Yes that is how I understood Calvinism from Dr. Jerry Vines (retired from First Baptist in Jacksonville). I don’t understand how Calvinism has gained such a foothold again in the churches and seminaries. Then again I know the evil one is hard at work trying to destroy the church and appears to be doing a pretty good job of it.LisaJoe, you are asking exactly the right questions! I recommend a good book on the subject, entitled “What Love is This?” by Dave Hunt.
I’ll just make a few main points, but I really encourage you to look into this in-depth, because it is vital to understand what’s happening in your church. Like I said, it happened to us, too. First, the term “neo-Calvinism” refers to the current popular version of Calvinism, which not only includes replacement theology, but often also strong patriarchal themes, membership commitments that are considered sometimes to be legally binding, and authoritarian church discipline. Of course, the level of these things differs according to the pastor.
Basically, they disregard the place of God’s foreknowledge in election, predestination, being chosen, and in every aspect of salvation. Passages such as Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2, for example, are specific about the Lord’s foreknowledge being involved in salvation.
If you study the TULIP acronym, it’s pretty clear. Calvinism teaches that Christ did not die for everyone, but only for the ‘elect.’ His grace is “Irresistible,” literally, meaning it cannot be resisted, and we have no choice in the matter. The rest are predestined to an eternity in hell and have no choice about that either.
This is a very silly illustration, and could be much improved, but I tend to think of it this way: A father has five children. He builds a lovely swimming pool in the backyard. He then tosses three of his children into the sparkling, clear water on a hot day. He says to the other two children, I did not build this for you, only for them. There is no reason, I just don’t want you to have this.
Whereas the Good Father has the same number of children, and builds the same lovely pool. He says, I have built this beautiful pool for you! Whoever wishes to enjoy it, do! Three of his children jump in, and two refuse the gift. The Father encourages the two to enjoy what he’s done for them, but they will not. They choose to reject the gift and never get to enjoy it.
I think you’d get a lot out of “What Love is This?”