Why We No Longer Call Ourselves "Reformed" or "Calvinists"

As most of you know, we used to identify ourselves as "Reformed" and "Calvinists." We used these terms in the general sense to mean that we believed in the doctrines of grace, sometimes known by the acrostic TULIP: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. But as we have come to think more about these labels and what they convey (even unintentionally), we have decided that it is more harmful than helpful to use these labels. And with some new information we have found, the label "Calvinist" is actually not even consistent with a belief in the doctrines of grace.

"Reformed." The name "Reformed" comes from the "Protestant Reformation" and the "Reformers" who led it. Even before the more well-known "Reformation" of Luther and Calvin, there were other "Reformers" before this. But what does the word "reform" mean? It means "to improve by change." The "Reformation" sought to improve the Roman Catholic Whore Church, to correct it, to modify it, to alter it - to reform it. This is absolutely contradictory to what God commands in His Word. God's Word says, "Because of this, 'come out from among them' 'and be separated,' says [the] Lord, 'and do not touch [the] unclean thing,' and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17). The "Reformed" mindset would change 2 Corinthians 6:17 to say, "Because of this, 'reform them' says the Lord, 'and try to change the unclean thing into the clean thing,' and I will receive you." God does not command His people to reform the assembly of unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness, Belial, and idols; He commands His people to COME OUT and BE SEPARATED from them and to NOT TOUCH THEM. Coming out and separating and not touching is quite a different thing than reforming. If one is in a rotten house, coming totally out of that house and living somewhere else is quite a different thing than attempting to rehabilitate the house while continuing to live in it.

God's word also says, "And I heard another voice out of Heaven saying, My people, come out of her, that you may not share in her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4). The "Reformed" mindset would change Revelation 18:4 to say, "And I heard another voice out of Heaven saying, My people, reform her, rebuke her for her sins while remaining in Babylon to try to get it back on the right path." God does not command His people to reform Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth; He commands His people to COME OUT of her. And what of those who do not come out of her? They are partakers in her sins and will be partakers of her judgment. As 2 John 11 says, the one who speaks peace to one bringing a false gospel is a partaker - a sharer - in the evil deeds of the one bringing a false gospel.

Now anyone familiar with the Roman Catholic Whore Church knows that well before the "Reformation," there was no true gospel there. They had been promulgating the devil's doctrine of salvation conditioned on the sinner for a long, long time. The Roman Catholic Whore Church was absolutely corrupt, through and through. False doctrine reigned. Idolatry, blasphemy, murder, fornication, and all manner of evil was the norm. This was truly a haven of harlots, a synagogue of Satan, a dwelling place of demons, a filthy, unclean, unholy entity if ever there was one, and it continues to be so today. This is not something that is to be reformed. It is to be abhorred, shunned, rejected, eschewed, repudiated, renounced, and forsaken. "COME OUT," God says. God does NOT say "reform."

Today, we have people who are advocating for a "modern reformation." What this means to most is that the "church" of today (meaning all professing Christians, to them) is in need of a "reformation" like in the days of Luther and Calvin. This call for "reformation" is mostly coming from people who profess to believe the doctrines of grace (and who call themselves "Reformed" or "Calvinists"). What they do not realize is that the vast majority of professing Christian churches and professing Christians are just as much part of the Great Whore as the Roman Catholics are. At the same time they are calling for "Reformation," they are calling those who believe a false gospel their brothers in Christ. Unless God saves them and shows them that these synagogues of Satan are full of evil people, their supposed "Reformation" is just an attempt to make unregenerate Arminians into unregenerate Calvinists.If God regenerates someone who has been in a false church (whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, Arminian or Calvinist, Baptist or Presbyterian or Independent), what is that person to do? As soon as it is known that this church preaches or tolerates a false gospel, that person is to LEAVE. He is not to stay and try to reform the church. He may witness to his former fellow churchgoers, he may expose the church and its doctrines as false, but he is not to be a part of that church any more. If he stays in that church, indicating that this church is a true church and preaches true doctrine and that his fellow church-goers are his brothers and sisters in Christ, then he is a participant in - a sharer in - their sins.

Think of this analogy: Suppose a man is a member of a homosexual advocacy group. Now suppose that this man is regenerated by God. Will this man stay a part of the homosexual advocacy group that promotes and defends the homosexual lifestyle? Will he try to reform it into a Christian group? Of course not. He will COME OUT of it and REPUDIATE it. So it is with someone who is a member of a synagogue of Satan. False gospel doctrine is just as horrific, just as disgusting, just as repulsive, just as vile, just as evil, just as wicked as homosexuality. In fact, Jesus said that it would be more tolerant for the Sodomites in Judgment Day than for those who reject the true gospel (Matthew 10:14-15).

Whereas before, we called ourselves "Reformed" to show that we believe the doctrines of grace, we now realize that there is too much more that is implied in this word to justify its use to identify true Christians.

"Calvinist." The name "Calvinist" comes from the name of the most famous "Reformer," John Calvin. Calvin's name is used in one of the nicknames for the doctrines of grace, which is the "Five Points of Calvinism." The "Five Points of Calvinism" were formulated in response to the "Five Points of Arminianism," named after James Arminius. Therein lies one of the problems. To counter the doctrines of a man and his followers, the coiners of the name "Calvinism" used a name that implies the very same thing as "Arminianism," which is that the doctrines were of a man and his followers. When a man's name is attached to a set of doctrines, then it is implied that the doctrines originated with this man. Thus, the whole "Calvinism-Arminianism" controversy becomes merely one in which opinions of man are debated: "Calvinism" emphasizes the sovereignty of God, while "Arminianism" emphasizes the responsibility of man, all within the pale of true Christianity. As the God-hater A.A. Hodge said, "The difference between the best of either class is one of emphasis rather than of essential principle." People say, "I am of the Calvinist (or Reformed) persuasion (or tradition)." (See the Heterodoxy Hall of Shame in Volume 3, Number 1.) It becomes nothing more than a persuasion, an opinion, an inclination, a leaning, based on the doctrines of a man and his followers. The logical conclusion of such thinking is that the "Calvinism-Arminianism" debate is nothing but divisive, partisan bickering between Christians over non-essential doctrine. Since they both consider the other to be Christians, then being in separate churches is nothing but schism based on a party spirit. If the "Calvinists" believe that the "Arminians" are their brothers in Christ, then, if they were consistent, they should join the "Arminian" churches. If the universal atonement and free-willism of the "Arminians" is not a vital difference, then separating over such non-essentials is sin. "For when one may say, Truly I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos; are you not fleshly?" (1 Corinthians 3:4).

But for us who are Christians, we do not follow the doctrines of men. That is what the God-hating Pharisees did (Matthew 15:9). We follow the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9). The doctrines known as the "Five Points of Calvinism" did not originate in the sixteenth century with John Calvin or in the seventeenth century with the Canons of Dordt. They are doctrines from the Word of God. They are NOT the "Five Points of Calvinism." The tolerant "Calvinists" can go on bickering with their brothers in Satan, the "Arminians," all the while embracing them as brothers in Christ, but the CHRISTIANS will believe and proclaim the doctrine of CHRIST. Their boast will be in the cross of Christ ALONE, which makes the only difference between salvation and damnation.

Finally, to describe a belief in the doctrines of the name "Calvinism" implies that Calvin believed the doctrines of grace and that those who believe the doctrines of grace believe what Calvin believed. We have recently found out that Calvin did not even believe all of the doctrines of grace. In fact, he did not believe the very heart of the gospel, which is the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ. Needless to say, we were shocked and saddened when we discovered this. But the proofs are incontrovertible. (Note that the proofs below do not merely depend on Calvin's use of the word "world" outside of the context in which he used it, which could be taken many different ways.) Contrary to William Cunningham's statement that "There is not, then, we are persuaded, satisfactory evidence that Calvin held the doctrine of a universal, unlimited, or indefinite atonement" (The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, p. 398), the quotes below cannot be explained in any other way than universal atonement. [It is interesting to note that Cunningham also stated, "Now it is true, that we do not find in Calvin's writings explicit statements as to any limitation in the object of the atonement, or in the number of those for whom Christ died; and no Calvinist, not even Dr. Twisse, the great champion of high Supralapsarianism, has ever denied that there is a sense in which it may be affirmed that Christ died for all men" (p. 396). If we take Cunningham's version of Calvinism - that NO Calvinist has ever denied that there is a sense in which Christ died for everyone without exception - then we are certainly FAR from being Calvinists, as is every Christian.]

The following are quotes from John Calvin, each followed by an explanation of what he was saying. You will find that what he was saying cannot be explained in any other logical way. John Calvin was an unregenerate man when he made these statements. Those "converts" from Roman Catholicism who believed what he said about the atonement were doing nothing more than going from the Roman Catholic Whore Church into the Protestant Whore Church. They were just going from wicked Roman Catholic universal atonement to wicked Protestant universal atonement, from being lost Roman Catholics to being lost Protestants.


"And, indeed, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Christ alone is mentioned, and there he is called Lord. But He means that Christ is denied, when they who had been redeemed by his blood, become again the vassals of the Devil, and thus render void as far as they can that incomparable price." [Commentary on Jude 4]

Calvin is here saying that some of those who were redeemed by the blood of Christ go back to being vassals of the Devil. [These people that Calvin believed were redeemed by the blood of Christ are described in 2 Peter 2 as false teachers who bring in damnable heresies (v. 1), made to be taken and destroyed, who shall utterly perish in their own corruption (v. 12), and cursed children (v. 14), among other things.]

"Also we ought to have good care of those that have been redeemed with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we see souls which have been so precious to God go to perdition, and we make nothing of it, that is to despise the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ." [Sermon on Ephesians 5:11-14]

Calvin is here saying that souls that go to perdition are precious to God, because they have been redeemed with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The four reasons, whereby Paul doth carefully prick forward the pastors to do their duty diligently, because the Lord hath given no small pledge of his love toward the Church in shedding his own blood for it. Whereby it appeareth how precious it is to him; and surely there is nothing which ought more vehemently to urge pastors to do their duty joyfully, than if they consider that the price of the blood of Christ is committed to them. For hereupon it followeth, that unless they take pains in the Church, the lost souls are not only imputed to them, but they be also guilty of sacrilege, because they have profaned the holy blood of the Son of God, and have made the redemption gotten by him to be of none effect, so much as in them lieth. And this is a most cruel offense, if, through our sluggishness, the death of Christ do not only become vile or base, but the fruit thereof be also abolished and perish ..." [Commentary on Acts 20:28]

Calvin is here saying that the lost souls within the church are part of the redemption gotten by Christ, and the fruit of the death of Christ is abolished and perishes when the pastors do not do their duty.

"He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him." [Commentary on Romans 5:18]

Calvin is here saying that although Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, yet all do not receive Him. If he had just said, "Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world," we could have considered the possibility that he could have meant "the whole world of the Jews and Gentiles" or "the whole world of the elect" and not everyone without exception. But he goes on to say that "all do not receive him," which means that he believed that Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, including all who do not receive him.

"True it is that the effect of His death comes not to the whole world. Nevertheless, forasmuch as it is not in us to discern between the righteous and the sinners that go to destruction, but that Jesus Christ has suffered His death and passion as well for them as for us, therefore it behoves us to labour to bring every man to salvation, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be available to them ..." [Sermon CXVI on the Book of Job (31:29-32)]

Calvin is here saying that Jesus Christ has suffered His death and passion for the righteous as well as the sinners that go to destruction. (Note also that Calvin used the term "whole world" to mean everyone without exception.)

"The word many is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for a large number; for he contrasts himself with all others. And in this sense it is used in Romans 5:15, where Paul does not speak of any part of men, but embraces the whole human race." [Commentary on Matthew 20:28]

Calvin is here saying that in Matthew 20:28, the "many" for whom Christ was given as a ransom is not talking about any part of the human race but the whole human race. If he had just said that Christ is a ransom for the whole human race, we might be able to consider the possibility that he did not mean everyone without exception. But he contrasts "part" and "whole," obviously meaning that he believed that Christ was given as a ransom for the whole human race as opposed to just part of the human race.

After finding these quotes, we obviously could not call ourselves Calvinists (although we had already stopped calling ourselves Calvinists before finding these quotes), since we do not believe what Calvin believed regarding the essential gospel doctrine of the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ. Calvin did not believe that the work of Christ secures the salvation of all whom He represented. He did not believe that the work of Christ alone is what makes the only difference between salvation and damnation.

We hope that this article will make others think about what names they attach to themselves, now that the real meaning of some of these names has been put forth. We are not "Reformed." We are not "Calvinists." We are followers of Christ - the true Christ whose atoning blood and imputed righteousness is the only ground of our salvation.



Heterodoxy Hall of Shame