The route to Calvinism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by dwmoeller1, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    I am curious...

    How many of you here grew up in a non-Cist background and became 'Calvinist' before you even knew what "Calvinism" was?

    That was my experience. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church (father was a pastor) and knew Scripture but had never studied it for myself. At 22 I first read straight through Scripture.

    At the end i was very excited about all the new things I had learned. However, many seemed contradictory to what I had grown up with, so I began discussing them with older men in the church. Many started calling me a "Calvinist" when they heard my arguments. I was like "Huh?! Whats that? I think I recognize the word but thats about it."

    So, after numerous men starting referring to me in terms like "You Calvinists...<fill in the blank>" (huh? I didn't even know if I had ever even met a "Calvinist" much knew what one was - everything I knew at that point was from reading Scripture and nothing else), I figured I had better go and find out what this Calvinism thing was. It was very exciting for me to discover that what I saw in Scripture had been seen by numerous godly men before me.

    Anyways, I am curious as to how many Baptists here had a similar experience.
     
  2. donnA

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    Had no idea what calvinism was when I read the bible and saw it in there. Then I found out it had a name.
     
  3. Martin

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    ==I did not grow up in a strong Christian family (per say). My grandmother was the most Christian influence in my life and she was a strong Methodist (ie...not a Calvinist). When I first became a Christian I attended a conservative United Methodist Church and fell in line with my grandmother's ideas. I believed that "eternal security", or what I called "once saved always saved", was wishful thinking. The problem I had was when I was reading Paul's letters, and then the Gospel of John, I discovered whole sections that did not fall in-line with my beliefs. Over time I came to believe that salvation could only be lost via apostasy and not simply via sinful actions. After reading Charles Stanley's book "Eternal Security" I got into reading Zane Hodges books "Grace In Eclipse", "The Gospel Under Siege", and "Absolutely Sure". Thus I came to accept their understanding of the issue. I was still very Arminian "lite" on issues of election (etc) but I believed that a saved person never needed to doubt his/her salvation no matter how they turned out. The problem I ran into, however, was that I could not get the "free-grace" understanding of certain verses to fit those verses. Doubts first begin to set in while reading Joseph Dillow's very large book "The Reign of the Servant Kings". He had to do so many twists that I got a bit worried. I read John MacArthur's book "The Gospel According to Jesus" and thought he was teaching a works based salvation. However over the next few weeks I became more and more uncomfortable with my positions. Then I read MacArthur's book "The Gospel According to the Apostles". I was determined to hate it as much as I did his other book but, as I read it, I discovered that his understanding of verses like John 8:31 (etc) made contextual sense. No backflips needed. So I started re-examining the important verses on the Lordship issues and on the security issue. Then, very early one morning, I was walking in the woods behind the house I was staying in (I was just out of college so it would have been my grandmother's old house since she was living w/ my parents). It was very cold and there was frost everywhere. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was walking around in these woods thinking about these issues and BAMO it hit. I had been wrong. I will not say I heard a voice or anything like that and, no, there was no "literal" lightening nor was there any angelic appearance. However all the studying (etc) I had done just hit me. I had been very wrong. I asked the Lord to fogive me and I got to work studying this issue. Through my studying (etc) my grandmother actually came to believe in the perseverence of the saints and showed interest in changing to my Baptist church. That is amazing because she was a member of a United Methodist Church that our family helped build and which she had been in almost all her life. However she never made that move for alot of physical reasons (handicap, mostly blind, etc) and because the pastor at her Methodist church told her in a visit that he did believe in eternal security. He refered to himself as a MethoBaptist. Anyway she went to be with the Lord a few months later ('00). The more I studied these issues the more I became convinced that these doctrines (TULIP) were true. The Bible clearly taught depravity and perseverence, effectual calling was present in verses like John 6:37, and election was not far behind. The issue of the atonement has been a recent change in my thinking. I remained a four point Calvinist (so to speak) for several years. My thinking has moved towards limited/particular atonement in the past year or so. When I started this journey I had no clue what Calvinism was. At this point, however, I know what it is and I firmly believe that it generally represents a Biblical understanding of these issues.

    That's how it happened. In a nutshell anyway.

    It is sort of interesting because I have a MA in Religion from Liberty Theological Seminary which, as some know, is one of the more anti-Calvinistic schools out there. I started at Liberty before I became anything more than a three point Calvinist. I am sure it would disturb Dr Caner to know that I became a strong four point Calvinist while at Liberty and in part thanks to some of the professors. If I was just starting my education now I would probably not go to Liberty. I would probably get into Reformed Theological Seminary, The Southern Baptist Seminary, or Gordon Conwell.
     
    #3 Martin, Mar 9, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2007
  4. npetreley

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    Count me in. First, I started LATE, being saved at about age 33. I don't think I ever heard Calvinist preaching or teaching before I reached the conclusion that election, not free-will, is true. All the churches I attended preached free will, and I had no idea what Arminian or Calvinist even meant. Then I heard one preacher on TV state something intentionally shocking like "God doesn't want everyone", and that got me reading that particular passage he was using. One thing led to another and I ended up seeing the message of election from the Bible. Then I read Bondage of the Will (Martin Luther), which just solidified what I'd already believed.

    I still haven't ready hardly anything of Calvin.
     
  5. Martin

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    ==I tried reading his commentary on Genesis however I put it down. I have never read any of his works beyond that. So it is sort of strange to call myself a Calvinist.
     
  6. dwmoeller1

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    That is the one part on which I am still not in agreement with most Cists. I don't have any particular philosophical opposition to it like some do...I simply don't see it in Scripture. I am currently am operating on the assumption that
    a. either the atonment is limited either in power (Aism) or scope (Cism)
    b. or I simply have no clue what the significance of the atonement is.

    Either way, I am fairly certain that Cist tend to resolve the issue in more logical tight ways than is Scripturally consistent even though the position may be accurate in broader terms.
     
    #6 dwmoeller1, Mar 9, 2007
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  7. dwmoeller1

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    I got a copy of his Institutes for 5 or 6 dollars I think...but I never made it further than 2/3 of the way through the first book. It didn't really add anything to my understanding of Scripture (it was like reading my own thoughts) so I haven't really bothered to finish it. Probably never will.

    Rex, Lex by Rutherford is probably the only "Calvinist" book I have read. But its about Cist influenced political theory so I don't think that counts :)
     
  8. pinoybaptist

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    You know how the Spirit witnesses to your spirit that you are a child of God ?
    That's how it was with me.
    Kinda fuzzy at first.
    Then, in Bible college, our president hated election so much he said a lot of things which piqued me some more.
    Then he said something negative about John Mc'Arthur.
    Then I head John Mc'Arthur preaching on eternal security from Romans 8:28-30.
    That's it.
    I was on my way.
    Then here in the States, my wife and I joined the Primitive Baptists.
    I went from Calvinism to just pure Doctrine of Grace.
    No offense to anyone.
     
  9. J.D.

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    You might have seen my comments in another thread. I was teaching Calvinism long before I knew what it was called. However, at the same time, if you had called me a Calvinist, I would have been very offended. Even though I didn't know what it was, I heard it put down enough that I knew that I would resist being called one. One time I was debating a pentacostal on eternal security, and he called me a Calvinist. But I paid no attention to it, figuring he was just throwing out a name to disrail my argument.

    It wasn't till I started doing some research on Primitive Baptists that I really got exposed to determinism, and it just grew from there. When I started reading the material available for free online - stuff from Edwards, Gill, Luther, Payson, Philpot, and especially, SPURGEON, who, I had been told, was a "mild" calvinist that "turned away" from calvinism later in life, which was completely untrue - it was when I began reading this stuff that the lights went on. As I read, the thought kept occuring to me "this makes sense", "there's the answer to that question which I was told has no answer", etc. This was all happening incrementally until I reached a crucible. The last straw of freewill theology for me was as I was clinging to 1 Tim 2:4, which I thought made it clear that God wants all men without exception to be saved. But I also knew that I had never been satisfied with the typical freewill exposition of the surrounding verses, and I could never see an organic connection between it and the surrounding verses. It wasn't until I read a Calvinist's commentary (and unfortunatey, I can't remember which one I was reading at the time) on the passage that the whole passage made sense. Why did Paul say there is one God, and what does that have to do with God's desire to save all men, and Paul's call to the Gentiles (v7)? The only way it all fits together is if we understand that "all men" means "men of all types and nations". There is only one God, and He is the God of both the Jews and the Gentiles. I began to see that even John 3:16 makes sense only if it's understood in this way, for if God loves the world, as in, each and every person without exception, how can He simultaeously hate the wicked, the workers of iniquity, and Esau?

    When I let go of the freewill understanding of 1 Tim 2, I went back to Romans 9, now with a willingness to accept it for what it says. When my eyes fell upon verses 23 and 24 (And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?), those words "afore prepared", and "even us", overwhelmed me. I literally fell on my knees in my room and cried out to God "Lord, I don't care what you call me, a Calvinist, a hyper-Calvinist, or whatever; all I know is that I thank you and praise you for saving me!" The glories of my Sovereign Lord has rolled over me ever since. That was about three and half years ago.

    I tried to remain in my freewill church for the good of the church itself, but it all came to a head recently and I was dismissed; for which I hold no hard feelings because I should have dismissed myself already.

    I said too much. Bye!
     
  10. dwmoeller1

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    Hey, its just a convenient label to use. :)

    Personally, as I study it more, I find myself to be more Augustinian than Calvinist.
     
  11. npetreley

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    R.C. Sproul or Jr. (I forget which) said Calvin is little more than a footnote to Luther. That's why I haven't been motivated to read Calvin.
     
  12. reformedbeliever

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    I had been taught free will theology all my life..... what little theology I was taught. I knew I wanted to be saved, but I knew my innermost being. I knew I could not be saved, so I didn't live like I was saved. I was not regenerate.

    I was taking a class on Ephesians through the Ministry Training Institute of Oklahoma Baptist University. When I learned of God's sovereign grace, and the chance I had of being saved, not because of who I was or what I had done... The Holy Spirit poured out on me, and my sin became so evident to me. I cried over what Jesus had done for me... while I was still thinking about me... still spitting in His face. I was born again, and have never been the same person.

    That is why the DOSG are so important to me. I know there are many more out there that feel the same way I did. I want them to know that in fact they can be saved. I'll never preach or teach free will theology again.

    edited to change from "I was not saved" to "I was not regenerate. I'll have to agree with Pinoybaptist that I was saved before the foundation of the world, but not regenerate until the Holy Spirit did His work.
     
    #12 reformedbeliever, Mar 9, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2007
  13. reformedbeliever

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    I've never read Calvin. I've heard he was a brilliant theologian.
     
  14. johnp.

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    1 Sam 3:14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, `The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.' "

    That is limited atonement dw. :)

    To my knowledge there has never been a Christian in my rather large extended family although two of my cousins became Jehovah witnesses. :)

    I was 36, or so. An elder from a local Church visited me at the request of my door knocker evangelist. We spoke for awhile and I told him about myself and my recent spiritual experiences.
    He started talking about joining the Church and I told him that I didn't join anything, I'd be believing something new next week.
    He showed me a few passages that told me I would not be believing something else next week and I believed the scriptures praise the Lord. Jesus said He would keep me and He did. He said would never leave me and He never has, that He had loved me from eternity and had saved me because He loved me. Me. That was the moment I first met a Calvinist, as far as I know, and I believed what I read.
    I joined the Church the elder came from and was taught things that staggered me. It is a strong Calvinist Church where all the members are interested in scripture.
    Within months of joining I became the Church caretaker living in the adjoining flat and was not short of a discussion for five years. It was great.

    john.
     
  15. dwmoeller1

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    Oh I don't doubt that the atonement is limited in some way - its just that I find the typical Cist formulation of how its limited to be...how shall we say...more doctrinally based rather than Scripturally. :)
     
  16. johnp.

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    I think 1 Sam 3:14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, `The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.' " Says that it is God who decides who receives an atonement and who does not dw. :)

    john.
     
  17. amity

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    I did. I was raised Methodist, but in a very half-hearted way. Never had any religion as an adult. When I first began reading the New Testament in my mid-30s it just leaped out at me. I kept finding passage after passage that seemed to teach predestination, and then finally I remember getting to the part about the sheep and the goats and saying to myself "Oh, no." At that point my entire understanding of what I was reading transformed. Whatever I had formerly thought I knew about Christianity was based on free will and decisionism, and i realized that was not right. I think anyone who reads the Bible for the first time free of preconceived notions would come to essentially the same view...

    But I still don't think of myself as a Calvinist. Just a predestinarian. It is hard to reconcile being a baptist with being a "Calvinist."
     
  18. Tom Butler

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    I grew up in a typical Baptist church of the 40s, 50s and 60s--conservative, evangelistic, and pretty legalistic. I'd heard of predestination, but never had heard any teaching about it, and certainly not any preaching about it.

    In my early 30s, I was minister of music at my church, and asked to borrow one of my pastor's books on systematic theology, written by an obscure pastor back in the 1930s. I wanted to read up on some doctrine, but I got interested in the other chapters as well. Topics such as The Existence of God, the Nature and Attributes of God, The Will of God, The Moral Nature of Man, The Doctrine of Sin...just to name a few.

    Then came chapters on Human Responsibility, The Free Agency of man, and Boom! The Doctrine of Election. I'd never read anything like it before. Had I read it first, I probably would have moved on, but having had the groundwork laid in the previous chapters, it made perfect sense, and was logically consistent. Oh, I think the Holy Spirit also opened my understanding.

    So it was no stretch at all to embrace the next chapter on Limited Atonement.

    When I mentioned this discovery to my pastor, he got this deer-in-the-headlights look and changed the subject. I mentioned this to the Youth Minister and he got real defensive and said, "Well, you can believe like a Calvinist, but you should preach like a Fundamentalist.|" I didn't know what that meant, but it was clear to me that he didn't like what I told him. (Later, he embraced the Doctrines of Grace and was actually fired by a church because of it. He pastors a Calvinist church to this day.) A few years later, after exposing a Sunday evening Bible Class to the doctrine, the interim pastor (whose wife was in the class) tried to refute it from the pulpit that same evening.

    I didn't know what I embraced was called Calvinism, and to this day have never read anything by Calvin, except excerpts on the BB.

    In looking back at my salvation experience at age nine, I can now see how it is consistent with the Doctrines of Grace.

    I have found that Calvinism does not kill evangelism. It makes for sane evangelism.
     
    #18 Tom Butler, Mar 9, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2007
  19. DQuixote

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    Wow! That's powerful! Would that everyone would have that experience! It's the only way to fly!

    I've studied scripture all my life. Finally, the Holy Spirit woo'ed, and I began to pray. I'm a born-again Believer. That's it.
     
  20. dwmoeller1

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    Yes...but
    a. I am not seeing how one could reasonable insist that this is referring to THE atonement of Christ for the individual
    b. It also doesn't establish that the atonement is not universal in application (with some exceptions like above...assuming point a. is even established to begin with).

    IOW, its a passage which can be used to support limited but not establish. There are plenty of the former but the latter are questionable IMO.
     

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