Contend Earnestly: Why I Love Calvinism

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why I Love Calvinism

This obviously isn’t going to be a complete thought of every reason that I love Calvinism or give each argument fully and completely. This isn’t even meant to be a polemic, as it would be a very weak one. The reason for this is a simple look at the three reasons that I love Calvinism.

Calvinism is the Most Humbling

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
James 4:6

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Through the understanding of Calvinism it makes it clear that I really have nothing to add to the cross of Christ. Calvinism points to the fact of just how bad of a sinner I am and how I have no part in the salvation of my soul. When one sees that God is completely sovereign over all things, that he owns everything, that he does not change his mind, that we can give him nothing or teach him anything, that he has predetermined all things, it then points back to me and asks a very poignant question by God, “What have you done?” It is almost as funny as the questions that God asks Job in his declarations to Job in chapters 38-41 of the book of Job.

When Job understands fully that God is very much in control in every instance, all the time, then Job responds correctly:

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
“Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:2-6

Job was of course a Calvinist, because Job understood the great sovereignty of God, and Calvinism is not an extra biblical account, but points us all back to the great understanding of the biblical themes of God’s sovereignty.

Calvinism Answers the Mystery of Salvation Most Paramount

Although we cannot fully answer the mystery of salvation fully. Which is, “How can God be both in control and man still have responsibility?” Calvinism does answer is the most correct way for our understanding. Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism all come way too short in this understanding. Where all these constitute some way that man has good in them and responds accordingly because of something inside of them, Calvinism states that we are so evil that we cannot respond without the grace of God fully. Although Arminianism states this in some way with prevenient grace, it misses the point of us being completely evil and still leaves too much in the hand of man, and not God.

If we can all agree that there is still mystery how salvation works, then I want the best stated theology that points all praise and glory to Christ, not me in any way. In other words, I want to err more on over emphasizing God’s sovereignty than erring in giving man too much credit. By doing this, the blazing glory of God is profound in this understanding if we can see that man deserves nothing, that he can’t respond to grace and therefore when he does, it is all because of God and not because any natural function within our affections.

I believe that within the doctrines of total depravity and unconditional election we see that God’s glory is on display and not man’s. Because of these doctrines I believe that the mystery of salvation is put on a glorious, yet still mysterious, way.

Calvinism Ensures My Witness

When I spend my time telling others about Christ, my witness it ensured through the correct understanding of God’s sovereignty seen in Calvinism. As a side, if you want more specifics check out these two older posts found here and here. God tells Isaiah in Isaiah 6 to go and tell the people, yet they will not turn from their ways and they will harden their hearts to the message. Without the correct understanding of God’s sovereignty, Isaiah was a complete failure. Without the correct understanding of God’s sovereignty, Jeremiah was a complete failure. Without the correct understanding of God’s sovereignty Christ was a failure. The reason I say the last is because Christ went from 5000 followers, to 12 scattered apostles. With the remaining 12 he had one that betrayed him and then killed himself. Afterwards, Christ hung on a tree being brutally beaten and dying there like a king with no honor. But, a correct understanding of God’s sovereignty opens the surety of God’s plan. Just take a look at Acts 4:27,28.

We are told to be witnesses for Christ, but what if no one is converted? Is that person a failure? Many preachers that I have seen (especially in the IFB tradition) boast in how many have been saved or baptized under their preaching. While these numbers may be true, what about those who pastor for years and see very little result? They, in the eyes of many, are a failure. But in the eyes of our Lord, he has done the will of the Father.

My witness is not to convert people. Although I love to see it, my witness is to preach the gospel of my Saviour, and that gospel hardens the heart of many and softens the heart of many. Understanding Calvinism allows me to trust in the Lord fully that he will grow whom he desires and snuff out those with the gospel whom he desires. Without this understanding, every small church, every pastor who has little converts are complete failures and will receive nothing from the Lord. Without this understanding Christianity becomes a numbers game instead of a God exalting, cross centered focus.

My witness is ensured by the understanding of Calvinism, because if I do what God has commanded I can rest that he is doing his part, that he is using my witness to either harden the person’s heart, or soften it for His glory. Either way, I am not a failure and neither is God.

This is just a quick glimpse into why I love Calvinism. If you have any questions on why I love Calvinism or you desire to get a better understanding of what Calvinism is, please don’t hesitate to comment or email me at sdmcbee at hotmail dot com.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Although we cannot fully answer the mystery of salvation fully. Which is, “How can God be both in control and man still have responsibility?” Calvinism does answer is the most correct way for our understanding

Seth, permit me a little rant, and understand that it's nothing personal:

In what way can "we" not understand this alleged mystery fully? I don't even see what the mystery is, let alone how it cannot be understood. There is no difficulty, no inconruity, no tension that I can see between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. I wish good Calvinists (har har) would stop saying these sorts of things; or at least explain what I've missed.


Seth McBee said...


Good to see you back. I always love chatting with you on these things.

Personally, and I also know a lot of other people would agree with me, it is very hard to understand how a completely sovereign God who decrees all things and is the sustainer of all things can bring some to himself and then some are left as the reprobate. This secret we are not told why. We see that God desires none to perish, that he is patient for all to repent, and yet still in his secret will some must fall and die in their sins.

This part of his will is secretive and no man shall ever know it. People are left in their sin, without the grace of God through the Spirit given to them, so they don't repent and then they are responsible.

It is a struggle for me to completely comprehend this. It is very hard to "get it." But I do know it is thoroughly biblical, so I leave it to my God, whom I trust, whom is love, whom is faithful to bring this to past without my full comprehension.

Therefore, I believe that Calvinism represents the understanding the best we know how, but cannot answer it fully and no man ever will.

Does this help?

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Always a pleasure Seth. That does clarify somewhat; but it sounds more like you have trouble understanding the secret purposes of God than understanding how man's responsibility and God's sovereignty fit together? I'm sure every Christian, myself included, finds God's purposes incomprehensible to some degree; but that's a bit of a different concern than what you seemed originally to be saying.


Anonymous said...


that was a clear presentation.

Bonn, good to see you, my emphasis added! :)

As for mystery and purpose, yes indeed!

Some of what is mysterious for Christianity and the world, devoid of the "Spirit" is just that, a mystery for the world that Christians have a language they do not understand. Why? Because they do not have the "Spirit" of God, Christ or the Holy Ghost opening their "spiritual" ears to hear and understand things that apparently to them, the world, the "Christians" understand. That would describe some of what the "mystery" of Christ is to a person devoid of the Spirit.

As for the purposes, yes, it is indeed purposeful for God to "put on us", the Elect to manifest the manifold Wisdom of God to rulers and authorities in heavenly places. This weight is not put on the world. The world is blinded by the princes of this age, the chief prince, Satan, included. Why he singles out one is anybody's guess. Do you know why? :)

Here is what I believe and because there is nothing left to do "for" God, I am left then "loving" my neighbor, witnessing Christ to them! My wife and children are my closest neighbors and the circles go out wider and wider from them!

Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

I had this encounter with the Holy Ghost this morning and it was most thrilling to me the "hope" implied in these words from the Book of Job:

Job 36:7 He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted.
Job 36:8 And if they are bound in chains and caught in the cords of affliction,
Job 36:9 then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly.
Job 36:10 He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity.
Job 36:11 If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness.
Job 36:12 But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword and die without knowledge.


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