Whats Wrong With Reformed Theology (2022)

What’s wrong with Reformed Theology?

Reformed Theology, also known as Calvinism, is the doctrinal basis of a movement within Protestant Christianity, and traces its origin to the protestant reformer John Calvin (1509- 1564). The Reformed movement is not a cult, and it is important to acknowledge that people within the movement are our brothers and sisters. However, there are several doctrines within this movement that are contrary to Scripture and have a troublesome impact on believers around the World. This is especially true when it comes to our understanding of God’s love and will, atonement and salvation. Reformed theology puts a strong emphasis on God’s glory and power and believes that nothing happens in the World without God wanting it to happen. This belief will, as we shall see, have several troublesome consequences.

After the death of Calvin later theologians radicalized his teaching, and their view on atonement and salvation has been summarized in what has become known as The Five points of Calvinism, also known as TULIP.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)

Man is completely corrupted by sin and cannot in any way choose or desire God.

Unconditional Election

God in his sovereign will decides who will be saved. And who won’t be saved! (Who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.) These decisions are not influenced by man’s choices or doings but made by God before the creation of the world.

Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)

Christ did not die for everyone. Only for those that God has elected/decided to save!

Irresistible Grace

Those God has chosen for salvation will not be able to resist God’s grace and will be saved, regardless of their own will.

Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved, Always Saved)

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Those that God has decided to save will never lose their salvation, no matter what they do.

With some variations this is what most Evangelical Reformed churches believe and teach. Well-known Bible teachers preaching this message are John Piper, John MacArthur and others. Organizations such as the Gospel Coalition and other networks spread the teaching through Conferences, a strong presence on the Internet, and through ample distribution of literature.

The majority of evangelical Christians are not Reformed. That however does not stop us from appreciating the good things within Reformed theology. We agree with our Reformed brothers that man is indeed fallen in sin and needs God’s grace to come to Christ. We also appreciate the Reformed movement’s emphasis on God’s glory and power.

At the same time, though, we believe that reformed theology has often fallen short in the understanding of God’s love. We also believe that God wants everyone to be saved, and that Christ died for all. That God works on people’s hearts to repentance, but that God has also given us a free will. How these two truths can be reconciled is a mystery that the Lord has not revealed to us, so we should avoid to speculate about it.

Furthermore the vast majority of Christians believe that some things that happen in the world are evil and not part of God’s will. Rather they are the consequences of the freedom God has given us. (Although God can make something good come out of evil!) That God allows even bad consequences from man’s choices is not the same as God wanting and ordaining these things. Most Christians would also say that believers can indeed fall away from faith and lose their salvation. (Although not as easily as some might imagine. Rather we would suggest that it is a willing and ongoing turning away from Christ and the relationship with Him.)

A key term when it comes to the Reformed understanding of atonement and salvation is the word predestination, used in among other places Romans 8:29-30. It is a universal belief among all Christians that those that are saved are predestined to be the children of God. But the question is how the term should be understood. Whereas Reformed Christians interpret the word thus: “God from eternity deciding who will be saved and who will not”, the majority of Bible believing Christians understand the word as relating to God’s foreknowledge “and teach that God predestined to salvation those whose future faith and merits he foreknew.” [Predestination, Encyclopedia Britannica) (Also see 1 Peter 1:2!)

It is the author’s conviction that godly Reformed Christians have allowed systematization of philosophical reasoning take the place of God’s written Word. The teaching of Reformed theology is trying to understand and explain the mysteries of God and salvation. (Things God has not revealed.) In doing so it enters into speculations and states things about God and salvation that are not true, giving God’s children a wrong understanding of who God is.

Reformed Theology and the Bible

Now let us evaluate the teaching of Reformed Theology in the light of Scripture.

Reformed Theology says:

Man cannot in any way choose or desire God.

The Bible says:

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)

Also see Joshua 24:15, Isaiah 1:18, James 1:21, 2 Timothy 1:12 and Matthew 10:32!

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Reformed Theology says:

God chooses who will be saved, and who won’t be saved, i e God only wants to save a few.

God says:

“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18: 23; also verse 32)

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. --- For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

Also read 2 Peter 3:9, John 1:11-13, John 3:16-18! Note that we are elect but not unconditionally. The condition for salvation is faith.

Reformed Theology says:

Christ did not die for everyone. Only for those that God has elected/decided to save.

The Bible says:

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole World."

(1 John 2:2)

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Hebrews 2:9)

Also read 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

Reformed Theology says:

(Video) Why I'm not a Calvinist | Why I disagree with Reformed Theology

It is not possible to resist God’s grace, and so those that God wants saved will be saved. No matter what they themselves want.

The Bible says:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37)

"Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51)

Also see John 5:39-40, Proverbs 1:24-26 and Proverbs 29:1!

Reformed Theology says:

Those that God has decided to save will never lose their salvation, no matter what they do.

The Bible says:

“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

(James 5:19-20)

“Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” (Ezekiel 3:20)

Also see 1 Timothy 4:1-4 and Hebrews 3:12!

Conclusion

To conclude we state that Reformed Theology gives a false understanding of God’s nature, love and will as well as a wrong understanding of atonement and salvation.

It is of utmost importance that we build or faith on the Holy Bible, not on elaborate philosophical systems. Because of this we must reject Reformed Theology/Calvinism and – along with the vast majority of believers and Christian leaders through history – declare that

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  • God loves everyone,
  • Christ gave his life for everyone,
  • the opportunity for salvation is open for everyone.

From the Scripture passages mentioned above we understand that

1. God has given us the possibility to choose Him and we can indeed feel a desire for God, despite our fallen state. (Deuteronomy 30:19, John 1:12, Joshua 24:15, Isaiah 1:18, James 1:21, 2 Timothy 1:12, Matthew 10:32)

2. God wants everyone to be saved and to get to know Him. (Ezekiel 18: 23 /32/, 1 Timothy 2:3-6, 2 Peter 3:9, John 1:11-13, John 3:16-18.) We are elect but not unconditionally. The condition for salvation is faith.

3. Christ died for everyone. (Isaiah 53:6, 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 2:9, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

4. The Bible warns us of the possibility of resisting God’s grace. (Matthew 23:37, Acts 7:51, John 5:39-40, Proverbs 1:24-26, Proverbs 29:1)

5. It is possible to lose one’s salvation and fall away from faith. (Hebrews 5:19-20, Ezekiel 3:20, 1 Timothy 4:1-4, Hebrews 3:12)

Questions to Reformed friends

If God has already elected (chosen) who will go to heaven, why do missions and evangelize? It won’t matter, will it?

If God predestined everything (decided everything that will happen), why pray for family and friends?

If God predestined everything, doesn’t that mean that God created sin?

J.M. Singh, 26/11 2019

Sources

https://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm accessed March 15, 2019

https://www.britannica.com/topic/predestination accessed November 26, 2019

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2018/11/calvinism-and-arminianism- compared-by-roger-e-olson/ accessed March 15, 2019

(Video) Why are so many against reformed theology?

http://people.cs.ksu.edu/~bbp9857/calvinism.html Accesed March 15, 2019

Against Calvinism Roger E. Olson

https://www.ryanhart.org/predestination-bible-verses/ Accessed November 26, 2019

FAQs

What does Reformed theology believe? ›

Reformed theologians, along with other Protestants, believe salvation from punishment for sin is to be given to all those who have faith in Christ. Faith is not purely intellectual, but involves trust in God's promise to save.

Is Calvinism and Reformed theology the same? ›

Are Calvinism and Reformed Theology the Same Thing? | Theocast

Does Reformed theology believe in predestination? ›

Predestination has been especially associated with John Calvin and the Reformed tradition. There has been no argument in Reformed theology about the positive side of the doctrine of predestination...

What are the 5 pillars of Reformed theology? ›

Contents
  • History.
  • The three solae. 2.1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone") 2.2 Sola fide ("by faith alone") 2.3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
  • The Five Solas. 3.1 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone") 3.2 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
  • Additional Solas.

Who is the founder of Reformed theology? ›

Calvinism , the theology advanced by John Calvin, a Protestant reformer in the 16th century, and its development by his followers.

What percentage of Christianity is Reformed? ›

Protestantism
Protestant: Mainline vs. Evangelical vs. Traditionally Black Church
Family:US %% of population
Presbyterian/ Reformed2.2%0.9%
0.4%
Restorationist1.9%1.5%
19 more rows

Is Michael Horton a Calvinist? ›

Horton was raised in an Arminian Baptist church. While in high school, Horton adopted Calvinistic beliefs as he read through the Bible, specifically the book of Romans.

Are Baptists Calvinists? ›

The Particular Baptists adhered to the doctrine of a particular atonement—that Christ died only for an elect—and were strongly Calvinist (following the Reformation teachings of John Calvin) in orientation; the General Baptists held to the doctrine of a general atonement—that Christ died for all people and not only for ...

Why do Calvinists believe in predestination? ›

Calvin's belief in the uncompromised "sovereignty of God" spawned his doctrines of providence and predestination. For the world, without providence it would be "unlivable". For individuals, without predestination "no one would be saved". Calvin's doctrine of providence is straightforward.

Does God love everyone Calvinism? ›

While some Calvinists forthrightly deny that God loves everyone, more commonly Calvinists attempt to affirm the love of God for all persons in terms that are compatible with their doctrines that Christ died only for the elect--those persons God has unconditionally chosen to save.

Can predestination and free will coexist? ›

Some accept predestination, but most believe in free will. The whole idea of predestination is based on the belief that God is omnipotent and nothing can occur without His willing it.

Did Martin Luther believe in predestination? ›

Martin Luther's attitude towards predestination is set out in his On the Bondage of the Will, published in 1525. This publication by Luther was in response to the published treatise by Desiderius Erasmus in 1524 known as On Free Will.

What is Calvinism in simple terms? ›

Definition of Calvinism

: the theological system of Calvin and his followers marked by strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of humankind, and the doctrine of predestination.

What does tulip stand for in Calvinism? ›

The theology of Calvinism has been immortalized in the acronym TULIP, which states the five essential doctrines of Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints.

What is Reformed theology today? ›

It contains biblical, historical-theological and systematic-theological perspectives and addresses a variety of issues such as biblical interpretation, text-criticism, translation, constructive impulses emanating from classical Reformed thought, Christian freedom, anthropology and dialogue with non-Reformed traditions.

What does a Reformed Baptist believe? ›

Reformed churches view the Bible as an unified whole, telling the story of the providence of God in bringing to Himself one People, from every tribe, language, people, and nation through the Covenant of Grace. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.

Are Baptists Calvinists? ›

The Particular Baptists adhered to the doctrine of a particular atonement—that Christ died only for an elect—and were strongly Calvinist (following the Reformation teachings of John Calvin) in orientation; the General Baptists held to the doctrine of a general atonement—that Christ died for all people and not only for ...

What does it mean if a church is Reformed? ›

Reformed church, any of several major representative groups of classical Protestantism that arose in the 16th-century Reformation. Originally, all of the Reformation churches used this name (or the name Evangelical) to distinguish themselves from the “unreformed,” or unchanged, Roman Catholic church.

Videos

1. Why are people so resistant to Reformed theology?
(Ligonier Ministries)
2. DENY CALVIN | Reformed Theology Exposed
(One Reality)
3. What cautions do you have for the New Reformed movement?
(Desiring God)
4. Jerry Walls: What's Wrong With Calvinism, Part 1
(Evangel University)
5. What is Reformed Theology? | ask THEOCAST
(Theocast - Rest in Christ)
6. What's Wrong with Reformed Theology? (Part 1)
(Bible Baptist Church of Warriors Mark PA)

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