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Evangelical Woman Says Calvinism is Satanic and Blasphemous

Today, I received an email from an Evangelical woman named Cheryl who emphatically stated:

Just have a comment. Calvinism is a false Gospel and is not from God. To me it’s from Satan and blasphemy.

Best I can tell from the logs, Cheryl read Why I Hate Jesus, the About page, looked at posts associated with the tag Calvary Baptist Church Dundalk, watched part of my talk to the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, and looked at the front page. All told, she spent about ten minutes on this site.

Typically, I just sigh (please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”) when I get emails such as this one. Filled with certainty, arrogance, and judgmentalism, writers such as Cheryl are so puffed up with themselves that there’s little, if anything, I can say that will make a difference.

Is Calvinism a false gospel? The email writer says yes! How can she possibly know this? Evangelicalism is rife with gospels. How does one possibly determine which gospel is right? If my eternal destiny depends on me believing the right gospel, how do I figure out which gospel is the “faith once delivered to the saints?” The Bible says there is “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism,” yet every Evangelical church seems to preach “Their Lord, Their Faith, and Their Baptism.” Who is right? Cheryl is certain, absolutely certain, “I know whom I have believed” certain, that her gospel is the right one. Based on the plethora of Evangelical gospels, how can she possibly know that her gospel is true, and, by extension, all other gospels but her’s are false?

Calvinistic soteriology teaches that salvation is of the Lord; that no one can be saved unless God saves them; that God predestines some people to salvation. Further, Calvinists believe that God is sovereign over all things; that nothing happens that is not according to his purpose and plan. Calvinism, of course, is much more complex than what I have stated here, but this will suffice for the purposes of this post.

Wikipedia describes Calvinism this way:

Calvinism (also called the Reformed Tradition, Reformed Protestantism or Reformed Christianity) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. It emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the authority of the Bible.

Calvinists broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Calvinists differ from Lutherans (another major branch of the Reformation) on the spiritual real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, theories of worship, the purpose and meaning of baptism, and the use of God’s law for believers, among other points. The label Calvinism can be misleading, because the religious tradition it denotes has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder; however, almost all of them drew heavily from the writings of Augustine of Hippo twelve hundred years prior to the Reformation.

As you can see, Calvinism is a subset of Protestantism. It has a rich history, with adherents found in countless sects across the globe. Here in the United States, millions of Christians claim the Calvinist moniker. Cheryl would have us believe that these people are Satanic and blasphemous. She seems to lack charity towards his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

I was a Calvinist for a number of years. I drank deeply from the Puritan/Reformer well. I can confidently say that Calvinism is Biblically supported. Of course, so is Arminianism and every other Christian soteriology. There’s no possible way to reconcile these various schools of thought. How could we possibly determine who is right? It seems to me that everyone is right, and that the goal should be to humbly follow Jesus and charitably accept those who claim the name of Christ. From 1995-2002, I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. The main door into the building had these words on its glass: The Church Where the Only Label That Matters is Christian. By this time, I had moved a long way away from the narrowminded bigotry of my IFB years. I was still a Calvinist, but I no longer viewed other Christians as suspects or less than. That allowed me to befriend a number of ministers in town; men who I would have banished to the darkness of Hell years before.

This email reveals Fundamentalist thinking; a worldview based on certainty of belief. Cheryl might want to debate theology with me — and I am game — but the greater issue is her heart. The Bible speaks of unity, yet everywhere unbelievers look they see disunity and internecine warfare. Jesus said in John 13:34-35:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Where can one find this sort of Christianity today? While there’s nothing that can be said that would incline me to return to Christianity, I am more than willing to admire and appreciate a faith grounded in love of believers for their fellow man.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    michaelbsmithjr

    I may or may not have posted this article I wrote on this site. If I have, (sounds like a Baptist attempt of repentance) please forgive me for being redundant. The post I am referring to is that for all of the blather of Baptists being independent, we are more like Catholics. Let me explain:

    We say we are for Biblical Authority, but the truth is that the Pastor more often than not trumps the Bible – just like the Pope.

    We say we are for the Autonomy of the Local Church, unless you don’t think exactly the way we think you should. Need I go into the Six Degrees of Separation thing? And let’s not talk about all the different “camps” that Independent Baptists have. Truth be told, IFB stands for Institutional Fundamental Baptist.

    We say we are for the Priesthood of the Believer – except when the Pastor has “veto power” over said congregant’s life.

    We say we believe in Individual Soul Liberty – until you don’t follow a “standard” or listen to the correct music or read the right Bible.

    We say we believe in the Security of the Believer, and on paper we do. But we do have those pesky Free Will (Translation: Arminian) Baptists who do believe you can lose your salvation. And then we have our Calvinist friends who believe that not everybody can be saved.

    Two ordinances – Communion and Baptism – I see myself as more of a “close” (those of like precious faith) communion guy as opposed to a “closed “ (only members of that local assembly). The closed guys try to justify it by scripture – but then these guys try to justify everything with scripture – even if they have to take it out of context.

    Separation of Church and State – the idea of Separation of Church and State is the idea that we have no State Church (i.e. Catholic Countries, vs Protestant Countries, etc.) Conservative Christians tend to vote Republican, even though the party has done nothing for Conservative Christians. Others on this blog have done a far better job of taking Donald Trump apart far better than I will. And the Democrat Party has done nothing for the minorities. I hate the politics of both parties and think its time for a third party.

    So I have to ask the question – who is right?? Bruce, for an atheist, you have hit the nail on the head – seems to me people who are serious about Jesus would do a lot better to imitate him and follow in His steps.

    • Avatar
      Kel

      With regards to “Biblical Authority”, I believe your observation is very accurate.

      In their efforts to follow “the sole authority of the scriptures”, Calvin and Luther have ironically made themselves Popes over a large swathe of Protestants.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      Hmm, Mike, you claim that you should follow ol’ JC lead. Alas, your supposed Messiah murders all non-christians in Revelation and says this in Luke” 6 “I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.”’”

      Since JC is the nobleman in this parable, this is him saying that Christians should murder non-christians. So your god/savior is a vicious idiot.

  2. Avatar
    Ben Berwick

    The internal feuding between Christians over ‘true belief’ has always baffled me, and it goes to show how so much of religious faith relies on interpretation.

    When my wife and I were getting married, we wanted a Church wedding, and we were fortunate to come across a Church of England community that was very welcoming to us, right from the start. The Reverend who married us was a lovely woman called Margaret, and whenever she gave sermons, they were never of condemnation or suffering, but of helping others and of hope. It’s such a world away from the aggressive, angry posturing of the Thiessens of this world, yet Derrick would (and I think has) tell me that Margaret isn’t really a Christian.

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Michael—As someone who grew up Catholic and later became Evangelical , I found your comparison interesting. Although my Evangelical church wasn’t IFB, the pastor was, in essence, the kind of mini-Pope you describe.

    When you think about it, Henry VIII in essence declared himself the Pope of England when he started the Church of England. One could say that every English monarch since has been the Pope of the nation, as the King or Queen holds the title of the Head of the Church of England.

    Ultimately, it’s futile to debate folks like Cheryl, for every sect of Christianity (and every sect of every religion of which I’m aware) is, by definition, premised on the notion that it is the “right” one. As it’s a matter of interpretation—and there is no empirical way to prove the existence of a deity and therefore the veracity of a sacred text—there is really no point to say who is “right.”

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    It is interesting how the 2 sects that influenced me most in my youth – Southern Baptist church and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist school – both speak if the “priesthood of the believer” and the notion that the “Holy Spirit” guides each person. Yet everyone knew that the pastor’s word was sacrosanct above all. Theoretically, I could be my own Pope, but in practice, the head pastor was.

    I personally do not care about Christian internecine bickering over their made up rules, but it is funny how they get all bent out of shape.

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Bruce Gerencser