What to do after recanting Calvinism?

Read this encouraging note I received today from yet another former Calvinistic pastor and then watch the short video response below…

Dr. Flowers,

I have a bit of a bone to pick with you. You have put me in quite a quandary. I am a long time pastor at a “Calvinistic” Baptist church and I have been a Calvinist most of my life. About a year ago one of my church members, who is close with my wife, kept hounding her to listen to your podcast until finally she did. After a few months of listening to you she became thoroughly convinced that Calvinism was wrong. She then began insisting that I listen to your podcast with her. I refused. I told her you were deceiving her and that she should stop listening to you. We had many fights about this until finally she just stopped talking about it (which I found out later was advice you gave her).

I had all but forgotten about it until my birthday came around. She gave me several gifts, one of which was your book, The Potter’s Promise. She promised me that if I would read your book with an open mind then she would never bring this issue up again. I reluctantly agreed just to shut her up.

I finished reading your book last week which led me to binge on your podcast over the last 6 days. Wow. You have completely messed up my world! I cannot believe that I am even writing you this letter right now. I would have never dreamed that your book would have convinced me to recant Calvinism, but it has. I cannot believe I have not seen this before. I mean I have questioned some of the typical issues people have against Calvinism but I have always been quite certain the TULIP Soteriology was correct. I am even more certain now that it isn’t!

So, what am I supposed to do now? Resign my church? Recant publicly? Go back and try to fix everyone I misguided over the 16 years of my preaching ministry? See how you’ve put me in quite a quandary? Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful for helping me see this error, but I am quite perplexed as to what to do now. It’s like I’m seeing the Bible in a whole new light and I so badly want to start teaching my fellowship what I’ve been learning but, on the other hand, I don’t want to split the church or cause division among the brethren.

So, I guess I’m writing you for two reasons. One to thank you for your work and influence in our lives and also to ask you your advice as to how I should proceed from here? Is this something you have seen before? What have others in my situation done and could you even point me to them so I can talk about it with a brother who has been through this?

Thank you for your time and prayers!

(It was requested that I not share his name)


12 thoughts on “What to do after recanting Calvinism?

  1. Thank you Leighton for sharing that letter here as well as on FB! It is so encouraging to see that God is providing the opportunities and people are responding to the truth that then changes their minds to conform more closely to His Word!

  2. The Angels in heaven are rejoicing, for a loving God has opened the eyes of one who was once blinded.

    On a side note, I noted this pastor said: “as a Calvinists, I had questioned some of the TYPICAL ISSUES people have against Calvinism”
    Calvinists are aware of those logical conundrums, and ethical dilemmas that plague their system.
    They simply can’t allow themselves to see.

    John 9: 4-41
    And some of the religious persons who saw themselves as superior, and who were blind to their own blindness, became insulted by Jesus’ words. And they turned to him insulted that their superiority would be questioned, saying to him: “Are we blind also?”

    Then Jesus said to them, If you were blind, ye should have no sin: but you refuse to see what your blindness does not allow you to see.
    And so you claim “we see”. Therefore the sin [and your blindness] remains.

    Calvinists, being just as human as the religious persons who were insulted by Jesus, have their own version of superiority and pride.
    They also have their own form of blindness where they cannot allow themselves to see what the system does not authorize them to see.
    Inclined to cast dispersion, especially a competitor in their marketplace.
    Stealing attractive attributes of a competitors product, claiming those for their own.
    Concealing the disturbing side-affects of their product, in order to maximize its marketability.
    What Jesus says about blindness reveals the human condition.
    The inability to acknowledge blindness, simply reproduces and thus compounds further blindness.

    But God is faithful and full of loving-kindness, and opens the eyes of those who acknowledge their blindness.

  3. Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, in Journey out of Reformed Theology, states:

    “There was a young man in the church who came to me. Good, lovely guy. Seriously involved with a young lady, to marry her. I just loved that couple. He came to me one day and said; I am deeply depressed. My soul is dark. I said; Why? He said; I don’t love God the way I should. I said; tell me why, what’s happening? He said; I don’t love God, as I should because I’m not sure he loves me as much as I
    need. I’m not sure I’m Elect!

    Well if I needed another stab in the heart—that did it. We sat there for 3 hours. Finally, I said to him, if you believe you can’t be sure of God’s love for you, then I will admit you can’t love him as you need to. What does 1st John say? We love because He first loved us.
    I think this is the cruelest moment I’ve ever had in my entire ministry. I said to him, If that is your theology, I have nothing to offer you.
    He just stared at me.

    I said, I don’t believe for a moment that that is the testimony of scripture. That is not the testimony of the Holy Tradition, of the Church. But if you embrace that theology, I sorrowfully agree with you—you are stuck. We talked for about another 10 minutes, and he left under that weight.”

    1. Hi Keegan – That’s called the “No True Scottsman” fallacy, where some specific suggested misunderstanding is the deal breaker, thus disqualifying the person from being able to claim to be something that is made up of so much more than that one thing. It would be like a 32nd degree mason saying a 1st degree mason who renounced masonry was probably never a mason since he didn’t learn the other doctrines of masonry.

      Though not trained in the confessions or having done his own exegesis of important passages, Leighton imbided, promoted, and split his church over the doctrines of Calvinism as taught by prominent Calvinists, believing their interpretations of basic proof texts of Calvinists were correct. Then he did his own expository work looking at the strongest arguments from both sides based on grammar and context of favorite texts from both sides.

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