Why I am a Calvinist (and you should be too)
In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace… (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Like all the most fervent Calvinists, I began my spiritual life with a profound hatred for the doctrines linked to his name. But the Spirit, inexorably it seems, subdued my will to the plain teaching of Scripture - that God is sovereign over this world, and that He chooses those whom He will save, according to His own good pleasure and grace.
As a young Christian I was captivated by the message of the cross, and many other doctrines of Christianity too. But predestination seemed a hateful thing to me, an ugly blot on an otherwise beautiful landscape. I believed in free will - more, I believed in the absolute sovereignty of the human will. Though a Christian, a part of me still wanted to be “captain of my fate” and “master of my soul”.
Actually, I was not comfortable with God’s sovereignty over anything at all. The idea that God was the author of history was alien to me. I was content with Him sticking His fingers into the mix every now and again, but I rejected the idea that He ran the whole show.
How blind I was! I knew full well at the time that I was struggling to put to death numerous sins of the flesh. But it never occurred to me that my mind, also, was inclined to rebel against the will of God, and that it too might have patterns and habits that would painfully clash with the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
My resistance to the idea of predestination was just such a clash. My rebellion against “Calvinism” (as these doctrines of grace are commonly called) was really a rebellion against God; it was a desire to “hold out” on Him, and reserve one final piece of myself for myself. Looking back, I’m struck by how immature my thinking was - I was like a child, stubbornly insisting on my own way.
What changed? A couple of things. I read Packer’s Knowing God around that time. It had a profound impact on me. When I began the book, I did not believe in the sovereignty of God. By the end of the book, I did. It was as simple as that.
But I was still quietly resistant to the idea of predestination, even while admitting that, yes, God was ruler over His own creation. What broke down the last stubborn resistance was Mike Horton’s magazine, Modern Reformation. They used to put the whole thing up on the internet, and the early issues were classics.
Monday lunch was my time for that sort of study. I would print off a couple of articles, then head to my local laksa place and read through them. I have great memories of that time - the food was great, the teaching was even better. Those studies have perhaps influenced my theology more than anything else in my spiritual walk.
I’ve already gone on longer than I intended, and I haven’t really gotten around to defending Calvinism yet. For those who are genuinely interested, I’d direct you to RC Sproul’s book, Chosen By God. It is the best explanation and defense of these very important ideas that I’ve ever read. Check it out.
If you are still struggling against this doctrine, perhaps today is the day to give up your resistance to God’s Word. Here’s a little secret - things are not so grim in the Calvinist camp as you think. In fact, things are actually rather wonderful. So isn’t it time to grow up, and finally admit that God is God over all - even the human heart?
Many thanks to my readers throughout 2009 - it’s been a blast. I’m having a few weeks off, and then I’ll be back writing for you about mid-January. Have a great Christmas!