I decided to go ahead and write another blog, even though I said I wouldn't until March. I think this one is long overdue. I am a Calvinist Christian. I would not call myself just a Christian anymore, simply because the word Christian has different meanings for different people. And, I hesitate sometimes to simply call myself a Calvinist, because many have a bad understanding of it too, and the word seems to carry bad connotations for some.
But nonetheless, I think it is important to stress the life changing doctrines of Calvinism, because they truly are life changing.
So first, let me list a basic attitude that many people who do not have an understanding and belief in Calvinism usually look like.
1.) Shallow relationship With Christ: This is the biggest thing right here. Apart from the doctrines of grace (which is Calvinism) a person cannot have a deep, rich, healthy relationship with Christ, because they do not understand what He is truly like very well, and often they ascribe characteristics to God that are not true of God. This creates a passion for God that is not according to knowledge, which the Bible condemns and says is useless.
2.) Rely on self for following Christ: This is a big one too. A non-Calvinist often thinks that he or she must live for Christ by their own strength. They may pray to God for help, but because they don't fully understand the gravity of their sinfulness, and because they often think God is wanting them to live for Him in their own strength to show their trust in Him and love for Him, they think they are able to actually live for Him by their own power. What often happens is, people fail to live for God and become depressed, and may even wander if they are really saved.
3.) Pretend that everything is alright: Often non-Calvinist Christians will take a "I am doing very well spiritually, thank you" approach. They often do this indirectly, by the way they act around other Christians, or simply by avoiding the subject of sin and denying that they struggle with it. I think this is a natural outworking of number 2.
4.) An almost exclusive emphasis on doing things for God (good works) and an almost complete negligence of having to struggle to stop sinning: Sometimes for the non-Calvinist it seems two lives develop- a public life, where you put on a godly exterior and take this mental approach that everything is alright and sin is not a battle, and then your private life, where reality sets in and sin is seen to truly be a battle. This is unhealthy, because rather than directly attacking sin and knowing how to do it biblically, you try to ignore it, which allows it to grow and fester in the heart, which will privately be made manifest and often in time lead to really big sins like adultery or stealing that will become known to everyone.
5.) A misunderstanding of God's ultimate purpose in the universe: Non-Calvinist either do not understand or have a diminshed and tainted understanding of what God is doing in all of life. This is either because they do not understand God's holiness and sovereignty fully, or they distort God's holiness and limit His sovereignty.
In part two, I will show how Calvinism addresses all five of these issues and gives us a full-orbed understanding of Christianity so that we can know God more, love God more, and because we love Him and know Him more, live for Him more.