No. I mean, I don't like to be painted with that brush.
Are you a Calvinist? Many of us have been asked that question before.
Rev will tell you that he's not a follower of John Calvin and I've already suggested an alternative to the TULIP, the "loveliest flower in the Lord's garden."
But, am I a Calvinist?
Well, it depends on what you mean by Calvinist, of course. There is so much misinformation and caricaturization out there (like confusion about Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism) that such a term is enigmatic.
In many respects "Calvinist" would be an appropriate label of my theological perspective, but not my preferred label. I mean, I don't like to be painted with that brush. Just as others prefer not be called Arminians. Since we're not followers or Jacobus Arminius or John Calvin, those labels are inadequate, but I would certainly be more at the Calvinistic end of the spectrum.
I have nothing against John Calvin (whom I'd call great) and find his writing very helpful. I also admire his resolve to stand for truth.
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's Truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.
So, I don't want to give the impression that I'm trying to "distance" merely out of fear it will seem I got my theology from Calvin, which is not the case. I got it from the same place he did, from the same place Luther did, etc., from the Bible. It just so happens that there are great similarities between our theologies. In short, "Calvinism" is much bigger and predates Calvin.
Yet, there is some of some of Calvin's theology that I don't embrace. I prefer the more inclusive term "Reformed"as it reflects a return to the theological mindset of the Protestant Reformation, particularly the 5 Solas.
I prefer "Reformed" as it's more descriptive of principles that lead to theological precepts, instead of "Calvinist" which tends to be more descriptive of a set of theological precepts, which may vary some in the eye of the beholder.
With regard to the election & predestination stuff, I call it just like I see it on the biblical page (see Slooge Sheet). I believe in the sovereignty of God in election, but also believe every human being has a responsibility to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. I don't think they can or will unless aided by the Spirit, but I give them all the Gospel and leave it to God to do what only He can do, particularly among His elect.
Evangelize 'em all. Let God sort 'em out.
Yet, God's sovereignty motivates me to do evangelism and I love the doctrine, much as Spurgeon did.
Some men hate the doctrine of divine sovereignty; but those who are called by grace love it, for they feel if it had not been for sovereignty, they never would have been saved.
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Upon reflection, if I had to claim "a" guy with which to align my theology, I'd probably prefer to be a Spurgeonist, but he was more comfortable wearing the label "Calvinist" than I.
In a "Defense of Calvinism," Spurgeon wrote:
"I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."
I guess I could also be called an Augustinian or a Whitefieldian or Edwardsian or an Owenite or a Lutherite or Sproulian or even a Piperite. You could make a case for each one (as well as Mueller, Carey, Knox, Boyce, Boice, Judson, Dagg, Broadus, Carroll, Strong, etc.), but at the end of the day the "Calvinist" just wants what everyone wants, to follow Christ and bear his name.
I would also suggest that none of those men would want their followers to bear a name other than Christ's.
The labels can be helpful, but they can be problematic as well.
Am I a Calvinist?
In short, I don't like to be painted with that brush, but if words mean the things they're supposed to mean, then I would be dishonest if I denied the accusation of being a "Calvinist."
What about you? What's your preferred nomenclature?