Previously on Valerie Write Now: Part 1.
Step 8: Decide to do a bit of research on the topic of Calvinism before discussing it again. Obviously, your husband has been reading and studying the subject for some time. You need more than whining and pleading to convince him of his error. Since you save everything, go dig up the textbook you used in 12th grade Bible class. You remember the one, The Book of the Revelation Church History: Lives of Great Missionaries and The Cults. First, look up the definition of a “cult” (maybe Calvinism is a cult!). Breathe a sigh of relief when you discover it isn’t. Next, do a search for “Calvin”. Find the page where he is discussed. Notice the acrostic TULIP listed beneath his name. Read it. Gasp. (Sounds really different from what you were taught.) Break out in a cold sweat. Continue reading and find that the people at Abeka Book do not paint John Calvin in a bad light. In fact, they do not warn you anywhere to be on the lookout for this disgusting doctrine. Sit back and try to recall the things you’ve heard preachers say about Calvinism:
“Calvinism is heresy! Nothing will wreck your church like Calvinism!”
“I don’t believe in the TULIP! Or the PANSY or the VIOLET, neither! Stinkin’ doctrine of the TULIP! I got the blood of JESUS! I don’t need the TULIP!”
Hmm…those statements aren’t much help.
Step 9: Decide to hit him with scripture. Clearly, the Bible says many times that whosoever will may come to Christ to drink freely of the living water. (Or something like that.) Gather a list of verses and lay them out to him, one by one. Start with John 3:16. Then Romans 10:13, and 2 Peter 3:9. Search for others.
Listen as he explains each verse, using something called “context”. Argue with him about it. Make him so frustrated that HE goes to bed angry and gives YOU the cold shoulder. Feel satisfied. You’re getting to him. (Good job!)
Step 10: This step could take years. Bring up various scriptures nonchalantly now and then. Discuss them. Ask questions about statements you’ve read about Calvinism, because by now, you’re studying up on it yourself. Ask him how he could take such a renegade position. When he explains that it’s not “renegade”, it’s historical, you are truly shocked.
“Other Baptists have believed this? Like WHO?”
“Spurgeon for one. Then there’s Shubal Stearns, Obadiah Holmes, James Petigru Boyce, John Bunyan, just to name a few.” He says.
Read an article online about how terrible John Calvin was. He wanted to kill Baptists! Ask your husband, “How can you align yourself with him?”
“First of all,” he says with that familiar calmness, “this doctrine isn’t Calvin’s. We’re not sure how it came to bear his name. The TULIP was published 45 years after his death. And I don’t agree with any teaching of man, unless I can find it in the King James Bible.”
This seems satisfactory, but it’s only the beginning of almost a decade of discussion. You decide to keep all of this quiet, and you pray that he will, too. “Closet Calvinist” is what you have come to think of yourself. You listen intently to his preaching, waiting for the church to figure out his beliefs and fire him. Strangely, it doesn’t happen. This is baffling. Of course, he stays closely to the Scripture in all of his preaching, so maybe that’s why.
Maybe this really is in the Bible?
Step 11: Notice that you are gradually inching your way toward agreeing with him. But, you’re stubborn, so you don’t give in easily. Recall that you tried many times to be “saved” by praying the sinner’s prayer as a child. Nothing happened. You felt no peace, no joy, nothing. Then, one day, the “light” came on! Could that have been the “I” – Irresistible Grace? Shake your head no. But think about it.
Listen as your husband has conversations with various pastors about the topic. Cringe and hold your breath as they begin with the names: “heretic”, “fatalist” and one even calls him a “monkey”. Observe how your husband just shrugs it off. Realize that he is amazing. Next, watch the in-person conversations and see for yourself how a “Christian” can get so angry that his eyes pop out of his head and he looks ready to commit murder! See, once again, how your husband continues his calm conversation. The scene reminds you of the verse where it says the people were cut to the heart and got so angry that they actually did kill a man, the first martyr, Stephen. (Acts 7) Feel thankful that no one in the room is carrying a gun.
Step 12: Finally, admit that he is right, and tell him so. Watch as a look of surprise, followed by relief and joy washes over his features. Hear him say, “Honey, if I can teach this to you, I can teach it to anybody! After all, how many years has it been now?”
Tell him you don’t know and you don’t care. You just want to glorify the Lord with him for the rest of your life. Give him a kiss. Hear him say that he can handle any type of hatred and name-calling from anyone in the world, as long as he has you. Blink back the tears. Live happily ever after.
In 2007, my husband did come to me and say that he had been studying the Bible (not Hitler or Charles Taze Russell, as I had feared) and had come to the conclusion that the “TULIP” was true. I had never been taught anything about Calvinism, and I really was frightened. What I have described in these blog posts actually happened to us, with a little humor thrown in. As it was for the Apostles and the early church, following Christ and preaching His Gospel has not been without pain and loss. A few friends have pulled back and some family stress has been caused. One person in our family has said Calvinism is a “damnable doctrine”. But what they say about Calvinism isn’t accurate. I hope that I can share correct information in the weeks to come, without hatred or debate, so that others may know the truth. If they then decide to reject it, then at least they are rejecting true Calvinism, not hyper-Calvinism or some other hybrid form of it. I understand if you decide to unfollow my blog, or unfriend me, but please, I beg you to refrain from any hateful comments.
In 2013, the Lord moved my husband to a Bethel Baptist Church, a church that has taught the Doctrines of Grace for decades. This has been a special gift from the Lord since I feared we would be out of the ministry completely by adopting these beliefs. We have even made many new, wonderful friends here. It’s been so refreshing! All we want to do is obey the Bible. We love the Lord and desire to share the Gospel with everyone as long as God allows us to do so.
Thank you – so much – for reading.