Challenging the Calvinist Understanding

It’s been my experience that for Calvinists to comport with their doctrines, many verses can’t simply be read ‘as is’ but instead must ‘adjusted’ so that the meaning of a given verse can better fit their orthodoxy. A friend recently indicated that Calvinist soteriology requires a repeat of Genesis 3 in which the serpent says, “That’s not really what God said.” I found this thought fascinating if only because of the inference wherein Calvinism is a lie because, according to Calvinism, God does not love everyone. Further, according to Calvinism, Jesus didn’t die for everyone. And Jesus is neither the savior nor the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. So, in no particular order, below is a table of verses that seem to be saying one thing and in which the Calvinist puts forth a different interpretation than the simple reading.

VerseThe non-Calvinist Says:The Calvinist Response:
1 John 4:14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.Yup!Nope. Jesus is not the savior of the world. He will only save his elect.
1 John 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole worldYup!Nope. Jesus is not the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. That only counts for his elect.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,Yup!Nope. Salvation is limited to the elect. That’s just basic unconditional election.
John 4:42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”Yup!Nope. He is not the savior of the world. That’s just his elect who can know.
John 1:9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.Yup!Nope. He does not enlighten every man. And total depravity keeps the non-elect from enlightenment.
John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”Yup!No. Jesus doesn’t draw all men to Himself – just his elect – how many times do I have to repeat myself?.
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!Yup!Nope. He is not the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Only elect persons have their sins taken away. Sheesh, you guys are slow on the uptake!
John 3:17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.Yup!Nope. Come on, this is basic TULIP – God did not send the Son into the world that it should be saved by Him
1 Tim 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.Yup!Nope. He is not the savior of all men, especially believers. I’ve said this before. Only the elect. Rinse & repeat, rinse & repeat!
1 Tim 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.Yup!Nope. He does not desire all men to be saved. We’ve been down this road before. Only the elect receive the knowledge of the truth.
2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.Yup!Nope … Noper … Nopiest! God doesn’t want all to come to repentance. That’s a given. Kind of like election. If you’ve got it, you’re good. If not, well, too bad.
Acts 17:30-31 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”Yup!Nope. Misleading because God actually doesn’t want that many saved persons. And besides, do you really think that God would ask men who can’t repent to repent. Who do you think God is anyway?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.Yup!Nope. Hey, it’s in the Greek. God doesn’t love the world! He only wants a few. Kinda like the Marines. Only a few get to be Marines. Same with Christians. Only a few get saved.
Romans 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.Yup!Nope. Salvation is not available to all men. Never has been. Never will be. Get over it. If you’re chosen, you know.
Acts 15:17 In order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord and all the Gentiles who are called by my nameYup!Nope. Silly boy, God doesn’t mean the rest of mankind. Man, ya gotta be a a Calvinist to understand this stuff. It’s not like math.
Acts 17:27 that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;Yup!Nope. He is infinitely far from the non-elect.
Titus 3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,Yup!Nope. He doesn’t love all. He doesn’t appear to all. Try reading the Westminster Confessions – maybe that’ll help.
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”Yup!Nope. What don’t you get about unconditional election? God isn’t seeking the non-elect. So get over it.
2 Cor 5:19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.Yup!Nope. The word ‘world’ doesn’t mean what you think it does. Maybe it would help to think in terms of groups of people.

The ultimate question, though, how is it that so many Christians adamantly adhere to Reformed theology teachings? The dichotomy of what is clearly stated within a given verse compared to what Calvinists claim the verse says has certainly caused much quandary within the faith.


Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

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