Dropping the name “Calvinism”

Mention the word “Calvinist” in any given church building and you have at least a 50/50 chance of inciting a riot. The mere mention of that word has the potential to spark such abject panic that church goers may flee into the streets rending their garments asunder — figuratively speaking, of course.

There are so many misunderstandings and false assumptions about the meaning of the word “Calvinism” that it is necessary to define the term thoroughly any time you use it. Even then you run the risk of the aforementioned panic. The most popular misunderstanding about “Calvinism” is that those who subscribe to the doctrines labeled as such are somehow followers of the Reformer John Calvin.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, regarded as one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time, was himself a staunch Calvinist. Yet, he offered some sound advice with regard to the use of the term…

  • “That doctrine which is called “Calvinism” did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth.”
  • “Now, there are certain doctrines commonly called Calvinistic (but which ought never to have been called by such a name, for they are simply Christian doctrines) which I think commend themselves to the minds of all thoughtful persons, for this reason mainly, that they do ascribe to God everything.”
  • “I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Recently another highly respected preacher, John Piper, has offered similar advice. Rather than adopt the label “Calvinist” — which will almost certainly be misunderstood — simply tell people what you believe.

And support your beliefs from Scripture.

About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

2 Responses to Dropping the name “Calvinism”

  1. Brian says:

    I like your post.Though, I am not “Calvinist.” I am “Wesleyan.”

  2. Frank says:

    Sounds just like Paul or Apollos to me who ever he is.

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