My heart is heavy within me. My soul is vexed. Oh, that the loftiness of my Calvinistic brothers and sisters would be humbled. Oh, that they would represent the spirit which our theology demands. But such is not often found.

I have written on this before, but I feel I must lodge my complaint once again.

I see less Christ-like character in many Calvinistic brethren than I do in just about any other tradition in Christianity.

Maybe it is the internet. Yeah, that must be it. The “Internet Calvinists.” The more I read online, the more my countenance is lowered in shame. I don’t find this type of stuff anywhere else. Who are these “Internet Calvinists”? They need to calm down.

Quick notice: Calvinists: Don’t send me any more emails talking about the “heresy” of Arminianism. I don’t get excited. Don’t forward me any more videos that dramatize the departure of Arminian theology. I won’t ride that bus. If you do, with sadness, I will just delete them. Not because of the message telling me “Ten Reasons Arminians Have a Different Gospel,” but because the message you give when you forward this kind of stuff.

Calm down. Back up. Take ten. Find an Arminian friend and see if they don’t love the same Lord.

“Are you saying, Michael, that the distinctions don’t matter? Are you saying that we should just focus on other things and act apathetic toward these issues?” Not at all. Stay passionate. I will. But there is a difference between the passionate disagreement among brothers and the same among enemies.

Two of my best friends growing up were Jason and Jerrett (they still are). They are twins. When we were kids, all of us guys used to love to watch these two fight (sadistic, I know). They would get into these fist fights that would last for 30 minutes at a time. We would watch cheering them on. Once, one of us did something really stupid. The fight had gotten a little out of control so one of us jumped in to try to break it up. You know what happened? They both turned on us! As mad as they might be at each other, they were not about to let the other get into danger from anyone other than themselves!

It was fun. But the point is that in the end their fights weren’t going to separate the two – ever! They were brothers and nothing could change their loyalty. They would never really hurt each other because their fights had a perspective and a respect that you could misunderstand only to your own peril.

Calvinists, Arminians are our brothers. When we fight, let us treat them as brothers, not like terrorists from another country.

Are Arminians wrong? This is what we believe, but the seriousness of their departure should not be overstated. We treat each other with great respect, knowing their love for Christ and the image of God they bear.

James 3:8-11
“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?”

The rhetoric that is out there is embarrassing. I am sick of having to explain over and over again what Calvinism is not before I get to what it is. “No, we are not arrogant.” (At least we are not supposed to be.) “No we don’t think we are better than others.” (How could we? Don’t we promote the doctrines of grace? Do we even know what grace means?) And, most importantly, “No, we don’t think Arminians are going to hell.” If you do, then you are way out of line.

With all our differences, don’t forget how much Calvinist and Arminians agree upon. If Christ is at the center of your theology, you will know what I am talking about. If Calvin is your hub, then, I must say, I have less in common with you than I do them.

I know, I know: there are plenty of Arminians out there who are on a crusade to boil us in oil. I am not worried about that right now. I am worried about us.

I have also noticed lately that some of the most (formally) gracious Arminians are beginning to change, showing a deep antagonism for those whom they have tried to respect. I see them lashing out uncharacteristically. I will not name any names, but I have three of these gentlemen in mind. I have to wonder, though, whether we are to blame for this. Can we be held accountable due to our arrogance and damning rhetoric? We will see.

Calvinists, let’s act according to what we believe. Let’s calm down.

(Where did this come from? Just got another one of those emails.)

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    133 replies to "Calvinists, Let's Calm Down"

    • #John1453

      Good points, Cheryl, Garrett and Wes. I think that another relevant factor is the degree to which relevant communities are convinced. Take the deity and resurrection of Christ. All orthodox christians (R. Catholic, E. Orthodox, anabaptist, reformed, pentecostal, etc.) are convinced of this. So our personal conviction in this area can be expressed firmly and securely.

      However, infant baptism (for example) is an area where the church at large has not arrived at firm conviction of one solution. So even though one can be personally firmly convinced, one should bear that conviction more tentatively than the former case (Christ’s deity), that is, with the realization that one could be wrong and a fellow Christian right. So, for example, I am firmly convinced that TULIP Calvinism is wrong, and I do try to persuade others to my view, but I recognize that mature Christians over the last few hundred years have followed the other view, so I try to be more open and accepting than I would be in relation to a discussion of the deity of Christ. If you say Christ is not God, well then you are flat out wrong. If you say that God has determined the number and identities of the elect, well, I do have to admit that there are some points in your favour even though I’m still convinced I’m correct.

      In some areas, such as science, the church is not the relevant community where there is no biblical position (e.g., there is no biblical position on the nature of gravity). In such cases one holds one’s personal convictions with a degree of firmness that relates to the degree of firmness that is possible within the scientific community (there is no disagreement on the relationship of volume to mass and density). Where there is a biblically relevant position (the material world is not all there is; humans did not evolve from lower apes) then the church is part of the relevant community.

      As I wrote the above, I thought it made some sense, but I’m not sure now. Anyway, those were my reflections upon reading your posts.


    • Garrett

      cheryl u,

      I didn’t see your “I should probably clarify my last comment.” post, I should refresh the web page more often.

      I understand what you saying, extreme differences in doctrine and practice do make attending a church impossible. I have visited my very charismatic friend’s church and I could not attend his church and call it my home. He’s visited my church as well and feels the same way. My point is that he is still my friend, a dear one at that and we are able to work together in a para-church missions organization. A non-Christian looking “in at us” would not see a division on our view that it is Christ alone that saves but would certainly see a difference in style of worship and an internal debate on the “gifts of the Spirit”.

      Another friend and I co-taught a class on Genesis, we took turns presenting very different viewpoints on the proper interpretation of Genesis 1 & 2. We disagreed then and are still arguing about it. Again, I hope that a non-Christian attending the class would not see a division between us on the important issues but an internal argument that took nothing away from Christ and His redeeming message of Grace.

      Both these friendships have been difficult at times but love easily won is cheap.

    • Wes


      I appreciate the spirit of your comment and the experience you’ve had. I was also commenting the circumstance where one is criticized for holding a position firmly *at all*. The flipside of the problem Michael is discussing – holding a doctrinal position as a weapon of sorts – is vilifying the person who holds a position… and that is equally or perhaps even more problematic in my mind.

    • Nick

      Or you could just come to TheologyWeb and see how Calvinists, Arminians, Preterists, Futurists, Old-Earthers, Young-Earthers, etc. work side by side every day.

    • Rey Reynoso

      What is TheologyWeb?

    • Nick

      It’s a forum where I debate. I have friends on all sides of each issue there and when it comes to evangelism and worship, we’ve done it all and we’ve had no problem.

    • Rey Reynoso

      Ah, okay. We do the same thing over at Theologica but the split doesn’t seem to be along the lines of Calvinism vs. Arminianis or those other things. Our splits are along different lines, and probably comes down to worldview accent.

    • Chris de Vidal

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned John 13:35, my favorite verse on this subject: “By this, all people will know you are [Jesus’] disciples, if you have love for one another.”

      Read C.J. Mahaney’s Humility and the gospel of John, then apply the doctrine of total depravity both to those who disagree with you AND yourself 🙂

    • Brian Eckes

      I think it all boils down to love. If you do not have love, you have NOTHING. So, keeping that in mind, if you argue for the sake of arguing, or for the sake of trying to be self-righteous (puffing yourself up), then you have NOTHING. Zilch. Just your own self-glory.

      Yet, if you have love when you speak about doctrine and biblical issues, then you have actual substance and it will, through the Holy-Spirit, make a difference and matter somewhere down the road. Hopefully it will glorify God rather than the speaker.

      In my life of 36 years, I think the slow, slow sanctification process of the Holy Spirit’s refinement has tempered my spirit, attitude and viewpoints to be more like Jesus’ (yet at times I am still so very far from being Christ-like).

      For once you truly believe and have the Holy Spirit, you have the mind of Christ. It is our human pride that needs pruning, and God is sure to continue pruning till the end, thank Him.

    • I see your point and I appreciate it. However, you last paragraph is where I am. I see more of the ungracious, arrorgant people on the Arminian side than I do the Calvinist side. Thanks, brotherm, for the remonder, though.

    • Tim James

      I’m not a scholar and therefore can’t use clever words (so apologies to those whom love them and the intellectual clarity they give to those who understand them).

      I don’t believe that this subject is over rated in the sense that believers should be satisfied as much as possible from knowing God and the Truth He has revealed. The right approach to scripture and making our emotions and self bow to the authority of scripture is a difficult life long process. The thing is that we all know very little as of “now” in comparison to what we will know “then” when we are in the presence of God. The important thing is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I often sin by not giving all the glory to God and I am convicted of such sin which leads to repentance. I am constantly reminded of how feeble my mind is and how weak I am. Does my lack of knowledge or weakness put my salvation in jeopardy?

      Even with the Holy Spirit working on me, I do what I ought not and don’t do what I should. It is this reality of my own state that leads me to understand that I would deny Christ tomorrow if it wasn’t for Him and the grace afforded to me. I also know that I was born evil and would never have chosen Christ were it not for the fact that He called me with an irresistible call exactly as God had desired before I was even born. Sometimes our feeble four dimensional earth bound minds cannot fully comprehend the ways of God. The way to salvation has been revealed but the exact mechanics of this re-birth and indwelling of God is still a complete mystery. It blows my mind every time I consider how awesome God is and what He’s done with salvation.

      We all know from scripture that there will be wheat and tares, and that some will have utterly deceived themselves and only find out right at the end. Do we really know who these are and should we not work through our salvation with fear and trembling? Should we fight with those whom in our eyes are less enlightened than ourselves, or patiently preach truth in love? There’s a lot I don’t know and a lot I’ve probably misinterpreted, but this will not undo God’s purpose and will not destroy my salvation but in fact, when revealed to me, will only draw me closer to God in complete wonder about His mercy and grace as He deals patiently with this pile of dust. This humility and the desire to love others as we love ourselves should temper our attitudes and approach no matter how right we are. What is sometimes depicted does not look like brotherly love at all. I’m not suggesting that we should abandon truth nor the seeking of it, only that the presentation is a little more humble and graceful.

    • Fred Wilson

      Thank you for a reasonable Post. I too have seen and been on both sides of this issue and find that reasoning with others is so much better then argueing or “bashing”. Fred

    • Lou Martuneac


      I was just pasing by, saw this article, read it and appreciated its content and tone. That is coming from one (me) who rejects all five points of Calvinism, but I do so charitably.

      On a side note I thought I’d link you to the recent article by Peter Masters from the Metroplitan Tabernacle’s Sword & Trowel.

      The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness
      from Sword & Trowel 2009, No. 1 by Dr Peter Masters

      You and your guests may find it a compelling read.

      Kind regards,


    • Greg

      Brother Patton,

      Thank you for this article. I have seen too much bickering on Christian websites concerning the Calvin/Arminian centuries-old debate. While I believe debate is healthy, some of what I see would make “spitting cobras” envious. I grew up in a Calvinist tradition, and, while I see merits in Calvinist doctrine, I am not sold on it. You might say I am a reluctant Arminian, at this point.

      My principle problem with Calvinism is the problem of apostasy. To say that apostasy is not something a true Christian can commit seems contrary to the Scriptures. And, unless I misunderstand the definition of apostasy, I would go as far as to say that only a believer could commit it. Unlike most Arminians, though, I believe that if one does commit apostasy, then, according to Heb. 6, there is no turning back.

      The reason I believe that apostasy is a sin that could be committed by true Christians is because of 2Thessalonians. Paul explained that the Return would not occur until the apostasy “falling away” had taken place. That is a rather odd statement to make if apostasy is impossible for the Christian to commit. Having said that, I don’t relish the Arminian view because I do believe in the sovereignty of God. As you state often in TTP, I hold this position with tension. God bless you in the work you do.

    • abbey

      people, people, why all of this? arminian, calvinist, let us remember how big God is. let us remember that we are discussing the Being that created the entire universe. Can we really say we know without a doubt exactly the way He runs this place? and then judge others who dont agree? God created us intelligent, but our minds are finite, His is infinite. Who are we to say we know where the line is between His divine will (sovereignty) and our free will (His gift to us, which does not in any way say He is no longer sovereign, because He chose to give it). Both arminian and calvinist views are backed up by scripture, and to isolate them on one side is to place God in a box. Instead, let us focus on seeking the character of God, and pray to be transformed more and more into a person that is a beautiful representation of Christ. Jesus’ command was to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Is this love, to judge our brothers and sisters who have faith in God but have different views on a topic i feel is impossible for us to fully understand? How sad. God keep us humble.

    • abbey

      P.S. tim james, your comment was wonderful. I fully agree.

    • Wes Wetherell


      With all due respect, I don’t think you can simply duck the question under the guise of “humility” – they are in many ways mutually contradictory and you simply can’t say that a systematic understanding of the Scripture somehow “puts God in a box.” Perhaps the better approach is to recognize that, while guided by our understanding of Scripture we ought earnestly contend for the faith as we understand it, we also ought to do so with at least as much charity as we are directed by Scripture to deal with an erring brother. The Scriptures simply are not contradictory on these matters – we may disagree, but understanding what God has made clear is important.

    • […] Calvinists, Let’s Calm Down […]

    • theoparadox

      Are we STILL fighting over Arminianism and Calvinism??? No wonder people in our culture think Christians are stupid. We don’t know when to stop banging out head against a wall. Paul’s warning to the Galatians, that they would bite and devour one another, has been fulfilled in our midst.

      The wise thing to do is to assume you don’t have all the answers, then STUDY the Bible, STUDY the Church Fathers, STUDY the Reformation, STUDY Calvinism, STUDY Arminianism, STUDY other theological perspectives, take a position that seems to fit the Biblical message, and then KEEP STUDYING SCRIPTURE and adapting the viewpoint as dictated by Scripture. In the process, it would be wise to ask questions of people who take a different view, maybe even banter back and forth a bit to get more understanding. But to argue with them? To get belligerent and disrespectful? To waste time trying to convince people who don’t want to be convinced? To make war in the camp unnecessarily? No wonder people in our culture think Christians have no brains and nothing to offer!

      This entire situation is ample proof of total depravity. The last time I checked, both Calvinists and classical Arminians hold to it. Let’s go for common ground, and let’s work together for the glory of God.

      I was a hard core Arminian (practially Pelagian) at one time, then I went mainstream Arminian. For several years I begrudgingly sat under a very gracious Calvinist pastor – often refuting his words in my mind and occasionally trying to pick a theological fight with him. He never argued with me, but I eventually realized that I was closer to his view than I was to the extreme Arminian view I once held. I saw that very-balanced-Arminians and very-balanced-Calvinist are nearly in agreement – they mainly disagree on emphasis. After that, I became a Calvinist very easily by accepting God’s sovereignty over man’s freedom, a Romans 9 experience if you will. Suddenly I realized that when I was a balanced Arminian, I was only one notch away from Calvinism the whole time. Nowadays I find that I am attacked more harshly by unbalanced Calvinists than by Arminians.

      But I have found many wonderful, humble, moderate and Biblically-balanced Calvinists who are quietly blogging away. You don’t notice them because they aren’t loudly banging their heads against a brick wall.

    • rey jacobs

      “This entire situation [disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians] is ample proof of total depravity.” (theoparadox)

      If that’s so, then it is proof that both Calvinists and Arminians are unregenerate.

      “The last time I checked, both Calvinists and classical Arminians hold to it.” (theoparadox)

      But that’s not all there is. Calvinists and classical Arminians are the same thing, except the classical Arminians are better at PR. Their beliefs really boil down to the same thing. And, as you noted, both are unregenerate.

      “Let’s go for common ground, and let’s work together for the glory of God.” (theoparadox)

      Lets reject both Calvinism and classical Arminianism (which are the same thing with a slightly different public face) because that’s the only way to glorify God.

    • theoparadox


      I don’t think I’ve ever before read a response to something I’ve written in which I disagreed with every single word of the response. I’ve never experienced so much lack of common ground, not even in discussions with ultra-liberal Christians and atheists. But, for the record, I disagree with every single word you’ve written here (other than the parts where you quoted me, of course).

      I didn’t remotely imply that Calvinists or Arminians are unregenerate – though all true believers were at one time.

      Calvinists and Arminians aren’t the same thing. And I didn’t say they were both unregenerate, you did.

      Rejecting Biblical doctrine, however it may be labeled, is not a legitimate means of glorifying God.

      I recommend Curt Daniel’s 75 lectures on the history and theology of Calvinism – they will give you an accurate picture of what Calvinism is and isn’t – and also demonstrate how Calvinism differs from Arminianism. You can find them at I say this as respectfully as I can: educate yourself on these matters and then let’s talk again . . .


    • #John1453

      It is incorrect to stereotype and characterize all discussions about Calvinism and Arminianism as “fights”, and fights that are so bad that they are unChristian and depraved. There are many discussions of those two perspectives that are carried out in a fair and irenic, though vigorous and committed, manner. Most of the discussion of those viewpoints that happens on CMP’s blog is of that nature, and I find it useful for learning and understanding and formulating one’s own view.


    • theoparadox


      I fully agree with you, and I left plenty of room for the sort of discussion you are talking about. The trouble comes when we get all bent out of shape and take it personally that someone “refuses” to agree with our view. The heated and vigorous discussion in which this doesn’t happen can be very helpful, as you’ve noted, and I participate in these kinds of discussions on a regular basis. You’re right in saying there is a difference between discussing and fighting. My point is the same as that of CMP: let’s quit fighting and continue the discussion.

      I stand by my remark that “fighting” amongst true believers IS good evidence of total depravity. That’s not to say the ones fighting aren’t saved, but rather that indwelling sin is obviously still at work. It’s at work in me, too, brother – though perhaps in different areas.


    • Chris de Vidal

      Does not the doctrine of total depravity teach that you, yes you, reading this comment, are wicked in heart, even now?

      “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

      Doesn’t it teach that Arminians are also debased and wicked at heart, and we need to be patient with them?

      “…the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV)

      (I love how that verse not only informs the discussion between Calvinists and Arminians, but it also itself lends itself toward Calvinism.) 🙂

      Therefore, if you know that you are wicked and likely not to obey John 13:35, and your hearers are not as well, humble yourself.

      “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” (1 Peter 5:6 ESV)

    • Dear Bro Patton and Friends in Christ,

      I agree that LOVE of God that poured by the Holt Spirit in our hearts should reign in dealing the false doctrine and the heretics. If we can’t love them as a brothers and sisters let us love them as enemies – meaning let us still kind and compassionate to them. When they are hungry and thirsty let is feed them and give them water. Let us follow the example of Christ.

      The Love of Christ in us cannot compromise with sinful acts and sinful principle of doctrines as described in 1 Cor 13:4-8. Open rebuke is better than secret love. There are still believers of Christ are still ignorance of the truth of salvation. Many erred in true Christian living. But let us remember that we can’t open and change the hearts of the sinner. Only God can do that. Our duties is to open our mouth to preach/teach the truth boldly without compromise, exalting Christ and bring more glories to His feet. It is what I did as local Missionary in our islands. I am a strong Calvinist preacher but I am sure I am balance and biblical and love of Mission work, preaching the gospel to the lost.

      In Christ,

      Bro. Ronald D. Jacutin, Sr.
      P.O. Box 81802
      8000 Davao City

    • Derek


      This posts was a breath of fresh air.

      From one who leans heavily to the Arminian worldview I find it difficult to respect writers like Sproul who says that Arminians are “barely saved”, or J.I. Packer who calls all Arminians “Anti-Christians” and countless others such as Guy Waters and John Piper who call Arminians “Semi-Pelagians”.

      It’s nice to read a Calvinist who blogs the grace they preach.

    • Veronica

      Very good blog. I agree that Calvinists say they subscribe to the doctrine of grace, but they don’t really seem to live it. Are we not all completely UNdeserving of Christ and His love and grace? and are we not all deserving of hell? I mean seriously.
      I suppose you would say I’m a calvinist (I really, really REALLY hate using that term. Cause I don’t totally agree with Calvanism ALL the time…) and my church is Arminian. I love them and they love me. However there are two things that bug me to no end.
      1. is that when I’ve tried to explain my belief they either a) get extremely defensive and mean or b) they never talk to me ever again. (Seriously, I still go to the same church and now they won’t even look at me.)
      And 2. I am disturbed by the fact that people in my Arminain church (and maybe this happens else where. My church is Nazarene) are always saying “I/we follow John Weasley.” Aren’t we supposed to be following Jesus? Not men? I have never claimed to follow John Calvin. Because he’s a fallable(spelling?) MAN!
      So I’m not so much disturbed by their doctrine as I am by the fact that they say they follow men and not God. :/ I mean, I still love them…
      I like your blog, even if I disagree with a lot of things you’ve said. ha ha. BUt I very much liked this blog.

    • rey

      Since Calvinists claim that “the world” in John 3:16 means “the elect” why don’t they try these on for size:

      (2 Tim 4:10) “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present elect”

      Col 2:20 “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the elect, why, as though living in the elect, are ye subject to” man-made-decrees

      Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the elect, and not after Christ.”

      Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the elect-rulers of the darkness of this elect, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

      2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the elect worketh death.” How true that is!!!! For the elect of Calvinism never repent, instead saying “I’m elect! I’m once saved always saved!”

    • David the Maronite

      First of all, I am a Maronite Catholic (one of the eastern rites of the Roman Catholic Church), so I guess that makes me doubly damned in the eyes of most Calvinists – a Catholic AND a believer in free will!
      However, that isn’t why I’m writing here…
      I have always tried to be open-minded to what other Christians believe (if they are Trinitarian and hold to the Articles of the historic Creeds)…that used to include Calvinists. Then the insults from the Calvinists began, the horrid condemnations, the arrogance. The final straw came when a very kind and sweet man, a deacon in the Russian Orthodox church and my friend, was told by a Calvinist (who has a fairly extensive website from Canada) that his (my friend’s) wife and child were killed in a car wreck because they were not Calvinists. This was said in a chatroom and the room just went silent in shock. People were horrified at the audacity…and from then on we simply allowed no Calvinists ever. That is still my attitude in chatrooms and in life. They have been so horrid, I simply now reject them outright. Sad how hatred causes hatred.

    • Craig

      I have had many conversations with Calvinists, both in person and in online forums. They have been mostly rude and prideful. I have even lost a few friends because, in their words I “refused to be corrected!”

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