TIP-TOEING OUT OF TULIP
by an Ex-Calvinist
“I was in Calvinism for about 30 years. I was a ‘pew’ Calvinist for most of those years and had a ‘soft’ view of the 5 points or TULIP. Meaning, I took the points as they were explained, bought and read all the right books and commentaries, but did not study the doctrines in depth nor in context until many years later.
Imagine my surprise when I read about the doctrine of double predestination… you mean God deliberately created man in his image for the sole purpose of reprobating and damning them to eternal hell?
Where was THAT in Scripture? Mmmm, **nowhere** in Scripture; not Scripture in context.
Fourteen years ago, God, in His great kindness directed my steps to an expositional, in-depth, inductive study of Scripture…*in context.* As we went through the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures, I started experiencing nagging doubts about some of the doctrines I believed… the real fracture in the foundation of Calvinism for me, started with Covenant vs Covenantal Theology.
The next problem, was learning that total depravity, (according to authentic, historic, Augustinian Calvinism), meant ‘total INABILITY’ … i.e., one cannot reach up to grasp the Hand of the One reaching down to save him/her.
And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27
I then took each point of TULIP, and studied it out with Scripture *in context* and saw that for all those years, answers and books I had read had isolated Scripture from context to defend doctrines and ideas about God that aren’t even found in Scripture; it’s called ‘proof-texting… those ‘divine, deterministic decrees in eternity past’ ??Not there.
God creating some men and electing them to eternal salvation? Not There… and God creating others (Unconditional Election) for the sole purpose of foreordaining him to reprobation and damnation for all eternity – because it most pleased Him and glorifies
Him? Not There.
Christ died for the whole world.
I never believed Limited Atonement… but studying it shocked me to the depths of my heart… that the precious blood of Jesus was only shed for the ones God elected to salvation… meaning He did not die for all men. NOT in Scripture, ANYWHERE.
Irresistible grace or particular redemption… the idea if one is elect for salvation, the Holy Spirit will drag you, draw you, (a type of coercion, as it was initially taught by Augustine (Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo) and then 1000 yrs later, by John Calvin, who systematized Augustine’s teachings. And ONLY those elect for salvation, are given the special grace, effectual grace, or special, inward call to guarantee they will hear the Word and be saved.
A study of history on the origin of ‘free will‘ (which term Calvinists hate) showed the Early Church Fathers coined the term, to fight and stand *against* the Gnostics of the day.
As I was studying, I realized that what the ECF taught against, is what Calvinism actually was. It was an extremely unsettling time for me. Augustine did not teach in his early years as bishop of Hippo what he taught later in his life… which is why for the first 300-400 years the ECF did not teach as Augustine taught at the end of his life. And, I learned, that when Augustine was sent to school to study as a young teen, he rejected Christianity… know where he went? With the strongest Gnostic group the early church faced… the Manichaean Gnostics. He was with them for nine years before converting to Christianity. He only converted to Christianity, because he was told he could allegorize the OT, and spiritualize what disgusted him about the judgmental Old Testament God…
God had me in a place during this time, to be able to study… I had been asked to co-teach a Sunday School class on Calvinism, and I was supposed to present the ‘pro’ point of view; or the positives. As it turned out, I called to tell the leader I wouldn’t be able to do that; she then asked me to teach what I was learning…
So the fissures in the foundation of my theology, that had started with questions here
and there a few years before, intensified in 2007, and became fractured as I then studied each doctrine… in-depth, inductively, and in context.
Two years ago, after a 5 1/2 month, 30-40 hours a week study, those remaining pieces, the foundation for the doctrines of authentic, historic, Augustinian Calvinism were pulverized. God did not leave even a fist-sized piece of rock from reformed, Calvinistic theology. He crushed it to fine gravel. At that point, I denounced and renounced everything of Reformed, Calvinistic theology.
I can speak clearly from my own experiences. And from the perspective of grief for those I introduced and led (family and friends) into Calvinism, where some remain.
I still say SHAME on me, for not studying sooner… but God is good and faithful, and perhaps He will use my pre-Berean days for His glory.