Many pastors are closet Calvinists who know that their congregations are not yet ready to understand Reformed doctrine, that is, until they can instill certain half-truths that must be accepted before a church becomes Calvinistic.
It is certainly inevitable that any pastor who reads theology, who has connections, who has a theological degree, will have become aware of Calvinism at some point along the way. At the very least every pastor will be asked at some time, by someone, somewhere, “What is Calvinism?”or will be given a little booklet by an advocate for Calvinism. In fact, any pastor or elder who is unfamiliar with the threat of Calvinism is dangerously ignorant and is not adequate to defend the flock against error.
Calvinism or Reformed theology is very popular. All popular systematic theologies and commentaries on Romans are written by Calvinists.
Here are some signs that your pastor or church is adopting Reformed doctrines regarding salvation.
An emphasis is made in the preaching and teaching on:
- sinners are not able to believe unless God first causes it
- faith is a gift from God, in the sense that God causes people to have faith
- the grace of God is the gospel
- people are unable to hear God’s Word
- God is not God unless His will is done/ God cannot fail to save all that He purposes to save
- the church needs to avoid a man-centered gospel and “return” to a God-centered gospel
- the marvel is that God loved Jacob, not that He hated Esau
- the ultimate purpose of God is to glorify Himself or the greatest attribute is His sovereignty
- quotes from John Calvin, Martin Luther, and contemporaries like John Piper
There is the neglect of the following from the pulpit. The pastor avoids saying specifically to the congregation:
- “God loves you”
- “Jesus died for you”
- “Believe in Jesus and you will become born again”
- “Calvinism is wrong” – Beware – many Calvinists will preach against Hyper-Calvinism, but that is not enough. It is easy to burn a straw man!
Is it Really all that Important?
Useless Shepherds who intentionally sit on the fence, so as to not offend the Reformed in their church, will say, “The emphasis the Calvinist makes on the Sovereignty of God is not a bad thing is it?”
It is important for two reasons. The first reason is that it is about our view of God and the second reason is that this necessarily impacts our view of ourselves.
Our View of God
The Reformed understanding of the Sovereignty of God is that what is is the will of God. They worship a god who wills the existence of evil for his glory.
The Lord’s prayer makes it clear that God’s will is not being done on earth and that we are to pray that it will be done [Matthew 6:10]. The Scripture says that the sins of men are not the will of God, nor did it enter into the mind of God that they should do such things [Jeremiah 32:35], while Calvinism teaches that God predetermined every sinful act and that men should necessarily do sinful things!
Our View of Ourselves
The Reformed understanding of the Sovereignty of God is a form of hypocrisy. People become invested in this emphasis because they like the new way of thinking about themselves. This is evident in the pervasive spirit of arrogance and pride in a view of God that they can then glory in. Doctrinal error always has some appeal to the flesh and Calvinism very much appeals to the flesh because it about a false sense of glory.
It is a form of hypocrisy in that adherents misrepresent themselves by misrepresenting God’s truth. Calvinists boast that they are the ones who honor and glorify God. For more information about this go to The Hypocrisy of Calvinism or watch my video Calvinism Says it Honors God.
A Few Scripture Passages Showing that God’s Will can be Thwarted
- Isaiah 59:1,2 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
- Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”
- Luke 7: 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.
- Acts 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”
Ask these questions:
- Did Jesus die for everyone? [Limited Atonement Undermines Christ’s Two-Fold Work of the Cross]
- Is Regeneration necessary before a person can have faith? [Calvinism Says that Regeneration is Before Faith]
- Are sinners able to resist the will of God?
- Is election conditional or unconditional? [Recanting Unconditional Election for a Personal Election]
Why Are Good Pastors Getting Caught Up in Reformed Doctrine?
- They are presented with arguments that seem to be Scriptural [Calvinism Says it is Scriptural]
- The most popular Systematic Theologies and Commentaries are Reformed [See an example in: Calvinism Says Faith is a Work]
- They go to seminaries, and to week-end seminars and retreats, where popular Reformed teachers introduce them to a teaching that results in the following:
- They arrive at a new view of God and the gospel [Watch an interview proving this to be true: Calvinism Says that God is Great and that We are Insignificant]
- They come away with a second conversion experience [Calvinism Says it is Christianity]
- There is a new sense of belonging to a serious group of true ministers of the gospel that take doctrine seriously and preach with authority
- There is a simple answer why people are not saved, which answers a deep-seated question about our generation
- It is because God does not want them to be saved!
- God is not failing, His church is not irrelevant, because He is saving the elect perfectly, according to His perfect and glorious plan [Calvinism Says that Jesus Does Not Fret Over Sinners]
- In fact, says the Calvinist, those who go to hell are only those whom God does not love! [Calvinism Fails to Understand What Hell Is]
- There is an organized effort by Reformed churches to plant like-minded churches and to spread this message that is counted more profound than the gospel promise itself!
This web site is by a former Calvinist, Steven L. Hitchcock, who is passionate about equipping Christians against the error of Calvinism. [About Steven]
I have written a book entitled Recanting Calvinism, which provides numerous counter arguments to the Reformed position. My most recent book Take Up Your Cross: Our Only Power to Live and Walk by the Spirit is a fruition of coming out of Calvinism.
Here are some helpful links on this web site:
- Information about Steven being a former Calvinist and some arguments against Calvinism
- Videos by Steven regarding his book Recanting Calvinism
- The Table of Contents of Recanting Calvinsim
Listen to these sermons:
June 7, 2020 – Galatians 3:11
July 12, 2020 – Romans 8:28
January 3, 2021 – 1 Timothy 2:1-7
March 7, 2021 – John 5:25
March 14, 2021 – John 3:1-15
January 16, 2022 – Colossians 1:19-23
Other sermons found on Preaching.