Can a Christian be a Calvinist?

If this sounds like an odd question then examine the core beliefs of both Christians and Calvinist and see if they are compatible.


Calvinist basic belief is that one is chosen by God to be a believer. The believer had nothing to do with it and cannot change it. Those who are lost are not chosen and cannot change their status.

Christians on the other hand believe all are lost unless they admit sin and turn to God for salvation. They believe anyone can turn and be saved.

A Calvinist needs no savior. One who is already saved doesn’t need to be saved and if someone is lost, a savior, that could not save, would only be a cruel joke.

It should be clear from the basic beliefs that Calvinism is a “different gospel” than Christianity. We are warned about different gospels in Galatians 1:6&7. (Gal 1:6 NIV)  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 

It seems that Calvinistic ideas all stem from the word “predestined” that appears in Romans and Ephesians. They understand it to mean they are predestined to be saved, but is that really what it says?

In Ephesians Paul writes (Eph 1:11&12 NIV)  In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Now it should be clear that the “we” spoken of here is not me. I am not the first to hope in Christ: nor are you. The Apostles were the first to hope in Christ, chosen and predestined to participate in the plan of salvation. It should also be clear that Paul does not mean chosen to believe, because not all of the Apostles were believers (Judas).

Paul goes on to say to the Ephesians (Eph 1:13&14 NIV) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-

If they were included when they heard the word of truth, then they were not included before they heard. If they were predestined to be believers Paul, in truth, would have had to say, you were also predestined to believe.

Paul also speaks of those who were predestined in Romans (Rom 8:30 NIV) And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Again I have to admit that it is not me that he speaks of. I have a long way to go before I could claim that I have been glorified.

I am somewhat of a thrill seeker, but I am too big of a chicken to believe in Calvinism. No where in the Bible does it name me and say “you are saved”. I have yet to hear from a Calvinist that thought he was one of the lost and yet no one has pointed to his name either.

I am a sinner with a Savior and I can point to my assurance. In the words of Jesus (Mark 16:16 NIV) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. That’s me brother. I believe and I have been baptized.

To give my answer to the original question of this post, “NO” either you believe in Christ or you believe Calvin. Christ is not a savior that can not, nor will not save. 


9 Responses to Can a Christian be a Calvinist?

  1. Mike says:

    I have long been involved in the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism. Something helpful to remember are the exegetical implications of Hebrews 10:26-29. Calvinists believe in eternal security because of their doctrine of election and predestination. So essentially they believe that no one who is “truly” saved can apostasize. However, if you look at the description of the person who commits apostasy in this section you cannot argue that the person was not a genuine believer. He had been, “sanctified by the blood” and “insulted the spirit of grace”, these actions affirm free will, which Calvinists deny.

  2. paulus says:

    I would like to exchange some thoughts with you because the least we can say is that you do not know what is a calvinist at all.

    Richard G.

  3. astudent says:

    O.K., but (Prov 27:17 NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. If you have read my post on this you can see that I don’t expect either of us to change our views.
    It’s not what a Calvinist is that bothers me it’s what a Calvinist believes and teaches. Truth is I don’t think I have met a Calvinist that was not more intelligent than me. Perhaps that gets in their way of simplifying the Scripture so we can understand it. Anyway I’m game.

  4. Mike says:

    Here’s the issue: We have been “debating” this for 2000 years. Calvin and Armineas had very un-Christian fights regarding this subject. Both used scripture to prove their viewpoint. Frankly, I think both are right in the Grace of God. Some people are called from the womb (Billy Graham comes to mind). Some make a free-will choice.
    The danger comes when we take the salvation we have individually received and try to claim anothers salvation is wrong. I was christened as a child. I have always felt called by God. But don’t come to me and tell me I’m not saved because I didn’t go through believer baptism.
    Let’s look at the Truth (Jesus says I am the way, the Truth, and the Light): He called some people, and he welcomed people seeking him. Isn’t it that easy?

  5. astudent says:

    Though I am getting old I’m no where near 2000. Seriously though let’s don’t fight. I believe that we are all called even before the womb, but we all don’t answer as quickly or as completely as Mr. Graham.
    Have you read all of my posts on Baptism? Baptism couldn’t be any easer. All one has to do is allow someone else to do it for, or to them.
    I have always admired bravery and I have always been a thrill seeker. The closer you can come to death with out experiencing it the bigger the thrill. That’s why one rides the roller coaster (it scares you). But even I would not take a chance on losing my eternal salvation just to keep someone else from the privilege of baptizing me.
    I have covered many of the hard questions about baptism in my many posts on the subject. If you can think of one that I have not covered I would be grateful for the question.
    Thanks for the comment. I really like comments that do not agree with me, because they usually lead to a better understanding.

  6. Mike says:

    I completely agree! I enjoy looking at others views as well, and find your insights very thoughtful. You’re one of my few regular RSS reads.
    I would almost like to start the debate of “Is baptism necessary for salvation,” but arguing with a fellow brother over lesser truths is not helpful.
    Jesus says, “Come unto Me…” He is our shepherd, and with him at the wheel, no telling where we will go. I guarantee you we won’t plan it out of our will. Further, let’s revel in God’s grace, and not get caught up in comparing our different journey’s paths. God is infinite, and we will never fully comprehend all he does.

  7. astudent says:

    It might be beneficial to both of us to debate baptism. If I am right it is not of less importance. Baptism was certainly important to the people in the time of Jesus (Luke 7:29&30). Is it somehow different now? Actually I don’t think there is a “lesser truth”.
    Arguments stem from pride in what one thinks that they know. If we can admit to ourselves that wisdom and knowledge come from the Lord and it is not something we figured out, but a gift from God, perhaps we would not argue (with anger).

  8. David says:

    just to let you know is one thing.

    1 Corinthians 13:12
    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

    When I come to study a theological point in the word of God that has multiple points of views I have to push off my initial reaction and understanding. I dont at first try to prove my point I in fact try to prove the others I get a piece of paper and I try to systematically and in context read the word of God and pull out the points from my own understanding of what I have read and see if that is what the Bible says for myself and then I will compare with the conclusion of others even seek advice. I then take what I have learned and I do the same with my own previous beliefs and see if what I had thought I believed truly is what Gods word says and not falsely learned based on previous limited understanding or teaching.

    Before I even knew what “Calvinism” or Arminianism was I came across the predestination theological point. At first I was taken back a little it sounded like an unfair God taking away my ability to control my life or in fact my knowledge of choosing him it seemed unfair and would make God unjust but I studied. However I came to the conclusion that God is sovereign and that I do not control my life. I saw how God controlled Pharaoh and Judas (predestining them to destruction) and came to the conclusion he has at least done it in these cases. I saw how Jesus spoke to the Pharisees saying to them “You do not hear my words because you are not my sheep” and also to the deciples “I speak in parables so they will hear but not hear … lest they turn and repent”. So I saw that even Jesus the Christ purposefully spoke in a way that would prevent and/or keep them from repentance and being saved and that the only ones that could hear him was “His sheep” this at least seemed to me a specific people that could even hear his spiritual words. So I saw the truth in it. I also was tauched on God saying “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated before they were even born before they did any good or evil” I saw that God is not a respecter of persons he really does not look at what a man has done as it says in romans we are his creation, clay formed by his hands he uses us for his purpose and for his glory. Some are used to be Sanctified some are used for him to poor out his wrath and judement.
    There are many more examples in Old and New Testament as soon as I accepted predestination as a possibility it was like a vale was removed from my eyes and I now see His predetermination His planning everywhere and how glorious God in all things is. I am not trying to convince you or say that this way is right I believe it is and I am just sharing my testimony. I am not a Calvinist I disagree with him on a great many things. Many modern day writers are even confused about what that means now understand this Calvin would not know what the 5 points of Calvinism is. Now dont get me wrong I adhere to the TULIP and as far as my understanding goes of it. But Calvin did not write a 5 point thesis he merely wrote about things he saw and believed now a contradictory to calvin was written and argued with him and to rebuttal the contradictor someone else wrote up the 5 points of Calvin. And for those that believe along those lines get labeled a Calvinist but I think Calvin was wrong on many points and i do not want to be labeled as such. Its all a fascinating story you should read it its very peculiar how history pans out and how assumptions can really skew the course of history. I say all this with brotherly love and hope it helps. I know this is a little late but I felt led to say it.
    With Love,
    Your Brother

  9. astudent says:

    You have a good method of study. As for me, I listened to others for years before I started to speak. I did not, nor do I take what anyone might say as truth until I compare it with the Bible. The Bereans were considered of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Now that wasn’t just anyone they doubted, but Paul the Apostle. If they were right to doubt Paul then I am right to doubt any mortal man and so are you.
    You say, “I came to the conclusion that God is sovereign and that I do not control my life.” What part do you not control? Aren’t you free to sin? Can’t you go anywhere you choose: at any time? Aren’t you free to praise or curse God? Can’t you eat or sleep any time you want. Can’t you lie, steal, kill, or do anything your heart desires? The truth is you can, but you try not to, because you want to please our Father and you do not want to hurt anyone else; which is the end result of sin. If God controlled you would He let you sin and hurt someone else?
    I wrote a whole post on predestination (Election or Predestination) so I am not going to repeat it here, but the basic problem with the Calvinistic view of predestination is that God would be unfair to condemn someone that had no chance of redemption. Any doctrine that puts God in an unjust position can not possibly be correct.
    No man will ever be able to stand before God and rightly accuse Him of being unjust or unfair. Of this I am absolutely sure.

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