if I refuse his gift (traditional Calvinists insist that God’s grace is “irresistible;” resistible grace renders God weak); fifth, don’t confuse sovereignty with meticulous control (Calvinists inhale and exhale sovereignty).

To emphasize: Both Flowers and Saab are former Calvinists, so they deserve close attention.



About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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