Why do some people so passionately hate Calvinism?

“Are you a Christian or a Calvinist?” We received this question not that long ago. I am used to receiving questions/complaints from people who strongly disagree with Calvinism. But, this was the first one I had ever seen in which the person was insinuating that if you are a Calvinist, you are not a Christian. After engaging in a brief dialogue with the person, it was not just an insinuation. The person truly and strongly believed that Calvinists are not Christians.

We have also received numerous suggestions that GotQuestions.org disclose that it is a Calvinist ministry. I find these suggestions interesting considering that while we are moderately Calvinistic, it is absolutely not our purpose to promote Calvinism. And, if you read our articles on Calvinism vs. Arminianism or predestination/election/foreknowledge, our stand on the issues is abundantly clear. We are not hiding anything. What do they want, a flashing neon sign warning people: "This website has Calvinistic leanings!"?

For those not thoroughly familiar with the issue, Calvinism is a way to explain the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of humanity in relationship to salvation. To summarize, Calvinists believe that: (1) humanity is absolutely corrupt, spiritually dead, and unable to come to God for salvation on its own, (2) God sovereignly elects/chooses certain people to be saved, (3) Jesus' death was only for those whom God chose, (4) all those whom God has chosen will eventually come to God in faith, and (5) those whom God has chosen will persevere in the faith (cannot lose salvation).

A reasonable biblical case can be made for each of those points. Depending on how the points are defined, I consider myself anywhere between a 1 to 4.5 point Calvinist. I completely understand how and why many Christians disagree with one or more of the points of Calvinism. What I don't completely understand is why some Christians react to Calvinism with a visceral hatred. Granted, some Calvinists have a visceral hatred of Arminianism and question the faith of Arminians, but that is not the point of this post.

Based on quite a few dialogues/debates, my best guess is that many people so strongly oppose Calvinism because they hate the idea that they are not in control. They despise the idea that their faith was predestined. They loathe the concept that God choosing them had anything to do with them coming to Christ for salvation. Simply put, they want to think that they are fully in control of their own eternal destiny. They chose to receive Christ as Savior. And for many, they adamantly hold onto the idea that they can also choose to reject Christ as Savior after previously trusting in Him for salvation.

What Calvinism haters do not understand, or refuse to accept, is that God's absolute sovereignty does not negate the fact that we are still absolutely responsible for our actions. Yes, God elects people to salvation (Romans 8:29-30). At the same time, we must believe in Christ to be saved (John 3:16). The two are not mutually exclusive. Both are true. Everyone whom God has chosen will believe, and everyone who believes is chosen by God. Admitting that you cannot perfectly understand the mind of God is the only way to come to a biblical balance on this issue (Romans 11:33-34). Calvinists do not have a perfect understanding of how things work, but there is no denying, biblically speaking, that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation.

Some of the hatred that is directed towards Calvinism is the result of some Calvinists being horrible at explaining Calvinism and/or explaining it in an arrogant manner. This sometimes accurate caricature has been parodied brilliantly by the Babylon Bee: "Local Calvinist's Sense of Superiority Visible From Space" and "Animal Control Corrals Cage-Stage Calvinist After Biting Incident." But, ultimately, we cannot accept or reject a doctrinal system based on how some of its adherents behave. Calvinism should be accepted or rejected based solely on whether it is biblical.

Yes, GotQuestions.org is moderately Calvinistic. In our team of nearly 250 volunteers, we have full Calvinists, moderate Calvinists, Molinists, and moderate Arminians. The only point of Calvinism that is a non-negotiable for us is eternal security. The purpose of our ministry is to answer questions biblically. If a person asks us a question regarding the sovereignty of God in salvation, we will strive to answer that question according to what the Bible teaches. If the answer happens to agree with Calvinism, so be it.

For all you Calvinism haters out there, would it help if I told you that you were predestined to hate Calvinism? I didn't think so.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Why do some people so passionately hate Calvinism?