I am choosing to address your comment, not because I strive to change your mind, but for the sake of other readers who have ears to hear.
If there is a set of doctrines that are not supported by Scripture, particularly in how to inherit eternal life, then such a belief system is a false gospel. Besides this, if this false gospel describes a god (the one we are supposed to be seeking and obeying) with attributes that are not the attributes that Scripture describes of Him, then the belief system is doubly false. Such a religious system would have to be deemed a cult.
You are saying (at my comment page –8/18/11) that Calvinism matches “the historic views of the church at large the past two thousand years.” This is an unimpressive claim when it was Calvinism which, throughout much of Europe, merely got its way like Catholicism did, through the persecution of those who would not adhere to their enforced state religion. Augustine, whom Calvin quoted extensively, was a very influential Catholic who believed that Tradition and the Church were as authoritative as Scripture, yet Calvinists insist (dishonestly) that it is Scripture alone which they follow. No, Calvinists follow men’s interpretations of Scripture, which means you, as a Calvinist, are not following Christ, but following men’s doctrines –particularly, Augustine’s, Luther’s, and Calvin’s. By the very title “Calvinism”, your belief system is one that adheres to what John Calvin wrote in his “Institutes”. Please do not side-step this fact by talking about “hyper-calvinism” and a “straw man”. Those are typical phrases of evasion I’ve heard numerous times by those who don’t want to own up to what their system does indeed teach.
Besides this, I ask you David, who are you? Why do you feel you have authority to tell me what men, books, and subjects to study? Be assured that I have lived my entire life in the world of academia and have thoroughly studied every one of these things you mention; but, I ask you, what does that have to do with knowing God or His Truth? A lot, you seem to think, even though we can both read that God says He has “made foolish the wisdom of the world”. (1 Cor. 1:20) We know that the Pharisees were steeped in “knowledge of God” (supposedly), the Greeks loved to think they were philosophers, and many highly intelligent people in the modern world are fools when it comes to any understanding about God and Truth. Paul considered his knowledge of the law rubbish compared to knowing Christ (Phil. 3:2-11) and Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)
The only Book that we are to exhort one another to read is God’s Word; all other books are completely optional. For you to tell me that I must read the teachings of men in order to know the way of Truth proves your heart has put their teachings up as necessary for understanding God’s Word –a typical requirement of cults. No, we do not need any man to interpret for us; we need only the Spirit of God –and the Word of God. He will teach us. (1 John 2:27 & Ps. 32:8) He will give us more insight than all our teachers. (Ps. 119:99) He will interpret for us. (1 Cor. 2:12-14) He will guide us into all Truth. (John 16:13) Take care to your over-weening pride, David. It could be laughed at –if it wasn’t so shameful.
Your dishonesty is shameful also. Your doctrinal system is the “5 points” called TULIP; therefore you are a Calvinist. Calvinists hold Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion” in high esteem –as that which interprets God’s Word for them, “enlightening” them as to who God is and what the Gospel is. By doing simple research, you can find direct quotes of Calvin’s such as “all events take place by his sovereign appointment” –thus crediting God as having preordained the fall, all sin, and all evil– as leading Calvinists most certainly admit they teach.
Concerning God’s supposed favoritism, Calvin says, “…by his [God’s] eternal providence they were before their birth doomed to perpetual destruction”; “…and are to glorify him [God] by their destruction”; “…for no other cause but because he [God] is pleased to exclude them”; and “…whose [God’s] pleasure it is to inflict punishment on fools and transgressors”; plus many, many more like these. God’s Word, on the other hand, declares that God does not show partiality (Dt. 10:17 & 2 Chron. 19:7) or favoritism (Acts 10:34 & Rom. 2:11 & Eph. 6:9 & Col. 3:25) –for to do so is sin (Jam. 2:9)– but that He instead judges people according to their deeds done in –or not in– the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-27 & 10:32,33 & 12:50 & 24:45-51 & 25:26-30,40-46 & Luke 11:28 & John 5:29 & 1 John 2:17 & Ps. 62:12 & 2 Cor. 5:10 & etc.) Now which opposing teachings here are we to uphold? –Calvin’s teachings or what God’s Word teaches? To choose Calvin’s is to choose a false view of God.
Furthermore, Calvin, in continuously philosophizing about God’s sovereignty (which he could only explain as, because God foreknew all things, He thus foreordained all things), never gave commentary on God’s love for mankind. How strange. Yet God’s Word repeatedly speaks of God’s love for all He has made. It is obvious –through his writings and his un-Christ-like life (his cruel tyranny)– that Calvin did not know or commune with the loving, merciful, full-of-justice God of the Bible. Calvin was describing a false demon god whom he certainly served well, and he taught others to believe in and worship this false god. Therefore, Calvin’s gospel is also false and it will save no one.
Was Calvin teaching a false way of salvation? Yes. For he taught that we are saved, not by choosing, through our faith, to believe in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, to repent and deny Self, and to follow Christ in obedience, but instead that God alone chooses whom He will save and whom He will damn –based on nothing but an “irresistible grace” (or lack thereof). This is a made-up term (not found in the Bible) and is another way of stating that God forces upon whom He wills, either salvation or damnation. Once again, anyone who humbly and unbiasedly reads God’s Word can see this is not the way of salvation taught in Scripture.
I could go on revealing the blasphemies taught by Calvin –and yes, –Calvinists, but for anyone genuinely seeking Truth, this response to you should be adequate for them to get away from false teachers and seek and honor the true God and the true Gospel.