Why I am not a Calvinist

Nate Lauffer argues against what he believes to be the illogical conclusions of Calvinism.

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Why I am not a Calvinist

| Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

| Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

| Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

| Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

Nate Lauffer, Writer

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THE ISSUE WITH CALVINISM

Focus on unconditional particular election — the view that there is no condition an individual must meet in order to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and born again. If your theology embraces unconditional particular election, it is Calvinistic. Now here’s my argument: If Calvinism is true, then unconditional particular election is true. Unconditional particular election is not true.Therefore, Calvinism is not true.

Read Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” to find support for number one. I’ll limit my discussion to number two.

FAITH A CONDITION FOR BEING SAVED

In Ephesians 2 we read that one is “saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.” Calvinists tend to think this passage screams unconditional particular election. Not so fast. The salvation process is God’s gift. Within this unmerited gift is a condition: to have faith.

In Romans 4 we read, “Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declared the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.” Having faith is not a work and a person must have faith in order to be saved. This condition is everywhere in scripture — Matt 4:17, John 3:16, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9, Philippians 3:8-16, 2 Peter 1:10- 11 — to name a few. Having faith, which is not a work, is a condition for being saved. This is prima facie reason to think premise two is true.

Calvinists can insist that having faith is something that one does not decide to do for oneself. Rather, God instills faith into some, but not others. There is a faith condition all right, but it is not satisfied by the individual.

OUGHT IMPLIES CAN

To look at the faith in this way is exegetically counterintuitive, however. In scripture faith is usually mentioned in the context of commands or encouragements. It is hard to make sense of a commandment to do something a person has no control over.

You’d have to assume unconditional particular election to view faith like this. However, that is not argumentatively appropriate.

Furthermore, if we really do buy this line of thought, we have to reject the basic moral principle that ought implies can. If one ought to do something, he can do it. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Paul says of the unrighteous, “They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.” If unconditional particular election is true, then all who perish cannot have faith because God has not instilled it in them. But if ought implies can, then it is not true that they ought to have faith.

Either we give up 2 Thessalonians, our familiar moral reasoning, or unconditional particular election. I’m not giving up the first two. So then, unconditional particular election has to go and Calvinism is false.