Is Calvinism Man-Centered, Making God ‘Weak?’

I’d like to thank Tory Lamore for coming to visit and making this comment:

Calvinism is man-centered since it starts its’ doctrines with man himself in “total depravity,” rather than starting with God . Everything should be defined from the starting point of God and His grace, not of man and his depravity. When one starts one’s doctrines with God (unlike Calvinism) then one will see that God is soooo almighty, awesome and beyond our understanding that He is sovereign despite man’s ability to say “yes” or “no” to Him. That ability is way beyond our comprehension. It is the Calvinist God that is weak since He has to take away the free will which He gave man in Eden (and which apparently Cain still has in Gen. 4:7) in order to be sovereign.

First, I’d simply like to say that we do not deny any ability of God. He does not need to take away man’s “free will” in order to be sovereign. Rather, He was sovereign both before the fall and after. God is independent of creation. He can save all, some, or none. We affirm that salvation is of the Lord.

As to the rest, this is a good observation, and I thank you for making it. Historically the five points of Calvinism are simply the answers to the Arminian doctrines of salvation. They are simply pegged to those to whom Dort responded in the order they presented them, so it is not we who necessarily set them in that order. So, if we’re “man-centered” based on the order in which we present our doctrines, consider that they wouldn’t be presented in that order if it had not been for those from your side of the aisle, my friend.

The Five Points of Arminianism presented to the Dutch Parliament and addressed at Dort were as follows:

  1. Free will, or human ability. This taught that man, although affected by the Fall, was not totally incapable of choosing spiritual good, and was able to exercise faith in God in order to receive the gospel and thus bring himself into possession of salvation.
  2. Conditional election. This taught that God laid His hands upon those individuals who, He knew – or foresaw – would respond to the gospel. God elected those that He saw would want to be saved of their own free will and in their natural fallen state — which was, of course, according to the first point of Arminianism, not completely fallen anyway.
  3. Universal redemption, or general atonement. This taught that Christ died to save all men; but only in a potential fashion. Christ’s death enabled God to pardon sinners, but only on condition that they believed.
  4. The work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration limited by the human will. This taught that the Holy Spirit, as He began to work to bring a person to Christ, could be effectually resisted and His purposes frustrated. He could not impart life unless the sinner was willing to have this life imparted.
  5. Falling from grace. This taught that a saved man could fall finally from salvation. It is, of course, the logical and natural outcome of the system. If man must take the initiative in his salvation, he must retain responsibility for the final outcome.

They were set in order in contradiction to those on your side of the aisle in the order they were presented. I’d also add that in Romans, Paul begins his discussion about the doctrine of salvation with the condition of men. I know you don’t think he was man-centered.

Second, for argument’s sake, I’ll agree with you in that we should start with God and His grace. Does this help your case?

Let’s start with God’s grace: In Calvinism, God elects from before the foundation of the world those to whom He will manifest His grace and make His people. The Son redeems them by incarnating, living sinlessly, atoning for their sins perfectly, and rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, interceding for them perfectly, and reigning spiritually now and then returning to reign here in person forever. The Holy Spirit effectually calls each of those elected by the Father and redeemed by the Son infallibly as men faithfully preach the gospel.

In your view, election is the result of foreseen faith, right? If so, then election lies outside a chain of grace, because God is reacting to men to elect them. In your view regeneration is the result of faith, right? If so, then regeneration lies outside a chain of grace too, since men must believe for the Holy Spirit to act.

Some non-Calvinists believe in a special kind of grace called “universal prevenient grace” that Christ purchased at the cross to draw all men equally. Folks like Dr. Elmer Towns, whom the folks at Baptistfire extol on their website say, as Dr. Towns does on his website, that the ability to believe is given every man as a matter of common grace. Common grace is the basic grace God gives to us, the animals, and the rest of creation, like the laws of nature, etc.; it comes by way of design. Ergo, Dr. Towns, unless he is being fast and loose with his terms, believes that there is no such thing as UPG in the classical Arminian sense of the term (special grace bought by Jesus in the atonement that the Holy Spirit applies to all men without exception). If this is what you believe, my friend, I think you have a serious problem you may not have considered. Why?

In Calvinism the middle three points all speak to One Person of the Trinity. Each is active and acts infallibly and orderly, and Each acts to secure salvation for the human beings involved. In your view, the Father and the Spirit are passive and wait on men to act. Only the cross is in view. This is functional Unitarianism. Is this really what you believe the Bible teaches? I know the folks at Baptistfire don’t repudiate the Trinity, but they may as well, given what they teach about the way God saves. The Calvinist doctrine is 100 percent Trinitarian. Nothing that happens to man in his salvation is outside the chain of grace.

This is necessary, because men can do no spiritual good to accompany their salvation. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44) Paul wrote that the mind of man is at enmity with God and cannot please God or submit to His law (Romans 8:7), and does not have the ability to understand spiritual truth (I Cor.2:14).

Calvinists do not deny free will either. I’d like to point you to this from the Philadelphia Confession:

Chapter 9

Of Free Will

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
    (Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19)
  2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.
    (Eccles. 7:29; Gen. 3:6)
  3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
    (Rom. 5:6, 8:7; Eph. 2:1, 5; Tit. 3:3-5; John 6:44)
  4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
    (Col. 1:13; John 8:36; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23)
  5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only. (Eph. 4:13)

I chose this, because this is the confession to which all the Charter signatories of the Southern Baptist Convention believed in 1845, for they all came from churches that held this confession. This is historic Baptist doctrine.

We believe what the Bible says about free will. We affirm that men can do exactly what the Bible says we can and cannot do. We can make choices. We cannot submit our minds to God, understand, apprehend, and love spiritual truth, or do any spiritual good to accompany salvation, including come to Christ. We can understand intellectually. We can know all about systematic theology, but we do not have the ability to cling to Christ and embrace spiritual truth apart from the effectual work of the Holy Spirit.

We do not deny free will, or the power to make choices, or that God gives us choices. We deny libertarian free will, the idea that choices are only free if persons have the ability to do otherwise and are causeless. If that is so, then the more in bondage a person is to sin, the less accountable they are for sin. Satan can do no good; ergo God has no business judging his sins. Moreover, such a view accords more freedom to man’s will than God. Must God be able to sin in order for it to be free? In Scripture freedom is defined as holiness, freedom from sin. In Romans 6, Paul uses the imagery of slavery. We are slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Cor.3:17). He who sins is the slave of sin (John 8:34).

Men have choices. Genesis 4:7 shows that God gave Cain a choice. Where does it say that Cain had a will that was free to act in a manner contrary to his desires? Nothing can be deduced about abilities from a command. One can command someone to do something to show them their inability and increase their guilt. Remember, the reason that men cannot obey is moral. They cannot obey, because, by nature, they do not want to obey.

God commands men to repent in Isa. 6, yet He also told Isaiah that, in issuing that command, He would harden men through this action, confirming them in their sins according to their own sinful natures. I for one have always found it rather odd that folks would object to this. Isn’t the free will position designed such that God is obligated to give men what they desire most?

Finally, we believe that once a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and called effectually, he freely and naturally believes. The image we have in Scripture is of birth (John 3). As a baby is breathes and cries as soon as it is born; so does every one that is born of the Spirit. Then they are justified, declared righteous with the righteousness of Christ, by the Father. There are no still births in God’s kingdom.

Not only that, there are no crib deaths either. Those that are converted are preserved in the faith, and prevented from apostatizing. Apostasy is the falling away from the faith altogether. It involves 3 evils: a renunciation of the faith; falling into moral sin, and a loss of spirituality of mind. Backsliding embraces one, maybe two, but never all three. True believers do not apostatize, because they are preserved. All believers are liable to backsliding.

So, what we have here is a God who is active by His grace from beginning to end in Calvinism, and in the other, we have only one Person of the Trinity in view within the chain of grace. The drawing is ineffectual in that scheme. Regeneration must wait for man’s response. Election is passive too. The atonement only makes men savable, or, as some say, pays for all a man’s sins except the sin of unbelief. In Calvinism, the cross saves perfectly, and grace is 100 percent effectual. It’s hard to see how the contrary view of salvation makes God “stronger,” and emphasizes grace, when it amounts to functional Unitarianism and has God waiting on men and whose plans seem so easily frustrated. The results of evangelism are also 100 percent successful, though only God knows the exact percentage of elect to reprobate in the end. All we have to do is consistently preach the gospel, witness personally, etc. In the other, some, none, or all might believe. This is grace! In fact, in the other system men are not only left to their own free wills to decide from a state of nature, not grace, but the only really consistent position to hold is that God values mens’ free wills more than their lives.

Explore posts in the same categories: Doctrinal Issues, Soteriology

14 Comments on “Is Calvinism Man-Centered, Making God ‘Weak?’”

  1. Scripture Searcher Says:

    Preach it, brother!

    Preach it, again!

    Preach it until you graduate to glory!

  2. kletois Says:

    Ok, lets dispell the charge of calvinism as being man-centered. Let us rephrase
    ‘Calvinism is man-centered since it starts its’ doctrines with man himself in “total depravity,” rather than starting with God . ‘ to ‘God, who is perfect in righteousness and glory, has decreed that man is in total depravity’

  3. Gene Says:

    And let’s further rephrase the way by which God decreed this. The 1689 Confession reads:

    Paragraph 1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass;1 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein;2 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established;3 in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.4
    1 Isa. 46:10; Eph. 1:11; Heb. 6:17; Rom. 9:15,18
    2 James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
    3 Acts 4:27,28; John 19:11
    4 Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5

    Paragraph 2. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions,5 yet hath He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.6
    5 Acts 15:18
    6 Rom. 9:11,13,16,18

    Paragraph 3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ,7 to the praise of His glorious grace;8 others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.9
    7 I Tim. 5:21; Matt. 25:34
    8 Eph. 1:5,6
    9 Rom. 9:22,23; Jude 4

    Paragraph 4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.10
    10 2 Tim. 2:19; John 13:18

    Paragraph 5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love,11 without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.12
    11 Eph. 1:4, 9, 11; Rom. 8:30; 2 Tim. 1:9; I Thess. 5:9
    12 Rom. 9:13,16; Eph. 2:5,12

    Paragraph 6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto;13 wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,14 are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,15 and kept by His power through faith unto salvation;16 neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.17
    13 1 Pet. 1:2; 2; Thess. 2:13
    14 1 Thess. 5:9, 10
    15 Rom. 8:30; 2 Thess. 2:13
    16 1 Pet. 1:5
    17 John 10:26, 17:9, 6:64

    Paragraph 7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election;18 so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise,19 reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility,20 diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.21
    18 1 Thess. 1:4,5; 2 Pet. 1:10
    19 Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:33
    20 Rom. 11:5,6,20
    21 Luke 10:20

    The question non-Calvinists must answer is this: If God did not decree sin, then how does sin exist apart from the sovereign decree of all things?

    Responsibility, I would add is a necessary, but insufficient condition for blame. Moral blame requires responsibility and a wrong motive. To object that this makes God the Author of sin confounds a necessary condition and a sufficient condition. God is responsible for the existence of sin and evil, the same way that He is responsible for everything. Job 2:9-10, “His (Job’s) wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he (Job) said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks, shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this, Job did not sin with his own lips.

    I’d add that Arminianism, unless one is an Open Theist must still answer this charge as well, for, even if God only decrees the possibility of sin, He did not act to avert it; thus He is still responsible for men’s depravity. We can give a reason for this: God will glorify himself. The other side of the aisle can give no reason why God would create persons whom He knows will sin and never even hear the gospel while still proclaiming that He loves all men redemptively.

    Decrees only make a thing certain. They do not, in and of themselves cause anything. The means is also decreed. The means is what renders a thing certain. Means can involve God acting directly, indirectly through second causes, or not at all. In that sense, God’s inaction can be, and is, as effacious as His direct action. By withholding grace and leaving men to sin in the Garden, men were put into bondage, so that God might show mercy to both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 11:32). Election, for example, renders a man’s salvation certain. However, the means to that end is the preaching of the gospel to that man, the effectual calling and regenerative work of the Spirit, and then the infallible rising of repentance and faith in that man’s heart. That is the sufficient condition.

    God’s decree is insufficient to keep men out of the kingdom of God. The gospel is so plan, and the evidence of God’s existence, power, and moral qualities so great, and His Word is so plain, that men should, if they did not love their evil so much and hate God, believe. Thus, while the decrees of God do render these things certain, they do not render them so by compulsion. If a man is hardened against the gospel, it is usually by the proclamation of the gospel to him or by the warnings and threatenings of the moral law, and none of us can say we would have decided differently than Adam and Eve in the Garden.

  4. Gene,

    I think it was helpful to provide the historical framework for the five points. No theology is a-historical, and to understand the nature of such theological frameworks, it demands that such convictions and statements of faith be understood in light of the contextual historical setting in which they were made.

    Secondly, I really do not think that many who extol man’s free will, who do so in the libertarian sense, do not fully understand the implications of such a position. Time and time again, people will respond, “The Bible teaches a ‘whosoever will’ gospel” as though Calvinists do not believe in moral responsibility and human agency. But the heart of the matter really comes down to who is sovereign in salvation – us or God? Who makes our salvation effectual?

    Libertarian free will is a philosophical construction developed to safeguard human self-determination from an divine intervention so as to make man utterly autonomous. Holding to such free will is to assume that God cannot and will not violate such a free will, but rather has his hands tied, unable to work anything unless asked to (insert the beggar God as a substitute for the Sovereign King). Unfortunately, there is no biblical support or warrant to such libertarian free will.

    But mark it: this is precisely why those who do not hold to a Triniatarian soteriolog and sovereign grace are bound to such man-ceteredness. For salvation to belong wholly unto the Lord would be to shatter our “worth” and make us feel insignificant given that we cannot contribute anything (say faith for example). Sovereign grace strikes at the root of the pride of man and brings us to naught. And it is only then when we find that grace is truly amazing, that God can and does accomplish his glorious saving work through the agency of the Holy Spiirt and instrumentality of the Word, and where we lift up our hearts to Jesus and proclaim, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

  5. Francesco De Lucia Says:

    There is indeed much material given to study in this post and his comments alone! Nevertheless, I’d like to add something about free-will and God forcing the will, quoting from an article of V. Cheung about it:

    Peter writes that God’s people are chosen, and they are chosen to live under the “sanctifying work of the Spirit.” God the Father issues the eternal decree, and the Holy Spirit carries out this decree as he works in the lives and the hearts of those whom God has chosen. He works powerfully upon each chosen individual even from the beginning of their Christian life.

    It is he who resurrects and awakens the spirits of those who would believe. He convicts them of their sins, and calls them to come forth from their unbelief and wickedness into a life of faith and obedience. This call overcomes all resistance, not by forcing the human will, but much more powerfully than that, by directly changing the will so that it eagerly repents and believes.

  6. Thanks for the response.

    The last statment by Tory sounds very much like the God described in books by Open Theists. John Sanders speaks of a “God Who Risks” by allowing his (small “h” on purpose for Sanders god) creation libertarian free will. By the way I was checking on something from Sanders and found that they sell his book at an LDS bookstore: this says much about the concept of the Open Theist’s god.

    When the conversation is about man and his part in salvation (as it was at Dort) then the “conversation” would seem to need to begin with man since that was the subject. So it is not a theolgy of God that starts with man but the subject was in regards to man.

    Again, thanks for the responses, keep it up.

  7. Castusfumus Says:

    All believers are liable to backsliding.

    I agree whole heartedly but this is a buzzword riddled with an absence of Biblical definition. But, I don’t think any Baptist isn’t familiar with this terminology and the doctrine of “rededication”. I feel that both may need a further exegesis.

    Thanks for the GOOD STUFF!!

  8. Mike Ratliff Says:

    Timmy, you said that Sovereign Grace strikes at the root of pride. Hallelujah! Because that is the root of humanism which against all aspects of Sovereign Grace.

    Gene – Preach ON brother!

  9. Rey Says:

    Five Articles of the Remonstrants

    ARTICLE I.—That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

    ART. II.—That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”; and in [1 John 2:2]: “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only. but also for the sins of the whole world.”

    ART. III.—That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free-will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as having faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John 15:5: “Without me ye can do nothing.”

    ART. IV. — That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of an good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting; awakening, following, and co-operative grace, elm neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost,—Acts 7, and elsewhere in many places.

    ART. V.—That those who an incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand; and if only they are ready for the conflict. and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the word of Christ, John 10:28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable. through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.

  10. Floyd Jones Says:

    I found the statement ‘calvinism is man-centered’ to be very interesting. I became a Calvinist because I was and remain convinced that the doctrines of grace were and are biblical. However, one of the many surprises that came with it was a large, more comprehensive understanding of who God is and His work in creation. In other words, what surprised me (one who was a functional Arminian) was that my former understanding of God was too small. All of my fears regarding Calvinism were replaced. My fear of slavery was replaced with freedom. My fear of an overpowering God was replaced for holy respect and submissive awe to the love, mercy and grace of God. All of my understanding became focused to such a degree toward God as had never happened in my twelve years previously as a student of God Word. I have tasted and known that God is good.

    Still, this statement that ‘calvinism is man-centered’ is interesting. John Calvin did not write the five-points of Calvinism. However, this is what he did write: Our wisdom, if it is to be thought genuine, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. As these are closely connected, it is not easy to decide which comes first and gives rise to the other. To begin with, no one can assess himself without turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves, because it is quite obvious that the gifts we possess cannot possibly spring from ourselves and our very being is sustained by God alone. Further, the blessings which constantly spill over from heaven are like streams leading us to the fountain. Here again, the endless good which exists in God becomes more obvious beside our poverty…On the other hand, it is evident that man never arrives at true seld-knowledge before he has looked into the face of God and then come away to look at self…For since we all have a righteous tendency to hypocrisy, any holow appearance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us, instead of righteousness itself. Since there is nothing in us or around us that is not greatly tainted with impurity, as long as we are assessing limits of human corruption, anything whichis slightly putred makes us very pleased with ourselves…So long as we do not look further than those around us, we are quite satisfied with our own righteousnes, wisdom and virtue; we assess ourselves in very flattering terms as being well on the way to perfection! However, as soon as we lift our thoughts to God and reflect on his nature and how absolutely perfect he is in righteousness, wisdom and virtue, we realise that this is the standard to which we must conform. Then what previously made us very pleased by its deceptive goodness, we will see as tainted with the blackest sin; what before deceived us unbelievably, by masquerading as wisdom, will revolt us by its extreme folly; and what looked like commendable activity will be judged pathetic weakness. In just this way, even the qualities in us which seem most admirable are worlds away from God’s purity and can never match it…though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual bond, it is only right that the former is given first place, and then we can come down to the latter [John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, Tony Lane and Hilary Osbourne, ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2004), 22-24].

    I used such a lengthy quote to show that Calvin himself stated that knowledge and understanding of God comes first and foremost, then all other doctrines will fall into place. I could go on, but this is not to be a report but just a reply so I will end. Those who know church history know that while Calvinist’s are not acolytes of John Calvin, they agree with him on many issues. From study of the Bible, my own personal experience and looking over church history, I find that the statement ‘calvinism is man-centered’ completely wrong.

    Thanks for a great web-site. Hopefully, by civil discussion on these matters people will be edified.

  11. Mike Ratliff Says:

    Floyd, your journey to the truth sounds like mine and so many others who say that their concept of God grew tremendously after the truth of Sovereign Grace came home to live in their hearts.

    Praise God!

    Mike Ratliff

  12. mikem Says:

    Me too. My journey into the Reformed position came as a result of Bible study. No Calvinist influenced me at all. And I can say that the overriding testimony of Scripture that let me to the docrines of grace was the clear description of the greatness of God. As I began to see this God of the Bible as absolutely sovereign in everything–the God whose will can never be thwarted–the God who accopmlishes every single thing He wants to accopmlish–there was no other position to have. And as I began to see the glorious majesty of God, I became accutely aware of the absolute depravity of man. And as it all started coming into focus, the grace of God was magnified beyond anything I had ever imagined as a non-Calvinist. And as all this has taken shape (and I anticipate will continue to take shape), I have learned more fully what worship is. I never really knew how to worship before. I was content to sing all the shallow worship music offered up in church and on Christian radio (I now prefer secular music to most “contemporary Christian” stuff out there), and I was frustrated in my own futile efforts to sanctify myself. But praise be to God that I have learned to trust in Him–the all-sufficient God of grace and glory–for the entirety of my salvation and Christian life. Anyone who sees the God of the Calvinist as small has absolutely zero concept of Calvinism.

    I was having coffee with a friend a while back who is a professor at an Arminian institution of higher learning. He is a self-professed Arminian himself. We love each other and have tremendous respect for each other, and while we were casually discussing our differences, he made a wonderful statement to me. He said, “I really envy you Calvinists. Your God is so much bigger than mine.” Of course, I responded, “Well, come on over, brother!” But alas, he has yet to do so.

    I love debate and discussion with non-Calvinists, but unfortunately most of them are not like my friend. They don’t ever take the time to understand what we truly believe. And until they do, there will be unnecessary division. So thanks to you StrangeBaptistFire guys. You are a much needed presence on the information superhighway!

  13. Rey Says:

    An arminian actually said “Your God is…bigger”?!?!?

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