November 30, 2020

Once Upon A Time, An Arminian Put An ESV Study Bible Post On His Blog….

…and the resulting train wreck is there for you to read in the comments thread. Arminian Today Blog placed the ESV Study Bible video on their site and gave a plug for the Bible. Sounds safe…right?

What follows is a study in why I’m not a Calvinist anymore, and it should be funny…but it’s hard to laugh after a while. These are real people. Their mother must be so proud.

You can call it “cage phase” or “personality disorder,” but there’s something at work here that you see in a lot of theology loving believers. It’s called “totally missing the point of human conversation.”

And just in case, Charles, I won’t be posting your comments here 🙂


  1. 4 For while one saith, I am of (Calvin); and another, I am of (Arminius); are ye not carnal?
    5 Who then is Calvin, and who is Arminius, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Arminius watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
    1 Cor 3:4-7 (KJV)

    11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Calvin,” or “I follow Arminius,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Calvin crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Arminius?
    1 Cor 1:11-13 (ESV)

    Folks like this are the reason I don’t like discussing theology sometimes. And yes, protests to the contrary notwithstanding, it does seem to be a common trait of Calvinists. I don’t know where the idea developed that you have to believe EXACTLY like they do or your not saved but I get really tired of hearing it.

    I won’t even go into the logical problems with God: Micromanager. 🙂


  2. I think I remember Mike Horton saying (sarcastically) something to the affect of: it is only the Calvinists who can be proud of Total Depravity.

  3. To all Calvinists: You may not like it, but many people have encountered someone like Charlie and been left wondering why the Calvinists are so angry. If Charlie doesn’t represent you, get on the Arminian Today Blog and say so.

  4. I want to reply to my good friend Steve in Toronto.

    >I think your “front paging” nuts like ‘Charles’ is a bad idea. You are in danger of creating an unfair image of Calvinists as a bunch of raving loons.

    I rise to my own defense! (Point well taken, and I have given it serious thought.)

    1. I don’t believe “Calvinist” is a label that automatically drags in everyone who is reformed. I know that sounds a bit lame, but clearly Charles isn’t representing any church or denom. He’s a one man show.

    And he’s not a loon. He’s a bright boy doing an imitation of a reformed apologist I could name.

    So I want to plead innocent on implicating the PCA, etc. They have their own loons, as do Baptists, Lifeway, Charismatics, Catholics, etc. I do cover evangelicalism. 🙂

    2. Calvinists aren’t going to be defined by me putting out one example of a guy with a personality disorder. The issue that will be raised will be “How much does a guy with a personality disorder define me as a Calvinist? (If I am one.)

    3. When I publicly renounced Calvinism, I made it plain that I wasn’t moving out of the house because of the house or everyone in it, but because of how certain people in the house were viewed by others.

    I could cite specific examples, but I’ll be general. I think that high profile reformed voices have to speak to what is going on there with Charles. Several have. More need to. But the fact is that we still have reformed blogs visited by many readers of this comment who have Ken Silva on their blogroll. Why? Because he performs a “service” that many other reformed people want done, but don’t want to do.

    4. Back when I wrote in protest of a reformed pundit Paul Proctor calling the death of emerging pastor Kyle Lake a judgement from God on the emerging church, I learned that people like Proctor will be protected as Calvinists before they will be called out as embarrassments and detriments. This continues to happen, even with some moderated comments on this thread.

    That’s why the discussion needs to happen. There ARE so many Calvinists who don’t follow Charles, but those who do seem to have a magnified influence because it goes largely unanswered.



  5. stan in san diego says


    You are exactly right on the money. We’ve learned nothing in the last 400 years this argument has been boiling, let alone the 1950 years since Paul penned these words. I won’t discuss this anymore nor do I nor will I ever use the C or A words. I was raised in the Christian & Missionary Alliance and had by the age of 3 memorized both John 3:16 and the little song “Jesus Loves Me.” After Bible college and the pastorate, that is as far as my theology now takes me. In my work in Cambodia, that is all I need.

  6. Clarification to JonXlin: I did not mean to say that Calvinism attracts those of strong intellect, or that they are smarter than those in other traditions. My intent was to say that Calvinism tends to attract those who take an INTELLECTUAL APPROACH to the Bible and theology, who take the analytical tack, who enjoy the competitive thrill of the argument, who approach these matters like Scribes and Pharisees–in other words, lawyers.

    We need these kinds of people in the Body of Christ. Their gifts are often profound. However, strengths may be misused and tear down rather than edify.

  7. After reading about 10 of the posts in response to the link I had to quit.

    I wonder if Calvinists are going to become ESV only believers now.

  8. I am not smart enough to be a Calvinist.

    But I do see the dichotomy that is referenced on this blog. The Calvinist doctrine should produce people who are the humblest and most graceful, deeply thankful for God’s unmerited favor. Incidentally, the doctrine does indeed produce such people but they don’t bluster much in public and they don’t fill up blog comments.

    Unfortunately Calvinists are also arrogant argumentative lawyers who function without a shred of compassion, perpetually angry and looking for a fight. They seem to have fallen for the power of the logic and forgotten the broken savior and loving God that makes it possible.

    Personally I think the problem is a human condition, not a Calvinist one.

  9. Steve in Toronto says

    Hello Michael

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my post. I think you’re on to something with your distinction between Calvinism and Reformed thinking. As far as I can tell there are at least three strains of Calvinist/Reformed thinking in North America: Contenental Kyperism, Puritanism and a kind of Scottish Presbyterianism that seem to be rooted in the commonsense philosophical tradition. They all have virtues and vices and any case I don’t really have the time or expertise to discuss their fine points here. I will say however that the kind of inflamed Hyper Calvinism that our friend Charles demonstrated is an almost purely internet phenomena. I have never heard any thing like this from a reformed pulpit and very rarely from the pew. I would hate to think that a disillusioned main stream evangelical would shy away from visiting your average PCA or CRC church for fear of running into Charles and his kin. The fact is they are mercifully rare on the ground.
    That being said there are some very real problems with main stream evangelical reformed thinking. You are right to call attention to the way that the Complementation tail is waging the Trinitarian Dog in some circles. And although I don’t think you have talked about it on your site I am convinced that the growing influence of Van Till’s Presupposition apologetics and epistemology will do lasting damage to the cause of Christ inside and outside the academy.
    I guess what I really want to say is that your best when you are punching above your weight. Leave the small fry like Charles alone (he isn’t listening to you anyway- I am not sure he listens to anyone) and concentrate your fire on the Big Game (the John Pipers, Al Molers and Mark Driscoll of the world*)

    God Bless

    Steve in Toronto

    * These are all fine Christian Men but in different ways there Theology/messages have become unbalanced

  10. My gut reaction to reading/skimming through that whole exchange was to whip off a satirical tirade that made use of Desert Storm and a new twist on “shock and awe”. But as I read on Adrian Warnock’s blog, it would be better to go get a cup of coffee and let the Holy Spirit call you back from the brink. So . . .

    What I came away with is how careful those of us who have recently discovered R.C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, and Clvn need to be about not letting knowledge puff up, or make us contentious and offensive. As others have said, the doctrines of total depravity and election should have a humbling effect. Evangelicals can so easily be offensive when “witnessing” to outsiders, Calvinists can be so obnoxious when “witnessing” to insiders… I’m more and more thankful that our Lord is gracious to us, even when we’re not.

    Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” for today is an encouraging and comforting reminder of how an Almighty, Sovereign God is the one who will ultimately bring us to perfection and fulfill the real desire of our hearts – to be pleasing to him.

    Editorial note: in the churches I grew up in, “Clvn” was almost a four-letter word…

  11. One quick follow-up. Some of you were wondering about Charles and speculating about him. So, I simply clicked on his name in the original blog and he has allowed his profile to be public. He has an M.Div. degree and is a pastor at a church. Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best.

  12. It’s par for the course. There are a lot of kooks, quacks, and the full range of assorted nuts out there. They’re in every church, and they have an internet connection.

  13. Fr. Ernesto, somehow I doubt that a guy demonstrating an almost total absence of sapience and with such a shallow affect would make for “the best” kind of pastor. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my moral and spiritual leaders to have at least a basic grasp of what human beings are and how they understand things.

  14. Hey, I learned a new word today “Arminian”. Well, I’ll be. Can’t really keep track of the old big name denominations let alone the offshoots and their doctrines. Makes my brain hurt.

  15. Sorry, just realized that my comment added nothing whatsoever to the discussion. Just typed and pressed submit before giving it any thought.

  16. Oh. My. Word. Somebody introduce Charles to the joys of decaf.

  17. I am currently reading Roger Olson’s “The Story of Christian Theology” and his chapter on Fundamentalism. He talks about how this “reaction” was more or less “ecumenical” at first and then went off the deep end with the focus on “distinctives” that ended up severely dividing the movement and sending it to the fringe groups.

    Unfortuantely, I see a lot of this in the extreme elements of Calvinism where the “fringe” elements tend to define the movement. However, at another point I see a lot of reinforcement of the fringe by the mainstream of Calvinism/Reformed Theologians by always proclaiming the destructive qualities of the “semi-pelegians” while also claiming Arminians as friends in Christ.

    I tell Calvinists of this extreme nature who claim the essential nature of Calvinist soteriology to make it an essential to the point of cutting off fellowship from 70% of other Evangelicals. If you have the ulitimate “truth” of the perfect perspecuity of Scripture on this item, then make yourself the true body of Christ.

    p.s. I lost a relationship over this issue. My g/f became a Calvinist and all we did was fight about this issue while she sought to convert all our Christian freinds to her new found revelation. Sad but true.

  18. Christopher Lake says


    Over at the Arminian Today blog, I have introduced myself to Charlie Ray as a Reformed Baptist Christian. I have also asked him some pointed, soul-searching questions. Thus far, he has refused to answer and has questioned whether I am “really” Reformed. 🙂 I smile, but in reality, it is sad…

  19. I’ve had to repent for my militant calvinism. and when I did, I realize that my militancy had been a substitute for actual faith. in straining the gnat of biblical theology I swallowed the camel of a loud mouth.

    Warfield said that Calvinism is Christianity on its knees. I’m trying.

  20. Vangelicmonk, don’t get mad, but I laughed when I read you saying you lost a girlfriend to the One True Faith – Calvinism.

    I know that had to be rough and I feel for you, but wow.

  21. Christopher Lake says

    Well, after our *many* back-and-forth interactions, through comments on the aforementioned blog, Charlie seems to be *possibly* admitting that he *might* have been wrong in how he conversed with some of the Arminians (and other Reformed believers, such as myself) on the blog.

    Michael, I think that one of the main reasons many self-proclaimed “Calvinists” come across as arrogant and mean-spirited is that they don’t truly understand and think through the practical *implications* of Calvinism for actual application in their lives… which leads me to wonder how well they even understand Calvinism, as a Biblical and systematically theological explanation of God’s ways with fallen humanity.

  22. It seems to me that many of the argumentative Calvinists of today are like the fundamental, independent Baptists of 30-40 years ago. At the time they were a growing, surging movement. But somewhere along the line, their passion for personal evangelism and holiness became sublimated to their obsession with hair length, movies, non-Christian music, and a general attack on much of modern culture. They quickly became a caricature, a declining subculture with little influence outside its own ranks.

    The same thing may happen to many contemporary Calvinists if they continue their obsession with in-house debates, a constant hunt for error anywhere they find it, and a suspicion of anything that’s “non-Calvinist”. I know not all Calvinists are like this, but I have been around them enough to see this nit-picking attitude at work.

  23. Seems this whole silly mess could be avoided if we focused on Him. Why do argue about what or who follows Calvin, or Calvin and Hobbs, or Caner or whoever. I was brought up to follow Christ. My parents “theology”, dad’s a preacher, gave rise to my understanding and disallusion. That in turn gave rise to seeking Him that they said they followed. Didn’t find Him in a church or systimatized way of thought, but in actually taking time to try and communicate directly. That led me to a church family, strangely the one I left. But without all the noise of this line of thought is better than one. Just pure unadultered Him.

  24. Christopher Lake says


    I follow Christ, very imperfectly. So did John Calvin, very imperfectly. I don’t embrace anything in John Calvin’s theology because of the man. I embrace what is true in his theology because I found it in the Bible before I ever read any of Calvin’s works.

    I don’t like the word “Calvinist.” I don’t follow Calvin, even though I think that his basic theology is straight from the Scriptures and faithful to them. I am a Christian (follower of Christ alone) who holds to the Biblical theology of the Protestant Reformation. In that light, “Reformed Christian” is much more accurate than “Calvinist.” I wish that the term would be retired.

  25. The Hymns of Charles Wesley and the biblical commentary of John Wesley are the main reasons why I can no longer see any reason for identifying as a Calvinist. On the other hand, the Wesleys are also one of the reasons I am beginning to wonder why I’m still a protestant. As Stanley Hauerwas said – nearly 20 years ago – “Methodists indeed are even more Catholic than the Anglicans who gave us birth since Wesley, of blessed memory, held to the Eastern fathers in a more determinative way than did any of the Western churches — Protestant or Catholic.”

    And add to that the incomprehensible fact that I am – and have been for more than ten years – a Baptist.

    Go figure!

  26. I know a lot of Calvinists who wish their brothers (and it usually is brothers) didn’t spout like that, but most of them honestly can’t see what about Calvinism draws people like that and encourages them. I remember Piper awhile back posted a piece claiming it was the intellectual superiority of Calvinism that attracted people like that — which is a Herculean spin but completely out of touch with what God-loving scholars act like.

    No, I’m convinced that it’s a certain strain of Calvinism’s obsession with God’s power / sovereignty and their belief in God’s sheer ruthlessness toward the non-elect that draws people like that and gives them a perceived license to be ruthless to the non-Calvinist.

    Take care & God bless

  27. What cracks me up is that Charles’s blog is named “Reasonable Christian”.

    Me-thinks Charles doesn’t understand the term “reasonable”.

  28. Christopher Lake says

    Weekend Fisher,

    I am Reformed in my theology (I will not use the “C” word, as there is too much baggage with it), because I believe that Reformed theology is most faithful to the Bible’s teaching. I am saddened and embarrassed when I hear people such as Charlie, who believe that God has no love at all for the non-elect. I have tried to reason with him on this subject, showing from Matthew 5:42-48 that God *does* clearly love the non-elect.

    For my efforts, Charlie has accused me of “being closer to Amyraldianism (four-point Calvinism, which he thinks is no Calvinism at all) or Arminianism than to Calvinism.” Again, I’m a Reformed Christian– I don’t even like to use the word “Calvinist!” Charlie also throws around the term “heresy” very carelessly.

    Such people are prone to a kind of theological paranoia, constantly on the hunt for even any *possible* error in a Christian’s thinking. If you don’t subscribe to their brand of hyper-Calvinism, you are either a heretic or on the very edge of heresy.

    How refreshing, in comparison, is Ray Ortlund, Jr.’s loving, open-hearted Reformed theology which embraces all Christians as brothers and sisters, not only those of Reformed beliefs. He writes about his convictions on his blog, “Christ Is Deeper Still, under the entry, “Truly Reformed”– one of the best, warmest blog posts I have ever read. I tried to post a link here, but it wouldn’t work.

  29. Christopher Lake says

    Sorry, I meant Matthew 5:43-48.

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  31. Nightturkey says

    No fair – this was posted under “Laugh or Else” – and instead I find myself alternately weeping over the sometimes-injurious divides that still exist in the Body of Christ and rejoicing over the fact that this blog (and others like it) shows that there are those who haven’t given up hope that the Body will heal and are trying very hard to be part of the healing process. But laughing? Nope. So I guess I’m “else-ing”.