The Appeal of Calvinism and the Deceitfulness of Unbelief

While scanning the blogs and reading about the huge controversy surrounding Francis Beckwith’s ‘conversion’ back to Roman Catholicism, I came across a blog entry where a Roman Catholic was explaining her abandonment of Protestant Calvinism. Apparently, this young lady was convinced of the doctrines of grace (Calvinism) through reading some John Piper material and such, but she has now left those beliefs altogether and has embraced Roman Catholicism. Explaining why she was attracted to and at one time embraced Calvinism, she said the following:

“When I prayed I heard no answer, and I didn’t think God answered my prayers because bad things continued to happen to me and my friends. Calvinism appealed to me because God seemed more distant in the Calvinist system. Calvinism also taught that God uses all things for the salvation of those who are chosen. I could only hope that God was using my sufferings to bring me to Him. I saw my inability to let go of God as a sign of my election and salvation. I had tried to be an atheist but couldn’t, and Calvinism explained why.”

I would like to briefly address the few sentences above because I believe there is much contained within from which we can learn and grow. Specifically, I would like to identify four warning signs of unbelief that can be and often are common in the lives of many professing, Calvinist, Christians: 1) a lack of prayer, 2) a distant communion with God, 3) a lack of true conviction of God’s sovereignty when things go wrong, 4) and a deceitful assurance of faith without the proper fruit that comes from abiding in the true Vine.

“When I prayed I heard no answer, and I didn’t think God answered my prayers because bad things continued to happen to me and my friends.”

**For the rest of this entry, see my original post HERE**

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23 Comments on “The Appeal of Calvinism and the Deceitfulness of Unbelief”

  1. Barry Says:

    Perhaps we should look more at ourselves when people move from one religion to another than that person who made the change.

    How should we react to someone who leaves one movement for another?

    Do we point a finger at them and suppose they are lost?

    Do some within a movement actually stand out by their rigid intolerance of those who’s logic doesn’t parallel their own?

    Some movements have, in today’s world, tried to reach out to one another for understanding and common ground and some few have made themselves known to the world by their peculiar dogmas and a continued pathological enmity for any other movement than their own.

    Should Beckwith, once respected, now be an object of pity because he chooses a movement different from someone else’s?

    Who is lost if we can’t tolerate someone from a different religion?

    If we claim all systems are “false” other than our own, who are we kidding?

  2. Tim Says:


    Simply put, when one leaves THE faith, which is rooted in Christ and in His perfect life and work for something less than that, then that person has committed apostasy. They have left the Truth for a lie. The apostle John, who by the way is one who is enthralled with the love of God has no tolerance for the apostate. Listen to the inspired words from his pen.

    They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 Jn 2:19)

    Now in all honesty, what is John getting at. Well, in his epistle he contrasts those who are true believers with those who are not; those who are Christ’s with those who are anti-christ; those of the light with those of the darkness. You really need to understand this. If you are weak on this issue then you can be easily led astray, as if it isn’t easy enough for us to be led astray.

    When a man leaves the truth of the perfection of the work of Christ that actually saves men for a system that employees all kinds of means in order to justify men before God, then that man has apostatized. I make no apologies for that. It is so clear in Scripture. Not only that, but when people leave the True faith for the love of the world, then they also apostatize (cf. 2 Tim. 4:10)

    Any man who thinks he can contribute something to his salvation or that any saint can contribute to his salvation is seriously deluded. Christ and Christ alone saves and that by grace alone through faith alone. If salvation does not come by Him through those means alone, then it does not come, period. I hope you will take into consideration what I have said here. His sin is not simply personal, it is a sin against the Most High God, against the Church of Jesus Christ and a betrayal of all those who have and are suffering for the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world. This is no small matter.

  3. Gordan Says:


    I’m re-reading your comment and trying to understand what you’re suggesting. Could be I’m just slow.

    Maybe you could help me out? I’m wondering if you claim any particular belief system yourself? Or, do you consider all systems equal?

  4. Barry Says:


    I view all movements as flawed.

    I try to understand and appreciate the various movements, even people who chose not to believe.

    But, that’s just me. I’m flawed too.

    If people choose not to respect Beckwith because he changed religious movements then that’s their problem.

    I’m not ready to throw a stone a Beckwith because I might think he has fallen from “THE” faith anymore than I would want to deride him for being a Calvinist or Armenian in viewpoint.

  5. Gordan Says:


    Thanks for the reply. Still hoping to get where you’re coming from, you said, paraphrased:

    A. All movements are flawed. And,
    B. You yourself are flawed (I’m guessing with respect to what you believe?)

    Unless I’m missing something, doesn’t that leave you with believing that nobody’s right? Or, maybe nobody’s more right than anyone else?

    Okay, if that’s close to what you’re saying, then I think that leaves a logical contradiction for you. I mean, if you’d admit that you don’t personally hold to “THE” faith (as you say above) then how can you presume to know enough about “THE” faith in order to assert that no one else holds to it? I’m suggesting that for you to claim that no one’s got THE truth, first requires you personally to know enough about what THE truth is to be confident that no one has it. Is that about as clear as mud?

    My illustration: if I’m in a bank and am handed currency from dozens of different nations, the reason I could assert that none of them is American currency is precisely because I know for a fact what American currency looks like. If I don’t know American currency, how could I be sure none of what I saw was it, y’know? So for you to claim all belief systems are flawed necessarily means you know what an un-flawed belief system would look like: And, if you knew that, that’d undoubtedly be the belief system you would hold to, but you’ve admitted yours is flawed as well. So I’m wondering how you get there.

    Or, it could be your presupposition that all systems are flawed, irrespective of any evidence one way or another?

    Help me out.

  6. Barry Says:


    You’re right.

    My view was flawed.

    I don’t know enough about all religions to conclusively say they are all flawed. But I have studied enough of them for over thirty years to have come to the conclusion that those I have looked into have contradictory points of view and other points of view (dogmas if not outright doctrine) that are purely delusional.

    That is not to say that I don’t have a great appreciation for the number of good points within each.

    I wouldn’t have the temerity to walk up to Beckwith, look him in the face, and tell him that because he is now a Roman Catholic that he doesn’t believe in Christ and he is not a Christian and he will not be saved. I wouldn’t think that anymore than, were she still alive, walking up to the Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa and saying to her that she wasn’t really a Christian.

    Other people might be fine with that but I am not.

    If you just take into account the cruelty to people that different Christian movements are responsible for–that alone is enough to warrant the suggestion that they are flawed.

  7. Tim Says:

    Just to clarify Barry, you said,” If you just take into account the cruelty to people that different Christian movements are responsible for–that alone is enough to warrant the suggestion that they are flawed.”

    Ok, I don’t know who you are talking about here. However, while there are Christians who are flawed (all of us and the Bible says that flaw is our fallen, sinful nature), I don’t see how that is relevant to exactly what a person believes about the person and work of Christ and what the Bible has to say about it. Christ is knowable. The Gospel is knowable. It can be defined and clarified down to the smallest detail. With that in mind, I am wondering after this great amount of study for 30 years, could you define for us what the Christian faith actually is?

  8. Nathan White Says:

    Barry said:

    My view was flawed.
    I don’t know enough
    I have studied enough
    I have looked into
    not to say that I don’t have a great appreciation
    I wouldn’t have the temerity
    I wouldn’t think
    Other people might be fine with that but I am not.

    Barry, with all due respect to your views, are they based on scripture? If so, would you mind specifically providing the scriptural foundation for these assertions?

    Of course, if you are Roman Catholic, or something other than protestant Christianity in affirming sola scriptura, will you then admit that you look outside of scripture for your logic, reasoning, and ultimately your beliefs?

    Again, with all due respect, I would rather not take your 30years of study as being ‘the gospel’, but I would prefer to look outside of man (scripture) for instruction in this area.

    This view to take scripture alone ertainly isn’t just my view:

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Tim 3

    “…no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1

  9. Barry Says:

    Thinking, acting and behaving in a manner that we know is right. Doing what I think Jesus would approve of. I separate Jesus from Dogma and Doctrines whether it’s the Catholic Church or any Protestant Church. Doctrines come from men.

    Where do I get off telling someone else who has lived a pious, fruitful and devotional life that they are not Christian if they are not of a particular religious movement?

    Some have chided me for not holding up dogma and doctrine within my own movement.

    That’s not what being Christian is about. Moderates understand that. Ultra-Conservatives do not.

    I have learned that when we can’t let go of enmity we can’t let go of sin. If we chronically embrace our enmity we hold sin to our breast and are about as far from what Jesus was about as it gets.

    I’m not a scholar by a long stretch. My interest in the Reformation and different movments is desultory but ongoing for many years.

    I can make a mistake as easily as anyone, however, and if you think I’m well off the mark, I’m ready to listen with a contrite heart.

  10. Gordan Says:


    I think most Reformed people would immediately be led to ask you this: you said you try to do what you think Jesus would approve of. Where do you get your ideas about what Jesus approves and disapproves?

    That’s the point that I think lies at the bottom of this discussion: what is your source of spiritual authority? Is it merely about what you personally imagine Jesus would like?

    I think what we’re missing is an understanding of what it is that you base your opinions on.

  11. Tim Says:


    No one here is having enmity towards you or the person referenced in the article or anyone else. That’s not the issue. But as Gordan is asking, as Nathan is asking and as I am asking, Since we can’t see Jesus and conversate with Him as the disciples did during the Incarnation, then we must learn of Jesus via the Scriptures and the conclusions we come to become our doctrine. So when you say you want to do what Jesus would approve of apart from doctrine that is ascertained from the Scriputres, then we are simply left scratching our heads at what you mean unless you are simply doing what Gordan is asking of you and that is molding an idol of Jesus from your own imagination.

  12. Barry Says:


    You have brought up precisely the crucial point that I have been trying to make for a long time.

    You said: “…the conclusions we come to become our doctrine.”

    Your conclusions along with Nathan’s and Gordan’s may all be the same, and that’s fine, but they may not be the same conclusions as others.

    I may be molding an idol of Jesus from my own imagination as you suggest but I think it is the Jesus I have read from the Pauline corpus as well as from the Gospels. I also, and I may very well be in error, view Jesus as alive today and living and guiding me in what I do. I see him in my community and in my Church. I see him in people like you.

    My view is surely flawed, but it is my view.

    I also think you are in error to suggest that Beckwith does not now believe in Christ. You may say it but that doesn’t make it so.

    I also don’t think people who have views and beliefs that are different from my own should be condemned.

    I respect people with Calvinistic views as well as those with Arminian views. I also respect people who follow other Christian and non-Christian movements. I also respect people who choose not to believe.

    It may be a case of the blind leading the blind but I am willing to accept that topical view.


  13. Gordan Says:

    Barry, I hope you’re not feeling ganged-up-on here. 🙂

    I know this is hypothetical, but please indulge me.

    What if there was a place in the Gospels where Jesus came right out and said, “Don’t join the Roman Catholic Church. It’s antichrist.” …??

    Would you then be willing to say that Beckwith has made a terrible decision?

    The reason I ask is because I think Nathan and Tim and I would posit that Jesus did in fact say that, although not quite so directly. He didn’t use those exact words, but when we study His teachings (in an effort to find what He approves,) and those in the Pauline corpus, we see the Roman Catholic Church strictly ruled out precisely because her teachings contradict what we have recorded of theirs (Jesus and Paul.)

    It is precisely that which makes us feel like we stand on sure and solid ground in condemning the move that Beckwith has made. (Nathan and Tim: sorry for using “we” here to speak of what you believe–I’m assuming.)

  14. Paul Says:

    Would you accept such a “flawed ” view of marital fidelity from your wife? If not, why do you think our Lord would?

  15. Barry Says:


    I appreciate the empathy but I’m okay. Where I work the engineers go at each other constantly from religion to golf. It’s a learning experience (hopefully).

    Again, you make the statement that: “…we see…”.

    That’s what you see. That’s not what other people see.

    You see Jesus pointing the finger at the Roman Catholic Church.

    Jesus didn’t point the finger at the Roman Catholic Church. You are.

    Martin Luther saw the Pope as the Anti-Christ and the Church as the Whore of Babylon. He didn’t read it in Revelations, he took it from Revelations.

    If you want to condemn Beckwith, my friend, I think it is valid to consider that you are holding onto hate. If you chronically hold onto hate you are holding onto sin.

    How do you think Christ would view that?

    Tim said enmity wasn’t the point. I think it is just the point and worthy of a very long post.

  16. Nathan White Says:

    Barry said: If you want to condemn Beckwith, my friend, I think it is valid to consider that you are holding onto hate. If you chronically hold onto hate you are holding onto sin.

    Barry, If you want to condemn [us], my friend, I think it is valid to consider that you are holding onto hate. If you chronically hold onto hate you are holding onto sin.

    Barry said: Jesus didn’t point the finger at the Roman Catholic Church.

    That’s what you see. That’s not what other people see. [to quote you]

    Barry said: How do you think Christ would view that?

    Let me get this straight, you disagree with us for thinking we know what Christ said, and at the same time you are arguing for your position from what you think Christ said??

  17. Gordan Says:

    I understand, Barry, that you don’t think the Roman church is condemned in the Scripture. But my question is, if it was, would you condemn it?

    And by what system of interpretation are you so confident in asserting that Luther was wrong about the Whore of Babylon?

    (It’s Revelation and not “Revelations” by the way. When you don’t know the title of the book, you’re going to have a tough time convincing me that your 30 years of investigation into Christianity was really all that in-depth.)

  18. Tim Says:

    I agree with that last line of yours Gordan.


    Let’s see if we can point out something very clear and ask whether or not you woud believe the apostles actually believed what they wrote.

    For instance John, you know the guy always writing about the love of God, wrote these statements:

    1 Jo 2:18 ¶ Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
    19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
    1Jo 2:22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
    1Jo 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
    2Jo 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

    and the apostle Paul wrote these words:

    Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
    9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    I could cite many more passages with stinging indictments. My question to you is this: from your perspective were they unloving? Did they not understand what they were saying? Were they somehow unclear on what the gospel message was? If they were loving and understood the gospel, what makes you think we can’t understand exactly what the gospel is……….and what it is not?

  19. Barry Says:

    Nathan, Gordan, Tim,

    Nathan, the point I was trying to make there is that I believe you are wrong (and, I don’t hate any of you guys, I think you’re great people) relative to Jesus speaking directly of RC’s. My posit was simply what do you think Christ would think of a movement, or some followers of the movement, who not only embraced enmity toward another movement but they had it in their doctrine.

    Gordan, you’re of course correct. I have mis-spelled Arminian as well. I am human. In fairness I’ve seen each one of you mis-spell. Should we stone each other for that?

    Tim, in all your quotes where does it speak to the Roman Catholic Church?

    And, one might very well point to your last quote as fairly representative of many Christian movements that I have seen: Galatians 1:9 “As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one you received, let that one be accursed!”.

    And, even at that, with so many having “personal interpretations” I still respect the various movements.

  20. Gordan Says:


    The reason we keep harping on certain points is that you seem quite unwilling to give a straight answer.

    Case in point, your last comment. At the end you admit you think Galatians 1:9 is “fairly representative” of “many Christian movements.”

    Well, that verse tells us to count such movements as accursed.

    Then in your next thought you say that you still respect those movements!

    You’re asking what Jesus would think of a movement that held “enmity” toward another movement…you mean, like forever counting them accursed?

    How can that verse be “fairly” applied, and yet you still refuse to apply it?

  21. Barry Says:


    Then I would have to say that all Christian movements are accursed.

    But, I am not willing to do that. Just as I am not a believer in Literal Inerrancy.

    Much of the Bible is topical and we don’t today take the murders from Duterotomy or even Luke as something we should do: Luke 19:27 “Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.”

    One could spend a very long time going through the Bible and pointing things out to you, Gordan, of observances that you do not adhere to simply because they were topical, they don’t apply to you, and they no longer (if they ever did) carry merit.

    As an example (from Leviticus, which by the way is one of my personal favorite books in the OT as it gives a real good picture of Mosaic Laws):

    If you just take Leviticus 17:13-14 “Anyone hunting, whether of the Iraelites or of the aliens residing among them, who catches an animal or a bird that may be eaten, shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. Since the life of every living body is its blood, I have told the Israelites: You shall not partake of the blood of any meat. Since the life of every living body is its blood, anyone who partakes of it shall be cut off.”

    Gordan, I like steak very rare and I eat the heck out of sushi.

    My point is that there are things in the bible which we all do not apply because we deem it silly now.

    You may say that Leviticus was speaking to and for the Israelites and not to you but then you would have to say the same of nearly every book in the Bible.

    I think a post on inerrancy would be good.

  22. Tim Says:


    With all due respect, the difference between moral law and judicial and ceremonial is light years apart. In fact, the very thing you quote from Leviticus is clearly summed up, not because it’s “silly”, but because of Christ’s own words and the illustrations of the apostles in the New Testament epistles.

    You asked, “Tim, in all your quotes where does it speak to the Roman Catholic Church?”

    Well, how about Paul’s quote to the Galatians. Sure it doesn’t say RCC. The point is the doctrine that they hold is in fact another gospel Barry. It doesn’t have to have a name attached to it. It’s like John, notice that he is not singling out an individual an calling him Antichrist, but rather is deducing antichrist down to a doctrine and thus concluding that anyone who holds to that doctrine is also antichrist. Thus, it seems painfully simply what he is addressing. Surely you are older than I am if you have been studying more than 30 years. Frankly, I take it that your study has simply been “some”reading, but not necessarily study, since study actually brings about some convictions, at least in everyone that I know of’s exerience.

    You said, “My posit was simply what do you think Christ would think of a movement, or some followers of the movement, who not only embraced enmity toward another movement but they had it in their doctrine.”

    I’ll tell you what I think. I can hate damnable doctrine. I can hate damnable systems of theology. I can hate apostate dogmas. However, I can love the people in the system who are simply decieved as I am commanded by Christ, for they need the gospel. Tell me, if you have children and they do something wrong, do you correct them? If you do, in light of what you have said, upon what basis do you do it? Is it love or enmity? Surely if you do it, it is based upon love. And what is your correction? Is it not doctrine (teaching)? You desire what is best for them because you love them. We as the bearers of the gospel of Jesus Christ desire the glory of God first and foremost and we desire that men would come to Christ because of our love for God and our love for men, not because of hatred.

  23. Nathan White Says:


    I am glad that we have finally gotten to the root of your theology. Obviously, you view scripture as more of a helpful guide rather than the inspired rule for faith and practice.

    Jesus, on the other hand, had very different things to say:

    Matt 4:4 –“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””

    Matt 5:17-20 –“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Luke 16:17 –“but it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

    It appears our readers have two options: Take Barry’s word for things, or take the words of One who rose from the dead, Jesus Christ the righteous.

    Since it seems impossible to hold to both, I think I’ll stick with the words of Jesus, even if you do claim to have 30years experience.

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