Calvinism is a confusing set of doctrines based on the five points of Calvinism in TULIP. Calvinists are famous for complicating the Bible, for reading Bible verses in a vacuum and for reading the Bible through the filter of some proof text verses with their own preferable interpretation.
Their unfortunate theology frequently leads to contradictions such as Jesus not dying for everyone and God causing people to sin, which they often disregard by stating “God’s ways are higher than your ways” or “who are you to argue against God?“. The very first church fathers (up until close to the advent of Augustine) did not teach anything close to Calvinism which is semi-gnostic in nature. Calvinism is therefore based on the tradition of men rather than on the Bible and the understanding of the very first apostles/saints (see Jude 3).
Col. 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
If God’s will always happens and if he chooses people for salvation/damnation from the beginning of the world, then it follows that he forced wicked non-elect sinners into this world – who will end up in hell despite totally obeying God at all times. This applies IF you want to be consistent with Calvinism, which so far no Calvinist has ever succeeded to be. Hard core Calvinists are seldom interested in getting rid of their contradictions (such as painting a very dark picture of our Lord) which could easily come true if they only adopted the more Biblical “free will” alternative which does not in any way threaten God’s sovereignty. It is sad to see how they instead prefer to stick with their reformed teachers who make them believe that Jesus did not love everyone and did not die for the whole world.
Here are 10 of some common proof text verses (more details in the links)
1) John 6:39-44 argument about God drawing people, forcing them to be saved
Calvinists just love v. 44 and prefer not to let the other verses destroy their preferred understanding of this particular verse, which on the surface seems to say exactly what they want it to say – if you only ignore the rest of the verses. How would the outcome be if we read this verse in a vacuum?:
Matt. 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Jesus draws ALL men in John 12:32, but even if we cannot come to him unless he draws us and enables us all to be saved, we must still meet the requirements for salvation which boil down to believe. Calvinists also love to quote v. 39, but not v. 40 which includes a condition for salvation – “— every one which SEETH the Son, and BELIEVETH on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day”.
What is the point with all conditions listed in John 6, such as the requirements to learn, eat, drink, believe, see and come to him? Why not simplify it and say “whomsoever I choose and force to believe in me will be saved” if that is what John really wants to emphasize? In v. 66 we can read about some of his disciples who went back and walked no more with him, and in v. 70 we can read about a person who Jesus chose but who was still lost – Judas. In John 1:6-7 we can read that Jesus came so that “ALL through him might believe”. Why then do not all believe? Because they have chosen to not meet the requirements listed above. God created us TO SEEK HIM and FIND HIM:
Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and FIND HIM, THOUGH HE BE NOT FAR FROM EVERY ONE OF US: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, WE OUGHT NOT to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof HE HATH GIVEN ASSURANCE UNTO ALL MEN, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
2) Rom. 8:29-30 argument where God predestines/forces certain individuals to be saved whereas he damns the rest
V. 28 makes it clear that the promises are linked only to those who LOVE GOD. We must have this information in mind when we proceed to v. 29 so that we know to whom the promises are meant. The body of Christ is foreknown and predestined to enter the kingdom of God and reach glorification. There WILL be a body of Christ (the church) entering heaven, and it consists of people who choose to love God. If anyone wants to be part of the body of Christ and the wonderful promises tied to it, he must love God above everything else and endure to the end. (See more under Eph. 2 below.) “Predestination” and “elect” are two Biblical words, but nowhere in the Bible will we see individuals chosen for salvation.
3) Rom. 9 argument where absolutely everything turns out exactly as God wants since no one can resist his will – and where it is not even possible to talk back to God at any time
Calvinists absolutely adore Rom. 9 despite their interpretation that most people are born desperately doomed, but since they do not pay attention to the context they totally misunderstand what Paul is trying to get the Jews to understand. His point is that it is God’s prerogative to arrange the salvation plan in any way he wants, including making the salvation offer opened also for the gentiles – and as we have learned – based on faith rather than being born Jewish, or being “first” as God’s chosen people who were given the law of Moses. That is why he makes the comparison with Jacob and Esau (the first-born), which certainly does not tell us anything about God choosing individuals for salvation. God will show mercy on whomever he will show mercy, but it does not say that he does this unconditionally. This becomes even more clear when we realize that Paul is quoting scriptures, where God was having a dialogue with Moses during Exodus. Furthermore, in Rom. 11 we can read about the branches: “because of unbelief they were broken off”.
Mercy on whom I will have mercy:
In Jeremiah 18 we can read about the clay (a picture of Israel) being marred in the potter’s hands. Clearly no potter wants his clay marred, forcing him to start over again with the hope that it will turn better the next time. The chapter makes it clear that Israel has the opportunity to repent and to become obedient, and if they do God will not treat them harshly as he threatens to do. Rom. 9 does not say that God is the one “fitting” individuals for destruction. If people are prepared for destruction, it is their own doing due to their way of living. Why would God have to “endure with much longsuffering” if people always obeyed him? There is a wonderful place prepared for the vessels of mercy, and anyone can reach that place. 2 Tim. 2:21 tells us that MAN is expected to PURGE HIMSELF from the vessels of dishonor, and if he does he will be a vessel unto HONOR. Needless to say that Calvinists do not appreciate that verse, and similar verses, at all.
Pharaoh is said in the Bible to have hardened his own heart. If someone has the opportunity to do the right thing and obey the only true God and still chooses to disobey him, it is possible to phrase it as though “God hardened his heart”, because if God had not provided this particular opportunity to choose the right thing, Pharao could not have been expected to choose it. By presenting Pharaoh with this option, likely knowing he would not choose the right thing, “God hardened his heart”. Or Pharaoh hardened his heart, whatever you prefer since it boils down to the same thing. Since Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, it shows that it was not completely hard before this point. Yet, Calvinists often teach that the non-elects’ hearts are as hard as they could be. The Bible says that it is certainly possible for man to harden his heart – naturally against God’s will:
Ex. 9:17 AS YET EXALTEST THOU THYSELF AGAINST MY PEOPLE; THAT THOU WILT NOT LET THEM GO?
Ex 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. (Here we can read that Pharao SINNED by hardening his heart, so if we want to believe God is the one hardening it, then GOD is the one who forced Pharao to sin.)
Jer. 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart,ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Hebr. 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness
Rom. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient;—
4) Phil. 2:13 argument that God is the one making you do all the stuff that you do
If God is the one making us do good things, and actually also bad things since nothing happens against his will (if Calvinism is true), then naturally God alone must be blamed if we lack fruit in our lives. Apparently he did not place the “will” in us to show good fruit, and who can resist his will? So if we sin, we can certainly say “God made me do it”. Still, Paul is telling the Philippians how they should and should not do things, indicating that they might make mistakes. He even indicates that he himself might labor “in vain”, which would not make sense if God is the one making him do the things he does.
Phil. 2:12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING.
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15THAT ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
If we draw near to God, he will draw near to us, and the holy Spirit will fill us with an improved strength to live holy lives and bear good fruit.
5) John. 10:28-29 argument about Jesus choosing his sheep and forcing them to stay with him
These two verses are popular, but seldom are they combined with the previous v. 27 which identifies WHO the sheep are in v. 28-29. They are the ones who HEAR his voice and FOLLOW him, wich are requirements. No MAN is able to pluck them out of Jesus’ hands, but the verses do not say that men cannot leave on their own accord – without being plucked out by someone else. We do not lose our free will when we decide to follow Jesus, and we are still able to choose to obey or disobey.
6) Eph. 4:30 argument that we are sealed until the day of redemption and once saved always saved
The verse does not say that we are sealed/saved until the day of redemption but we are sealed UNTO or FOR the day of redemption. On the day of redemption only those with the seal will be saved, and God can provide us with this type of seal provided that we do our part of the deal. Up until the time of redemption a seal can certainly be broken. To be sealed is to be marked, and if we have the holy Spirit and are led by him, we are certainly a unique group of people and sealed/marked and separate from the world. During the old testament it was the circumcision that was the seal (for men) demonstrating that a man belonged to God, but neither this seal indicated that the sealed/marked person could not choose to wander away from God. We do not lose our free will (to obey or disobey) only because we are marked with the seal.
7) Eph. 2:1-2 argument that individuals are chosen for salvation/damnation before they are even born
Ephesians 1-2 speaks about a corporate election. The body of Christ (the church) will be going to heaven, which was planned and known from the beginning of the world. Jesus knew that he would not die in vain, and that there would be a group of people who would choose to believe in him and endure to the end. Anyone is free to join this body of Christ which is predestined to go to heaven. Compare it with a bus that is going to a certain destination with a number of passengers – which are those who choose to turn up, show their tickets and remain on the bus. Something that is frequently mentioned is that the wonderful promises are connected to those who are IN HIM. It is THROUGH HIM that we can reach the kingdom of God, so we must make sure to be IN CHRIST – or else the promises are not for us. To be “elect” is to be precious/special. Israel was also “elect” (and certain angels were as well) but this does not mean that all Israel will be saved. A ”guarantee receipt” can be a great value for you because it entitles you (if it has not expired) to certain rights, but if you throw it away or if you lose it, then it will not do you much good despite all the promises that are listed on it. Moreover, it is a very bad idea to be dead in trespasses and sins. Sins separate us from God and make us spiritually dead. And people are not born as children of wrath.
8) Acts 4:26-28 argument that Judas was predestined to sin by betraying Jesus
There is no darkness in God. The Bible is clear that he does not tempt anyone, much less causes people to sin. If God has forced Judas to betray Jesus, Judas really should be awarded a place in paradise – as a thanks for obeying God to 100%. Yet we know that it would have been better if he had not been born. Judas SINNED by betraying Jesus.
Matt. 26:24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.
Jesus death was predetermined but it was not necessary to cause Judas or anyone else to be involved in this plan. There was no shortage of people who wanted to betray and kill Jesus, so God did not have to influence anyone to do it. Jesus death was prophesied about, but prophesies normally entail something that is known (not predestined) to take place in the future. The one prophesying is not causing the prophesied events to take place. God can naturally cause things to take place if he wants, like he did with the global flood, the return of the son in the last days, etc, but those unique exceptions hardly mean that he causes all things to line up as he wants. Had Judas never betrayed Jesus, this event would not have been prophesied about unless we are talking about a false prophesy which is not from God. It was not GOD who placed the desire to harm Jesus inside Judas but SATAN.
Joh. 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and FOREKNOWLEDGE of God, YE have taken, and BY WICKED HANDS have crucified and slain?
9) Acts 13:48 argument that God ordains (forces) individuals to believe in him, whereas the rest have no chance to do the same since God has not provided them with this opportunity
This verse alone does not mention the criteria for God’s choice to ordain individuals, unlike many other verses which clarify that it’s our FAITH that is the criteria. Neither does this verse suggest that God’s appointing is the CAUSE for people’s faith. According to Adam Clarke, the original Greek word ”includes no idea of preordination or predestination of any kind” (“Commentary on Acts 13:48”). The original Greek word simply means “disposed” (to set in position), and therefore the verse could be translated “as many as were disposed (or who set themselves in such a disposition) to eternal life believed”. Their disposition to receive the gospel is contrasted with the disposition of the Jews just two verse before, and the Jews had chosen another path. So those who judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life did not believe, but those who disposed themselves to eternal life believed, and whether they believed or not depended on whether their heart rejected or accepted the Gospel which was preached to them.
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but SEEING YE PUT IT FROM YOU, AND JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
10) Eph 2:8-9 argument where faith is a gift offered to only a few lucky people, leaving the rest for damnation
If we are not able to have faith unless God enables us to have this faith, and if God chooses to prevent people from ever getting faith, then it follows that God alone must be blamed if we do not believe in him. Or do non-elect have the choice to have faith in him? If no, then they are innocent victims in the hands of a cruel God who created them for the sole reason to send them to hell – for not believing in him, which he himself prevented them from doing. Not much within Calvinism makes sense.
We are saved by grace (God’s kindness) but through FAITH – which is a requirement for salvation. The Bible also says that if we love God – which we do if we truly have faith in him – then we OBEY him. Eph. 2-8-9 does not say that faith is a gift but that SALVATION is a gift, and this is certainly true since we cannot cleanse and save ourselves. It is also true that we do not earn our salvation by anything we do (or believe), and that we are not saved by either works alone or faith alone (as Jam. 2:24 states). If we dare to continue to v. 10, we can read that we are created to good works that God has prepared that we should WALK in. What happens if we choose not to walk in those good works? Still saved no matter what?
I might return with 10 more common proof text arguments