Calvinism is a theological system that proposes God saves some people from the condemnation He has justly decreed over all humanity without ever imposing any condition for salvation upon those whom He saves (not even believing the gospel): those whom He saves, He saves because (according to His own wisdom and purpose) He wills to save them; and, that He saves them so is just.
Neither works of righteousness, nor repentance toward God, nor faith in Jesus Christ influence God’s decision in regards to whom He wills to save. Such works of righteousness, repentance toward God, and faith in Jesus Christ are actually impossible for people to exercise without God causing them to exercise them.
So then, God saves whom He, according to His own will, chooses to save; and, any works of righteousness, repentance toward God, and faith in Jesus Christ are not the condition for their salvation, but the result of the salvation God has already given them. In this way, all human choice is eliminated. For those who believe the gospel do believe the gospel because God chose to cause them to believe the gospel, and those who do not believe the gospel do not believe the gospel because God chose not to cause them to believe the gospel.
In order to support this position, Calvinism teaches that the depravity of humanity is total, that the election of them is unconditional, that the atonement of Christ is limited, that the grace of God is irresistible, and that the saints’ perseverance is guaranteed. These five point of calvinism (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints) can be remembered by the acronym TULIP.
The Plain Language of The Bible Contradicts Calvinism
I believe certain passages in the Bible clearly undermine Calvinism:
”4 Or do you despise the wealth of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” (Romans 2:4-5, LEB)
In this passage, God is actively leading the person to repentance, but the person refuses to repent. But, if God has chosen not to cause this person to repent, why is He actively leading the person to repentance?
1 John 2:2
“2 and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, LEB)
The plain language of this passage states the atonement of Christ is not limited to the elect, but available to the whole world. Calvinists must reason away the meaning of this simple verse to maintain their theological system.
“38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, LEB)
Peter’s plain language contradicts Calvinism. Notice that, by giving the instruction, Peter assumes people have a choice. Peter’s message was not “If God has caused you to believe, then you have repented and you will be baptized.” That would have been more consisten with Calvinism.
1 Samuel 23:11-12
“11 Will the rulers of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Yahweh, God of Israel, please tell your servant!” And Yahweh said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the rulers of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And Yahweh said, “They will deliver you.” (1 Samuel 23:11-12, LEB)
In this passage, God predicts something that was never fulfilled (because David left before he was delivered by the rulers of Keith unto Saul). This is possible because God doesn’t merely decree what will happen: He knows what a person would do under different circumstances. This middle knowledge is what Molinism uses to reconcile God’s sovereignty with humanity’s free will.
“16 For in this way God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world in order that he should judge the world, but in order that the world should be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17, LEB)
This passages teaches that God loved the world (not just the elect), and that He sent His Son to save the world (not just the elect). Contrary to Calvinism, God did not only love the elect, for verse 17 shows that the world God loves includes humans who believe in Jesus and humans who do not believe in Jesus.
26 And he made from one man every nation of humanity to live on all the face of the earth, determining their fixed times and the fixed boundaries of their habitation, 27 to search for God, if perhaps indeed they might feel around for him and find him. And indeed he is not far away from each one of us, 28 for in him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said: ‘For we also are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:26-28, LEB)
God wants humans to seek Him. This implies that humans must actively seek God in order to find Him.
What then? Do we have an advantage? Not at all. For we have already charged both Jews and Greeks are all under sin, 10 just as it is written,
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned aside together; they have become worthless;
There is no one who practices kindness;
there is not even one.
Their throat is an opened grave;
they deceive with their tongues;
the venom of asps is under their lips,
whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
destruction and distress are in their paths,
and they have not known the way of peace.
The fear of God is not before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those under the law, in order that every mouth may be closed and the whole world may become accountable to God. (Romans 3:9-19, LEB)
Contrary to what Calvinism teaches, the passage is not saying that the sinful human is incapable of seeking God (that would contradict Acts 17:26-28). Instead, Romans 3:9-19 is talking about what humans have actually done throughout history. The passage is not about what humans can or cannot do.
Passages Used By Calvinists Can Also Be Explained By Different Systems
I belive the Bible does not teach, describe, or follow Calvinism. In my opinion, the different biblical passages used to teach the points of Calvinism can be explained other theological systems, such points Calvinism and Molinism.
In some of my articles, I discuss how passages traditionally used to defend Calvinism can be understood from a different perspective (after you have read this article, click on the links below to see my explanations):
Calvinism Is Not The Gospel
Like every system created by humanity, Calvinism is a flawed and imperfect system. God, in His grace, offers salvation to us without us needing to understand all the details about how He makes that salvation possible. There may be positive points about Calvinism; nevertheless, it is an error to focus so much on Calvinism that we loose sight of the message the Bible clearly communicates: God gives His message (the gospel), and He commands all humans everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
The Calvinist must have something clear: Calvinism is an attempt to explain how the gospel works, but Calvinism itself is not the gospel.
In the end, I believe Calvinism disregards the delicate balance between God's sovereignty and humanity's free will that is established in the book of Genesis.
A Biblical Objection to Calvinism
© 2022 Marcelo Carcach