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My Christian worldview initially aligned with Calvinism after I first gave my life to Jesus when I was 17. But over the course of my journey, wrestling with these theological issues actually led me to reconsider Catholicism.
It can be said that a person’s personal theology is expressed through their actions, similar to how Christians view good deeds as evidence of good faith. That being said, convincing oneself to be highly favored, set apart or chosen without any consideration for their actions is, in itself, prideful ignorance.
I, myself, have been guilty of this mindset when I first identified as a new Christian. When you live your life assuming you’re one of the ‘chosen few,’ you tend to think of yourself as the perpetual good-guy, and everyone else who doesn’t think or act like you is somehow a potential villain. This is not the kind of attitude we ought to have, as Jesus taught,
“For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11 RSV
I have lost friendships as a result of my own arrogance, which I later discovered was influenced by Calvinist philosophies. I even noticed in those days when engaging in dialogue with other Christians who were far more right-leaning than I was, there seemed to be no parity in the discussion. While one side assumes the other is a brother or sister in Christ who is only figuring out their way in life, the other side tends to think they are conversing with a vile, unholy and depraved bag of meat.
Pride creates an us-versus-them mentality that pulverizes any opportunity for constructive, peaceful dialogue – especially between Christians of varying worldviews, other religious and non-religious persons. It is the sin that causes modern-day Calvinists to think they are better reformed Christians than their fellow Calvinist brethren or even John Calvin himself. It is the sin of assuming a position of being favored by God, and is also the very sin that caused Lucifer to lose his place in Paradise.
Charles Spurgeon once quoted, “To deny Calvinism is to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This, unfortunately, speaks volumes of the hypocrisy of certain Christians who express such militant, hostile behavior towards the so-called traditions of men – whether that aggression is directed towards 3-point Calvinists, Arminian-Protestants, Eastern Orthodox or Catholics. When a 16th century white man’s interpretation of the Bible becomes elevated to a nearly equal status to the Gospels of the Jewish Messiah, one can only wonder what intentions lie behind such a mindset. For it was Jesus, not Calvin, who said,
“….but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 10:33 RSV
To have free will means to freely love in spite of the freedom to hate. If being ‘possessed’ by God means exercising intellectual and spiritual dominance over others in His name, then it’s a form of slavery I refuse to partake in.
Although some who have read my article thus far might possibly come to the conclusion that I’m not actually rejecting Calvinism on my own free will, but that I’m a slave to my own depravity or Lucifer’s hand-puppet.
To which I will say, I believe every relationship requires consent in order to be genuine devotion. Through faith and obedience in Christ I believe we are saved (Romans 8:24), but we are also in the process of being saved (1 Cor. 1:18), and I have a hope that I will be saved (Romans 5:9, Phillipians 2:12).
My faith and hope for salvation is in Christ alone, and not in the man-made traditions of John Calvin.