Notes on Calvin and Calvinism: Was John Calvin Really a Calvinist?

A Possible Sheep in Wolves’ Clothes or a Hard-core Calvinist Through and Through?—Notes on Calvin and Calvinism: Was John Calvin Really a Calvinist?
Calvin or not


Dr. Phil Stringer, “Was John Calvin a Calvinist?” Grace Leadership Conference, 2011, Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church, Lake Zurich, IL.

Kent Kelly, “Inside the Tulip,” Southern Pines, NC, 1986.

Calvin’s Commentaries and Calvin’s “Institutes.”


In recent years, there has been a growing trend in Christianity for people to claim that John Calvin, the founder of modern Calvinism, did not really believe or teach what is being taught by Calvinists today. Many want to hold Calvin up as some sort of an iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation while, at the same time, they wish to distance themselves from the radical unbiblical teachings attributed to Calvin. They claim that the Five Points of Calvinism, known by the acronym “TULIP,” were actually invented by the Synod of Dort, over fifty years after Calvin’s death, having little or nothing to do with what Calvin actually taught. Some even want to go so far as to claim that Calvin really taught a Free Grace gospel. Startling!

Who are these people, mentioned above?

1. “New” Calvinists. This group generally holds to the modern five points of Calvinism but stands against “double predestination,” sometimes referred to as, “hypercalvinism,” the teaching that God predestined some for heaven and some for hell (neither can do anything to change that fate). They claim that Calvin did not teach double predestination.
2. “Moderate” Calvinists. They hold to only one to four of the five points of Calvinism. Most from this category would object to “limited atonement,” (the “L” of TULIP) the Calvinist false, unbiblical teaching that Christ died only for the elect. Some “moderate” Calvinists also deny that their concept of Calvinism teaches Lordship “Salvation.” Some also deny that Calvin taught Lordship “Salvation.”
3. Free Grace believers. Now, this is astonishing! But, yes, there are actually some who hold to the Free Grace Gospel of the Bible who think that John Calvin was, in reality, a Free Grace theologian! “He has just gotten a bad rap,” they say. How naïve is this! I submit that those who make this claim have read only short isolated clips of what Calvin wrote. Folks such as this love to answer Calvinists by saying, “Well, even Calvin himself didn’t believe what you teach.” Frankly, it is an impossible stretch to demonstrate that Calvin taught Free Grace theology. His standard pattern of writing throughout his commentaries is, when confronted with a Bible text that unmistakably declares that Christ died for the sins of ALL the world and, further, when the Bible explains the Gospel message of God’s Free Grace salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, Calvin initially states what the text says plainly (Free Grace); HOWEVER, he quickly filters the text through his preconceived skewed theological construct, restating, contradicting and denying what the text of the Bible clearly declares. This theological filter appears to have originated from his background of being a Roman Catholic Priest and, for a time, a humanist. He also held the teachings of Augustine in the highest regard.

Was Calvin simply a moderate or limited Calvinist, a Free Grace Gospel teacher who has been misquoted, or, in reality, a strong Calvinist or Hyper-Calvinist? Let’s look at some quotations from Calvin and see what he really said.

From Calvin’s Commentaries
1. John 6:33 KJV: “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Calvin’s response: “This passage teaches that the whole world is dead to God, except so far as Christ quickens it, because life will be found nowhere else than in him.” NOTE: Calvin’s comment here affirms four of the five points of Calvinism (T, U, L, I) and denies that God gave his Son to the whole world (while God’s gift of salvation through belief in his Son is offered to the whole world, sadly, many will reject his gift—Matt. 23:37).
2. John 3:16 KJV: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Calvin’s response: Calvin begins by acknowledging the clear meaning of the verse, but then quickly reverses his position: Calvin: “Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.” Additionally, Calvin said, “We must not assume that ‘the world’ means every single individual human being, ‘world’ refers to those who have the capacity and ability to believe.” NOTE: Calvin affirms in this statement, unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace (U, L and I of the Calvinist acronym TULIP). Dr. Phil Stringer relates further that Calvin repeatedly says throughout his Commentaries that “all,” or, “the world” mean, to him, all kinds of human beings, some out of each class or race of people, or ranks of life, not every human being. Calvin, thereby, attempts to dodge the clear straightforward meaning of “all” or “all the world,” in Scripture, as meaning EVERYONE. As Dr. Stringer put it so aptly, “Even a child can understand that all means ALL.”
3. Matthew 23:37 KJV: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Calvin’s response: “Again, when the sophists seize on this passage, to prove free will, and to set aside the secret predestination of God, the answer is easy. God wills to gather all men, say they; and therefore all are at liberty to come, and their will does not depend on the election of God. I reply: The will of God, which is here mentioned, must be judged from the result. For since by his word he calls all men indiscriminately to salvation, and since the end of preaching is, that all should betake themselves to his guardianship and protection, it may justly be said that he wills to gather all to himself. It is not, therefore, the secret purpose of God, but his will, which is manifested by the nature of the word, that is here described; for, undoubtedly, whomsoever he efficaciously wills to gather, he inwardly draws by his Spirit, and does not merely invite by the outward voice of man.” NOTE: Calvin holds to the classic Calvinist denial of free will while affirming the Calvinist U, L and I.
4. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Calvin’s response: once again, Calvin makes an initial affirmation of what the verse plainly states, but he quickly denies his affirmation with the following statement, “But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world.” Comment: Calvin clearly twists the clear meaning of the text, pushing his notion of limited atonement.
5. 1 John 2:2 KJV: “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Calvin’s response: “Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. . . . It seems to me that the Apostle is to be understood as speaking only of all those who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, over the whole world. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world.” Once again, Calvin denies the simple straightforward message of 1 John 2:2, while pushing his own theological platform of limited atonement.
6. James 2:17 KJV: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Calvin remarks, “He [James] says that faith is dead, being by itself, that is, when destitute of good works. We hence conclude that it is indeed no faith, for when dead, it does not properly retain the name.” James 2:18 KJV: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Calvin’s response: “Shew me by works thy faith; for since it is not an idle thing, it must necessarily be proved by works. The meaning then is, Unless thy faith brings forth fruits, I deny that thou hast any faith. This verse is a key to the meaning of James: faith is to be proved by works; then faith properly justifies and saves, and works prove its genuineness.” COMMENT: Calvin makes the standard error of Lordship “Salvation” teachers in misinterpreting James. James’ epistle clearly speaks to believers about the quality of their faith, NOT the reality of faith. Calvin unmistakably declares the Calvinist teaching of perseverance, the “P” of the Calvinist TULIP. Calvinist perseverance is nothing other than the false teaching of Lordship “Salvation.” For a detailed look at this subject, see Dr. Tom Cucuzza’s outstanding book, “Secure Forever! God’s Promise or Our Perseverance,” St. Cloud, MN: Xulon Press, 2008 (see the link on the right column of
7. Finally, if there were any doubt left in anyone’s mind about where Calvin stood on what is known today as, “Calvinism,” look at this main title in Calvin’s “Institutes” section dealing with the subject of predestination. The title itself leaves no doubt on Calvin’s position: “Of the Eternal Election by Which God has Predestined Some to Salvation and Others Predestination in Hell.” This title and statement of his position, declares Calvin to be, not only a Calvinist, but a HYPERCALVINIST!

73 responses to “Notes on Calvin and Calvinism: Was John Calvin Really a Calvinist?

  1. PhilR, I agree – when you hear the term “papists” from Calvinists or other non-RCC works “salvationists,” it is generally used in a derogatory fashion. And, at the core of it, reformed theology is just RC “warmed over.

    The two groups are often harnessed together for political purposes, and I believe they are in the process of coalescing.

  2. Have you ever noticed that Calvinists ever since the reformation usually refer to the RCC as “papists” especially when denouncing them? And I think it is because they are against the papacy and church authority above the Bible. But in reality, Calvinists really are just Catholics reinvented and reformed. Their doctrine is just a repackaged version of Catholic doctrine (Augustinianism), just without the smoke and ceremonies. They say one is saved by grace alone thru faith alone, but in reality they believe one is saved by faith plus works. So, when you hear Calvinists ridiculing the RCC and calling them “papists”, that is really all they are against; in reality they agree with catholic doctrine on faith and morals.

  3. Calvin a gnostic? That’s a showstopper.

  4. This is a good article for anyone to refresh themselves on the main crux of Calvin’s confusing theological stance which blossomed from his idolization of Augustine. He believed in a good god/evil god, a dualistic thinking that our God did evil by choosing people to hell simply from a whim. He blasphemes the character of God.

  5. Yikes! Well, I’m afraid with Lutzer at the helm, it’s pretty apparent what you get….Loadship and Calvinism.

  6. Holly, I saw a recent article from another guy from Moody linked to the “Real Clear Religion” site.

    It was full tilt “turn from sins” and “forsake your sins” for salvation.

  7. I was listening to an Erwin Lutzer video (a part of it) that someone posted today. And it’s amazing how far Moody Bible institute has come. Calvinism is insidious in its doctrine and it maligns God’s character so terribly it sickens the heart.

    He was explaining how of course God created evil and designed Satan to do these evil things, and he had a way of taking people through the tunnel that led to his obvious conclusion….

  8. Holly, I agree completely – single predestination is double predestination. Calvinism is foolishness.

  9. Double predestination

    For those who claim Calvin did not teach double predestination, there is no such thing as single predestination, although some men tried to argue it, it’s an emperor has clothes argument. Even R. C. Sproul explains it’s not a ‘coherent argument’.

    (I finally found something I could agree with him on). 🙂

  10. Phil, I was wondering, did they really take away the priesthood and so-called apostolic authority?

    In Calvinism, they till have their ‘priests’. Most definitely they seen certain men as their apostles. They quote them often times more frequently than the Word.

    I remember recently going through the 95 theses of Luther. And really seeing something so different than men have dressed it up to be. It was a real eye-opener.

  11. John, I used to get frustrated when the secular world would distort the Reformers like Luther. It would come across that he was just trying to get rid of the Catholic indulgences. That they missed real reforming– the supreme authority of Scripture, that we are saved by faith in Christ alone and not by the intercessory of the Catholic clergy or rituals, that a believer can rejoice in the certainty of a present and permanent salvation through Christ alone.
    I read this tract once where the author of the tract was going to set the record straight, that the Reformers were actually not preaching that a person could simply believe in Christ and be eternally saved. That actually the Reformers like Luther and Calvin we saying that it must be a faith that produces a changed godly life; in other words faith and works. Well, I ended up throwing the tract away thinking this person is really lying about the Reformers and distorting their proclamation that we are justified by faith alone, or he was just trying to promote his own legalistic salvation beliefs. But I found out years later that he was right; that when you get under the surface of the grace alone and faith alone they taught, it’s really NOT faith and grace alone, that works are assumed to follow and must follow for ones salvation to be valid.
    Moral of the story: when something sounds good or too good to be true always look under the surface. It might not be what you think it is.

  12. Phil, I agree completely about the reformation. A good friend of mine got angry with me, because I said I wasn’t sure the reformation was the work of the Holy Spirit.

  13. Sometimes I wonder what the Reformation really reformed itself from? Calvinism is just as legalistic as the Catholicism that they broke away from. All I see that they did was take the smoke and ceremony out, indulgences, the priesthood, and remove the so called apostolic authority of Rome.
    In Catholicism one could always find forgiveness going to a priest and penance, but in Calvinism if you stumble too much and don’t persevere, you would never justified to begin with. Sure, Calvinists said we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but of course it’s really not alone if you add perseverance and good works they say are required. But they are just saying the same thing as the Catholic church who has always insisted salvation is by faith and good works.
    I used to be proud of what I thought the Reformation was, that is, until I found out the truth about it–that it is not proclaiming the gift of God’s eternal grace for all who are willing to receive it by faith. No Calvinism or Reformed is just a different bondage of chains of legalism than the chains of the law that Catholicism imposed.
    Look at what and who we have today. We have the popes of Lordship Salvation, like John MacArthur and Billy Graham keeping most Protestants, evangelical or otherwise, under the bondage of the law and works.

  14. Excellent find Johninnc.

    I think there is consistency with Calvinists and a number of religious groups. Atheists are a religion unto themselves. A lot of the Catholic ideas in penance, penitent, etc., along with Islam and the idea of election and lack of free will.

    All of them believe something. Calvinists just happen to believe you can’t believe on your own. They believe the earth is round. That they are real. That the sun will rise tomorrow. But they can’t believe they can believe on their own. The emperor does not have on clothes, contrary to the illusion of intellectualism and systematic theology, perfumed by the stench of men’s wisdom and excellency of speech, fastened up neatly by their ten cent theological terms (buttons), sewn together by their bare thread proof texts. This is the clothing they dress their god up in.

  15. I just finished reading a review of the book “Faith vs. Fact,” by biologist Jerry A. Coyne. The review was written by John Hogan in the journal “Scientific American.” Please note that John Hogan, the reviewer, describes himself as “not religious.”

    Following are excerpts from the review:

    He claims that free will, the notion that “we can choose to behave in different ways,” is being contradicted by research in genetics and neuroscience and “looks increasingly dubious.”


    Mr. Coyne’s critique of free will, far from being based on scientific “fact,” betrays how his hostility toward religion distorts his judgment. Evidence against free will, he says, “kicks the props out from under much theology, including the doctrine of salvation.” Mr. Coyne thinks that if religious people believe in free will, it must be an illusion.

    Based on this review, it would appear that there is consistency between Calvinists and at least some atheistic scientists as to the concept of free will.

    Certain atheists object to free will on “scientific” grounds, while Calvinist theists object to free will on “theological” grounds. Both are absurd positions that remove human responsibility.

    And, both groups disbelieve the gospel.

  16. Sadly Johninnc in my experience they seem determined to preach Calvin and him crucified. I can be in a Calvinist group for a day, and I will hear everything from the WCF, to the Dordrecht confession (synod held by the Dutch reformed), to this or that Church Father, a little history on Zwingli or Knox, Luther, Augustine, Calvin, might have a little Toplady or Pink thrown in, stir it around with some Boettner, MacArthur and Sproul. Season it up with a few ten cent theological words like infralapsarianism (or postlapsarianism/ sublapsarianism), supralapsarianism, antelapsarianism, maybe laced with some name-calling — synergist, semi-pelagian, antinomian — or — they may use just some plain old name calling i.e., lawless or greasy gracer. And all it becomes is one big muddied pot of minds corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor 11:3-4). Men/women who are unable to speak with great plainness of speech (2 Cor 3:12), and who think of men beyond what is written in God’s Word (1 Cor 4:6). Men and women who never share Christ and Him crucified without their wisdom of words and excellency of speech.

    Saddest part? Ask them to share the gospel. The reactions I’ve received is anger, suspicion, refusal, offensive remarks, game playing, or dishonesty. Find mention of Jesus in their conversations, or His love and goodness. Rare… I pray some Calvinists might consider where their treasure is (Matt 6:21).

  17. Holly, I agree with everything you said about Calvinism.

    The gentleman (TJ) wants to defend Calvinism. We want to defend the gospel. There is a difference.

  18. In other words Johninnc – the distinction for them is between classic, historical Calvinism, vs. neo-Calvinism. They still call themselves after a man which the Bible says is carnal. They still defend a system of theology which started with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo, who was idolized by Calvin, to the point of mentioning Augustine more than Jesus in his “Institutes of Christianity”. Same ‘supreme magisterium’ who with his council made it heresy to speak against those same Institutes (similarly to the RC church who holds words of men equal to the Word of God). This could be punishable by death. And far more than Servetus were put to death for this very thing, including disagreeing with infant Baptism. Hopefully he’ll look into that history and not just select creeds of men.

    To either, the predestination of this issue, is still in play. Not much difference. Some just deny that people being predestinated to heaven, does not predestine others to hell. (Not much logic in that thinking).

  19. T.J. welcome and glad you commented. Seems clear you are determined to defend Calvinism and it’s tradition rooted in the neo-Platonist philosopher Augustine. You make your argument and defense based on historical documents vs. the Word of God. Sounds about right for Calvinists I’m sorry to say.

    Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Col 2:8-9

    Please try the Word. It endures forever. It is Christ and HIM crucified, not Calvin.

    In Christ, Holly

  20. TJ, welcome.


  21. It amazes me how ignorant of history and an entire tradition the line of thinking in this post is. Who, dear author, made TULIP the measuring rod for Calvinism to begin with? Furthermore, the fact that you believe that TULIP is an accurate acronym for the Canons of Dort only serves to reveal that you have never actually read the Canons to begin with. TULIP is a far cry from what the Canons actually teach. On top of that, the fact that you think that TULIP serves as suitable summary for the Calvinistic perspective only serves to reveal how naive you are of an entire tradition and its history. The Canons of Dort were never meant to summarize the Christian faith. The Belgic Confession was written for that purpose as a summarizing confessional standard for the Reformed churches. The Canons of Dort were written later as a particular response to a particular debate in a particular time, and they served to summarize the Reformed church’s position on election in particular. Thus, the Canons were written with the wider Belgic Confession in mind. By taking the Canons out of this context, you only serve to skew their meaning and the wider framework in which the teaching sits. Lastly, one could remark on how atrociously you have quoted Calvin out of context in nearly every instance which you’ve cited, or how you haven’t provided accurate references for some of your citations. I don’t think this will do much good bringing such things up, though. It is clear that your only aim here is to build up a facade of what you think Calvinism is (rather than do the research to actually discover all that it stands for) and lob proof-texts at it.

  22. Holly, John 3:18 totally obliterates Calvinism on so many levels.

    We had an article a while back that discussed this from a slightly different angle.

    See below:

  23. Of course John Calvin was a Calvinist! It is good to understand
    These things. Before John Calvin
    There was Augustine, who later
    In life changed his theology & brought out new ideas, which John
    Calvin took and inflated too his
    Teachings. Both being wrong.

  24. You know, two things really stick with me on choosing some for heaven (who will believe) and some for hell (those who are in unbelief).

    We know John 3:17-18 tells us who is condemned and who is not, an unbeliever vs. a believer.

    So in Calvinism, God is the one who keeps people from believing. He makes some unbelievers, and He makes some believers (according to the teaching of Calvinism).

    However, unbelief is a sin that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of (John 16:8-9). How can that be so if God made the person unable to believe? God is then guilty of sin, He would then be convicting Himself of them sinning by their unbelief.

    These false teachers have made God a sinner, and the one who blinded that person.

    But 2 Cor 4, says Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelievers. But in Calvinism, it is God who has kept them from believing.

    So Satan (effectively through this religion), makes people assign to God his wicked attributes. They malign God. People then speak evil of the way of truth because of these people. Probably why many become atheists, (“if God is like that, why bother”?)

    And many follow their pernicious ways. The ironic part of this passage in 2 Peter 2, is that it decimates Limited Atonement although they refuse to admit that Jesus Christ purchased by His blood, even the false prophets that they are….

    1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

    2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

    3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Pet 2:1-3

  25. Nathan, one of the more insidious aspects of Calvinism is the whole denial of man’s free will.

    Some Calvinists think that God chooses who will, and who will not be saved.

    Other Calvinists think that man has a free will to believe in Jesus as Savior, but that he loses that free will once he becomes a believer.

    This second group thinks that one can look to changed lives for evidence of salvation. They usually would bristle at being called Calvinists, because they don’t think they are.

    But, perseverance of the saints is where Calvinism and LS intersect.

    There is a huge battle going on in the Southern Baptist Convention between Calvinists and Lordship “salvationists” over their competing false gospels.

  26. What is just as dangerous as believing the whole “tulip” theology is also when a just few parts may be believed by many churches. I never knew about this theology as a whole but in learning about it now I can identify where wrong beliefs permeated my thinking in the past.

    I remember being subtly introduced to predestination as God choosing some and not others. It created an arrogance in your thinking that you are better than another because God chose you and not them. I have since repented of this thinking.

  27. Hi Holly,

    Feel free to reblog the article and reformat it if you need to. It already ran its course here; perhaps you can show it to a new audience.

    Blessings sister.

  28. I’d like to reblog this. Is there a way to re-format at some point in time in the next week or so? If no time, I am happy to re-post in its entirety and re-format and give the credit to your site. Just let me know 🙂

  29. John, that is pretty apropos, “Reform Schools”., love it! Need to make a picture with maybe Luther and Calvin, one over the other, with a yellow “Reform School” picture bonding the two together 🙂

  30. John,

    Now that’s a good one “Reform Schools.”

    Not sure the “reformers” ever had it right in their “fix” from Luther through Calvin through the current crop of apostates.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  31. I wonder why Calvin and some of the other “reformers” are so revered? It seems their writings are considered by their adherents to be divinely inspired. As far as I can tell, the reformers tried to fix one false religion by creating others.

    Perhaps the theological seminaries that they have spawned could be called “reform schools.” 😉

  32. Dear Sue, 

    I am praying for you and yours.  This life is full of pain, to be sure, but we most certainly can rest in Jesus with that wonderful Sabbath rest because we know that we are His and He is ours.  One Day the pain(s) will be over with – no more sadness for rejection, no more discouragement from slander, no more arthritis from cancer medication – just joy and peace and wellness.  But while we are here, He is working in us and through us.  You have beautiful feet, Sue (Isa 52:7, Rom 10:15)!  Do not grow weary in doing good!  And please do not ever cease to use your God given gift for painting beautiful pictures with your lovely words. I agree with Pearl – after reading your description of your Nan’s garden, I felt as though I had been a young English girl in your beautiful countryside during the war.  What a treat!  Thank you for sharing your heart on this site.

    God bless you,

  33. Kenneth Groenewald

    Hi Jake.
    May I shed some thoughts on your question.
    Jesus is the Word of God but He is not the words of God that is given to us in written form. The word of God did not die on the cross for us but the Word of God did. One does not have to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture to be saved (although that is an important doctrine) but all one needs to do to be saved is to believe that what Christ did on the cross He did for us. That He paid the penalty for our sins,so that we do not have to pay for our own sins which is eternal separation from God in hell.

  34. Can you be saved and not believe the inerrancy of the Bible, or certain things the Bible teaches, or any combination of the two?

    In 1 John, Jesus is the Word. If one does not believe in the Word of God, he does not believe in Jesus — but it is possible for someone to believe that Jesus is God and that He paid the full penalty for his sins on the cross.

  35. Like Bruce said, Sue, I didn’t have to “bear” with your writing either; it was a gift from your heart. I felt like I was there, walking over the slopes to tend the garden with Nan.

    “Cave of Adullam”…ain’t it the truth?!

  36. Hi Sue,

    I, for one, enjoyed your poetic excursion. I must admit that I had to look up the term, “coppicing.” What beautiful imagery. Thank you friend,

  37. Thanks Jim F,

    That is a great list or, even better, a litmus test for the things Calvinists “don’t get.”

    While not comprehensive, it is a good starting point… and the list is really so simple almost anyone should understand.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  38. Thanks John G,

    I think I have met some of the types of people that you speak of. They spend the whole time acting like what you say “is” Calvinism yet out the other side of their mouth they say you are in error.

    Here are some things that these people don’t get:

    That regeneration does not precede faith.

    That the call to discipleship is different from the call to salvation.

    That the church is different from Israel.

    That the sermon on the mount is not gospel.

    That all may believe or reject the gospel.

    This is for sure not a comprehensive list but beware of those who teach another gospel.

  39. Expected Imminently

    Dear Pearl
    Bless your heart for bearing with me and understanding the point I took so long to make. I could have said that in one sentence; but no, I have to do my long winded impression of English literature!

    As for the ‘nay sayers’, it is heartening and certainly encouraging to see so many Biblically sound replies. I strongly suspect Jack and Bruce divert anything that would cause us any serious grief in this particular ‘cave of Adullam’.

    God bless you for caring and looking out for me; that is more precious than words can convey. I do listen and take careful note and am thankful that Jesus has us all in His grip. Praise The Lord!

    God bless you Jack for standing guard over this place of sanctuary where THE Truth is of the utmost priority. Thank you for reminding me that of myself, ‘I can’t’, but through Jesus, I can!


  40. Sue,

    Touching story and I second Pearl’s excellent sentiments..

    Just remember as with the Apostle Paul,
    Philip. 4:13

    “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  41. “It would be an easy mistake because the gaudy and stately tulips grew from a bulb that looked similar to the shallot, except they were deadly poisonous.”

    Creation teaches us this lesson in many ways. I appreciated your capturing this one, Sue. So true.

    Hoping you are being encouraged in Him rather than downcast by the critical naysayers of this passing world. I know it can feel downright lonely, but you do have brothers and sisters here who love your fellowship and keen contributions. Bless you.

  42. Expected Imminently

    Dear Jack and all

    It’s the early hours and ‘things’ have got me down. I have been encouraging myself in The Lord as David did.

    For a small fee, my grandmother had an ‘allotment’, a garden away from her home. It was several fields away on the side of a hill that caught the sun. Nearby was a wood filled with birdsong where the best bluebells, primroses and violets grew from the benefit of coppicing. This opened up the wood to receive more sunlight and moving air to create the perfect growing environment for the best of all the wild flowers and small creatures. The young sticks were bundled up and taken to the garden to provide support for peas and beans.

    Pruning the hazel trees encouraged new growth that was supple and strong, just what was needed to provide a framework for the spindly growth of young vegetables. It hoisted their flowers and pods off the ground preventing them from being spoiled and trampled underfoot. Eventually Nan was rewarded with fat juicy peas and beans to feed her wartime family.

    Onions were scarce, and precious for adding flavour to the rabbit pot. Nan and her girls would trundle the old pram over stiles and through ditches to rescue the fruits of their labour from being stolen by the lads in the army camp. She didn’t begrudge a few and would leave some for the passer by; otherwise, the old pram, now heavily laden bumped along the return journey back to Rose cottage where they would be strung to finish drying off.

    My father was stationed with the Army at Antwerp in Belgium where the tulips, as in Holland, are cultivated in proud displays. They were warned about taking the shallots, a type of onion, to add to their rations. It would be an easy mistake because the gaudy and stately tulips grew from a bulb that looked similar to the shallot, except they were deadly poisonous. The five petals of this outwardly impressive flower may look good for a brief lifespan, but the ingestion of it will prove to be fatal when our works are judged by Christ.

    When our ‘coppicing’ is over, the result will be spiritual nourishment as the Holy Spirit grows us to become like Jesus. The fragrance, and the melodies of a bird and flower filled woodland, is the extravagant beauty of our grace filled Lord just for the pleasure of lifting our souls above the pain of rejection, slander, sickness … God will not allow anything to be wasted, as He manufactures all things together for our good. All that is expected of His children is that we rest in His Word and trust implicitly.

    John 15
    Romans 8:28.


  43. This is in response to Jimfloyd12 who asks about NeoCalvinism or New Calvinism.. These individuals are agressive evangelists of Calvinism. They make Calvinism a matter of fellowship, are completely obsessed with Calvinism, & promoting Calvinism. When confronted with their actions, they will deny & just shove aside any & all accusations by saying “I don’t know anyone like that,” or “Prove it…..Name names!” They deny their own existence!
    They are, like the Jesuits of another time, John Calvin’s Storm Troopers! There is no difference in Calvinists & New or Neo Calvinist except the Neo/New Calvinists are just more adament, agressive, & obnoxious. Just so you can know.
    God bless,
    John G.

  44. To all,

    Be sure to check out Dr. Tom Cucuzza’s new article at ExP, “3 Reasons Why The Gospel of Grace is the True Gospel”

    In Jesus eternally, Jack

  45. John G,

    You are welcome — and I pray the Lord will continue to bless you and yours too.

    In Jesus eternally, Jack

  46. Levi,

    That is a good question. Why indeed are there new forms of Calvinism such as “new calvinism”? Why do people vacillate between 5 point hyper calvinists to supposed 4 or less point positions? It seems to me that they try to reinvent themselves or “re-package” themselves just like a company would embark on a new marketing campaign seeking to be more relevant to the next generation.

    We don’t need any more re-packaged error. It would be better for Calvinists to scrap their erroneous soteriology altogether and repent (change their mind). The reason it is always changing is because it is not actually grounded in God’s Word. It changes and gets tweaked now and then because it is man’s wisdom and man’s ideas are changeable. God’s truth is not.

    I liken Calvinism’s view of salvation to “trust but verify”. They may talk about faith but are always trying to verify that it was real. To me, they don’t really come to truly believe. I could trust my wife for example to do something, but if I have to always check to see if she did it then did I really trust her in the first place? It’s the same way with Christ. If I trust Him for salvation then I trust in Him for salvation without having to constantly check my works legalistically to see if the proof is there that I am one of the elect in Christ. If I do, then I have a very weak uneducated faith or no faith at all.

  47. Hello Jim
    I was thinking about your comments. The forever changing doctrine of Calvinism place them in that state. A sad state… rest in Jesus…no trust in Jesus. “If” Calvinism is the absolute truth why the change in doctrine?


  48. Thank you Jack for the information & for ALL you do on your blog!
    God bless,
    John G.

  49. Hello Everyone
    Kenneth….I agree…… a lack of grace in the period of grace. When so much grace was shown to us. How great a gift is the gift of salvation.

    Hello Pearl
    I must admit I do not know much about Mr. Stanford. But one thing I have noticed about Calvinists. They want us to treat them as brothers/sisters in the Lord. While all the time sending me to hell for rejecting their Calvinism.

    Trust in Jesus

  50. John G,

    Way back several years ago I was a big fan of Miles Stanford but I sensed something was not quite right and at the suggestion of friends, I began to look for errors.

    Miles Stanford may have a good record on Dispensationalism but as you say, he is off on Calvinism. But even worse, he has several “turn from sin for salvation” messages. You might be interested in them:

    A little leaven leavens the whole lump.. but big chunks of leaven ruin a whole ministry.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  51. Thanks Bruce. I have actually been reading many articles on here for months, but i finally decided to send my views on this unbiblical and gnostic system called Calvinism. God bless.

  52. Note, JohnG, I said the self-ascribed label of “biblicist”. That label didn’t come from me, but Stanford’s own pen.

    So, regarding Jack’s SoF, I rejoice with you for its purity and simplicity.

  53. John H. Gregory

    I have read a lot of Stanford’s papers. Any form of or amount of Calvinism
    eradicates the chance of being a Biblicist. Read Brother Jack’s statement
    of faith! That is the Biblicistic Position! The statement may be fleshed out,
    but the statement of faith for this blog is Biblicistic! It has NO mixture of
    Calvinism or Arminianism. Which leaves Biblicism. Another word for Biblicism is Traditionalism.
    Concerning Stanford, except for his small amount of Calvinism,
    I think that the rest of his teachings are in line with what I think. He is
    Dispensationalistic, which is what I am. His thoughts concerning the Church
    & Israel are for me correct. Lastly, the only aspect of what Stanford teaches
    that is not Biblical is his Calvinistic leanings, which are very limited anyway.
    God bless all,
    John G.

  54. Thanks, JohnG. I really do appreciate it. Only, I merely offered a series of honest questions, while Shea’s statements on faith provide the most sound reasoning.

    Abe, good to know I’m not the only one who sees it this way. I’m exhausted just reading your comment; imagine having to live it!

    Levi, it’s my understanding that there are Christians who say they reject Calvinism, yet adhere to election (or is it only that the Holy Spirit must first regenerate a soul that he may believe in the first place [and is there a difference?]?). Anyway, Miles Stanford, for example, is such a one. I don’t really understand how that works or what that officially makes them (I’ve seen the self-ascribed label/term “biblicist”/”compatibalism”). Even so, the question you ask remains and seems a perfectly logical one to me.

    As I’ve said before, I don’t come from a reformed background at all, so my knowledge of Calvinism and all its facets is very crude Yet, these seeming inconsistencies dredge up all kinds of questions in me.

  55. Welcome Mark!

    Thanks for joining us and for sharing your thoughts today. There are many more like articles at this site which I trust you will be able to peruse.

  56. The entire system of Calvinism is nothing more than the philosophical speculations of intellectual FOOLS! I am convinced that Calvinism was conceived and brought forth from the bowels of Hell, and no, i will NOT apologize for saying that– it is an evil and wicked system that perverts the character of our Loving and Merciful God. Excellent article.

  57. Kenneth Groenewald

    So true Levi,whenever they come across a believer that is perhaps backslidden or cold towards the Lord, not much fruit,etc etc,they denounce that person as not being part of the elect. Calvinism hinders evangelism.
    Jesus taught us to have compassion on souls as in the parable of the man that was beaten and robbed and left dying on the Jericho Road. Why would Jesus do and act differently and not have compassion on the so called “non elect?”
    Like I said before and I say it again, Calvinists serve an Ogre of a God. Their message is repugnant. If they were to say for example address a crowd of say 300 and preach the Gospel, strictly speaking they would be lying if they told them that God loves each and every one of them.

    In Christ eternally

  58. Levi,

    A calvinist can’t likely really know much as to their eternal standing if they are consistent with their idea of election/reprobation. That is probably why they like inventions such as, heart faith, repentance from sin for salvation, fruit as evidence of “genuine faith” etc.

  59. Hello Everyone
    I agree that progressive justification is one of many problems with Calvinism. The whole faith equals work thing or that faith is a gift prevent the Calvinist from using faith is rooted in progressive justification. How would a Calvinist know that he/she is “elected” unless they endure to the end.
    No really…..How would a Calvinist know they are “elected”? in the light of
    faith equals works
    secret will of god

    Trust in Jesus

  60. Pearl wrote: “Couldn’t it also be said that the teaching of progressive justification is the natural by-product of the latter? It makes for a vicious cycle at least.”

    Well said. The false doctrine of progressive justification is absolutely essential as a doctrine if the person holds the view that he “can’t” believe in Jesus for salvation. Since the calvinist holds the view that they “can’t” believe in Jesus for salvation and be saved, then they have to do works to prove themselves part of the “elect” chosen for heaven instead of hell, doing the works merely to satiate their fearful hearts that have no assurance, since maybe they were “chosen for hell” according to calvinist doctrine.

    So they keep working, enduring, persevering, all the while attempting an end-run right around the Gospel itself, attempting an end-run right around believing in Jesus for salvation and knowing they’re saved by faith in Jesus. They are taught against the Gospel, so they run to works, endurance, perseverance, and then their understanding of justification is that it is an ongoing, life-long, never satisfied climb up the ladder of works, works, works. And after a life of that kind of unceasing stress and fear, they still have nothing to grasp onto.

    It’s a shame what the enemy does to people that fall for the lie of calvinism.

  61. John H. Gregory

    Thank YOU Sister Pearl!. Such a well thought out & articulate statement!
    God bless you,
    John G.

  62. Progressive justification is obviously bunk, but why is it the “crux of the issue”?

    For me, I can’t get past the teachings which insist that God predestinates some for heaven and most for hell, and that the Holy Spirit must regenerate a soul before he is able to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation.

    Surely God’s character is greater maligned by the latter teachings than the former? Couldn’t it also be said that the teaching of progressive justification is the natural by-product of the latter? It makes for a vicious cycle at least.

    I believe Ron Shea best articulates the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to man’s free will, and that this view is the most harmonious with the [KJV] scriptures and the character of our God described therein:

    “We observe from church history that the corruption of “grace” into an ethereal vitalizing substance, though often starting with the seemingly ‘innocuous’ view that ‘grace’ vitalizes the lost sinner to belief in Christ, deteriorates, almost inevitably, to the belief that the effects of grace, being sovereign or irresistible, will ultimately empower man to ‘repent of his sins,’ to perform certain acts of righteousness, and/or to ‘persevere to the end’ in faith and good works. Finally, we observe that the frequent conclusion of this heresy is that, if permanent and significant lifestyle changes are not manifest in the life of a sinner, God’s ‘grace’ was never received.

    “We reject the doctrine of ‘sovereign grace,’ that God infuses in certain elect persons some divine empowering substance that will ‘irresistibly’ impel them to faith in Christ, and that apart from this infusion, men are incapable of faith. Faith is an act of the creature, not an imposition of the Creator. And the drawing of men to faith Christ is an act of the personal Triune God, not a product of an impersonal Aristotelian substance.” [1]


    “The fact that all men, even those dead in their sins, have the capacity to believe, is evidenced by the activity of Satan, who ‘has blinded the minds of them which believe not,’ and ‘takes the Word out of their heart’ . . . ‘lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them’ . . . ‘lest they should believe and be saved,’ (Luke 8:4-5,12; 2nd Corinthians 4:4). The plain meaning of the term ‘lest they believe,’ demands that those who are lost have the actual capacity to believe on Christ without some magical infusion of ‘sovereign grace’ or ‘irresistible grace.’ The fact that not all men respond to Christ is evidence that they are endowed with a free will to resist the drawing of the Father, and to reject the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, thereby calling the Holy Spirit a liar. The failure of men to respond by faith in Jesus Christ has nothing to do with their failure to receive a divine infusion of some ethereal empowering substance.” [2]


  63. Bruce,

    Thanks for that exhaustive and comprehensive understanding of the real “inside” of John Calvin and his teachings.

    I pray it will be read and comprehended by many of my Calvinist friends.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  64. Hello again iiagrace!

    Thank you for giving us those strong insights from a former RCC insider.

    I praise God that He delivered you from a “gospel” of works through the gospel of grace.

    You are so right about Calvinism and Catholicism being assurance destroyers. LS is another one!

    Re. Dr. Stringer, yes, I agree that he is a wonderful Grace teacher. His message at the 2011 Grace Conference was very powerful and memorable.

  65. Thanks Sue!

    Always great to read your comments!

  66. Hi Kenneth,

    Great to hear from you again!

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is indeed sad how people’s minds get blinded by Satan through this perverted “gospel” of Calvinism. The gospel message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16-18; Acts 16:30-31) is so straightforward, so easy to understand, so clear. Why do so many people want to muddy it up?

  67. Hi Abe,

    Thanks for your astute comment. Yes, we see clearly the Roman Catholic roots in Calvin’s writings. And, for so-called good measure, he throws in a bit of humanistic philosophy into the mix.


  68. Welcome paulspassingthoughts!

    Thanks for putting things powerfully and succinctly!

    Come back again soon.

  69. Calvinism is really inside out Catholicism…I was raised Catholic.
    As a Catholic it is always “Have I said enough Hail Mary’s, did I go to confession? Did I miss mass…I, I, I, I, Did I do enough good to cover such and such a sin….I,I, I, I,….Never Christ! ..In Calvinism it is pulling apart that trust in Christ alone to save. Did I REALLY beleive? Is there enough works to prove my faith? Was my faith REAL? It’s looking to me. WRONG.
    We are to rest in the perfect sacrifice Christ made FOR US. I accept the payment he made for me.
    What do Calvinism and Catholicism have in common? Besides, lack of truth…Lack of assurance!
    On a side note,Dr Stringer is another wonderful Grace teacher.

  70. Expected Imminently

    Thank you Bruce, this is answering a question I didn’t know I had until very recently ! 🙂

  71. Kenneth Groenewald

    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor4:4. The Calvinists would have us believe that it is God who blinds the minds of the unbelievers and not Satan. The Calvinists have created an Ogre for their God who blinds the minds of the unbelievers so that He prevents them from ever being saved. Sick.


  72. Good article. It is very easy to see the catholic roots of the so-called “reformers”.

  73. paulspassingthoughts

    Good article, but again, the crux of the issue is that Calvin taught the false gospel of progressive justification.