My Theological Journey

A few things about me and how this blog came into being.

I grew up in a denomination whose theology was Arminian. I did not really understand the distinction until I went to college. While at Bible college I became friends with some Calvinist believers. Every now and then we would discuss Calvinism, but it was never very serious and had no real affect on our relationships. I graduated from college and began working in the childcare industry for many years. Through this experience I got involved in WyldLife (the Junior High version of YoungLife). Because of my Biblical training and experience working with youth, the ministry really clicked for me.

One of the leaders asked me to begin a teaching course for those kids who wanted to get more serious about their faith. It was called “Campaigners”. I was thrilled. I went to his home to discuss this new aspect of the ministry. He had a three ring binder with some teaching material in it. He said it was just some ideas, but he thought it was especially important that I teach the kids about eternal security. I told him I was not comfortable teaching about eternal security as I did not believe it was Biblical. I told him that I would be willing to discuss the doctrine, but would present the alternative view that salvation was conditional, and let the kids decide based on their own Biblical study. I also suggested that he could teach eternal security and I would just focus on other subjects. My co-leader was visibly shocked that I did not believe in eternal security. I left with the binder full of teaching material, believing that he would be satisfied with the alternatives I offered.

At a meeting a few days later all of the leaders got together over breakfast to discuss the new aspect of our ministry. Without saying a word to me, the leader I had met with gave another binder to one of the other co-leaders and told the rest of us that she would be heading up Campaigners. I didn’t say anything about it, but I was stunned by the way the situation was handled. I later discovered that this leader’s parents were instrumental in starting WyldLife in my area, and were members of the committee. They had already “trained” the other co-leaders with the eternal security teaching course that they now wanted us to use to train our Campaigners.

I tried not to think about what happened, but my conscience began to bother me. Over the next few days I struggled in prayer over what to do with the situation. I knew that if I continued in the ministry I would be contributing to indoctrinating these kids with this doctrine even if I was not the one teaching it. I eventually called the director for some direction. He told me that he would handle the situation. What followed was about a year of chaos, tension, and frustration. The leader who initially wanted me to teach Campaigners immediately quit the ministry until the issue was resolved. He cut off all contact with me and ignored my e-mails. His parents sent letters to the President of Young Life, and eventually resigned because he would not support their insistence that eternal security be taught to these young kids. The President did not take a stand on where he stood theologically, but made it clear that there were people from both Arminian and Calvinist perspectives in the ministry. He issued a letter which condemned the manner in which the situation was handled, re-iterated the narrow mission of WyldLife– to lead young people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, and explained that teaching Junior High kids such difficult theological subjects was beyond their capacity to honestly and Biblically evaluate. My co-leader and his parents resigned because for them eternal security was synonymous with the gospel itself.

As a result of this experience I have spent several years studying Calvinist doctrines. I have approached the subject with an open mind and asked God to lead me into his truth. I wanted to know the truth, even if it meant that what I believed was in error. Through this time of study I have become even stronger in my conviction that Arminianism best harmonizes with the overall teaching of Scripture. I respect anyone who seeks God’s truth with an open and honest heart, even if they come to different conclusions regarding important doctrines.

We live in a time where it is becoming increasingly popular to believe that Calvinism is just a nickname for the gospel. Charles Spurgeon once said, “It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” I beg to differ, and the purpose of this blog site is to evaluate Calvinism in the light of Biblical revelation in order to see where it conforms to the gospel and where it does not.

I reject all five points of Calvinism as Calvinists understand them. I reject that total depravity necessitates that one must be regenerated before they can believe. I reject unconditional individual election and reprobation. I reject an atonement made only for those whom God has unconditionally elected to save. I reject the doctrine of inevitable perseverance. You are welcome to disagree, and I look forward to your interaction.

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10 Responses

  1. Ben,

    I could not be more excited that you began this blog! I will list it on mine for others to see and log onto.

    Perseverance is my only weakness, though I am still studying the subject more for myself. I believe the warnings in Scripture are there for serious reasons, so if it is impossible for anyone to “fall away” from the faith, then how do we explain all of the warnings and those who actually did fall away?

    I look forward to reading your blog daily.

    May God richly bless your life.

    Billy

  2. Hey Billy,

    I respect your openness to correction. I will be posting quite a bit on the study of perseverance. I hope that it will help you as you continue to struggle with where you stand on this important issue. I would adopt unconditional eternal security in a second if I believed it was Biblical. Who wouldn’t want to believe it? That is part of the difficulty in convincing people that it is at odds with Biblical revelation. It is often much more of an emotional and psychological issue than a theological one. Thanks again for the support.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. This is cool stuff and I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in fighting Calvinism

  4. Ben, thanks for stopping by my blog. TO be honest, although I am no longer a Calvinist, I do still believe in eternal security – but likely not the way you’d imagine. I don’t really want to debate it, as it is not an area the Lord is currently “pressing me” to become absolutely certain on, if I am wrong, He will correct me, He always does! For now I am simply trying to recover from spiritual abuse, and I do think the doctrines of Calvinism played a huge part in that, especially total depravity and predestination.

    That being said, I recently discovered that all the “proof texts” I had read on predestination are in fact in the context of SANCTIFICATION, not salvation. Big difference. So it alctually IS predestination in this sense that gives me assurance of my salvation, if that makes sense. Not because I was chosen, etc..but simply based on the character of God Himself and my response to Him in faith.

    thanks again, and keep pressing on for truth! – Juli

  5. Juli,

    Thanks for stopping by. If you ever do feel that you want to look further into why many (like myself) reject eternal security, I would love for you to check out my series on the subject.

    I do agree that most election/predestination passages have primary reference to sanctification (e.g. being conformed to the image of Christ), but I would say that sanctification is conditioned on being in Christ just as election is, and I think Scripture is clear that we can abandon the faith (which connects us to Christ) and be cut off from Christ- the source of all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3-4 cf. John 15:5-6).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  6. how do we become ”un -born again”? i do believe we can’t but we can forgo all our inheritance , crowns etc. and have ot maybe stand at the door of heaven so to speak

  7. good convo

  8. “un-born again” is a bizarre way to put it. Just as we pass from death to spiritual life (regeneration) through faith, so can we pass from spiritual life back to spiritual death through unbelief. New spiritual life is found in Christ. We are joined to Him through faith, but we can be cut off if we fail to remain in Him (John 15). One who has been born again through union with Christ can wither and die if that person is cut off from the only source of spiritual life.

  9. i guess you can believe that- i’m not sure on this issue but i still want to be as holy and following God anyway- thx

  10. barbbfly,

    Were you born? Will you someday die? When you do die, does that mean you will be “unborn”?

    You say,

    i guess you can believe that

    But why do I believe it? I believe it because that is what Scripture plainly teaches in my opinion, and I gave you some Scriptures to back that up. If you have the time, and you are willing to explore and think through this issue, please check out my 13 part series on the subject. Here is the first link (below). At the end of each post is a link to the next post in the series.

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/perseverance-of-the-saints-part-1-definitions/

    May God bless you and lead you into His truth as you continue to study this issue.

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