The ideals embodied by Calvinism in general are well and good. The rebuttal to the 5-points of Jacob Arminus given by the Synod of Dort provides a good starting point in framing a Biblically founded personal theology. This has been conveniently turned into an acronym to summarize its tenants: Total Depravity of Man, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance. TULIP is more correctly known as the Doctrines of Grace. Were it enough to characterize Calvinism by the Doctrines of Grace alone there would be no problem in being identified as a Calvinist. The following short list contains views typically held by Calvinists with explanations. These views are “why I am not a Calvinist.”
- Paedobaptism: This view of baptism holds that infants can be baptized and be considered Christians.
This is bad doctrine. Correct doctrine is the foundation for healthy assemblies of believers. Anything that promulgates bad doctrine should not be considered as valid. Paedobaptism actually becomes a non-issue when viewed in its correct setting as “bad doctrine” and “credo-baptism” (Believer’s Baptism”) is taught and practiced.When even a cursory review of the New Testament (NT) is taken the reader cannot help but to notice what causes divisions in the NT churches, particularly at Corinth. The one repeated ground for divisions in the NT is when someone is regarded as unregenerate.Believer’s Baptism is the only outward presentation a believer is commanded to make. If we cannot expect a potential member to do this one simple thing (or provide some kind of proof he has done so as a believer) then why build a “church” membership base on it? Modes of baptism not withstanding, the “whens and whys” have to becarefully observed. If someone refuses believer’s baptism, then what are we to conclude? We are to conclude they are unregenerate and hence SHOULD be excluded from the Lord’s Table and “church” membership.
- Covenant theology view of salvation: This assumes that the covenants of God from the Old Testament (OT) are still in force and allow the covenanters to receive salvation in Christ and hence are part of Jesus’ church.
This view is the primary reason there is not a Puritan church alive and well today. It is actually quite ironic that many leading Calvinists push Puritan beliefs even though those beliefs led to the downfall of that belief system. Legacy church membership became a norm for the Puritan church and stagnation led to the downward spiral that would eventually become Unitarian/Universalism.This view holds that anyone in a home is granted salvation by the salvation granted to the head of that home. The Passover story in Exodus 12 is often used to substantiate such a position.With the initiation of the New Covenant (Luke 22:14-20; Matthew 26:26-28) Jesus showed the salvation that is only possible by His blood. It was made at a specific point in time and applied to a specific group of people – the church (Matthew 16:18) which Christ said He will build.
- Eschatology: Generally speaking, Calvinists often believe an amillennial position. Some even go as far as to declare a preterist view point. Rarely will a Calvinist hold any form of a dispensational view.
Most typical Calvinist eschatology again comes from the Covenant theology view of salvation that believes the church embodies saints from the Old Testament as well as the New Covenant (word choice made on purpose). This is often wrapped up in the inclusive term of Kingdom of God to be understood synonymously with the Church.While a dispensational view of eschatology is far-fetched at times and often stretched to some unbiblical substantiated conclusions, the idea itself of dispensations is quite Biblical unless Paul is wrong (Ephesians 3:2 KJV and others). Some translations have stewardship, others have administration but the idea that there is some kind of division in God’s plan is evident.The Kingdom of God is simply the whole of God’s plan. It is comprised of three dispensations (or stewardships, administrations): OT saints, the Church, and Jews brought to salvation during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7).John the Baptist typifies the OT saints (John 3:28-30) as being separate from the bridegroom and yet friends of the bridegroom. Paul understands the church to be the wife of the bridegroom (Ephesians 5:22-33) while John provides apocalyptic imagery of the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:6-9). Therefore the Kingdom of God is composed of the three: OT saints, the Church, tribulation Jews and saints.
God has made Himself and His plans well known. While we will never know nor understand everything about God and what He does, He involves us in His salvific purposes. God and God alone should hold our allegiance since we are members of His church and hence His kingdom. Therefore a better term for characterization is “sovereigntist” to show our fealty to our Sovereign.
That is “why I am not a Calvinist.”