10 Misuses of Calvinist Theology

Good Calvinists have always understood that God is sovereign. But sometimes the doctrine of God’s sovereignty can be used to defend all sorts of silly ideas. Here are 10 of the dumbest misuses of what it means for God to be sovereign:

1. God’s sovereign so I don’t have to pray like crazy for my friend/neighbour/kids/spouse etc. Yes, yes you do.
2. God’s sovereign so I don’t have to make the most of every opportunity to witness to my friend/neighbour/kids/spouse etc. Yes, yes you do.
3. God’s sovereign so I couldn’t help that I sinned. Yes, yes you could.
4. God’s sovereign so I don’t have to work hard at my preaching. Yes, yes you do.
5. God’s sovereign so it’s not my fault my ministry is small and ineffective. Yes, yes it could well be.
6. Strategy and leadership shows you don’t trust in God’s sovereignty. No, no it doesn’t.
7. A pension or savings show you don’t trust in God’s sovereignty. No, no it doesn’t.
8. Being an overseas missionary or pioneer planter shows you really trust in God’s sovereignty. Nope, not necessarily.
9. God’s sovereign so I can avoid medical intervention. No, not really.
10. God’s sovereignty means we should never need to ask for money or stuff. No, no it doesn’t.

All of the above are examples not of Calvinistic theology but hyper-Calvinistic theology – Calvinism gone mad and pushed to a logical extreme which Calvin never intended. Calvin understood the paradox between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility – a paradox we’re not called to neatly resolve. Calvin understood that God uses instrumental means to achieve his ends – means like prayer, people, evangelism, medication, skill, money etc. So beware of using Calvinistic theology to justify mediocrity – it wouldn’t impress Calvin and it doesn’t impress God. [now re-read and imagine Mr T. saying it]

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2 thoughts on “10 Misuses of Calvinist Theology

  1. Hi Martin, this is so good, beautifully put, and concise too! Many years ago I read ‘Spurgeon and the Hyper-Calvinists’ which makes this same point.
    Thanks for such a helpful post, sometimes it can appear that Calvinism means we simply sit back and allow ourselves to become passive. But no, no we don’t 😉

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