Why I cannot be a Calvinist:
There are several reasons why, but the two keys perhaps are the Calvinist's:
Misunderstanding of the meaning of Human Depravity - and his
Bad teaching that Limits the scope of the Atonement.
First let us look at depravity: The common Calvinist position is that man's total depravity includes an inability to repent and believe, and that he must be first regenerated by God, which then allows him to repent & believe. The underlying logic is that if unregenerate man can believe God, that this is somehow "works" based salvation. In contrast we would point out Romans 4:5 which teaches that believing is not a work in that it says "to him that worketh not, but believeth..."
Let us look at the nature of man, we would encourage the reader to first open his Bible and read Romans 3 to see the depth of human depravity. Please pause and do that and also see our article on human depravity on this same web site. After reading Romans 3, let us consider what in man remains, from the image of God, despite mans' depravity:
Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Even unsaved people, after the fall, are not to be murdered (murder is different from capital punishment), why?.... because they are still bearing God's image in some manner. We know that Seth was born in Adam's image (Genesis 5:3), yet here in Genesis 9, well after the fall, God's image is still in man, though marred by sin & the fall. We do not say hereby that man is "good" or can do good, because he is depraved. But we would disagree with the extreme Calvinist position that man cannot believe in another outside himself, whose image he still bears. On the contrary he is called to repent & believe...by God Himself.
James 3:9 Therewith bless we the Lord and Father, and therewith curse we men made after the likeness of God. The likeness (or similitude, image) of God, though marred by sin, - does not mean man is dead in such a way as he cannot believe. He can do nothing good before a holy God, he can do no good work before God, we agree with this, but man is called upon by God to repent & believe Christ. He is depraved but is still commanded to believe the gospel, trusting in the person and work of Christ - outside himself. The image of God in fallen man is not erased by the fall, and there is capacity to believe the gospel and respond to God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17). There is no capacity to do good in fallen man, but believing is not a good work (Romans 4:5).
Now for the second fundamental error of Calvinism:
The bad teaching, commonly called Limited Atonement. In this doctrine is taught that Christ only died for a subset of humanity, the "elect," rather than for all. But does this assertion stand the test of all scripture?
John 3:16 God so loved the world..... loved - not the elect, but the world.
Romans 5:6 Christ died for the ungodly.... are only the elect ungodly?
1 Timothy 2 1-4: I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all men; for kings and all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and gravity; for this is good and acceptable before our Savior God, who desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 John 2 1-2: My children, these things I write to you in order that ye may not sin; and if any one sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; but not for ours alone, but also for the whole world.
The obvious answer is that scripture does not teach a limited atonement...ie...limiting the work of Christ as being for the elect only. The gospel is for all mankind. It is true it is only effective unto those who repent & believe. But it is still to be preached to ALL mankind. God has ordained that the preaching of this good news, and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, lays before the hearer the truth of God. God has ordained this way of salvation, and He regenerates those who repent & believe, and those who rebel, remain in their sins unto God's just judgment.
It is not that He sits on high wringing his hands as a senile grampa over men rejecting him, hoping they'll not reject Him, and that salvation is totally up to man. Rather, the emphasis in God's purpose and plan, is that Christ died & rose again for the whole world of humanity, and God Himself has willed that by the proclamation of the gospel, those who repent and believe will be saved. This is His plan and purpose. Man have no merit in believing, Romans 4:5 states.
At a later time perhaps, more will be added about the remaining errors of the Calvinist TULIP. We have touched here upon the "T" and the "L." But it seems that the fundamental error of this system of Calvinism stems from problems in the above two points, Total Depravity, and Limited Atonement.
In summary, Human logic is elevated in this system of theology, and that kind of human understanding of sovereignty is impressed upon their theological grid, degrading a divine truth with a very human imprint and perspective, even unto exalting human reason above divine revelation. There is a real tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but human reason is not the arbiter, scripture alone is our resource. Of all people, those who argue Sola Scritpura the loudest, should take heed in that they have augmented Sola Scriptura with human understanding of divine sovereignty. Is man really able to do so? We think not and the evidence of these errors supports our criticism.