To a Calvinist, Calvinism is the Gospel behind the Gospel:
Calvinist, Paul Washer, states: “The Bible calls all men haters of God and enemies of God. You say, ‘but I’ve loved God ever since I was little.’ No, you loved an image of God that you created with your own mind and you loved what you made, but if someone would have come to you and pointed out the God of Scripture, you would have said, ‘I could never love a God like that.’ So many times I’ll go to people and they’ll say, ‘Well I’ve loved God all my life’ and I say, ‘Could I sit down with you for a half an hour and just explain from Scripture some of the historical Christian beliefs about God?’ and after a half an hour, a good churchman will say, ‘That’s not my God.’ I have to say, ‘of course it’s not, but it is the God of Scripture.’” (Total Depravity/Gospel, emphasis mine)
What you will find out is that “some of the historical Christian beliefs” are actually the Calvinist historical beliefs, in which Calvinism is superimposed upon Scripture, in being presented as the gospel behind the gospel, and so when “a good churchman” rejects the imposition of Calvinism upon Scripture, he is told that he has rejected the “God of Scripture.”
Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, states: “...there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as; the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except upon His throne.” (Divine Sovereignty)
...and you will be called a “worldling.”
John Calvin writes: “No one can disprove the doctrine I have expounded except he who pretends to be wiser than the Spirit of God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.161, emphasis mine)
...and you will be told that you think that you are “wiser than the Spirit of God.”
One Calvinists relates: “My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity....” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
...and you will be told that you are spiritually immature and un-enlightened, ect.
One Calvinist explains: “A wonderful friend of our family once commented that coming to understand the Doctrines of Grace was akin to a type of salvation within salvation.” (oldtruth.com, emphasis mine) Sovereign Grace Church explains: “Because God’s election and God’s grace cannot be separated, to believe in God’s grace in the biblical sense is to believe in the ‘doctrine of election’. If ‘the doctrine of election’ is not ‘truth essential to salvation’, then the ‘doctrine of grace’ is not truth essential to salvation.” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
...and in some cases, you will be told that you are unsaved, if you do not accept Calvinism.
One member of The Society of Evangelic Arminians writes: “Calvinists appear to be engaging in a very subtle form of idolatry: they worship the Calvinistic system and use it as their standard of spirituality. That is not the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit revealed Christ to people before Augustine came along, for hundreds of years. He was revealing Christ to people. He continued to reveal Christ to people through the reformation and throughout church history up until the present day.” (SEA, emphasis mine) Another member of The Society of Evangelic Arminians writes: “The lack of love and grace is for me a very, very big concern. The more I study and consider Calvinism, the more it seems like a ‘Christian cult’ within Christianity. It is acceptable because, supposedly, they do not deny essential doctrine as non-Christian cults do. But their actual practices are exactly what the cults do. They take believers who start out as Arminians and literally convert them away from the truth. They have a system of theology that denies essential Christian doctrines (including God’s very plan of salvation, God’s desire to save the world, God’s provision of Jesus for the world, salvation through faith when a person freely chooses to trust in Christ, etc. etc.). They become like cultists with a severe case of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ dynamics with some even declaring the ‘them’ (non-Calvinists to be unsaved and not Christians). They follow gurus, like Piper, MacArthur, etc. The teachings of the group/cult take priority over everything, including of course the Bible and Christian tradition. They attack outsiders in extremely hateful ways. They become very hateful individuals who love to attack, love to argue, love to twist Scripture, and love to support the teachings of the cult/group. It is all there, just like a cult. But it is acceptable, since they hold to some Christian doctrines. Am I claiming they are all unsaved? Of course not. I am, however, claiming that Calvinism is like a cult within the Christian church, a cult that twists the scripture as much as any cult, that divides brothers and sisters, that twists the Gospel to equate it with Calvinism, etc., etc. What we are seeing on Blogs and Message Boards, from what I thought were respectable Christian leaders, is nothing different than exactly what you see with cults. Cultists tend to love their own, but hate all others. How is Calvinism any different? And when you actually look at the founders, i.e. Augustine, look at how much false teaching he brought into the church? Calvin and Luther and the Dortians (you don’t see godly character and faith and love that marks true Christians. You see people who hated and despised others, who had people killed for not believing as they did. It is not Christianity. It is like a Trojan horse that entered the church and has been causing havoc ever since.” (SEA, emphasis mine)
The context of this statement came from an encounter with a group of strident, Internet Calvinists, which is turning into a bit of a phenomenon. Even Calvinist, John Piper, addresses this growing trend:
Dave Hunt writes: “The historical evidence, however, is impeccable for Calvin’s use of the state to enforce godliness, his abusive language, and his endorsement of the death penalty for heretics (‘One should...burn them cruelly.’), ‘barbarous... imprisonment, torture, the stake,’ and floggings, quartering and hanging body part in strategic sites as a warning.” (Debating Calvinism, p.247, emphasis mine)
Of course! If you read John Calvin’s book, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, his tone and treatment of others is blatantly abusive. So it’s not just a new phenomenon among Internet tough-guys otherwise known as “The Founders” types, and James White. This is the same tone that has been perpetuated since Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu came to comfort Job.
Consider another aspect of Calvinism, involving an alleged, Secret Will:
John Calvin writes: “For the man who honestly and soberly reflects on these things, there can be no doubt that the will of God is the chief and principal cause of all things. It is fitting to restrain our minds by this knowledge, lest we pursue our investigation beyond what is lawful.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.177-178, emphasis mine)
Another member of The Society of Evangelic Arminians writes: “You know, I have often thought that Calvinism inadvertently ends up being its own kind gnosticism. God’s got a ‘secret will’ that the initiates are taught about only after they have already committed themselves to the core tenets of Christianity. Upon learning these secretive parts of God’s will, they are told not to talk about the secrets and to pretend in public as if Calvinism is only focused on ‘God’s sovereignty’ or ‘making a big deal about God’ (to paraphrase John Piper). They, then, perpetuate this secret-keeping by only sharing these things with the initiates. This ethos of clandestine information-sharing is one of the things that has consistently turned me off to Calvinism.” (Society of Evangelical Arminians, edited)
As a perfect example, consider this exchange between a hardline Calvinist and one member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians:
Yes, it is. However, to be fair, some Calvinists absolutely reject this kind of arrogant and cultic attitude, and those kinds of Calvinists are often disparaged by the hardliners as being “not truly Reformed,” and I haven’t even mentioned the treatment towards 4-Point Calvinists, as they are hit with the label of Amyraldism. However, what also needs to be pointed out, is that it’s not just a phenomenon within Calvinism, as I have witnessed this same kind of cultic attitude displayed by the hardliners who espouse Baptismal Regeneration, insomuch that unless you are rebaptized (by a member of their denomination), you cannot be saved. These kinds of pet doctrines seem to create cultists. Arminianism, however, seems to be immune to these types of problems, because it does not insist that one must be baptized to be saved, or to be a member of a certain denomination to be saved, or to speak in tongues to be saved, or to perform certain sacraments to be saved, or to go door to door to be saved, but only to trust in Jesus to be saved. Cultists seem to find no home within an Arminian denomination, perhaps because it wields no power to say, “you must belong to us,” or “you must worship like us,” to be saved. To a cultist, what good is such a denomination, if it offers no means of control?