The doctrine known as Calvinism has permeated the foundational theology of much of the denominational world for centuries. Initially conceived by Augustine in the fourth century A.D., the doctrine was popularized in England, Ireland, and Scotland by John Calvin in the sixteenth century. Puritans and Presbyterians brought it to the New World in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, where Jonathan Edwards and others made various modifications to the theology. Today one will encounter various tenets of Calvinistic doctrine in various sects of the Baptist, Presbyterian, and Reformed Churches, among others.
The acrostic “TULIP” reveals the fundamental tenets of Calvinistic theology: Total Hereditary Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Each one of these false teachings are contingent upon each other. If man is in fact totally depraved due to inherited sin, he cannot respond to God’s grace. Therefore, God must have predestined who would be saved and who would be condemned. Christ’s death on the cross would atone only for those to whom God had already decided to grant salvation. Since God had already determined before they were born that the saved would be saved, it would be impossible for the saved to sin in such a way so as to successfully resist the grace of God and lose their salvation.
By themselves, the separate tenets of Calvinism show a logical thought progression. However, each of them falls short when compared to the totality of teaching in Scripture. The purpose of this issue of the Carolina Messenger is to examine each foundational tenet of Calvinism in light of the doctrine found in the Bible. I encourage the reader to pay close attention to the passages of Scripture brought out by each writer to combat the erroneous doctrines of man promoted by Calvinism. Study what the Bible says and commit these passages to memory in order to be better prepared to bring the gospel to the lost in your lives (Ps. 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:15). It is highly likely that any religious person with whom you study will have been taught one or more of these doctrines of Calvinism, and will have blindly accepted them as truth. If they are to know the actual truth of God’s Word which will set them free from the bondage of sin (John 8:31-37; 17:17), you must “explain to (them) the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).
If there is anything the overwhelming acceptance and popularity of the false doctrine of Calvinism proves, it is that ignorance of Scripture does in fact destroy us (Hos. 4:6). Sadly, biblical ignorance is at an all-time high in our society currently. A recent article published by Biola Magazine titled “The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy” states: “Christians used to be known as ‘people of one book.’ Sure, they read, studied, and shared other books. But the book they cared more about than all others combined was the Bible. They memorized it, meditated on it, talked about it and taught it to others. We don’t do that anymore, and in a very real sense we’re starving ourselves to death.”
Tragic, isn’t it? Does this tragedy describe you, friend? Know this: God expects you and me to continually grow in our knowledge of him and his Word if we want to spend eternity with him (2 Pet. 1:5-11). When we replace biblical knowledge and obedience with feelings and suppositions, we fall prey to false teachings like those of Calvinism, and will lose the salvation God offers to us (2 Tim. 4:3-4; Acts 20:29).
Look for the articles written about each facet of Calvinism in September’s issue to appear on this blog starting tomorrow!