Calvinism and the Bible (Part 1)

This article is no longer available online, but the entire four-part series is available for purchase as a downloadable resource/pdf.

Considering Calvinism • Item 02972 • $4.99


What is Calvinism? How should we feel about what it teaches? How does Calvinism contrast with what we believe to be a more biblical view of sin and salvation?

Jack Cottrell examines the essence and errors of Calvinism in this 10-page resource that originally appeared as a four-part series in CHRISTIAN STANDARD.

The articles focus on “Sovereignty and Free Will According to Calvinism” and “According to the Bible,” and a two-part explanation and response to “The T-U-L-I-P Doctrines.” Included are an article on the history of Calvinism—which didn’t originate with John Calvin—and a bibliography of the best books explaining Calvinism and Arminianism.

All downloads include permission to reproduce material up to 10 times for ministry and educational purposes.

To order this resource, CLICK HERE. To sample the first few paragraphs of article one, continue reading below . . .

The main doctrine of Calvinism is a specific understanding of the sovereignty of God. K. Talbot and W. Crampton say, “The sovereignty of God is foundational to Christianity. It is the most basic principle of Calvinism” (Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Arminianism, 1990:14).

But all Christians believe in God’s sovereignty (i.e., lordship). How is Calvinism different?

For Calvinists, to say God is sovereign means that he is and must be the ultimate cause of all things outside himself, down to the most minute specifics. “God is the first cause of all that exists, and nothing exists which is not foreordained by Him” (ibid., 6). This is a form of determinism, or Christian absolute foreordination. As John Feinberg says, “Calvinists are usually deterministic” (in Basinger, ed., Predestination and Free Will, 1986:20).

The controlling and definitive concept for the Calvinist understanding of divine sovereignty is the doctrine of the eternal decree. By its very nature this decree establishes Calvinism as a deterministic system in which every detail of the ongoing universe is predetermined (predestined, foreordained) to happen in accordance with God’s purposive will. James White declares that the most basic point of Calvin’s theology is “the absolute freedom and sovereignty of God in decreeing whatsoever comes to pass in time” (The Potter’s Freedom, 2000:63). The decree is “a divine determination,” says John Frame (The Doctrine of God, 2002:315).

What is the nature of the decree? It is eternal because it was made in eternity past, before the creation and existence of anything outside of God. It is comprehensive or all-inclusive because it embraces “whatsoever comes to pass,” as the Westminster Confession of Faith says (III:1). It includes everything from the destinies of nations to the movement of atomic particles. It especially includes the decisions of all human beings, even their sins (John Feinberg, No One Like Him, 2001:516-518). . . .

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