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Common Misunderstandings Concerning Calvinism and Reformed Theology

Article by Collin Trenery

There is a great deal of misunderstandings and misconceptions among many Christians today concerning the subject of “Calvinism” or “Reformed Theology.” Many people claim that Calvinism is an evil cult-like theology that teaches incorrect doctrine with relation to the Bible. We will take a look at some of the most common accusations towards the Calvinistic faith and determine whether or not these ideas are true or indeed flawed misrepresentations of what reformed theology really teaches.

The first a most common misconception concerning Calvinism revolves around the fact that Calvinism gets its name from the French theologian and pastor John Calvin during the reformation. Therefore, many people assert that anyone who believe in the doctrines of Calvinism are not following the teachings of the Bible but instead following the teachings of a man. What must be made clear is the fact that the doctrines of Calvinism are not based on the teachings of men, but rather the conclusions reached as a result of reading the Bible. In other words, anyone is capable of reading the Bible and coming to the same conclusions as John Calvin.

It can also be pointed out that it is quite hypocritical to make such a statement, given the fact that any set of doctrines can be traced backward into the past and be seen being taught by particular men. Does this mean that anyone believing in those particular doctrines is following those men rather than the Bible? Certainly not. In the same way, the term “Calvinism” does not represent the teachings of John Calvin, but rather the distinct biblical doctrines that he spent so much time defending and promoting during the reformation.

Another extremely common misunderstanding involves the Calvinistic teaching that God has chosen who will be saved from before the foundation of the world. People often complain that this is beneath the character of a loving God. They say that God would never pick and choose who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. However, this misunderstanding is rooted in the failure to realize that true nature of man and the fact that all men start off guilty. God is not starting with a group of neutral, guilt free people and picking and choosing who goes to heaven and hell. Instead, God is looking at a group of already condemned people, and for His own glory choosing a group of people to be saved from that just and proper condemnation.

A good example to explain this further would be to take a look at a group of men on death row. They have already been justly and properly condemned to death. However, if the governor of the state desires to use his power to pardon one of these men, has he done any wrong to the rest of them? Is he under any obligation to pardon any other person on death row? Certainly Not. In the same manner, God pardons the people of His choosing. Why does he do this? Ephesians chapter one tells us it is for His own good purpose, and not based on anything in us.

Along the same lines, there is a common misunderstanding regarding the Calvinistic teaching of “Total Depravity.” Total Depravity teaches that men are dead in trespasses and sin, incapable of believing or choosing to believe in Jesus Christ. People will therefore ask: “How can God punish someone for not doing something they were unable to do?” That is, believing in Jesus Christ. The answer is simple. We are not condemned to hell for the “sin of unbelief,” although that is indeed a sin. Rather, we are condemned to hell in our father Adam, already guilty from our birth. We as humans have put ourselves in the position we are now in, dead in trespasses and sins and unable to come to Christ or believe in him.

These are just a few of the most common misunderstandings concerning Calvinism and Reformed Theology. If you want to know what Calvinism truly teaches, rather than going off of misunderstandings, conduct a study of your own into this subject. Study Calvinism and its doctrines, and ask yourself whether or not those doctrines truly line up with what the Bible teaches. You may be surprised to find that Calvinism most truly and accurate lines up with the teachings of the Holy Bible.

About the Author

Author Collin Trenery. Wake yourself up on time with a Westclox Alarm Clock. Boil Water Quickly and Easily with a Bodum Electric Kettle.

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