The title of this post may come across as quite a strong statement, but before you get too mad and click away, I would ask that you give me a chance to define the terms that are being stated. Many will not like hearing that Calvinism is heresy, others will be cheering, but do most even know who Calvinists are or what heresy means?
Let me first define what I mean by Calvinism. When I say Calvinism, I am not speaking to if you lean more toward the side of Calvinism than Arminianism, nor do I mean if you believe in some of the points of Calvinism; rather I am speaking of those who believe in the whole of Calvinism. To believe in the whole of Calvinism means you believe in all five points of Calvinism (total depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints) or agree with the logical conclusion of Calvinism (that man does not have a will).
It is important that we understand this term. My whole life I was told that you had to either be a Calvinist or an Arminian. This led to me saying I was a 3 ½ point Calvinist up until about two years ago. The problem is, you are either a Calvinist or you are not. You may be Calvinistic, but you either believe the whole of the teaching or you reject it.
The second term we need to understand is heresy. Heresy gets thrown around a lot, but I am not sure that the church culture has a good understanding of what it means. Many people believe it means theological lunatic or a teaching that wholly ignores the Bible. Heresy, as defined by The Complete Word Study Dictionary, is “a form of religious worship, discipline, or opinion… may represent a divergent opinion but still be part of the whole. One can hold different views than the majority and remain in the same body, but he is a heretic. However, when he tears himself away, then he is schismatic. Heresy may lead to a schism which is when actual tearing off and separation occur.” Simply put heresy happens when someone accepts part of the Christian faith, remains in the church, but differs on an important doctrine.
Calvinists accept part of the Christian faith, including some very important details. They accept the fundamentals of the faith (deity of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the blood atonement, the bodily resurrection, and the inerrancy of Scriptures). However, they reject a couple of very important doctrines such as the responsibility of man and unlimited atonement. Calvinists and Calvinism are still within the church and, for the most part, you might not be able to tell a difference immediately between them and the rest of Christians. Corruption of doctrine rarely comes through a complete rejection of a belief system, rather it comes in the form of slight changes that drastically change the final destination.
Calvinists believe in limited atonement, a teaching that is clearly not taught in Scripture. You have the two stalwart verses in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2, to combat this teaching. I would like to point out two other verses though. The first being Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Unless you are a universalist, you must interpret this Scripture as proof for unlimited atonement or you must admit that Jesus (the Son of Man) failed in His purpose. The second verse I would like to point out is 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Once again, we see that unless you are a universalist, you must admit unlimited atonement. To deny unlimited atonement is to state that Christ did not secure salvation for those who are lost (making Luke 19:10 a failure) or that He could not secure salvation for those who are sinners (making 1 Timothy 1:15 a lie). In the Calvinists’ attempt to make God more powerful, they limit His power and fall into heresy.
The second main heresy of Calvinism is the denying of man’s responsibility. Of course, I am not arguing that man can earn his salvation as this violates several Scriptures, Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 to name a couple. I am however saying that man must choose God in order to be saved. Man cannot choose God until God’s word is preached to him (See Romans 10:13-17), but man must choose God. To look at several gospel passages that teach us how to become saved, we always see this truth: John 1:12 talks about receiving Christ, Romans 10:9 it is believing, Romans 10:13 it is calling upon God, Acts 16:31 tells us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and of course John 3:16 says “whosoever believes”. God undoubtedly does the saving work and we cannot earn our salvation, but each one of us has the responsibility to accept Christ as our Savior. This is a doctrine that Calvinists deny, and this puts them in the realm of heresy.
The question is, “What can we do about it?” Personally, if you are Calvinistic but not a Calvinist, I would encourage you to stop identifying with the teaching by stating you are merely Calvinistic, but denying the teaching of Calvinism. I also want to challenge you to proclaim the true gospel; That Christ died for our sin (all of the world’s sin), that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day making a way of salvation for any who would believe. If you are a Calvinist reading this post, I would challenge you to consider what you believe and compare it to the Bible.
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