I don’t think of myself as a Calvinist, although I greatly benefit from Reformed theology. This was not always my experience. As a child, I once heard this horrified whisper in church concerning a newcomer: “I know about him. He’s a Calvinist!”—as if the man were an alien or baddie. In another church, I saw a man actually cover his ears during a sermon on predestination, so adamant was he against it.
Clearly, what you believe concerning salvation has a profound effect, e.g. on your view of God and yourself, your assurance of salvation, and your approach to evangelism. Christians often define their theological understanding of salvation in terms of Calvinism or Arminianism.
Coming from an independent Baptist background, I am curious whether most IBs in Australia hold a negative view toward Calvinism today. Or are their churches more open to it? If not, what do you think are the primary objections?
Probably the main objection is to predestination and God’s unconditional election. “We still have a free will,” I’ve often been told. There’s concern over limited atonement (fair enough), and perhaps a suspicion that evangelistic zeal will be numbed by the Reformed emphasis of God’s sovereignty in salvation.
Maybe many Christians baulk at Calvin simply because they were taught inaccurate or misleading information about Calvinism. Charles Spurgeon (who himself has often been misrepresented) described the problem this way:
To this day, there are many of our opponents, who, when they run short of matter, invent and make for themselves a man of straw, call that John Calvin and then shoot all their arrows at it. We are not come here to defend your man of straw—shoot at it or burn it as you will, and if it suit your convenience, still oppose doctrines which were never taught, and rail at fictions which, save in your own brain, were never in existence. We come here to state what our views really are, and we trust that any who do not agree with us will do us the justice of not misrepresenting us. If they can disprove our doctrines, let them state them fairly and then overthrow them, but why should they first caricature our opinions and then afterwards attempt to put them down? (C.H. Spurgeon, Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace. Quoted from Debating Calvinism, Dave Hunt and James White).
Calvinists, Arminians, and everyone in-between are welcome to comment…