Calvinist Heretics and Their Heretical Heresies

Burn her

Now that all of my Reformed friends are up in arms, let’s talk.

This post is the result of a conversation I saw the other day in which a group of Calvinists (I presume, at any rate) were discussing the false teaching and heresy of Arminianism.

Not being a Calvinist I took umbrage at the conversation. There is much to be said for Reformed theology. I very much appreciate its view of the supremacy and sovereignty of God. Too often Xians have such a small view of God and try to live life as though we ourselves are sovereign. We aren’t.

While I wouldn’t call myself a hard-core Arminian, I do believe that God’s initial action towards humanity requires a human response. In that sense, we are free to decide to respond positively towards God in faith or we can choose to reject the Gospel.

The biggest problem I had with the conversation I saw was the fact that these Xian brothers were labeling a position contrary to theirs as false teaching and possibly heresy. This was disheartening, for I have never thought of my Reformed friends as heretics or false teachers – simply people who disagree on some points of Xian theology.

We can still join together as Credal Xians and proclaim:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting.

But labeling me, a pastor who leans towards Arminianism, a false teacher and heretic, removes me from the shared faith we proclaim in our creeds. It creates a barrier between good Xians who share a common core belief. I still preach Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected. I still preach Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

We are often too quick to label anything that disagrees with us as heresy. We then quickly set up walls to separate ourselves from those who disagree with us. What I find humorous is that the Greek word for heresy (hairesis) developed in the Bible to mean schism or faction. Thus the Apostle Paul seems to suggest that a heretic is a person who is divisive or factious (see Titus 3:10).

So the Calvinists who seek to be divisive are being heretics…in the Pauline sense, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All said and done, I have no beef with Reformed Xians. I have found them to be good people who take faith seriously. But, while some people fear the word ecumenical, to some degree there needs to be leeway for us to disagree on elements of faith and theology while still holding to the essential core of Christian doctrine.

Because, to someone else, we’re all heretics in one way or another.


12 thoughts on “Calvinist Heretics and Their Heretical Heresies

    • As long as we agree on the Primary Articles of Faith we can both be orthodox. The Secondary Articles are still very important and can speak volumes as to how we understand the Primary Articles of Faith. There is room for disagreement here, but not much. The Tertiary things are no cause for division and are often debated among the orthodox. A heretic must show that he is a heretic in the Primary things and be confirmed as a formal heretic and not a material heretic. There are heretics of both Reformed and Arminianism theologies. The Primary things like soteriology, the Trinity, Deity of Christ and so on must be agreed upon.

  1. I just want to point out that not all Calvinists (in that conversation, even) believe Arminianism to be heresy. As a Calvinist, I think Arminians are wrong on some points (as Arminians believe about me, otherwise they’d be Calvinists ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but I have no problem attending an Arminian church and calling those who believe in the biblical Jesus my brothers and sisters in the faith, even if they hold to Arminian teachings. I have also seen various blogs that say that Calvinists are heretics who drag others away from Christianity and need to be fought against, so this is not a one-direction issue.

  2. Once again, a direct challenge from the Satirist calling people to a balanced approach to the Gospel. Well done, my friend. I tend to lean more Calvinist in my views, but I would not consider myself a staunch Calvinist. I think that there are numerous verses in the OT saturated in Calvinist thought, but the NT really calls on people to make a personal choice in accepting salvation. This is not to say that both Testaments do not have both schools of thought throughout because they do. I guess we’ll all find out the truth one day.

    • Agreed – I also see how people can come to a “biblical” interpretation to support either side. I had no idea you were more Calvinist – I’ll have to limit my interactions with you now ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I totally agree. To call Arminianism a heresy is going way too far. People who say that obviously don’t know what they mean when they say “heresy”.

    At the same time, many tend to call “hyper Arminianism” a heresy due to how close it is to Pelagianism (the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid) WHICH IS A HERESY, officially denounced in the councils.

    That said, I think many Calvinist (sadly) lack nuance and often over-generalize. Basic Arminianism isn’t heresy. I find it error, but nothing damnable or even anything to be called out over. You’re completely right about not being divisive on these things. I wrote about that here:

    Keep up the great writing!

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