How did you become a Calvinist?

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Puritan Board Post-Graduate
:welcome: Benjamin. You know, there's a whole bunch of people on this board from Louisville. I'm beginning to get creeped out, to tell you the truth.

Louisville? Can there anything good come out of Louisville? :lol:


Puritan Board Senior
I was saved when I was 14, and I actually was fairly Calvinistic until I went to a solid albeit non-Reformed Christian high-school. I somehow equated Calvinism with liberalism (having been raised PCUSA), and I was your typical evangelical- though even then I knew that I wanted a church that taught God's Word without all the entertainment so prevalent today. During college, I was introduced to the free-will debate in my Milton class. I knew that I believed in free-will (thinking somehow Calvinists didn't) but I also knew God is sovereign and does whatever He pleases. I was inconsistent on this and maintained that natural man could choose God without God's special, electing grace. I even called myself Arminian for a time, not realizing I wasn't really because I believed in "once saved, always saved" (which I know is a inadequate way to describe the Biblical doctrine of perseverance). I even remember going into a Christian chat-channel that was discussing Calvinism and saying that I stands for Infant-Baptism :eek: and I was amening this guy nicknamed Wesley-Arminus. The poor Calvinist was getting beat up on. I now want to know who that was so I can apologize :doh:

My college was a liberal Baptist college, and the primary focus in terms of spiritual growth was coming to a strong view of the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. This was something I believed in, but I knew I had to get a firmer conviction of it because so many, including my family, doubted it.

Skipping over the details to get to the main topic of the thread, my first semester of grad school, a tragedy happened in my family. My cousin shot and killed my aunt and uncle. For the couple weeks following, my family stayed at the house of a dear Christian couple. It was during that time, I thought long and hard about God's Word and God's provision in every circumstance. I knew that I had been a faithful witness to my aunt and uncle and cousins, and that I had done my part, and I knew it was God who gives and takes away.

My cousin's older brother came and lived with my family for the next couple years. This drove me to the Word even more, as he was quite antagonistic to the Word, and much of it was due to an unusually rebellious spirit and cynicism (even the liberal Christianity of my parents was too much for him). He's actually married to a Muslim woman now. It;'s hard to know what he's thinking. But he's not beyond God's reach....!

Anyway, this drove me to the Word. Meanwhile, I had begun working at the Southern Baptist Seminary library. This was a wonderful help through my years at my liberal Baptist college. Particularly helpful were the sermons I listened to by Dr. Mohler. I loved the Biblical nature of the sermons and the God-centeredness of it all. Then, I found out that he was a ....Calvinist!!!! "But, but, he's CONSERVATIVE and BAPTIST!"

Several months after the tragedy, there was a huge icestorm, and I was stuck in my grad-school apartment for a full week (especially since I'd sprained my ankle just a week earlier and was recovering from that). So I decided to use the time for Bible-study and prayer, and I was reading Ephesians 1 one morning and ran across the word predestination. I thought, wait a minute....predestinated...hmmm....maybe God really does choose us for salvation! And so I started a word study of predestinate and election. Romans 9 was the big chapter for me. I honestly don't remember ever reading it before then. And so I looked up Calvinism on the internet and ran across The Highway. In God's providence, I had run across this site in my Milton class and had sent my professor a chart comparing Calvinism and Arminianism that proved helpful to the whole class. The two items that helped me most were Al Martin's The Practical Implications of Calvinism and J. I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God


Puritan Board Junior
I think my calling was a rather unique thing. I was raised up in a typical free willer family and obviously I was greatly influenced by my parent's teaching. It was at the age of 15, when I first started really doubting my faith in Christ (which is never a bad thing) and I felt this heavy conviction of my conscience, which was always so unbearable I had to escape it to my fantasies. Then I started having these weird, terrifying dreams and I often woke up in the middle of the night. I tried living with all these things and my parents would simply say, "If you're doubting your faith, then it's just the Devil bothering you." But graciously the night came, when God made me taste of his irresistible grace. God gave me this dream which I couldn't distinguish from reality and shortly put God made me fall from a very high iceberg. Now I didn't see Warfield, I didn't see Calvin, but what I saw was DEATH and I was ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED. God actually made me face death itself and the moment I saw my doomed end coming, I woke up from the dream and I also woke up from my false faith in Christ.

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." -C.S Lewis

What I came to understand through this experience was that without understanding, I cannot possibly have faith in anything (Matt. 13:18-23). I had to understand the Gospel. And Paul Washer was the one to show me the glory in the Gospel of Christ. Soon it began evident to me that the reason I couldn't believe in God was that I couldn't appreciate His love towards me because I never saw how evil my deeds were and how great a punishment Christ had to suffer on my behalf, and therefore as a result I HATED God. This was, let's say, my first step to Calvinism. I didn't embrace all the five points of Calvinism at first, but the dream God gave me totally refuted the free will doctrine and so as God's sovereignty in man's salvation began a reality in my life, it eventually led me to all the other four points of Calvinism, as well.


Puritan Board Freshman
More I read Bible more I learned about God and His salvation in Jesus Christ. After Jesus saved me I was member in Free Church of Finland, which is almost same with theology with pentecostal. I started to find out that I didn´t agree all I was teached there. I knew Calvin only by name, but didn´t know anything about his theology. I met some calvinists and they gave me Amazing Grace-dvd and later I got John Piper´s TULIP DVD and found out that it was almost same way I understood Scriptures as those DVDs teach.

I learned about Calvinism in my mid-twenties when I watched the video, "Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism." I remember thinking, "Why haven't I heard this before?" Recently, at my pastor's suggestion, I started reading Loraine Boettner's book on the five points. I really like it, as well.
I didn´t notice your message. Yes Amazing Grace by Eric Holmberg is really good one to learn about calvinism.

How many people are calvinist without knowing that they are calvinists or have found Doctrine of Grace only by reading the Bible?


Puritan Board Freshman
I was a lapsed Catholic when I married this Presbyterian/Dutch Reformed raised girl who gave me entry into another kind of worship. I have Wesleyan people in the family & went there to worship a few times but wasn't convinced, Since there was some remnants of Calvinists on Dads side I began to research & found the old TULIP model. But what impressed me the most was my old Aunt Rachel who displayed Calvinism in her life, joy filled but controlled with all her ducks in a row.

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Grew up in the PC(USA), where my pastor told me during a class for membership that "we don't really believe in that election stuff anymore". I accepted it as fact (since I was ~12 and it matched my history books), and repeated it to Tim while we were dating and he was writing a sermon that touched on the topic--he promptly began to set me straight. Through Bible studies and preaching at the church he attended (pre-seminary), I came to see how the Reformed position is the biblical position.


Puritan Board Doctor
Grew up in the PC(USA), where my pastor told me during a class for membership that "we don't really believe in that election stuff anymore". I accepted it as fact (since I was ~12 and it matched my history books), and repeated it to Tim while we were dating and he was writing a sermon that touched on the topic--he promptly began to set me straight.
Don't worry. We won't let Tim know that he set you straight. He might get a big head or something. :D


Puritan Board Graduate
C S Lewis was the beginning of it for me. A friend had been enthusiastically pushing Bultmann and the joys of "demythologising" - somehow, without knowing anything, I knew deep down that if THAT was Christianity, I might just as well have some consistency and be an atheist. It was thrilling to discover from Lewis's books that a hard-core version existed which actually believed in the supernatural...I didn't guess it was just the start.

Later it became very important to me to know if Roman Catholicism was all it claimed to be, since if that was THE Church I knew I would have to join it, so I set out to study that question.
By God's mercy someone lent me some old audio tapes, "Irreconcilable Differences - Evangelicals, Catholics, and the new quest for unity" with some guys called R C Sproul, D James Kennedy and John Macarthur (none of whom I'd ever heard of before).
I listened to those tapes in my car, on and on, round and round till I just about knew them by heart. they settled that question, plus a whole lot more!
I think I'd been a Calvinist for a while before I realised it was called that. As some other people have said - I just thought I was a Biblical Christian...

One thing I was wondering - I was brought up a mainstream pew-sitter, and most of the testimonies seem to start with some kind of church background. Has anyone been converted from out and out atheism?


Asked all the wrong questions when first becoming a Christian in 1968 and kept asking them. In 1975, when in college, we studied Packer's Knowing God. That solidified it for me. Been growing ever since, but will not arrive in this life.

BTW, we will start studying Packer's classic at Maranatha Baptist Church prior to morning worship starting June 21st.
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Puritan Board Sophomore
I was raised in a charismatic soup pot of churches. Whether they be Semi-Pelagian or Arminian, I don't know, but I do know they all were penticostal of some sort. I remember growing up and being told that God has given me a freewill and it was my responsability to use it to choose him. That God would not make me choose Him, I had to make the first step of faith. I did this over and over at the altar calls every Sunday. I was tought about the rapture and the end times with Israel. So I figured, if I kept an eye on Israel, I would choose God before the rapture. I basically planed out my salvation according to my lustful desires. Besides all I had to do was choose him, and he would save me. It was not until I turned 18 and left the church and went into the world. I fullfilled every desire that was born from my lusts. I went right through head on. When I was 27, I had two DUI charges, and I was addicted to all kinds of painkillers. God sent me someone who hated me. His name was Joe. Joe directed me to a Reformed Church. The pastor at the church has been teaching me on a one-on-one basis. The first thing he described to me was my absolute spiritual condition. It was totally dead. Because of sin, I was never able to choose God. IT was Him seeking me. This is where I was introduced to the bondage of the will. I never knew that there was something different from what I was taught was as child in the churches I grew up in.


Puritan Board Freshman
I became Reformed just recently as a matter of fact. what drew me to Reformed theology was the reading of scripture especially John 6:44. I learned that salvation is not done on the part of man as espoused by Arminian theology but by God alone. If salvation can be lost what is the point of it? die and go to hell? then that would make Christ death null and void. I learned Arminian theology is based on human works, but scripture teaches us our works are like rags, that none of us are good and all have fallen Romans tell us and the wicked condition of the heart Jeremiah 17:9. that is what drew me to reformed theology, God's grace and the wisdom to understand my sinful nature.

William Price

Puritan Board Freshman
I became a Calvinist originally from hearing men like Washer and reading Spurgeon. I tried to bring some parts of Calvinism to the pentecostal churches I was once a minister at, but that was to no avail. So, i decided to just be who I am. I also ventured deeper into Calvinism through studying it on my own. I may now be a pariah to the pentecostals, but I know what I believe to be right.


Puritan Board Freshman
For me it was during a 8 month stint attending a "Bible Baptist" church nearby, the reason I was there to begin with was that after being a member of the United Methodist Church for so many years I was disenchanted with the lack of Bible based preaching coming from the pulpit, so I wondered into a Baptist church where everyone brought a Bible and the pastor preached from Scripture, this I thought was what I was looking for, no more dead religion, Word of God preaching was what I desired but after a few months of witnessing alter calls and people accepting Christ into their hearts I began to get frustrated once again, where was the doctrines I was reading about in Scripture, where was grace and the sovereignty of God? One night I was searching for something edifying to read, some meat for my stomach and I came across Charles Spurgeon's "Lectures to my Students" and began to read it with much delight, it was Spurgeon's writings on Calvin that lead me to learn more about Calvin and I began to read everything I could find by J.C. Was not long there after that I found the doctrines of grace explained to me, the very doctrines that jumped out at me in Scripture, I was at a point prior to this exposure to Calvin and later James M. Boice, and many others that I believed there must be something wrong with me, maybe I was not truly regenerate because everyone else believed so strongly on free will, and open theism, maybe I was just way out there in my interpretation, turns out I was simply looking in the wrong place all alone. God brings His elect around in His time, not ours, so I am just thankful He did not choose to wait any longer for me in revealing His wonderful truths to me. One more point and I am sure you all have encountered this as well, but my free will friends now avoid me like a man stricken with a terrible case of demon possession. Oh, well.

reformed trucker

Puritan Board Sophomore
I grew up under the ministry of Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr. who was well-known in fundamentalist circles though his background was Dutch Reformed.
Wow. I did a double-take when I heard that name. I listened to Wayne Van Geldered Jr. (Falls Baptist Church) all the time on a local radio station up here. Small world.

I was raised RC, but stopped going around '78(8th grade). Around 2000, God drew me unto Him. I attended an SBC (arminian/purpose driven) church for about 4 years; during the last year I was also involved in the men's ministry at a mini-mega down the road from my house (in a quest to go deeper). I thought it foolish to be involved with two churches, so I started going to the mini-mega non-denom (for about 4 years). A deeper study of Scripture got me searching... I started buying books and searching the web (praise God for Monergism and PB). After much study (went it alone) whipping more that a few books across the room while being foolish enough to level a charge against God for being "unfair" (Dr. Sproul's "Willing to Believe" and Dr. White's "Potter's Freedom" iced it for me) while I built up a library of 500 books and about $1,000.00 of Dr. Bahnsen cd's... here I am. God predestined it. ;)

Many, many, MANY thanks to my brothers and sisters here on the PB!


Staff member
I became a Calvinist when I got saved. I was 17 (15 years ago) at the time and was not looking for Christ, for what he had to offer, or salvation. When I came to understand my sin and my need for the Gospel- Calvinism was a no-brainer.

This was underscored with the fact that the woman who led me to Christ had me reading good books and the Scriptures right away. The first book that I read as a new believer was Thomas Watson's Heaven Taken By Storm.
Me too Nate. I became a Christian reading the scriptures in a United States Navy Barracks. I read the gospels and when I got to John 15:16 I knew what happened. I didn't know I was a Cavlinist for a while after that though. I had never heard of Calvinism. LOL I just believed the Bible till that point.


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally Posted by JBaldwin
I grew up under the ministry of Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr. who was well-known in fundamentalist circles though his background was Dutch Reformed.
Wow. I did a double-take when I heard that name. I listened to Wayne Van Geldered Jr. (Falls Baptist Church) all the time on a local radio station up here. Small world.
The Van Gelderens have an interesting legacy. All three of the boys, Wayne, Jim and John preach, though I think Wayne is the only one who has a church. I recently read online some of John and Jim's suermons and was interested to note they had formed an entirely new theology when it comes to election and predestination. Their uncle, a man who sat in a wheelchair (paralyzed since his youth) was an amazing picture of the grace of God. He loved the Lord and was one of the few godly men that left his mark on my life.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I became a Christian at 30. It just so happened that the friend who invited me to attend church with him happened to be going to a URCNA church.


Puritan Board Freshman
I set out to disprove Calvinism using the Bible...long story short, here I am.
About the same here.

A local pastor railed against Calvinism several times in as many months. As I studied the claims made by the pastor (Calvinists are heretics, the Doctrines of Grace are a lie from Hell, etc) I set out to see if his claims were true. They were not. The more I studied the more God revealed to me the truth.


Puritan Board Senior
I really love reading all this examples of His grace and thinking of how very blessed each of you are!


Puritan Board Freshman
It sounds trite, but I really am one of those "I didn't become one...I just found out I already was" to a certain extent.

Believe it or not (some question this), Millard T Erickson's Green Monster got me started in Bible college. Then the works of Boyce. A paper on Luther's Reformation theology kept the ball rolling in college. Then Spurgeon's sermons and devotional writings, then Lloyd-Jones while at SBTS. Alistair Begg drove the final nail into the coffin and I was hooked. I have some lesser known Reformed brothers along the way who aided me. Grudem has been a help, as has Reymond. The Founders ministries have been critical also. My ministry as an expositor also helped because I was forced to wrestle with texts that I wouldn't ordinarily have had to if I were the hunt and peck style preacher :)

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Listened to the epistle to the Romans on audio once in one sitting. It was clear to me at that moment that the Bible taught unconditional election. It threw a monkey wrench into my system. I wasn't sure at that time how to reconcile this doctrine with everything else the Bible teaches about salvation in Christ, so I consulted this guy I had heard of in public school history class named John Calvin. I remembered learning that he had taught this doctrine of "predestination", and so I found a copy of his Institutes at the USAFA cadet library. Needless to say I found him very helpful in piecing my theology back together.


Puritan Board Freshman
I was in a charismatic church that, like most charismatic churches, denied vehemently the concept of election, predestination, etc. One day I was reading Ephesians 1(I had been 6 years in that church) and I said to myself: "why is it that we deny what is said so clearly here?"; I was thinking about it for some days and the next Sunday a friend of mine showed up at my house carrying the book "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Loraine Boettner, which sparked an argument with my brother and my brother in law who were at home with us that day, they was opposed to the doctrine of predestination while my friend, my wife and me where in favor (none of us knew anything about the doctrine and we didn't even open the book, the cover started the argument).

After they all left I knew for some reason that I had to find a red book that was buried in a box somewhere in a closet were I had a lot of things that we didn't use but we didn't want to throw away, so I opened the closet and got all the boxes out and went through all of them until I found the book, something was telling me that I had to read it. The book's title: The Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink. I read it and that's how my journey out of Arminianism, and charismaticism started.
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