I found the following post on a public Calvinistic discussion forum. Many of us who used to be Evangelicals/Calvinists understand the psychological angst this man is going through as he takes Christianity/Calvinism to its logical conclusion. If God is sovereign, the first cause, the creator of everything, and nothing happens apart from his purpose and plan, then it is reasonable to conclude that the Christian God created sin, created Hell, and created billions of people he intended to torture in the Lake of Fire for eternity. Apologists for Calvinism go to great lengths to explain these conclusions, but I find their explanations to be little more than ass-covering. If God is who and what Calvinists say he is, then Calvinists must own the aforementioned conclusions. Either that or write a 666-page book defending the Big Kahuna’s honor.
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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Somebody tell this man, “It’s all a crock of shit! That’s why your questions have no good answers!” It breaks my heart when I read stuff like this because half of my family is still trapped in this way of thinking, or rather, non-thinking. People who are otherwise kind but are ok with a God who is going to put people like me into a permanent volcano amaze me. They are obsessed with believing the RIGHT doctrine. They can’t seem to grasp that everyone thinks they believe the RIGHT doctrine. Gaaaarrrrrgggghhh!!!!!!!!!!
sux to be calvin!
No, God did not create Hell.
No, God did not create people who are predestined to go to Hell.
No, God did not create people unable to turn from their sin.
I feel sad for this person who is starting to realize that his sect’s version of a deity is a monster.
One of the worst Calvinists that I have ever encountered is Erwin Lutzer, the long-time pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago. He was a dyed-in-the-wool five-point Calvinist; he wasn’t the least concerned with the brutalities inherent in Calvinist theology. One Sunday he gave a sermon on Hell that had people gasping in horror. And at the end of the sermon, Lutzer very calmly and matter-of-factly said “…and the Bible says that the people who are going to Hell include the vast majority of the human race.” I didn’t dispute Lutzer at the time; I was an ardent fundamentalist back then. And yet even with my fundamentalist blinders on, I had to wonder about a religion in which people can proclaim such horrific doom without a trace of concern or compassion.
This article also makes me think of one of today’s most famous Calvinists, John Piper. Some once wrote a limerick that so well describes Piper and the hyper-Calvinism that he follows:
Imagine a Calvinist-hyper,
More compassion you’ll find in a viper,
So full of elation
At Hell and damnation,
No need to imagine – it’s Piper!
Erwin Lutzer wrote a book, called ” God’s Devil.” It’s about the idea that Satan is just a flunky, who is used by God, much like a bird dog. Or a pit bull. Depressing stuff.
Weird, isn’t it, that all the Calvinists I know believe, way deep inside, that they are part of the Elect, who will go to heaven. It’s too scary to consider the alternative, although they’re willing enough to consign other people to it. If they considered the matter, they might have to acknowledge that Calvin was wrong, or that their god is a monster. A god who would create beings to suffer eternally is not worthy of worship.
I have more sympathy for the devil.
I never really thought about it this way (mostly I try not to give religion a lot of really deep thought, it’s certainly never done me any good) but gee, it’s almost like a bunch of different people over the ages came up with the most convoluted bunch of craziness possible then made up a pile of stories and explanations to cover it all!
I’d been immersed in Calvinistic teaching for ~15 years, prior to my recent deconstruction. While questions like these were always challenging, there were ready answers. The first and most obvious, of course, was that it was by grace that God even provided salvation to any fallen sons of Adam at all – since, by definition, grace is unmerited.
So rather than focus on the harsh “truth” that most of humanity was doomed from conception, apologists turn the discussion on its head by asserting that the sovereign God of the universe owed nothing to anyone. It was God’s kindness that saw fit to predestine some for eternal life apart from any consideration of their religious works.
What I found intellectually satisfying was that Calvinism didn’t shrink back from hard questions like, “What about the person who never had the opportunity to hear the gospel?” Arminians (meaning non-Calvinist protestants) have to dance around this pointed question with arguments like, “Well, God knows people’s hearts,” or by suggesting that maybe Christ would somehow reveal himself to the honest seeker even without hearing the gospel proclaimed. Calvinism outright rejects the notion of totally depraved sinners seeking after God of their own initiative, so there aren’t any “noble” pagans who would believe if they only had the opportunity. Rather, God in his divine providence could ensure that his elect, predestined people were born in such a time and place where they would hear the good news and be spiritually regenerated (born again).
In my mind, Calvinism was the most robustly vigorous Christian theological system, and most consistent with the entirety of scripture. Part of me still thinks Calvinism is more internally self-consistent than other forms of Protestantism, even though I no longer hold it to be true.
It’s so sad that this man admits to suffering depression for a time that coincides with being Calvinist, yet he doesn’t see (or won’t admit) that the doctrine he’s following is at least adding to it if not outright causing it. He’s clearly asking for help, and the help he needs is “ditch the cruel belief structure” not “here’s more gobbledygook to gaslight you into thinking it’s ok”.
I hope he can find his way through and leaves the abusive and destructive Cavinist mindset.
I’m thankful I can be Christian without being Calvinist! And I certainly agree with you about your description of certain evangelicals (I’ve met some who could be called evangelical who are open-minded and loving). I see people as having something more to them than a physical body, so I hope that after death that part goes on somehow, somewhere. Honestly, I lean to the agnostic side. If I hope to see my husband (60 years of loving each other) on the other side, I’ll find out what it’s like when I finish my work here. If there’s nothing, I haven’t lost anything meanwhile. As far as hell goes, the God I worship doesn’t want anyone to go there, and it’s more likely separation and loneliness than actual fire. Obviously, I don’t take much of the Bible literally. C.S. Lewis wrote about The Great Divorce, which sounds like a good description of my idea, but I haven’t read his book–I prefer Narnia.
I love discussions and will continue to follow yours. My understanding of what faith I have is that I’m not allowed to judge. Only someone who understands all of our circumstances and hurts can judge fairly, and that doesn’t include any humans I know..
Pascal’s wager always fails since you assume you haven’t wasted time and resources. As for “the god I worship” you are like all christians having made this god in your image, one palatable to you.
the bible is quite clear about how this god has already chosen who it will allow to accept it, and then damns the rest for no reason at all.
C.S. Lewis wanted to make his god less vicious and vile, so he decided to blame the victims, rather than have his god be responsible for heaven and hell. This isn’t terribly surprising for a man who advocated for christians lying to potential christians about the schism and contradiction in Christianity.
He mentions the common dodge, “There is no one in hell that doesn’t deserve to be there.” This is basically the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity. If one really believes in Total Depravity, then I do not see how one can possible have a healthy self-esteem.
Coincidentally, this man speaks of being depressed. Could a low self-esteem caused by his Calvinism be contributing to his problem?
For an interesting debate where Calvinists face the doctrine of Total Depravity, see https://www.christianforums.com/threads/total-depravity-and-self-esteem.8250946/
Ugh. :/ I recall the whirlwind of being in a Baptist church, one saved, always saved, but well, works too, but mostly just believe, but then you’d better do works too, 5-point Calvinism, 3-point Calvinism . . . and eventually my brand, no-point to Calvinism. If you stop and think you’ll go insane trying to sort it out. Scholars can’t sort it out. Blah! Depressing is right.
I have never been a Calvinist. In my admittedly limited understanding of it, you pretty much have to believe that you are one of the elect—unless you hate yourself in ways I don’t even at my most depressed. Oh, and it helps to believe those consigned to Hell “deserve it.”
Hmm…Perhaps that is religion in its purest form. I’m not much of a purist.
Even the act of responding to the Gospel is a ‘work’ to the Calvinist. If one can accept the ‘free’ gift of salvation through conscious choice one has, in essence, saved oneself.
Calvinism takes the ‘dead in trespasses’ concept quite literally. As an unbeliever you are not like a drowning person reaching for a hand stretched out from the boat. That would grant you some agency in your rescue. Rather you are a corpse on the bottom of the lake, completely unaware (because you are dead) of your condition. Since everyone is dead to begin with, God saving any is grace, not saving the rest is just keeping the status quo. This keeps God the paragon or holiness, mercy, and love that the Bible declares him to be.
Some of the stauncher 5-pointers and hyper-Calvinsts may go so far as to admit that God created the potential for sin and wickedness, but will still argue that God is not responsible for it. How God is 100% sovereign, and yet humanity is at the same time 100% responsible for its own depravity, is explained away through creative theological doublespeak that must always end in ‘the ways of God are beyond human comprehension’.
Many of the ‘elect’ are absolutely, beyond a doubt, certain that they are elect. They may evangelize because God commands it, but only God saves souls. The oxymoron is that knowing the majority of humanity is not chosen by God, many still expect all of humanity to behave as though it were.
I was raised under Calvinism, but called myself an atheist because I couldn’t resolve the moral implications of it’s teachings. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized there had to be a God because basic organic chemistry doesn’t allow for some of the features of life to have come about by chance or accident. Plus, the laws of physics forbid “chance.” Nothing happens in the physical world without a cause. I eventually decided God must actually care about me because I was still alive and a free man in spite of my own stupidity and carelessness.
Where Calvinism goes sideways is actually simple. ALL persons have been elected to receive salvation, which is a pardon for sin. But not everyone will accept the terms of the pardon. That’s not God’s fault. A condemned man who is offered a pardon, acknowledges guilt when he accepts the pardon. Still, some men will refuse the pardon and be executed.
God made the universe we live in out of nothing, but we had an existence before that. God wanted every spirit to live with Him in safety and comfort, but He couldn’t just let eveyone in without some rules. God is King. Heaven is not a representative democratic republic. If you prove here you can play be the rules, then you get to live with God forever. If not you will be forced to depart. That’s your choice. This is where Calvinism also fails. Calvanism denies “free will.” Jesus commanded people to stop sinning. That makes no sense unless His Father had given us the ability to stop sinning as part of life (this is our test of trust in God and therefore our character.)
Hell is where God is not. If you are sent away at the Judgment it is because you chose not to allow God to rule. Most of Christianity also goes sideways claiming eternal torture. The Devil is thrown alive into the Lake of Fire according to Revelation. Gehenna was a burning garbage dump. The bodies of dead criminals were disposed of there. People weren’t thrown in there to be burned alive. Satan is thrown in alive last so the last thing he sees is everything he worked for destroyed. Nothing left but smoke and ashes.
What makes this all fair? We agreed to this test called life, and the memory of that has been withheld as part of the test. We saw God’s glory and wanted to be a part of it and signed on the dotted line.
I was never a Calvinist, and I wasn’t in a church that preached Calvi ism. I do remember having to learn TULIP in high school literature class (it was a fundamentalist Christian school, mostly IFB faculty and staff). The 5 points of Calvinism were another example of how truly horrid certain interpretations of Christianity can be.