MY CONVERSION TO CALVINISM
Several years ago I worked as a janitor for a large church in my hometown. I had it all together. I was 21 years old, attending a secular college, and a staunch Arminian (the belief that we are not predestined for salvation and that we have complete free will over our destiny). I knew how to interpret Scripture exegetically and I most assuredly knew how to turn ignorance into a virtue. When somebody asked me why there were so many paradoxical passages throughout the Bible, I in turn told them that God is mysterious and we do not need to be meticulous about the difficult questions. Check. I was in position to win.
As time went on, the church hired another janitor to work with me on Saturday mornings. So every Saturday morning, Dave and I would work hard cleaning the church for the Sunday services. We would clean stairwells, vacuum the sanctuary, and wash windows; always conversing about something interesting. But every week, we would eventually get into theological debates about election, depravity, foreknowledge, etc. You see, as I was a devoted Arminian, Dave was an even more dedicated Calvinist. And for a year and a half, every Saturday morning, we would discuss where we each stood on these topics and why the other was wrong.
After I turned 23 I moved across country, dated a beautiful woman, and became engaged. Desiring a family that was united in doctrine, my fiance and I sat down to discuss the many issues of our faith. As I began to lay out that I was an Arminian, my fiance turned to me and asked what that meant. Being the genius that I was, I began with the discussion from the opposite point-of-view and articulated what Arminianism wasn't. And it definitely wasn't Calvinism. "What's that?" she asked.
Opening the Bible to John 17, Ephesians 1-2, and others I began to show her passages that the uneducated Calvinists used to "prove" their point. I read through passages that had Jesus saying, "I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours" (Jn. 17:9). I turned to Ephesians and read to her all of chapters one and two. Finally, I came to Romans 9 and started reading through this chapter verse by verse. As soon as I read through verse 16, I stopped, and as if God said "Let there be light", I turned to my wife-to-be and said, "I actually believe this." Check mate. God won.
In the blink of an eye, my whole theology changed. The Word of God spoke to me directly and plainly. I didn't know what to do with myself. God grabbed me by my ankles and shook me until my ignorance and pride were out the door running for their lives. I went from knowing Scripture intellectually to knowing God's grace personally. As God spoke existence into being, He spoke grace into me.
No longer could I claim that I had a part in my conversion. No longer do I have a place to boast. No longer am I sovereign over my destiny. I am in the Lord's hands. It is all because of Christ!