How I “Accidentally” Became A Calvinist
Hi, my name is Rob Porter and I am a Calvinist.
This may come as a shock given that I am a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God, a historically Arminian denomination and I love my fellowship. However, a little over 2 years ago I accepted a staff position in a General Baptist church and this led me to do a little bit of research into what Baptists believe. Now, General Baptists are also Arminian but then I learned of a new kind of Baptist, Particular or Reformed Baptists. This discovery is what steered into a study of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.
You may have seen the t-shirt, “CALVINISM: Some Lives Matter”. At the beginning of my journey, I would’ve laughed at this joke and even scoffed at my Calvinist brothers and sisters (If you could’ve even convinced me that they were in Christ) because I went on a mission to refute Calvin’s God whom John Wesley said was “worse than the devil”! What was the first doctrine I had to deal with on this exodus?
I already agreed with the total depravity of humanity, but Calvin had 4 more points to prove to me. In this post however, I want to address the elephant in the room. Limited Atonement. Like I posted above, the joke is that Calvinists only believe that some lives matter to God while others are created for no other reason than to kindle the fires of hell. That’s ridiculous! That’s absurd! We believe that hell is kindled with the fire of God’s holiness and wrath against sin thank you very much! In all sincerity however, I understand why this particular doctrine gives people fits. It gave me the most trouble and that’s why I want to address it first.
How could God, whom the Bible says “is love” (1 John 4:8), intend to save only some? I rifled through argument after argument in video after video online. I went through scripture about how God was “not wishing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance” (1 Peter 3:9) Then I was on YouTube one day and came across a little bald man named Dr. James White (Alpha and Omega Ministries). He was debating another man that I have grown to respect greatly, a colleague of his named Dr. Michael Brown (FIRE School of Ministry). Brown led off where I would have, John 3:16, and I was overwhelmed with the love of God and while I listened I kept reading and saw verse 18-19 say, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” This blew my mind! It was right there all along that the atonement was limited to the believer only and that the unbeliever stood condemned before God already for not believing.
After watching this debate and other videos from Dr. White, I found another clip where he posed a question that sealed my position on Limited Atonement. He asked,
“Who is saved by Christ’s work on the cross?”
When I heard that, I realized that there was a clear distinction between the believer who is atoned for by the work of Christ. I also became convicted that the unbeliever who is still in rebellion against God, still stands condemned like in John chapter 3. I’ve developed a greater compulsion for the gospel ever since.
I didn’t expect to become a Calvinist, but like Obi Wan Kenobi, I no longer believe in coincidence. Many people deconstruct out of Calvinism, but I’m living proof that people can also deconstruct into it as well. This journey has opened me up to learn from amazing ministers such as Voddie Baucham, Jeff Durbin, and Paul Washer as well as apologists like Greg Bahnsen, R.C. Sproul and of course Dr. James White. While I still have great admiration for the giants that I used to and still follow, those like A.W. Tozer, D.L. Moody, John Wesley, and the like, I have been inspired to look into preachers like A.W. Pink, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield and imagine my shock when I discovered my favorite preacher to quote, though I hadn’t done much research, the Prince of Preachers himself, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was a Calvinist. It’s been quite the excursion indeed, but the Lord has led me each and every step.
Thank you for welcoming me to the neighborhood!
Robert Porter is a staff pastor at Amazing Grace Fellowship Church in Metro Detroit