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Calvinism’s Proof Texts Examined

Pastor David Cloud

February 15, 2006 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) –

In this report we analyze the chief proof texts used to support the doctrines of TULIP Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints. We have decided not to deal with the last point of TULIP theology because it is defined in several different ways and because if it means simply that the saved cannot be lost, then we agree with it.

I know by experience that a man who is staunchly committed to “sovereign grace” theology will not accept my interpretation of the following passages. I have dialogued with many committed Calvinists and I have learned that they have an answer for everything and they always, always, always complain that the non-Calvinist does not understand Calvinism. One can study Calvinism deeply, can even read Calvin’s Institutes of Religion and can quote directly from their own writings, but if such a one remains a non-Calvinist he will always be charged with misunderstanding and misrepresenting Calvinism.

I wrote this article for the many believers today who are being newly subjected to Calvinism. This is occurring widely in fundamental Baptist circles. Many churches that were established as non-Calvinist assemblies and that have non-Calvinist doctrinal statements are being infiltrated by and in some cases taken over by Calvinists.

My only request is that the Christian reader exercise his God-given right to “private interpretation.” That means that the believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit as his spiritual Guide and he can know the truth. “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 Jn. 2:27). Thus, we must “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) and search “the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (Jn. 7:17).


The foundational error of Calvinism is to assign a definition to divine “sovereignty” (a word that nowhere appears in Scripture but that is used in reference to God’s Kingly omnipotence) that makes it impossible for man to have a choice in salvation, even though the Bible says that he does, and then building upon that faulty foundation.

Arthur Pink begins his book “The Sovereignty of God” with three chapters on “God’s Sovereignty.” After citing the following key verses such as Eph. 1:11, which says that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, he concludes with these words: “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. … No revolving world, no shining of star, no storm, no creature moves, no actions of men, no errands can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed” (p. 46).

In fact, the verses that Pink cites to prove this conclusion do no such thing, and that is what the child of God must be careful about when examining theology. Proper Bible interpretation allows the words of Scripture to speak for themselves rather than forcing one’s theology into them.

To say that God overrules the will of devils and sinners so that His overarching divine will and program is always ultimately accomplished is not the same as saying that devils and sinners have no effective will and that God actually purposes everything that they do. For God to allow something evil and something contrary to His will and then to work that thing into His overall program for the ages so that “all things work together for good” is not the same as purposing it.

Let’s examine Calvinism’s chief proof texts on God’s “sovereignty”:

Ephesians 1:11 — “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

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Categories: Calvinism Refuted
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