PMT 2017-036 by Stephen Altrogge (The Blazing Center)

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Calvinist”? A grumpy, cold-hearted person who only wants a select few people to get into heaven? An annoying guy who won’t stop rambling on about Romans 9? That awful, sterile, passionless church you used to go to?

I get it.

Calvinism doesn’t have a fantastic reputation, at least in some circles. Some people feel like it focuses more on theology than on loving people. Others have had really bad experiences with Calvinists. And some people think it runs counter to the beautiful free offer of grace found in the Bible.

But what if someone who is not a jerk (at least most of the time) could talk about Calvinism in a way that didn’t make you want to smash your computer?

That’s what I’m going to try to do in this post. I want to explain why I’m a Calvinist, why it brings me great joy, and why I think it’s profoundly biblical. If at the end you disagree with me, that’s okay. We can still be BFS (best friends sometimes).

I can’t answer all your objections in this post. I’m not intending to turn this into a furious, spittle-flying debate. Think of this as a pleasant conversation over a craft beer (or coffee if you’re a Baptist).

John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings (Vol. 3)

Includes more than thirty short, pointed essays, sermons, and addresses that summarize some of John Frame’s central (and sometimes peripheral!) ideas about the nature and method of theology, theological issues, epistemology, apologetics, the church, and ethics.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

What Is A Calvinist?

Before we dive off the deep end, I should take a minute to define what I mean by Calvinism. A simple definition is this:

Calvinism is a series of doctrines that describes the state of humanity apart from God, how God saves people, and how God will ultimately bring those people to Glory.

A common acronym used to remember the doctrines of Calvinism is:

T – Total Depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints

I don’t like some of the phrases in the acronym and I think they can be confusing but it’s what most people use.

Because It’s All Over The Bible

I am not a Calvinist because of John Calvin. In fact, if John Calvin never existed I would still be a Calvinist (except it wouldn’t be called “Calvinism”). I don’t have man-crush on Calvin, nor do I think he’s the greatest person since Jesus. I won’t name any of my kids “Calvin”.

Calvin simply took some biblical ideas and organized them. Actually, I prefer the term “Doctrines of Grace” rather than Calvinism. It better describes the doctrines. Plus it takes the focus off John Calvin who, just like everyone else, had some great strengths and wicked weaknesses.

Lord of the SavedLord of the Saved
(by Ken Gentry)

A critique of easy believism and affirmation of Lordship salvation. Shows the necessity of true, repentant faith to salvation.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

I believe in the doctrines of grace because they run throughout the entire Bible, like a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament, we see that God unconditionally chose Israel to be his people….

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11 thoughts on “5 REASONS I’M A CALVINIST

  1. Robert J. Macauley May 5, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I love you Ken Gentry and I am amazed how God has enabled you to clarify so much of the scripture. It seems incredibly ironic somehow that one so gifted in so many areas can be so wrong in another. Seems that is the lot of us all. None of us are perfect and that should keep us humble. For the life of me, I will never understand Calvinism – though I have tried. With all due respect to you and the many Calvinist I’ve met throughout the years, I can only conclude there is a veil, or blind spot, somehow that can seldom be overcome. It would take a work of grace as powerfully effective as that offered to “everyone” for salvation. Sometimes, I’m left thinking that such “misses” of correct theology are just a necessary part of keeping us humbly dependent. Great knowledge puffs us up. Missing the obvious should surely keep us humble. Missing the truth must be a theologian’s “thorn in the flesh”. Again, I can think of few teachers that have changed my scriptural understanding as much as you. With all my sincerity, I love you and respect you as a teacher and brother. Thank you for all you do.

  2. Kenneth Gentry May 5, 2017 at 8:46 am
  3. Robert J. Macauley May 9, 2017 at 6:29 am

    With great respect, I don’t see my need of a “cure” that would convince me of Calvinism. I’ve studied the matter for years and grown weary of the mental gymnastics of all sides. Have you ever heard the saying, ” A theologian is someone who can take a drop of doctrine, spread it into such a mist, that no one can find their way thru the fog.”? Unfortunately, this can be true – as much as we need theologians in the church. It is why I appreciate them so much. The following is a brief but hardly exhaustive list of books, articles and lectures I’ve studied: http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html http://thomastaylorministries.org/blog/calvinism-refuted-total-depravity/ http://www.a-voice.org/tidbits/calvinp.htm And my current favorite lecture series on the subject, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Daomzm3nyIg
    Now, let me get back to my reading, “He Shall Have Dominion” by, oh yes, by you.
    Love it.

    Thank you,

    Bob Macauley
    (a big fan)

  4. Kenneth Gentry May 9, 2017 at 10:11 am


    As one brother to another, I must ask: Mental gymnastics? It seems more like mere reading (of Scripture). I don’t see how it is missed, but I do know why it is missed: it is difficult to believe because we exist on the temporal plane and are sinners who cannot comprehend God’s mind (Isa. 55:8-9). Yet we have his revelation in Scripture.

    Ephesians 1:4-5
    Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

    Romans 8:28-30
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    John 15:16
    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

    2 Timothy 1:9
    Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

    John 6:44
    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    Ephesians 1:11-12
    In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

    Acts 13:48
    And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

    Proverbs 16:4
    The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

    Revelation 13:8
    And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

    Acts 2:23
    This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    Mark 4:10-12
    And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

    Galatians 1:15
    But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,

    Titus 1:1
    Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

    John 15:19
    If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

    Jude 1:4
    For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Matthew 22:14
    For many are called, but few are chosen.”

    Romans 8:30
    And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    2 Thessalonians 2:13
    But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

    1 Thessalonians 1:4
    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,


  5. Robert J. Macauley May 12, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Been there, done all this before, as I’m sure you have. I am no longer interested in wrestling with anyone on this issue, even with someone I admire as much as you. Truly.

  6. Kenneth Gentry May 14, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Well, all I can say is: I guess it was predestined that you not believe in predestination. 😉

  7. jefftobler May 26, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Robert, you are not alone. Calvinism, or the Doctrines of Grace, do not accurately reflect the God of the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wills that all come to repentance and Jesus died for all. Jesus said it all when He expressed his will about those who were resisting His supposedly “irresistible grace”.

    Matthew 23:37
    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

    What was the Lord’s will? That they come to Him! Was His grace resistible? Yes! Did He predestine them to be gathered? Yes, just as He predestined all of mankind to be reconciled! But they refused. It is not to deny God’s power and sovereignty but to admire His restraint in allowing and desiring that we choose to come to Him rather than Him forcing us into a prearranged marriage. If Calvinism is true, why would the Lord be frustrated they are following His will?

    I too respect Ken and appreciate that he is very sound in his teaching on many issues, but not all. This places all of us who teach in place of deep humility and willingness to be corrected.

    Lastly, all of the verses Ken listed can be interpreted in many ways given one’s understanding and context, as you know. We have all been predestined to be confirmed into the image of Jesus, just as I had predestined my sons to be great men of God along with many other things I desired for them. But just as my sons had to choose to submit to my guidance and oversight in their life to see the fulfillment of these good things I had planned for them, we too must become willing disciples to fulfill His will in our lives.

    Three things: 1) Calvinism was influenced heavily by fatalism brought in from converted pagan philosophers in the Early Church, 2) Romans 8 predestination is often read from an individualistic perspective rather than from the context being those (Gentiles) whom God chose before hand (aka the gentiles), as witnessed through the OT prophets over and over again, to bring into His fold, and 3) there is only one Chosen One in Whom we become chosen, much in the same way as Paul unfolds in 2 Cor 5 that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself so that anyone IN CHRIST is reconciled. Anyone outside of Christ cannot avail themselves of the reconciliation. It’s all about whether one is in or outside of Christ.

    In other words, God chose One, His Son in Whom He was well-pleased, in and through Whom all others who believe would be “the chosen”. It is about God choosing Jesus and Jesus being the focus, not God Eeny Meny Miny Moing people to go to heaven or hell before ever they ever born. “Choose Jesus” was the message of the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles.

  8. Kenneth Gentry May 29, 2017 at 11:03 am

    I appreciate this gentleman’s earnest commitment to Scripture. But he is quite mistaken in his confusing God’s personal sovereignty and impersonal fatalism. I highly recommend your reading my book, Predestination Made Easy. It is helpful for removing common confusions regarding God’s absolute sovereignty. This is the Table of Contents:

    1. Introducing the Issue
    Predestination Teaching Denounced
    Predestination Teaching Cautioned

    2. Defining the Concept

    3. Facing the Problem
    The Nature of God
    The Nature of Man
    The Mystery in God

    4. Approaching the Difficulties
    Is Predestination a Unique Problem?

    5. Demonstrating its Scripturalness
    God’s Absolute Sovereignty
    God’s Sovereign Calling
    God’s Predestinating Counsel
    God’s Choosing for Salvation

    6. Explaining its Theology
    Defining Providence
    Detailing Providence

    7. Relating it to Salvation
    General Biblical Evidence
    Specific Romans Evidence

    8. Answering the Objections
    Previous Objections Reviewed
    New Objections Considered
    May I question God?

  9. Trent May 29, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    You claim that Calvinism was introduced by pagans in the early church? Where is your proof? Have you read Alister McGrath’s magnum opus on Justification and its history? Pick it up, you might learn something.

  10. Jim Arney February 18, 2023 at 8:20 am

    I think what is missing is God is all things past present and future therefore predestination is just a result of his all presence. He knows all things before they happen and the hearts of men and their future. It’s not like he is chosing who will be saved but knows the future.

  11. Kenneth Gentry February 22, 2023 at 11:32 am

    So, you are saying totally depraved sinners choose God? The biblical concept of predestination includes “election,” whereby God chooses who will be saved.

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