Calvinism: More Than 5 Points


I will never forget Easter break of 2004. I was a zealous evangelist and there were several Calvinists infesting the Baptist Student Ministry at my college, and this was a hindrance to evangelism in my eyes. If God predestined people to be saved, I didn’t see why anyone should share the gospel. I was finally tired of these guys and their ideas, so I set out to refute the doctrines of grace during the long weekend. I printed out several articles promoting both sides and placed them on each side of my Bible and went to work. My attempted refutation was unsuccessful and my life was forever changed. My view of God was drastically reformed. He became…God.
This obviously had huge ramifications for me, as it has for many (hence, the caged stage). It is a worldview shift. Calvinism is more than 5 points; it’s a way of the viewing the world. As J.I. Packer wrote,

“Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavor to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of His will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own Word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible – the God-centered outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. . . . And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of His great preordained plan for His creatures and His church. The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that His is sovereign everywhere.”
This is why you will often hear Calvinists ask if a certain author is Reformed or not. Its not that we only want to read from a thinker who believes in election or depravity, but that we will share the same view of life. Calvinism has a preserving effect. It brings with it certain views about Scripture, conversion, evangelism, God, man, marriage, history, and suffering. The Calvinist will have a high regard for Scripture, and bow to the authority of God’s Word. He will be amazed by the grace of God in the gospel, knowing that even his own faith and repentance are gifts from God. The Calvinist remains faithful to Scripture, not what works, in evangelism, understanding that no matter how diligently he plants and waters, God must give the growth. He understands that God is the God of aseity, that is, he is independent and self-sufficient, not needing anything from anyone. The Calvinist knows man to be a created being, owing all that he is to his sovereign creator. The Calvinist is aware of the deep depravity of the human race. He understands the effective love of Christ and feels the weight of his call to love his wife in this manner. Calvinists are usually complementarian as well. He understands history to simply be God at work. To study history is to study providence. Knowing that God meticulously controls the details of history helps the Calvinist sleep at night. The Kingdom of God will prevail and triumph, and our security is bound up with this fact. When death and suffering meet the Calvinist, he understands that every trial comes from the hand of a gracious God who knows what is best and always does right. All of the sudden the flat tire or the difficult boss is viewed from a different perspective: gifts from God to conform us to the image of his Son for our joy and his glory. Simply put, as Warfield said, Calvinism is “Christianity come to its own.” He also writes:

“When religion comes fully to its rights in our thinking, and feeling, and doing, then shall we be truly Calvinistic. This is why those who have caught a glimpse of these things, love with passion what men call ‘Calvinism,’ sometimes with an air of contempt; and why they cling to it with enthusiasm. It is not merely the hope of true religion in the world: it is true religion in the world – as far as true religion is in the world at all.”
The generous people at Desiring God have made available John Piper’s TULIP seminar.
Here you can find the video, audio, and seminar notes. Other resources are:
Easy Chairs Hard Words by Douglas Wilson
Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul