In Christianity there are a lot of perspectives/traditions that people draw from to formulate their theological doctrines. For the longest time, I was the average Classical Arminian Evangelical American Christian (long name, huh?). As I’ve learned more Scripture and how to interpret, God has settled me into the Reformed theological tradition. Otherwise known to most people as Calvinism. I define Calvinism (or Reformed theology) as that perspective which holds to the five Solas of the Reformation, the the five doctrines of grace (TULIP), and adheres to the Westminster Confession or Heidelberg Catechism. With that, here are three reasons I’m a Calvinist:
- I want Jesus Christ to get all the credit. Christianity is supposed to be “Christ-centered” of course. However, before the Reformation, man-centered doctrines had slipped into the church. For this reason Martin Luther, among others, declared an all-out attack on the cultural Christianity of his day. Still today, those man-centered doctrines are filtered throughout the church. People say things like, “God values humans so much so he sent Jesus to die for them” or “God is a gentlemen and doesn’t force himself on anyway — that’s why we have free will.” Ultimately, following Jesus is about, you guessed it, Jesus. A quick survey of Scripture will reveal that God is passionate about his glory and that was the end for which God created the world. From what I have found after looking at countless perspectives within Christianity, the only one that has stood above the rest as radically Christ-centered is Calvinism. I don’t want to take any of the credit for anything that happens because I am nothing and Christ is everything. I am but a worthless sinner saved by grace — God’s predestinating, electing, wooing, justifying, sanctifying, glorifying grace. And he’s the only one who will get credit for everything that happens in this universe.
- The doctrine of election and predestination is the only thing I have found that explains the hardness of the human heart and why everyone does not come to Jesus. I work in ministry full-time as a missionary for Campus Crusade. I have shared the gospel with literally hundreds of people in my short of being involved with Crusade as a student and staff member. I have family members who are in darkness and cannot see the light that God offers. Just a short 18 months ago, I was your typical American Evangelical Arminian Christian. I believed that people had the free will to come to Jesus or not. I have learned since then that though our choices are free and non-mechanistic, they are not autonomous or free from a dependence on God. There are some people in this world who have been given so many opportunities to come to Jesus and yet, despite it all, they refuse. There are others — murderers, rapists, child molesters, thieves, fornicators, and politicians (I couldn’t resist) — who were so far gone no one thought they’d be saved, but God by his mercy and grace drew them to himself. Can anyone explain to me that someone does not come to Christ because they are less intelligent, wise, or discerning? Is it because they are not in the right place at the right time? Is it because they can do a stronger work than the Holy Spirit by saying “No”? Or is it because God, in his mysterious and glorious will, chose not to enlighten their hearts, open their eyes and, feed them his grace?
- The Reformed position that holds that God is the ultimate Sovereign and cause of all things is the only thing that can explain natural evils, moral evils, and all other kinds of evil. Again, I used to think that God simply knew everything and that he did not cause everything. When a natural disaster happened, I would say, “God simply allowed it.” He did allow it. But he did more than that. In Hebrews, it says that Jesus holds the world by the word of his power. Jesus is in Sovereign control and nothing/nobody can do a more powerful work than God. Can you imagine Satan or a human causing some kind of evil and God reacts thus: “Oh, that’s so frustrating! I can’t believe they got away with that again.” God is not a frustrated God. He is infinitely higher and wiser than we are and for God to do something that would be wrong for us (i.e. to cause a natural disaster that kills thousands of people) is not wrong for him. Scripture gives him credit for all things, but never blames God for bad things. (See my article Death, Disaster, Disease and God for further explanation.) Not all Christian perspectives teach the exact opposite, but perhaps none quite as thoroughly and passionately as the Reformed/Calvinistic position. This connects well to Jesus getting all the credit, because he is in control of everything.
Read the other posts in this series: