As many of you know, my family and I moved to Norman, Oklahoma, a year and a half ago primarily due to my mother’s illness. Previously, we lived in Frisco, Texas, where I was a pastor at Stonebriar Community Church for six years. We all loved the church. We loved the people, the commitment to the preaching of God’s word, and the reverence for certain traditions. Oh, and did I mention grace?! That is why I went there in the first place – grace! Rarely (and sadly) do you find a passionate commitment to the word of God and a attitude of grace. This situation gives forth to energy. Call it the power of God, the movement of the Holy Spirit, or whatever you will according to your tradition, but the church was alive. I wanted to be there every day. I miss it greatly.

Grace and truth. The two most important elements in my hierarchy of looking for a church.

Notice, to the surprise of many, I did not list “perfect theology” as a criteria. I did not even say theology that I am always comfortable with (since there is no perfect theology). At Stonebriar, I had it all. Just about everything Chuck taught, I agreed with. If not, I loved the man so much that I would bend myself to agree with him! (At least for that Sunday.) Of course, Chuck is a pastor more than a professional theologian. But he was committed to sound theology and he is a Calvinist! (a four pointer at least). Oh the depths and riches of reformed preaching! The power, the hope, the pride that can be taken when God’s sovereignty is preached in such a way.

However, today I do not go to a Calvinistic church. In fact, I am at an Arminian church. In fact (again), I am a regular teacher at a church that is both Arminian and Egalitarian. In fact (last time), last week I had to call the pastor that I am under to ask if it was okay for me to teach on “Women in the Church,” a topic in a current series I am on. This church is called Crossings Community Church and it is part of the Church of God, Anderson (not the charismatic Church of God you may be thinking of).

Let me briefly define a few terms before we move on (I will get in trouble if I don’t. If you already know these “big” words, move on. If not, learn them! – its not that hard):

Calvinist: One who believes in the doctrines of grace most traditionally defined by the TULIP acronym. The most controversial of the doctrines are Unconditional Election: the belief that God elects some individuals to salvation and not other based upon his sovereign will; Limited Atonement: the belief that Christ’s death only paid for the sins of the elect; Irresistible Grace: the belief that when God’s saving grace is presented to the elect, it is always effective (i.e. they will not ever reject it); and Perseverance of the Saints: the belief that those who are saved (the elect) will persevere and cannot “lose” their salvation.

Arminian: One who denies all of the Calvinistic doctrines of grace except the first, Total Depravity. The Arminian will opt for a belief in “Conditional” election: the belief that God’s predestination is based on the foreseen faith of the individual; “Resistible” grace: the belief that God’s saving grace can be rejected by anyone; “Unlimited” atonement: the belief that Christ’s death paid for the sins of every individual; and the belief that a truly saved person and fall from or “lose” their salvation.

Complementarianism: Belief in essential equality, but functional hierarchy in the sexes. This hierarchy is by God’s design and is not due to the fall. Man is to be the leader in the church and home. Women are not to be in positions of authority over man in the church or home, but are honored due to their role in the same way as men.

Egalitarianism: Belief in the essential and functional equality of the sexes. All role distinctions which imply leadership belonging to the man is due to the fall, not by God’s design. Therefore, women can serve in positions of authority over man in both the church and the home. Role is assigned by individual giftedness, not gender.

So . . . Why does this Calvinistic Complementarian go to an Arminian Egalitarian church?

There are many reasons, but I want to highlight the three most important and then attempt to help you gain perspective in choosing a church.

1. Crossings teaches the Gospel and focuses on it.

“But, but, but . . . I thought you said they were Arminian . . . Oh, I get it. You really don’t care that much about Calvinism and egalitarianism.” No, this is not the case. I care deeply about the doctrines of grace. A little less so about complementarianism, but don’t mistake this for any sort of apathy. It just demonstrates how much I prioritize my Calvinism. However, there are many things that I prioritize even more than Calvinism . . . much more. These include the centrality of Christ, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the authority of Scripture. But there is one more thing. One more thing that I have come to value more and more over the years . . .

2. Crossings teaches grace and does not divide over non-cardinal issues.

Crossings does not just preach grace, you can feel it when you walk through the doors. I have been to dozens of churches where right as you walk through the doors, it as if a heavy burden has been placed upon your back. Smug looks of suspicion along with demeaning conversation are the most readily expected experience. I am sad to say but this is especially true of many churches in my Calvinistic tradition. All they are concerned with is making you a Calvinist. Sigh . . . I would that all men (and women) were Calvinists like me, but my goal is not necessarily to make them such. But Crossings is not about making you an Arminian, either – obviously since they have me teach! They are gracious in non-cardinal issues, allowing for diversity. They understand that diversity actually teaches more and illustrates God’s grace more than digging your heels in on every doctrinal matter. I love grace so much. When I go there, it does feel as if the burden is removed and you are joining a place with many broken people seeking help together.

Friends, this is the heart of Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism 101.

3. I am needed and used there.

Who am I to obscure the call of God based upon my particular doctrinal favoritism? These are God’s people and I will love God’s people wherever they are. If I can be used in a church that does not line up perfectly with my theology, that is great. Why would I ever turn down an opportunity to teach a group of people just because they don’t already agree with me? That is just plain silly and lacks perspective. Would I rather teach and serve somewhere that the people already would be in agreement with me? Would you? Where is the fun in that?

(Just to make it plain, I always teach in accordance with the umbrella that Crossings provides. I do make it known, when relevant, where I stand on certain issues, but I also go out of my way to help the members understand where Crossings stands and why. I respect them very much in this. But, these issues don’t really come up that much since there is so much that Calvinists and Arminians do agree upon. We just often forget how much.)

Would it be better if they were Calvinists? Would it be better if they were Complementarians? Sure, as long as they kept the grace. But, if I have the choice, I will never trade perfect theology (or nearly so) for grace. Grace is the Gospel. When you lose that, where do you go? Stay in bed.

You will never find the perfect church . . . never! There is no perfect denomination. There is no perfect tradition. There is no perfect church and there never has been. Although Stonebriar was close, it was not that close.

I don’t believe in trying to find a church based upon non-cardinal doctrinal issues. But, unfortunately, many churches don’t share my perspective, which makes it hard for people like me. If you go to a church and they have different convictions about certain issues and all they are doing is trying to convert you, this is a troubling experience. This leaves the Christian with the only option of attempting to find a church that agrees with them on everything. What a detriment to the diversity of the body of Christ. Doctrinal statements are fine. Crossings has one. Stonebriar has one. But when every detail of the doctrinal statement is prioritized to the point where every member has to sign off on everything, this is unfortunate in my opinion.

I go to a church that is full of grace and truth. That is why I go to an Arminian church. If there were a Calvinistic church like Stonebriar that was full of grace and truth (and there are some), I might go there. But right now I feel as if I am where God wants me to be.

However, this is my opinion and I am curious as to your thoughts.

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

    146 replies to "Why Do I (A Calvinist) Go to An Arminian Church?"

    • cheryl u


      I recently read an article on another blog, a very Calvinistic one, where they came extremely close if they didn’t actually do it, to calling the Arminian understanding of the Gospel “another Gospel” that was to be accursed as spoken of by the Apostle Paul. These differences do really draw out hot disagreement at times and even some pretty heavy pronouncements of one side against the other.

    • Ken Blatchford


      My experience in Pentecostal circles in some very small circles has been fairly painful. Abusive pastors often control people with sending them to Hell when they don’t toe the line. It is usually some sin of the flesh like smoking cigarettes pot or tobacco, fornication (that’s a big one) or some other outward sign of damnation. No joke. I’ve seen people wanting to commit suicide by throwing themselves off a roof for having once tasted of salvation (Hebrews 6;4-6) .

    • Vance

      cheryl, I have met a number Calvinists like that. I prefer the Michael Patton variety!

      Ken, I agree entirely that there are those who do damage with their presentation of what they believe to be true doctrine. I have seen people respond to Calvinist teaching with, “well, either I am elected or not, God will decide, so I might as well go about my business the same either way”. I have heard Calvinists eschew evangelism since it has all been decided anyway. These are corruptions of Calvinist teaching just as what you describe would be a corruption of Arminian teaching.

      I think that the doctrinal issues raised by the Calvinist/Arminian debate fall squarely into the “hold your beliefs, but hold them loosely, and not dogmatically” category. They are not essential enough, nor can we be sure enough about them, to do anything else.

    • Kara Kittle

      Did my post not post earlier?

    • Kara Kittle

      I have a question about doctrines though…if Arminian doctrine is based in Bible scripture and Calvinist is based in Bible scripture…why are they so diametrically opposed?

      And who is to say either is wrong or right? Is it because it makes sense to the believer? I think if we assume it’s right because we were told it was right for so long does not necessarily make it so.

      Doctrine is important, but when doctrine removes from us our love toward each other then it is wrong. Just because a preacher says it is right, don’t assume it is. I said before and I will say again, John Calvin just formed a doctrine from his own viewpoint the same as all theologians have.

      Why are we bashing each other’s heads over some guys viewpoints? Does God not speak today? Does God not reveal Himself today? When has He ever stopped? And this doctrine of grace is not just God’s responsibility toward man, but man’s responsibility toward each other.

      When our doctrine does not teach us the fundamental lesson that we are to be ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom while living here, and we are to be showing love as Christ loved us, bearing each other’s burdens as the Bible commands then our doctrine is as worthless as dirt. If Christ is not the author of the doctrine then it is nothing, and if there is no charity, all the pulpit banging, Bible thumping fire and brimstone is just a bunch of noise.

    • Kara Kittle

      Sorry about my meltdown

    • mbaker

      I don’t believe one should offset the other. Grace is in the minds of many folks a ‘doctrine’. I believe we can and should have both. However, to be overzealous about either is to cross a line into extremism.

      There are after all, many folks who abuse grace to the point that they think they can commit any sin, and get a free pass from God. Then there are the hyper-calvinists and hyper-armianians who consider each other’s beliefs heretical. I don’t even have to mention the hyper-charismatics who obviously have thrown away any authority in the church except themselves.

      I have been in all kinds of churches doing ministry over the years. It is generally my observation that grace and truth are pretty much equally honored in the more balanced ones. I am fortunate indeed to have one of those.

    • Kara Kittle

      I actually had a long answer but decided against it. So I will try and refine it…

      I just have to ask this though in your thoughtful post, and by the way I think you are very insightful and honest and enjoy reading your posts. The authority in the church…can you define for me what you mean by that?

      Is the church meaning the whole broad spectrum of Christendom or the individual body itself?

    • Wm Tanksley

      I would not say the error was in “study and develop opinions on points that aren’t critical to salvation”, but in a focus on them to the detriment of the basic, core issues for salvation.

      I guess we all need to emphasize that beliefs won’t save you. Even the core ones. Christ can and does save us in spite of our errors. What the errors hurt is our effectiveness for Christ.

      I see little, if any, actual “Christian Living” impact on accepting or denying “TULIP”. There will be folks who completely reject them who are in heaven, and people who dogmatically hold to all five. And, I have not seen any significant evangelism or Christian witness impacts between the two sides either.

      With all respect, I think you’re wrong here. Your witnessing and your Christian life are precisely the things that will be affected by these lesser doctrines.

      For example: How can one avoid working harder if one actually believes that NOT working could lose one’s salvation (thus the Arminian has an advantage over the Calvinist)? And how can it fail to be heartening to believe that God’s work will hold in spite of my occasional failure (and thus the Calvinist has an advantage over the Arminian)?

      So, with that perspective, the idea that people actually allow “how we believe God goes about His business” to divide fellowships seems a shame.

      I think you’re right. With that said, I want to make a minor clarification of my own. The error isn’t in dividing (local) churches; it’s making enemies out of fellow Christians, whatever church they’re going to. There’s usually nothing wrong in switching to a different church because the people there study and teach a doctrine a little closer to what you believe; the error would come in rejecting all your brothers at your old church. I suspect you’d agree with that, I’m just saying it explicitly.


    • Wm Tanksley

      I have a question about doctrines though…if Arminian doctrine is based in Bible scripture and Calvinist is based in Bible scripture…why are they so diametrically opposed?

      They’re not diametrically opposed. They’re extremely close, differing only in fine details on a very few points.

      Doctrine is important, but when doctrine removes from us our love toward each other then it is wrong.

      Doctrine doesn’t remove love; people remove love. When we allow ANYTHING to come between our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are sinning. Teaching more doctrine isn’t the solution; but teaching less doctrine also isn’t the solution. Confessing our sins and repenting of them is the solution.


    • Glenn Leatherman


      There is a great difference in minsitry and evangelism depeding on ones view of God’s sovereignty in salvation. It makes one either man-centered or God-centered in his minsitry and pursuit of holiness. There is a huge difference in worldviews.

      for instance, if one thinks that in the final analysis that salvation rests in man’s decision, then ministry is all about getting the right human technique because it rests with the Christian to convice a person to accept Christ, but if salvaiton rests in the final analysis with God then our responsibility is simply to proclaim the gospel agressively and leave the results with God.

      Soli Deo Gloria

    • mbaker


      Sorry to be so long in noticing your comment of #109. The comments get to going so fast sometimes they get lost in the shuffle.

      In answer to your question:

      I consider the church to be all the individuals who profess Christ, and consider Him alone as their risen Lord and Savior, with the recognition that as such He is the Head of the body. And his Word is the final arbitrater of any religious matter.

      There are different kinds of ‘authority’ figures in the heirarchy of different churches and denominations under whose banner we worship in, of course, but none of them supercedes the authority of Christ, either individually or corporately.

      And thanks for your kind comments by the way.

    • Kara Kittle

      I think I may be lost in the plethora of churches described on Parchment and Pen. I grew up in an independent church and as such there really is no authority on the level as John McArthur or Adrian Rogers that we would claim. I wouldn’t claim one anyway, but call me silly like that.

      We have a pastor, but he is accountable as the congregation is. He is certainly the one who leads the church from that perspective but we don’t look to him to solve all our problems in life. Well some do, but that’s another story. He is very happy when we step out in faith and do something for Jesus. He certainly is not a singular father figure, but he is good to go for advice if we need to.

      So I just don’t recognize a central authority figure to represent me as a fundamentalist or evangelical. Perhaps that’s because I have been in the independent church for so long. I have tried other churches when we lived in another state, I was a member of the Foursquare Church for about a year. I suppose Jack Hayford would qualify as an authority figure but since I don’t know him personally it’s kind of hard to recognize him from my viewpoint.

    • mbaker

      I know what you mean, Kara. There are so many schools of thought out there nowadays. It can sure be confusing. While I respect that there has to be someone to keep order in the church, and certainly it is biblical to be respectful of those who do, I find some churches stress their authority too much, some too little, and in some anything goes. That sometimes makes it hard for the individual believer to find a good balance.

      I have never gotten into the Armianian-Calvinist debate camps for that reason, because I think we can easily get into extreme positions on either side of the issue, if that’s going to be our church’s main concern. So my personal concern in any church is a good balance between relationship and truth. I see that produces spiritual growth in the believers on all fronts. I don’t believe we can have a truthful relationship with Christ without knowing the Way, The Truth and the Life in full measure.

      I am fortunate to have found a pastor who does embrace both grace and truth, like CMP’s. Our pastor both pastors his flock individually and collectively through his love and compassion, and is faithful in his commitment to preaching the word of God straight from the Bible.

      He will be the first to say he’s not perfect, but considers himself God’s servant, and often a reminds us that Christ is the Head of our church. He says that anytime we think he has said something wrong from the pulpit, in the name of the Lord, he will be glad to re-examine it in the light of God’s word. That has been a first for me hear in a church in all my years of ministry!

      But it took a long time to find that. Unfortunately well balanced churches are getting to be the exception rather the rule in this area.

    • Dr. James Galyon


      May our lives be adorned by the reality of our doctrine. Nice post.

      Your Calvinist, ahem – *Christian* Brother,

    • Rusty

      “Why do I….?

      The “why” is understandable.

      The “how” becomes more mysterious.

      Thankfully Paul was not confused.


    • Brian Montanari

      Very good read! I agree with you and understand as I’m in the same situation, a calvinist going to an arminian church! It is far better to be connected with a church that is gospel focused and non legalistic than holding on to perfect doctrine and sacrificing grace and freedom in Christ. My local church that my wife and I are a part of is well balanced in doctrine(lightly Charismatic in nature), is a good family church with many ministries both in house and outreaches, and staying relevant in community. Also, as complementarian involved in a moderate egalitarian church, the pastor seems to drive home the importance of male leadership being essential in both church and home life. From my stand point, I can learn a lot from the church that I’m associated with and take the wisdom and guidance from a balanced church and at the same time hold to my own convictions on secondary matters. The bottom line is that so many believers are losing focus on being gospel-centered and are more concerned about their own desires by choosing what church is suitable for them.

    • Steven Long

      I guess after 118 other comments this is probably nothing significant. I appreciate the post because I have been dealing, for the last several months, about this very issue: holding one set of doctrines and attending the church of somewhat (but not completely) different doctrines. I love my pastor and the people of the congregation but have a tendency to nit-pick certain things. This post was tremendous in slanting my view (not in a bad way, of course) in the other direction. Thanks again for the post. I really do enjoy this blog and also loved your video series on the Atonement from TTP.

      In Christ,

    • Chad

      Interesting article! Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder to not get too hung up on theological controversies. I am actually in the position of being an Arminian(or non-calvinist) at a Calvinist Church. I am an elder there and teach on occasion. I attempt to steer clear of issues or points of doctrine that might cause division. My family is there because we value Family integrated worship and passing on our faith to the next generation. I admit, it is difficult at times to bite my tongue, but the alternative is to try to find the “perfect” church. I remember a wise friend once saying – “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it or you will spoil it” 🙂


    • Michael

      You know I heard a recent comment by John Piper indicating that Calvinist’s shouldn’t date (in his opinion) nominally Christian Arminian’s. You might have to change your church when your kids get to that age lest they become yoked to someone who is only nominally a Christian.

      This was intended sarcastically btw. Piper has some good things to say, but IMHO should be denounced in no uncertain terms for some of the extreme comments him and the likes of MacArthur (calling Arminian’s barely Christian) and others make when it comes to this issue. I also believe that Arminian’s aren’t allowed in leadership or to teach at Piper’s church. It’s odd how often it seems Arminian’s are far more apt to call this a non-essential issue than Calvinists are.

    • Wm Tanksley

      You know I heard a recent comment by John Piper indicating that Calvinist’s shouldn’t date (in his opinion) nominally Christian Arminian’s.

      This is an AWFUL thing to accuse someone of, and your first reaction should have been to confirm it, NOT to gossip about it. It turns out it’s a completely false accusation. Piper says that Arminians are true Christians, and a Calvinist married to one is NOT unequally yoked; however, he also says that the process of seeking a mate includes considerations of doctrinal compatibility, and Calvinists and Arminians are doctrinally different.

      Piper has some good things to say, but IMHO should be denounced in no uncertain terms for some of the extreme comments him and the likes of MacArthur (calling Arminian’s barely Christian) and others make when it comes to this issue.

      Back this one up, or apologize for it. (I don’t know, maybe it’s true; but you’re not a reliable source, but a gossip-spreader.)

      I also believe that Arminian’s aren’t allowed in leadership or to teach at Piper’s church.

      Do you have some kind of problem with that? Piper’s church is explicitly Reformed Baptist. It would be pointless for them to ordain or hire someone who didn’t support their church’s distinctive doctrines.

      It’s odd how often it seems Arminian’s are far more apt to call this a non-essential issue than Calvinists are.

      I’ve seen a lot, and I haven’t seen this.


    • #John1453

      Re posts 121 and 122:

      Actually, it was R.C. Sproul who used the adjective “barely”:

      “I agree with [J.I.] Packer and [O.R.] Johnston that Arminianism contains un-Christian elements in it and that their view of the relationship between faith and regeneration is fundamentally un-Christian. Is this error so egregious that it is fatal to salvation? People often ask if I believe Arminians are Christians? I usually answer, “Yes, barely.” They are Christians by what we call a felicitous inconsistency.”

      The above statement by Sproul can be found in his book, Willing to Believe: The Controversy Over Free Will, published by Baker Book House. The statement is quoted by C. Stephen Evans, in his article, “Robots with Choice?”, published in Christianity Today, found at

      As for MacArthur, at least one TULIP true believer argues that he is secretly an Arminian:


    • michael is my source. Maybe I’m reading more into this then I should, but in this case, given the last paragraph, somehow I don’t think so. When I said that it seems that Piper thinks Arminians are only nominal Christians I was taking this from numerous videos I’ve seen of his and writings on his site where he discusses the seriousness of the Arminian error. His language and general way of approaching the issue seems to be that Arminianism is about the worst error you can make and still be in the fold. But again I could be reading too far into the stuff I read on his site.

      As for the Sproul, MacArthur thing I apologize. I got the two mixed up and you are correct that it is Sproul who made that comment and not MacArthur. The complaint I had about MacArthur (which I thought was Sproul – sorry for the mix up) is the way he seems to misrepresent Arminian’s on the issue of Total Depravity and compares them to Semi-Pelagian’s. But this is minor compared to calling someone barely Christian.

      As to the last point I have Arminian friends and used to have Calvinist friends. When I finally came down on the side of Arminianism while in undergrad my Calvinist friends stopped associating with me. One even called me a heretic. Furthermore while in law school I had a number of fellow students (who actually go to John Piper’s church) who stopped associating with me after finding out I was an Arminian and didn’t agree with Piper’s theology. And by stopped associating with me I mean stopped talking to me or inviting me to Bible studies and other Christian Lawyer events that were put on. I personally have nothing against associating with Calvinist brothers and sisters as I consider it a collateral issue, but I don’t get that from the other side at all. However I am honestly just going on personal experience here – maybe yours has been different.

      Oh one more thing. In response to the thing about John MacArthur being an Arminian. There is a person I knew in undergrad who now attends a conservative Presbyterian church who recently posted a note on Facebook about why Reformed Baptists aren’t truly Reformed. This guy is one of the ones who doesn’t talk to me anymore.

    • michael

      I meant to say conservative Presbyterian seminary not church. Sorry.

    • Wm Tanksley

      Maybe I’m reading more into this then I should, but in this case, given the last paragraph, somehow I don’t think so.

      No, I think you’re reading way too much into that.

      But thank you for the citation; it’s very helpful to have a first source, and I hereby retract the charge of “gossip” against you. You’re not a gossip if you can point to evidence; you may be overstating things (I’d say), but you’re definitely not a gossip.

      Piper isn’t saying that Arminians are less Christian; he’s saying that we differ enough in very fundamental ways that there will always be some friction. That doesn’t place any blame on either side; the problem isn’t the wrongness or rightness of either side, but rather the friction caused by the differences.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know what Piper videos you’ve watched, but I’d suspect that you’re viewing them with a jaundiced eye (i.e. looking for attacks).

      I agree with you that “barely Christian” is an awful thing to say. Sproul should know better than that — he had a point to make, but he didn’t have to include such an insulting “almost-lie” (is that “barely a sin”?) in order to make it; he’ll answer to God, and he deserves your condemnation.

      I admit that your personal experience is all too believable. I’ve seen that happen myself; unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen on both sides (not just from Calvinists). I don’t think either side is more charitable than the other… and I don’t see how citing it advances the argument in any way, since none of the bad treatment is based in any way on the principles in contention. It’s just bad treatment, and shows bad faith on the part of the specific people who do it. At most it shows a bad culture — but that has never been traced to the specific doctrines.


    • michael

      I apologize for not posting the link originally as I intended my first post to be somewhat sarcastic and not completely serious. As to the culture thing, maybe it’s just been my experience and maybe I just see persecution where I shouldn’t, but it just seems to me the most vocal on this issue as well as a number of others come from the Reformed side of things. If you search the internet for the various “discernment” (aka bash other Christians) blogs they seem to be Calvinists without fail. As further evidence or this I offer CMP’s own article asking Calvinists to just calm down. Although he does note correctly in his post the increasing militancy of Arminian’s in return. I think this is because we are all just human and you can only take so much punishment, and so much name calling before you eventually give into the human inclination to fight back sinful as this may be. I feel it too.

    • Wm Tanksley

      I apologize for not posting the link originally as I intended my first post to be somewhat sarcastic and not completely serious.

      Things intended to amuse or educate can easily wind up unjustly hurting others — compare Sproul’s “barely Christian”, which was intended educationally, but was actually … horrible.

      If you search the internet for the various “discernment” (aka bash other Christians) blogs

      I can’t accept that as evidence; there’s no search I can imagine that would return useful results of that nature.

      In the meantime, there’s the serious problem that most of American Christianity right now is Arminian (wait — that’s not the problem!), and most of them don’t even realize that there’s even a question about it (that’s the problem). When I explain what I believe, the response is shock and disgust — I’m accused of insulting God, of wanting people to go to hell, of being smugly certain of my salvation… All (well, mostly) from people who were never acquainted with my beliefs, and couldn’t even find theirs in the Bible beyond a few prooftexts.

      (This site isn’t like that! I like our commenters.)

      I think this is because we are all just human and you can only take so much punishment, and so much name calling before you eventually give into the human inclination to fight back sinful as this may be. I feel it too.

      So true.


    • James

      I enjoyed your article, and your honest commitment to serving God no matter where you are put by him. I too am facing a dilema in searching for a new home church. I was raised as a full blown armenian, but have been in a 5 point Calvinist church now for 10 years. Some of my family members won’t even speak to me now becuse of this switch.

      But now after 10 years, we are considering a switch to a mostly armenian church. (Southern Baptist who vary on calvinism depending on where you go, however this church holds on to #5 only) The problem for me with the reformed church is not the doctrine, but my pastor falls into the category of a hyper-calvinist at times and is very exclusive. (the idea that he is the only one in this part of the state teaching the gospel because he is teaching the 5 points, and to go somewhere else would be to turn your back on the gospel.

      Also there is no programs for reaching out to the community, and basically no emotion in the worship segment. The lack of involvement and association has prompted us to look elsewhere, but the nagging question remains, how much good bible doctrine does one give up to get the other things? My current pastor would say those who dont subscribe to his way of preaching and believing worship a “Peanut God” a God who wants to save and can’t.

      It is disturbing for me to go through everything I have went through to find good true doctrine (absent the hyper-calvinism the pastor throws in the mix) only to go back to the salvation “by chance” of the armenianism.

      I will pray for Gods will in the matter and I know as well that God desires those who will worship him in Spirit and truth. Afterall its not doctrinal beliefs that save you but Christ alone.

      Thank you again for your article.

    • […] However, this is my opinion and I am curious as to your thoughts. via–Check the post out for an awesome comment discussion! […]

    • Jireh8

      I just came across this article while researching on the neo-gnostic calvinism issue.

      I am curious, have you remained where you were? Have all in leadership/teaching positions been able to maintain the civility you promoted?

      If there were *growth* issues for any involved, were you able to resolve them and if so, how?

      Thanks for the thought provoking article. I enjoyed reading through the other comments too!

    • Danny Crowder

      Hi Michael,

      Love the website and your ministry in teaching theology. Only recently have been reading the blogs, and it is so good to see another believer, like myself, who is of Calvinism, but does not make it an ‘essential’ of Christian fellowship.

      I have two adult daughters who live in another state, and I have encouraged them to remain in fellowship with a CoG (Anderson) because it not only focuses on the essentials, but in living out one’s faith. There may be a church in their area that is of my denomination (SBC), representing the classical view of Calvinism, but I believe the Lord has placed them in that local body for his purpose.

    • drano

      I, too, am a Calvinist (5 pointer, less than that and you are a hybrid, not a Calvinist). My wife and I briefly attended Crossings a few years back and sat under Jerry Regier in SS. I was aware that the senior pastor was not seminary grained and his sermons lacked depth but the SS class and the music were ministering to me and a couple of long-time friends were also in the SS class. We decided to join the church but first attended a thiniing-about-joining-Crossings class on Sunday night with the Senior pastor and other staff. I asked only a couple of questions but the answers were not what I wanted to hear. At that point, I decided that doctrine was not of primary concern to the church and open sin would not be confronted under any circumstances. I believed that went against the scripture and decided that sermonettes were for Christianettes and neither I nor my wife wanted any part of it. It was the right decision and I question your committment to Calvinism since there are many opportunies in the OKC metroplex to affiliate with a church that is much closer to your understanding of the doctrines of Sovereign Graced.

    • Tio Papo

      I am not sure where I fit…but then again there was an article you posted that a lot of us are just misfits…..! I simplified at least for my peace of mind this “predestined” stuff. It really doesn’t make much sense…hey but whosoever believed Scripture should be sensical? Philosophers….and they are just charcoals elected to hell, so we can’t pay much attention to them, right?
      See in practice do you witness any calvinism when trying to make a disciple?Do we dare take the position that if there is the slightest objection to the good news “they” were meant for hell”?
      I really wonder about interpretations….Has anyone ever diagrammed Romans 9?
      I guess it would make a great logic lecture!

    • GregG

      Michael, appreciate the article. I’m hoping into the discussion late, so you may have already answered this. How would you respond if they appointed a female teaching pastor within your church? Would it change your position or participation? Would you continue to serve under her authority?

    • Guz

      I have difficulty accepting that a man who denies eternal security, is a Christian. Such a person does not even mean the same thing that I do if he says, “I trust Christ as my Savior.” Included in what I mean by that is that I trust that the Lord Jesus has given me eternal life, that I shall never perish, that I shall live with Him transformed in a state of bless & perfection forever. I don’t mean that I have a temporary state of grace.

      I put it to you that to say “I might lose my salvation” is a denial of trusting Christ to save you.

    • Guz

      Drano says:

      “I, too, am a Calvinist (5 pointer, less than that and you are a hybrid, not a Calvinist).”

      Given what Calvin wrote on 1 John 2:2, can you prove that Calvin was a 5-pointer, believing in limited propitiation?

    • zKatherine

      I just stumbled upon this blog post as I google searched in exasperation “calvinist attend a methodist church”! My husband and I left our RCA church we’ve been members of for 7 years. Every Sunday is a new experience in frustration and disappointment now. We live in an area where there is a CRC or RCA church on every corner and it seems we’ve visited all of them in our near vicinity (though I admit a few we pulled into the parking lot, saw only about 20 cars and left again). The church we stumbled upon as a last resort just to “worship somewhere” one Sunday? A United Methodist Church. And we’ve been drawn back over and over by their preaching, their warm hearts, and their commitment to local missions. We aren’t close to making a decision yet, but I’m praying hard about this since I’d like to make a firm commitment sometime before fall (and youth group/sunday school programs start up again) so that our children have some stability back in their lives and can begin making new friends. Thank you so much for this encouraging blog post. I have placed so much emphasis on my reformed beliefs that it may be clouding God’s will for our lives.

    • Craig Bennett

      Michael. I love the humility and spirit of this post. I recently said in my blog post about the division in the SBC that a modern Paul perhaps would say

      “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Slave nor Free, Male nor Female, Arminian nor Calvinist…but all are one in him!”

    • […] disunity within the Southern Baptist Conference regarding theological beliefs. Michael Patton from Credo House has re-posted a brilliant article that he first posted in 2009 about why he a Calvinist fellowships […]

    • S. Wesley Mcgranor

      Conyinually in this wretched postmodern West; man rejects God. Some who ideally thought they were the elect missed the actual election.

    • Kirsty

      Some people were querying whether an arminian would be allowed to preach at a calvinist church.

      Certainly my dad – who is very arminian – has done so. And he was speaking on Ephesians 1 – not exactly an uncontroversial topic. However, they were happy for him to preach, even having read in advance what he was going to say (which did surprise me!)

      I think the whole ‘calvinist church’/’arminian church’ thing is a bit silly anyway. My church is neither – there are both strong arminians and strong calvinists in it. The mechanics of how salvation works need make no difference to how we preach the gospel (“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved”) or how we live as Christians.

    • Daniel

      Michael Patton, I also am a Calvinist attending an Arminian church, and for many of the same reasons. This article was really helpful. I am a New Calvinist, and somewhat Charismatic friendly, but not Word of Faith. I was thinking about leaving my church, because I feel sometimes like a fish out of water. Most Calvinists I know there are under cover, but I made my Calvinism known in my Sunday school, during class discussion.
      We are actually going through your Theology program now, so I decided to Google you, and check out your soteriology. I’m glad you are a Calvinist. Somehow that makes be feel better about the class, and I think I will stay put.

      Also, I read through a number of your articles here. On New Calvinism, you said you could be the poster boy for the New Calvinist. I could too. I didn’t know how to make the distinction, but I am definitely a New Calvinist. That is probably because the ministry of John Piper has had a great influence on me, and because I come from a Reformed upbringing, but ventured into Charismatic circles on my own, after leaving home.

    • Daniel

      Love this!
      I too primarily believe the Calvinistic doctrines, however I refuse to refer to myself as either stripe. They’re both biblically correct when you keep them balanced and they’re both heresy when you exclude the other.
      I too go to an Arminian church, IFB.
      I like that WIFE accronym! That’s why I go to my church! I love the congregation like family and they focus on Christ and living a life of holiness FOR Him, to please and obey Him.
      Glad I’m not crazy lol
      Thanks for this, Lord bless you!

    • Christopher Williams

      Having attended Stonebriar with you I am so thankful for this post. I have always admired you and your commitment to Biblical truth and authority and you have not deviated from that.

      I now attend an Arminian Church as well – First Methodist Carrollton. I am sad that seem to be few Theologians that are talking about the differences. But the bottom line is as you state – its about Grace and if Grace is not there then stay in bed!

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