Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Confession: I Think I’m Becoming A Calvinist

 

It’s no secret- I’ve been a little hard on my Calvinist friends over the years (well, I only have 2 so there’s that). I’ve critiqued some of the crazy things their leaders have said. I’ve pointed out why some of their core beliefs are utterly offensive to me.

What can I say? Calvin and I have a pretty contentious relationship, if you could really call it that.

But for all my criticism of Calvinism, and my open distain for the way Calvinism distorts the image of God found in Jesus, I must confess: I think I am slowly on the road to becoming a Calvinist. I’ve tried to ignore all the signs. I’ve tried to deny it to myself and pretend it wasn’t happening. I’ve, I’ve… ugh. I’ve resisted it, but I am slowly losing my grip on my previous beliefs about who God is and who God is not… and as I lose my grip, I find myself drifting towards being the biggest Calvinist you’ve ever met.

Let me explain:

At the core of being a Calvinist is the belief that God hand-picks the people who will ultimately go to heaven and spend eternity in a paradise, where all the pains of this world are healed with perfect love. Calvinists will often describe the points of their belief system using the word TULIP, and this idea that God picks who will go to heaven is the “U,” meaning “unconditional election.” Essentially, God in his sovereignty selects people to extend his love and grace and mercy toward– and this act is unconditional.

Of course, Calvinism must account for the need of human beings to respond to God’s love and invitation, which brings us to the “I” in their scenario: “irresistible grace.” This idea of irresistible grace is that when God calls someone, when he invites them to come and experience his love, it is ultimately irresistible. God’s love pursues them to the ends of the earth– until they can’t resist anymore, and end up embracing love.

This also brings us to the P: perseverance of the saints. This is the idea that those who are chosen by God, who in turn respond to his love, can never be lost– it is a permanent salvation that cannot be undone by any slip up on the part of the individual. Thus, one can rest secure in God’s love, knowing that nothing they could do would earn them rejection by God.

Calvinism would be one of the most beautiful religions in the world if it were premised on UIP, but as far as I know, UIP doesn’t really spell anything. Where things get disgusting is when we add in the T and the L: every person is totally depraved and that Jesus only died to save a few people– not the whole world. The beauty of being chosen by God, being loved with a grace that’s irresistible, and being secure in a love that will never reject, is lost when we add in depravity and limited atonement.

A God who would pick people for hell before they were even born, is no one worthy of honor and praise– such a deity would be a monster.

In 5-point Calvinism, the Gospel is really, really good news for the few people God chooses to love and save, but is absolutely horrible news for the people God chooses to burn in hell– people who have no option or choice in the matter, because God himself created them for the sole purpose of sending them to hell.

That version of Calvinism is quite sick.

But 3-point Calvinism? This is where I find myself drifting lately.

To the idea that yes, God chooses who he will save, who he will heal, and who will experience his wonderful love– but that maybe God is so loving he chooses everybody.

The idea that yes, God’s grace is so wonderful and beautiful that it cannot be resisted– and that God will extend that irresistible grace to everyone… even pursuing them throughout eternity, until every last one decides to embrace love, and to walk out of hell.

The idea that yes, those who God has chosen can never be lost– that he is unwilling that any should perish, but that every last person who has ever lived would one day, whether now or in eternity, come to repentance– turning toward his love and his healing.

The more I travel the world, the more I find myself invited into people’s stories, and the more I learn how to love, the more difficult time I have believing in a god who doesn’t ultimately get what he wants: that no one would perish, but that everyone would experience his love and healing.

And even while I’ve written extensively on the theology of evangelical conditionalism (annihilation), and believe in the strength of my arguments, my heart believes it less and less as I learn to love people more and more.

I could be wrong in my drift towards the position of Universal Redemption (the belief that Christ will ultimately save all). But honestly, these days I’m more concerned with being authentic and transparent about who I am, and the journey I’m on, than I am concerned with being right.

And so, I confess: I think I’m becoming a Calvinist. Sort of. I doubt any self-respecting Calvinist would have me– but I’m thinking maybe Calvin was partly onto something.

I think I’m starting to believe that a God who is perfect love must pick everyone. 

I’m starting to believe that perfect love would not fail– that everyone who experiences it would find healing, and embrace love back.

I’m starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, everyone experiences irresistible grace and that God’s love will never, ever reject anyone in the end.

Because that’s the kind of thing that would actually be “good news.”

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Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

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  • many Calvinists prefer the phrase Particular Atonement to the one that fits the acronym, in practice it normally means the same thing but focuses on the atonement being for those who are being saved rather than on its “limit”. With that in mind I think I too am moving….from a 5 point Calvinist to a 5 point calvinist who believes ( sort of , not quite there yet) that the atonement is for everyone, everyone individually, “particularly”, and therefore all will be saved in the end. Nothing else really makes sense of texts like “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. He didn’t come to just to atone for sin but to save, not to offer salvation, but to save…..and yet there are passages in the New Testament that are hard to square with universal salvation. I don’t really have a problem with “total depravity” except it isn’t a biblical phrase and is easily misunderstood because of the way the word “depraved” is used nowawadays.For most Calvinists I know it means only that we are unable to contribute anything toward our salvation, or even desire it, until the Spirit begins to work in us.

  • Then there’s the Christians arguing and debating about something as wicked and ungodly as politics. Well Benjamin, it looks like I won’t be coming back here. Too many demons mingling with so few saints!

  • For all the ‘Christians’ throwing scriptures around, Jesus said, In that hour, do not worry about what you are going to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you. If the Holy Spirit will teach you in that hour, that means you will not already know what you need to say because you will have no knowledge of it. So all of your knowledge of scripture means that you know it well. People who throw bible scriptures around often like to show off their knowledge of scripture just like the Pharisees and Sadducee; men versed in scripture. The answer will not always come from the Bible, but, if you are beneath the governance of the Holy Spirit, the answer will always come from The Spirit. Jesus did not always teach from the Torah, this is one of the reasons those viperous Rabbis so despised Jesus and kept asking him, “From where do you get this authority?” (and the reason you will ask me who do I think I am, blah, blah,blah)! This is also the reason there is a NEW TESTAMENT that our Lord Jesus’ GOSPEL delivered.

    Adam and Eve were kicked out of the GARDEN OF EDEN, or more aptly PARADISE ON EARTH, our original home. Yet, you think we’re going to Heaven? Animals don’t go to Heaven, but Adam and Eve were surrounded by animals.Please don’t quote a scripture misinterpreted by the scholars of a Heathen King who indulged himself in young boys. I could care less, because Jesus will very shortly clear up all the misunderstanding from his majestic lips! Thank the Lord for that!

    While you’re at it, “Be not forgetful” and let the crucifying begin!

  • “The idea that yes, God’s grace is so wonderful and beautiful that it cannot be resisted– and that God will extend that irresistible grace to everyone… even pursuing them throughout eternity, until every last one decides to embrace love, and to walk out of hell.”

    That’s Universalism, Patrick.

  • Romans 9:22- 24 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

  • Brother,

    Your story sounds similar to mine in some ways. I was
    extremely hostile to Calvinism, until I found myself drawn “irresistibly” to it
    in 1999. My life hasn’t been the same sense—the Reformed faith has had an
    immensely positive impact.

    A couple of things became apparent as I read your article.
    First, I like the way you try to simplify things. However, one downside is that
    your articulation of what is actually taught is not quite accurate. For
    example, with regard to the “I”, you can certainly say that God relentlessly
    pursues His people until they come. However, the emphasis in the I is on the
    saving, omnipotent power of God’s grace in raising spiritually dead sinners to
    spiritual life. So, it teaches at the moment that God determines to bring about
    spiritual rebirth, He never fails to do it. He grace is effectual (i.e., it
    works and accomplishes what He sets out to accomplish). So, the correct
    understanding of I is that the Holy Spirit, at the moment of His choosing,
    powerful raises spiritually dead sinners to spiritual life, renewing their
    wills and enabling to freely embrace Christ.

    This lead to a discussion of 2 of the points that you say you detest: Totally depravity, and limited atonement. The reason the U and the I are necessary is because man is totally depraved. What this means is not that he is a evil as he could possibly be, nor that he possesses no virtue whatsoever from a purely human perspective. What it means is that sin has corrupted the entirety of man’s nature: his mind, his will, his emotions—the effects of the fall and it’s corruption on the human heart is total. There isn’t an aspect of his nature that man, in his
    pride, can point to and say, “well, that part has not been corrupted.” This
    doesn’t mean that man has lost the ability to make choices. Quite the contrary—he most certainly does! The problem is that his “willer” is tied to and directed by his heart, which as been corrupted by sin. Thus, man does desire the things of God in an ultimate sense. He will not and cannot incline himself to
    spiritual good and “choose” Christ. He cannot come to Christ apart from
    regenerating grace. Thus, this is the reason the I is necessary. Man must first
    be given a new nature so that he can comply with the Gospel commands to repent and believe the Gospel—which are spiritual acts.

    This leads the L. Christ didn’t just make salvation possible—He
    actually it accomplished by securing and guaranteeing the salvation of everyone
    for whom He made atonement (i.e., all that the Father gave Him before the
    foundation of the world, hence the connection to the U, and perfect consistency
    in the eternal, Trinitarian plan of redemption). The choices are between an
    actual atonement that actually saves, or a hypothetical atonement that saves no
    one in and of itself.

    As for the word “limited”, everyone who does not believe that every single person who ever has or will be saved “limits” the atonement. Either it is limited in its extent, or in its power. The Arminian limits the power of the atonement by divesting it of any and all inherit power on its own to save. This is why classic Arminians do not say that Christ’s death paid our
    penalty—if He did, then there’s no penalty left to be paid. Nor do they say it
    is substitutionary. It can’t be, for if Christ truly atoned for someone—truly satisfied the wrath of God for them and actually (not hypothetically or potentially)
    reconciled and redeemed them, then it is impossible for those things not to be
    applied to them.

    The Calvinist affirms the omnipotent power of the atonement to
    save in and of itself every single person that it was intended to save, hence it limits the scope and design of it to the sheep that Christ laid down His life for (John 10). The true limitation here, then, that is truly lamentable is the one that would rob the cross of all of its intrinsic power to save. Thus, Spurgeon puts it well, “[Calvinists] are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question—Did Christ die so as to secure the
    salvation of any man in particular? They answer “No.” They are obliged to admit
    this, if they are consistent. They say, “No; Christ has died that any man may
    be saved if”—and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say, then, we
    will go back to the old statement—Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to
    secure the salvation of anybody, did He? You must say “No;” you are obliged to
    say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet
    fall from grace, and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ?
    Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the
    salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death;
    we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.” We say Christ so died that He
    infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who
    through Christ’s death not only may be saved but are saved, must be saved, and
    cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.” (see full quote here: http://www.erictyoung.com/2013/05/06/who-limits-the-atonement-calvinists-or-arminians-charles-spurgeon/)

    The objection would then be, “well, all of the benefits are theirs if they believe.” But, Christ’s atonement not only purchased them individually, but also every spiritual blessing and benefit of the Gospel, to include our ability to believe—the new heart that is given to us in the new covenant (which was purchased in Christ’s blood). Hence, as one theologian puts it,“It isn’t the cross plus my converted heart that equals salvation; rather, it is the cross that gives me a converted heart and therefore salvation.”

    Finally, you lamented the fact that Calvinism
    teaches that God selects people to go to hell. That is not an accurate
    assessment of what historic, biblical Calvinism teaches. We teach that election
    is unto salvation, not damnation. Those that are not elect in Christ are passed
    by and left in their sinful state to endure the justice of God. This is called
    reprobation. So, when we speak of double predestination, it’s important to keep
    in mind the distinction between election (which is God’s active choosing of a multitude of hell deserving sinners unto salvation in Christ), and reprobation (God’s passing by those not elect in Christ and leaving them in their state of sinful rebellion and hatred of God).

    The choice then is really between a God who
    actually decrees and accomplishes His plan of redemption, or one who seeks to
    save, but leaves it all up to the power of the man. The Calvinist casts his lot
    with the wisdom and omnipotent grace of God, and the assurance that it brings,
    that our salvation from beginning to end is the work of God that cannot
    possibly fail precisely because He is God.

  • So, basically, you let your heart guide you instead of the Word of God. I would respond with Jeremiah 17:9,

    “The heart is more deceitful than all else
    And is desperately sick;
    Who can understand it?”

    Personally, I think molinism has the best of both worlds. It preserves the total sovereignty of God while also allowing total individual free will to choose God.

  • The beauty of Calvinism is that God has decided at the beginning of time whether or not you will be a Calvinist.

  • Goddess (or God, if you prefer- I think it has no gender) is definitely
    pure love. And in pure love nothing less can exist, so for me, it’s a
    no-brainer that everything that extends (or is created) from pure love
    is pure love. Perhaps we as humans on our little plane of existence
    which is (by necessity?) a binary existence, cannot (typically) see that
    pure love in each and every thing (I certainly strive to), but it’s
    still pure love. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around a divinity
    that would intentionally punish and torture that which it created.

    I love Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”. In it, he speaks on good and evil: http://www.katsandogz.com/ongood.html

    An excerpt:
    “In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.

    But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the
    sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.

    And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
    But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”

    For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment?” nor the houseless, “What has befallen your house?””

    • (Edited) Your comment SEEMS to be a mixture of pagan ideology, beautiful poetry, and eastern philosophy. And even though I no longer completely subscribe to the any of those ideas, I fully understand where you’re coming from.

      • You know, “Pagan” was just a catch-all word for all religious practices that didn’t conform to a patriarchal monotheism.

    • I decided I would take a trip to refresh my memory on where our conversation began. I don’t know how I ended up on pantheos.com, but I realize now why our conversation went the way it did. After reading my original response, it may have seemed that I was coming off as a bit snide and callous which is anything but true. I hope that I didn’t offend you with that original comment,and if I did, I apologize.

  • having read Calvin’s “Institutes” there is a great deal wrong with it from a biblical perspective. I have found I can’t be an “any point” Calvinist as there are serious problems with each point. There is a good reason Universalism is a common heresy of Calvinism.

  • Would a loving God force anyone to come into His home if they don’t want to(aka atheists,etc)? Answer that one!!!

  • Calvinist thinking or not, many are called but few are chosen. Some refuse to go “through” the process of sanctification.

  • I can not believe that a loving God would reward Christian leaders supporting Donald Trump, a narcissist, as President. You might hate Clinton but Trump is deadly.

  • Practice freewill and become an atheist – then you can convert back just to show the Calvinists they’re nuts. Just kidding, of course.

  • I wonder how many will read your lede (which, dear Dr. Ben, is, after all some pretty serious clickbait… *smile*) and not read your article.

    I admit, I make no claim to the label of Christian, as I’ve said here and elsewhere, and really only tend to label myself as an unaffiliated Jewish mystic, but I enjoyed the read, and the direction you’re leading yourself… I may not agree across the board, especially regarding labeling and specific terminology, but it is fascinating.

    NB: The reason I stick around your estimable blog is that you and I tend to be much in agreement about so much, regardless of the terminology each of us may choose. Brightest blessings, Dr. Ben, and well-said.

  • As long as the Calvinists won´t have you, in my opinion you´re safe. Once they accept you, you are too far gone. Resist, Dr. Corey.! Resist the disgusting lies!

  • “But honestly, these days I’m more concerned with being authentic
    and transparent about who I am, and the journey I’m on, than I am
    concerned with being right.”

    Thank you for that. Would that each of us just be honest about our own journey, and how our faith impacts it.

  • Calvinism [5 point] at its core is not based on love and therefore is alien to the true nature of God. Interesting how the proponents of it always feel “they” are definitely elect. Maybe they worried about their own salvation and need something to convince themselves they are special. ie The Gospel Coalition of today.

  • A few years ago, I only had a general idea of what Calvinism was when I stumbled on a pastor’s blog and saw someone asking about what he should say to family/loved ones if he thought they were members of the Reprobate and why God would make someone so close to him into one. The pastor replied:

    The question that Paul says we should not ask [in Romans 9] is precisely the one that you are asking: “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” If you are a reprobate, then the matter is simple. This passage says that God has made someone like you so that someone like me can learn about his wrath, his power, and his patience – that he would tolerate someone like you for so long – and in contrast, about his riches and mercy toward me. So if you are a reprobate, this would be a satisfying conclusion to my response.

    … and it took me years to recover from it.

  • I have been reading your blog for months and have found my beliefs to be very similar to yours. I am a Christian (descended from a long line of Southern Baptists) who worships at a Presbyterian church. Presbyterians are, by and large, Calvinists. Like you, I struggle with the exact same issues you describe in this article. Maybe we could consider ourselves “reformed” Calvinists. I believe “love” is the key. God IS love. According to Jesus, the greatest commandments are to “love”. Love covers a multitude of sins. You can be the smartest, most knowledgeable, person on earth…but without love, you are nothing. I believe God is much more capable of loving the unloveable than I am….or ever will be.

  • Its a bit roundabout way to get there Ben but I think you are onto it. I think ultimately He chooses everyone… we may go through a great deal including the refining fire but we end up with Him. Phillip Gulley has written very well on this as has Julie Federwer in “Raising Hell” .. I the only struggle I have is believeing that the Ayn Rand devoted, gun running, elitist Republicans running the USA today will end up in Heaven….surely gives me pause….. 🙂

  • I tend to agree with your sentiment and have been moving toward a more pure belief in God’s attitude toward sinners for a number of years. The point where I can’t embrace pivots on a different understanding of the real reason anyone could be lost. It is never, ever because God’s grace and love are at last withdrawn as you assume at the end of this post.
    Love will never fail, at least in the sense of lapsing. Love will never reject or anything similar. At the same time I have seen that if God were to force people to accept His love or force them to remain alive against their will until they finally relent, then again we are reintroducing dark elements into the concept of God that taint the beautiful truth of free will on our part.
    I feel that the only way free beings can respect God in the end is if they are given the full freedom to embrace love and reflect it because of their own will, not because God will never let them off the hook. Those who are lost choose it against all odds, but if God forces them to remain alive until He gets the decision He wants in the name of irresistible love, well, in our lingo it is called abuse.
    But even in what I have come to believe in this matter, in no way does that infer that I think God is complicit in their demise. Those who are lost will choose to return the gift of life God has given them freely in exchange for eternal non-existence by their own free will. God respects the most important part of our make-up, our free will and He protects our use of it incessantly. For without this option to choose not to love, true love simply cannot exist or thrive. That is the part I believe is vital to appreciate and is the key truth that provides security for God’s government throughout all eternity without the slightest presence of fear. It will be respect for the kind of God who respects our free choices that guarantees our willing eternal participation in treating others the way we are treated by God. Anything short of this taints the purity of the very nature of love which includes respect. That is the kind of God that is capturing my affections after many years stuck in fear and legalism.

  • That’s the sort of “Calvinism” I can get on board with. I actually arrived at that conclusion about 9 years ago. Welcome to the party.

  • “…but that maybe God is so loving he chooses everybody…”

    Now try explaining to others that this also means that he also included people like Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden and a whole lot of other people we, as a people, loathe. You will get burned.
    Its what I allways found when I tried to explain to others what I believe Jesus death means to us. It hard for all of us to understand that God is love.

  • You should consider the Wesleyan tribe (although there are some Arminian Calvanists). I would recommend Randy Maddox’s “Responsible Grace” for an excellent Wesleyan theology.

  • So, all the people of the world who put their faith in Christ go to heaven, but those who don’t go to hell? Or does everyone who has ever been born go to heaven? And that would include the Jew, the Muslim, etc. What about those of us who don’t believe there is a god there at all- or a heaven…if we are wrong, what is our fate?

  • Actually, you are a Calvinist. The “T” stands for “Total Theosis” and the “L” stands for “Limitless Atonement”.

  • I think there is a danger in making God into our image here. We say ” we cannot believe in a God that does rah rah rah….. but what if he did? We start to put conditions on God, which are limited by human understanding. At the end of the day – do we trust him enough that it’s all going be ok? It would be great to think the whole world would eventually bow the knee, but I don’t see that in scripture. I think God is far more generous, and far more loving that we will ever understand, but there is a little word – Justice – that keeps me from falling into universalism. You guys all might be right – here’s hoping – but at the end of the day – do we trust him without our ‘conditions?’

  • You didn’t have me worried at all. I am perfectly capable of reading the first four books of the New Testament, and responding with my OWN beliefs. If someone else doesn’t believe my way, fine. My way is the simplest – Jesus said to obey the Ten Commandments, and he taught us the Golden Rule. He treated women, and the other underdogs of the world at the time equally, and he didn’t suffer hypocrites very happily. And God thought of all humans as his children. If he is a Good God (and mine is), that means just what it means with our own children. Love.

  • Robin Parry’s “The Evangelical Universalist” made me think I could become a Calvinist, in much the same way as you have described. The argument of the book is fairly Calvinist in style, especially in how it stresses God’s sovereignty and choice, with the crucial difference as you say that it doesn’t accept the L (the T could still be there).
    I don’t think 5-point Calvinism is good news even for the elect though, because enjoying salvation while believing that others are condemned totally without hope does not seem to me to embody the spirit and grace of Christ. Therefore their salvation (or sanctification – part of the same thing) is incomplete.
    Meanwhile I remain a fan of Calvin – and Hobbes!

  • YES! Oh, Benjamin, I am so happy to read this! I remember positing this idea in a comment to one of your posts about Annihilation a year or two ago, and your response that God couldn’t FORCE you to love Him so that Universal Reconciliation didn’t work. But now you’re getting it, I think. It’s not forcing you to love Him, it’s wooing you — if you’ve ever fallen in love, you get it — it’s irresistible, but it’s not FORCE. I am happy for you, and I agree with you … and I love that you found LOVE to be the deciding factor. I wish I could put a bunch of little heart emoticons. And also, let me quote you here and say to the following: YES, YES, YES.

    “To the idea that yes, God chooses who he will save, who he will heal, and who will experience his wonderful love– but that maybe God is so loving he chooses everybody.

    “The idea that yes, God’s grace is so wonderful and beautiful that it cannot
    be resisted– and that God will extend that irresistible grace to everyone… even pursuing them throughout eternity, until every last one decides to embrace love, and to walk out of hell.

    “The idea that yes, those who God has chosen can never be lost– that he is
    unwilling that any should perish, but that every last person who has ever lived would one day, whether now or in eternity, come to repentance– turning toward his love and his healing.”

    YES!

  • Sounds to me like you are heading the same way as Karl Barth. He said, when asked if he was teaching and considering Universal Redemption: I’m am not teaching it, but also not not! (Sounds better in the German original). 😉
    (I had to write a paper on it during my studies and I hated his long sentences, but he was a brilliant Theologian.)

  • That’s not Calvinism (3 pt or 5 pt) you are describing. That’s God’s universal love and grace… pure and simple. God is much more than what we can neatly contain within a pretty theological box.

  • Yes, I’ve wrtten about this before. I use to be a Calvinist. I actually becamse a Calvinist because I didn’t want to be a universalist. Then I left Calvinism for universalism. I’ve always been one or the other.

  • Universal reconciliation is tops.

    I moved through annihilationist thought for several years before finally arriving at universalism. Books like Robin Perry’s Evangelical Universalist don’t do the position much justice, in my opinion; he fails to tackle key parts of the bible, and he commits many of the same problems proponents of the other views do.

    I think universalism is the outcome of the Gospel, but I biblicist approaches need a serious retooling.

  • Ben, a bit of a misleading headline! I think im right in saying no Calvinist today would recognise what youre proposing. You’ve actually just picked 3 of its basic tenets and then twisted them!

    In many ways I agree with you it would be nice if universalism was real, but from my understanding of Jesus’ own words and the rest of the NT, I simply cannot accept it. God is full of mercy and love and it was shown ultimately in the death of the Son. There is simply no mercy left for those who continue to reject the Son and His gift of life. The fact that so many believe they have no need for Jesus and have no intention of bending the knee to Him, really does show how separated they are from the God of the universe. Me and you were just like that. Regardless of how you believe grace works (personally I think its a combination of God’s choice and ours), me and you came to the realisation as to who Jesus is, and what reality actually is. In arguing that in loving people more it makes you believe that they will all be saved in the end tends to reflect badly on Jesus, who is love personified and loved people deeply, yet His words and actions do not reflect the position to which you are drifting. And He knows the full reality.

  • Personally, I think theology begins to get dangerous when one leans toward extremes. Therefore, a true five point Calvinist thought is quite horrific. But so is the extreme the other way, God plays no role in the salvation decision of the person, it’s all on the person.

    I believe the extremes are built off of flawed humanistic understanding of a immensely mysterious Deity. The more we try to limit God into our understanding, the more off base we get. For instance, I believe it’s entirely possible, in it’s impossibility, that God can be completely sovereign in election yet man completely responsible in faith. I believe God can elect unconditionally yet man can still reject. I believe man can be totally depraved yet persevere in his salvation. I believe Jesus can die for all and not all come to salvation.

    Therefore, I guess I’m a 3 point Calvinist (Total Depravity 1, Unconditional Election .5, Limited Atonement 0, Irresistible Grace .5, Perseverance Of Saints 1). Sheesh, what a mess.

    Thank You Jesus for becoming a man, redeeming Your creation, and paving the way for the restoration of Your Kingdom on earth. Let’s just stick to that and let Calvin mess with the other junk.

  • This wouldn’t be Calvinism, this would just be Universal Reconciliation. Calvinism at it’s core is still just as horrid as you initially described it to be. Am I missing something? Hoping there’s some sarcasm in here.

  • What parent would only pick some of their children to love while abandoning the others?
    God’ love is universal and limitless.

  • Click bait!!! But the bait ended up tasting a lot better than I first suspected! This is something I’ve thought and read about a lot over the past decade and am coming to the same conclusions.

  • A form of theology that upholds both God’s superordinate responsibility, as well as purgatorial universal reconciliation, has been my passion for several years now (see my profile link). I think this form’s big memetic weakness has been that these two parts must be posited simultantaneously for them to multiply together and explode into a beautiful resolution for soteriology, eschatology, and theodicy (and metaphysics). And, of course, it’s hard to simultaneously posit two things that are unpopular (it’s far easier to do one or the other, since folks crave being “single issue crusaders”).

    I read a few of your articles last year where I felt myself really rooting for this blog as it explored so honestly and passionately, especially rooting to follow some of its excellent premises to their corollaries on the matter of Judgment.

  • Benjamin, Calvinism doesn’t require that you believe all five points. Even the puritan theologian Richard Baxter was a four-pointer (because he rejected Limited Atonement). Besides… I’m not so sure that even Calvin himself would have considered himself a five-point Calvinist. After all, those five points were developed a generation AFTER his death, and only in response to a perceived theological threat from Jacobus Aminius. So… “Meh” with five-point Calvinism (and even “Calvinism” as a label). I prefer aligning with the Reformed Tradition, which is far richer and more varied than depending upon the writings of Calvin alone.

  • Books from BLC:

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