The 5 Reasons I am an Ex-Calvinist

dead tulip I was a die hard Calvinist… to the point I was weeks away from a tulip tattoo behind my ear. I love theology and I love being right, but being a Calvinist with these two quirks is nothing less than annoying! So, the more I matured (listened more than spoke) and the more I read and studied, the more I realized “I may not be a Calvinist after all.” Now, before you reformed campers cry heresy, I am still wrestling with where I stand on the issue, but I can claim that I am NOT a Calvinist. Here are five reasons Calvinism did not seem to make the cut for me:

1.) Too many debates: (although this reason did not change my mind intellectually, it is one of the reasons I stopped and thought about my doctrine.)

This might just be in my area (Appalachia), but for some reason, the only controversial debates that I have ever seen are started and pushed by Calvinist. I was most definitely one of them. These debates (turned arguments) have cost me friends and respect. Although it was a lack of maturity and not doctrinal substance, it still is something that turned me into a psycho. (to put it kindly) If something as unimportant as this turns you into a hateful and unapproachable person, you should probably walk away from it until you grow up.

2.) Cannot be rationally affirmed because God is not Evil

If someone believes Calvinism is true, then they would typically agree that they were pre-destined to think that. They were not able to look at the evidence objectively and consciously make the decision on their own. Something outside themselves (in this case, God) ultimately made the decision for them.  Therefore;  one would have to also agree that every action one does is outside of their control and indeed, predestined. The problem is, if our actions are not up to us, then God made us do them. If this is the case, we are not held responsible for our actions. This means, God ultimately makes us sin. If it is evil to make a person sin, then God is not only the explanation of sin and evil, but is evil Himself. That obviously is not true! William Lane Craig is far more intelligent then me and has a better way of saying this here.

3.) Salvation is not only for the elect, but it is.

Calvinism says that salvation is only extended to the elect. The elect is inevitable. You cannot argue predestination, it is in scripture consistently; however, I think they have it wrong. Their idea is that you can only receive atonement for your sins if God allows it. If God does not allow the Holy Spirit to regenerate (change) your heart, then you come to the assumption that He is a cruel God who sends people to hell for no reason. You can argue that saving one is grace beyond grace, and that is true, but scripture tells us that it is God’s desire to see all saved. So, that simply does not make sense. So, we use John 6:65 which says the “Father must draw him in.” In Acts 7:51-53 Stephen is telling them that they are resisting the Spirit.

In a recent blog I read called the wardrobe door the author says:

“Keathley explains this using the ambulance analogy.

Imagine you wake up and discover that you are in an ambulance being transported to the emergency room. You clearly require serious medical help. If you do nothing, you will be delivered to the hospital. However, if for whatever reason you demand to be let out, the driver will comply. He may express his concern, warn you of the consequences, but he will abide by your wishes. You receive no credit for being taken to the hospital, you receive all the blame for getting out. This is a picture of the Molinist view of salvation.”

I am not saying I am a Molinist, but I will say that this argument has more substance and a stronger fight in scripture, in my opinion.  

4.) Determinist and Compatibilist

I am, by no means, claiming that the human race in not depraved. That would be ridiculous! What I am thinking is we have choice. There are two types of calvinist. There are determinist and compatibilist. The determinist says that everything God has control over everything and what will happen has already been determined. The problem with this is, as stated before, at the core, God makes us sin. That aggressively attacks His nature and attributes. There is just no way. Then you have some of the most dedicated and conservative Calvinist who will say that there is room for freewill in their doctrine. This is what we call compatibilist. this idea argues that we all follow the strongest desire of our heart. Until our hearts have been regenerated, our greatest desire is sin. The problem with this is faced with a simple question: Why did Adam sin? The only answer is that he had free will.

5.) Did I mention the arrogance it caused me?

I am baffled as to why a doctrine that preaches humility, is assumed by so much arrogance. I took  on this haughty notion that I had everything Biblical figured out. I was often times unteachable, unless it came from John Piper (who ironically is hyper-complimentarian). The question I had to finally ask myself was, how does this happen? There is this tendency among your calvinist to equate Christianity and the Christian life with reading theology (reformed theology that is) and gaining as much knowledge as possible. When you have that much knowledge, but never practice it, you get the “arrogant” calvinist. It wasn’t until God broke my heart and humbled me to the point of daily tears that I learned what I had become and decided to change.

These are why I have changed my mind. What do you believe and why do you hold to that?

How to Pray Wrong

I was mid-sentence with a friend when the table became silent and all heads looked down. Completely oblivious to what was happening, my best friend tapped my leg and looked at the ground too. Like a slap of thunder I heard it–“Heavenly Father…” Loud and awkward… it was the mandatory Christian pre-dinner prayer!

“Thank you for…” it went on but I honestly could not tell you what else was prayed. “Does anyone ever actually listen to dinner prayers?” I asked myself.  After all, everyone is starving and their minds are distracted by the aroma of the food they are about to shovel into their mouths.

“Is this really necessary?” “Could this possibly be blasphemy?” I thought to myself.

“Amen.” uttered nearly everyone at the table signaling that the barely audible prayer had ended. I was somewhat annoyed but more humiliated; not because I’m afraid of others knowing that I’m a Christian for I will shout that from the mountains!  No, I was embarrassed because it is moments like these that remind me of my non-believing friends who so easily mocked Christians for their perceived cheesy outbursts of false gratitude to Christ over a meal.

One time I started to remark on the strangeness of Christian worship service (for example, when folks fling their hands up into the air in unison right when the music gets to that powerful line…where else does that happen?) when my young pastor said to me “our lives are not supposed to make sense to the world.”

Sure, believing a donkey and snake talked to humans…I can see that not making sense to world. However, I do not think that should mean Christians should act as cheesy and cliché as possible then, when they are mocked, claim persecution.

I’m sorry but I have a hard time believing that Christians who pray boisterously prior to a public meal are talking to God with a pure heart.  But even if some are, I think it can still make you appear unapproachable.

Every believe should live a life that shows you are a committed Christian but praying loudly out of habit or chore is hardly living the life Jesus commanded. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.  To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

We should make ourselves more approachable. After all, the Gospel is not something we SHOULD tell but is good news we MUST share with as many as possible.  Yet, according to survey after survey Christians do not share the Gospel.  Many privately mutter that sharing their faith makes them “uncomfortable” yet many will sit in the middle of a crowded restaurant close their eyes, hold hands and claim to be praying in His name for cheeseburgers.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

How about we just be genuine and seek to know people and share the love of God with them?

Virginity Until Marriage?

Social Media: can’t live with it, can’t socialize without it! It was where I first saw the blog “Why you shouldn’t wait until marriage.” Then a few days later, another blog… then another, you get the picture. I read these posts and let me tell you, they WERE CONVINCING. However, after separating myself from the emotional read, my ability to reason came back and told me why their blogs were less than accurate.

Let me preface myself with this statement: If you are not a Christian, I, in no way shape or form, expect you to live the lifestyle of a Christian. Just hear me out and see what I have to say.

The number one reason these ladies had against waiting for their wedding night was the church. It was in Sunday School that they learned sex was “dirty, gross and that’s why you should save it for the one you love.” Matt Chandler illustrates this beautifully here.

Yes, I agree that sadly the church has done a disservice in the past by scaring kids out of having sex. For that, I am very sorry. Now, the problem I have with such accusations is NO ONE can make you think one way or another. We are a generation with information at our finger tips. This argument needs to be retired. Period. We have a terrible habit of blaming everything on anyone, but ourselves; especially the church. It really needs to stop.

Another argument a lot of these blog posts stated was that “it hurt and was uncomfortable.” Part of me does not even want to acknowledge this as a valid reason, but for those who wonder… Sorry to ruin any crazy surprise, but whether you wait or not… it is going to hurt and be uncomfortable.

Now, I want to put some of my opinions out there:

1.) God does not tell you to wait to be a control freak. There is something wonderful, pure, and natural about having sex with someone. It was intended to be an act of worship, it was created to bring pleasure to us, and it was designed to create a union and intimacy deeper than any other for two people. That is why it is devastating when things do not work out with someone you gave that piece of yourself to. Could God command us to wait to prevent us from having broken hearts and loss of self worth? Something worth thinking about.

2.) Sex is not dirty or gross and when we are taught these things, it does have the ability to make us feel guilty when we finally have it, even after marriage. It is vital that we teach our children that sex is a extraordinary way to worship God and that is why you should save it for the one you love.

3.) Just because you have had sex before, does not mean you have to keep doing it. The temptation grows stronger and the cravings become more frequent once you have experienced it, but remember you can say no. Do not think you are obligated to give yourself to anyone who wants it, because of past actions. You must respect yourself enough to advocate for your body.

I am not saying that you need to avoid men and be a prude until marriage, but I am saying you need to really evaluate what it is you want. There is also a level of respect to consider when it comes to your future husband and his feelings. I pray that he does the same for you. If you are a Christian, you need to remember that God loves you and you need to trust His commands, even when temptation distracts you at nearer sights.

Until next time folks…

Fall of the Wall

Before I explain the relevance the anniversary of what was said to be “the most significant event in recent German history…” (1) has in my life, I feel it a necessity to explain exactly what it was that happened twenty-five years ago.

We are all familiar with World War II, or at least we have heard of it. However, not many are as acquainted with post WWII when former allies, the United States and the Soviet Union, began a forty-five year skirmish for dominance. This is what we now call the Cold War.

Despite the lack of direct bloodshed during the war, these two superpowers constantly provoked one another through “political maneuvering, military coalitions, espionage, propaganda, arms buildups, economic aid, and proxy wars between other nations.” (2) Why? At the end of WWII there was a meeting between Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (who was replaced on July 26 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee), and U.S. President Harry Truman held in Germany. It was called the Potsdam Conference. Long story short, the Soviet Union did not get their way. Although the United States typically backed away from interfering in European affairs, The Truman Doctrine guaranteed aid to any government threatened by communist overthrow.

Fast forward a few years to the 60’s. The new and young president, John F. Kennedy (JFK), stressed in his inaugural address “.. that the American people would ‘pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.'” in reference to the free world versus the communist world.(2)

In June 1961, JFK met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The USSR had complete control of East Germany and the USA pledged freedom to the west.Two months after their meeting, Khrushchev ordered the construction of the Berlin wall to stop the fleeting of East Germans into West Germany. “The Soviets meanwhile resumed nuclear testing and President Kennedy responded by reluctantly reactivating American tests in early 1962.” (2) This lead to what we now know as the Cuban Missile Crises and strangely enough also to the war in Vietnam.

Fast forward again and skip tons of history. On November 9th, 1989, twenty-eight years later and weeks of civil protest, the Eastern German government opened the barrier.

That is why today, November 9th, 2014, we celebrate this extraordinary piece of world history.

The question still remains, though. What does this mean for me?

The way I see it, this situation has shown me that every decision, great or small, has effects and consequences. At one point in the lunch the president and USSR leader had, Khrushchev pointed out the Lenin Peace Medals (the equivalent to the USSRs Nobel Peace Prize) he was wearing. Kennedy responded, “I hope you keep them.” Two months later, the wall went up. The winner of two peace prizes made a decision which changed and perhaps ruined the lives of thousands of German’s.

It was one DECISION to deny the USSR of their desires in the Potsdam Conference which lead to the Cold War. It was JFK’s DECISION to established a trade embargo against Cuba, which is now why Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States. This decision also lead to the USSR’s DECISION to unite with Cuba leading to the Cuban Missile Crises. The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the closest moments the world got to nuclear war. The list goes on and on. Although it may seem simple and irrelevant that such colossal events took place and the main thing I took away from it was decisions, but I want to leave you with this one thing that may help you better understand where I am coming from.

Sometimes it takes substantial events to get our attention. Sometimes it does not. Nonetheless, from situations like these, I urge you to take what ever lesson you can learn and hold it tightly.

The lesson I am teaching now? As a twenty-four year old Christian with the passion to storm the gates of hell with a water gun and the heart of a thin glass held by string, I need to understand decisions are consequential, meaningful and significant.

1: http://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/11-09-2014/25-years-fall-of-the-berlin-wall

2: http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/The-Cold-War.aspx

3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/ir2/berlinwallrev1.shtml