A Different Kind of Calvinism: Introducing the Change

I’m not the Calvinist I used to be. This change came rather suddenly, but was the result of a long process of difficulty with TULIP. While when I became a Calvinist (feels like 100 years ago) I loved it. My experience was rather honeymoon like. It was the best thing that had happened to me theologically.

Soon, though, the honeymoon ended. In time I came to be struck by the same problems that keep people from becoming Calvinists in the first place. How does the God of love determine before time to abandon most of humanity in their sins? Does God even love all people in any meaningful way? Can God really glorify Himself through destroying people created in the image of His beloved Son?

These questions bubbled in the back of my mind for a very long time, but I was never able to come up with any answers or any alternative theologies. Arminianism is Biblically weak. Molinism cheats philosophically. Catholic options are, well, Catholic. Open Theism is borderline heresy. For this reason I felt stuck in TULIP Calvinism, unable to find any other doctrine on these matters that seemed robustly Biblical. At one point the tension got so bad I just about went crazy with it, as reflected by a now-deleted blog post. But I settled down after that, content to trust God despite the confusion.

This all changed a few months ago when I discovered Evangelical Calvinism. Drawing from a particular stream of Calvinist tradition in Scotland, the Scots Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, Karl Barth, John Calvin, and Thomas Torrance, Evangelical Calvinism brought fresh perspective, with robustly Biblical and Christ-centered answers (and questions!) that changed everything.

I will not explain all of the differences between Evangelical Calvinism (hereon “EC”) and classical, TULIP Calvinism (hereon “TC”) here. This will be a multi-part series. For this point I will go ahead and give quick, basic, misleading answers to the immediate questions people ask. No, within EC I do not believe in double predestination, irresistible grace, limited atonement, or that God decides every future human choice of sin and evil. TC does affirm all of these points, but I have left them behind now because of a beautiful and Biblical theology that still remains in the historical Calvinist tradition. We may not agree with TC on the “five points on Calvinism” and other things, but EC still originates with Calvinist history and gives weight to John Calvin (on different subjects than TC usually does), so we keep the word “Calvinist.” EC focuses mostly on union with Christ—that we are somehow “in Christ” and it changes us—and the relation of the Triune God with humanity through Jesus instead of issues like predestination and decrees.

I only say all this because several people I’ve mentioned EC to recently have asked what it is all about and how it is different from TC. Well, that’s a long story, so I decided I might as well answer everything in detail through a series of blog posts. Until the next one! Semper reformanda!

I'm 22. I'm married with a toddler and a newborn. love Jesus Christ. I grew up a Southern Baptist and now situate myself within Evangelical Calvinism (which isn't TULIP!). I also draw substantially from N. T. Wright, Peter Leithart, and Alastair Roberts. I go to the Baptist College of Florida. I'm also a bit nerdy.