The Agnostic Calvinist

The term “agnostic Calvinist” could be considered a fairly accurate description of my philosophical leanings. Yes, Calvinism is a Christian theology and therefore the term “agnostic Calvinist” is clearly an oxymoron, but bear with me and I’ll try to explain what I mean.

Firstly, a brief summary of Calvinism –

Calvinism is a really interesting approach to Christianity, based around five fantastic central points. These five central points can be summarised with the acronym “TULIP”, which stands for (respectively):

  • Total depravity – Calvinists believe that all humans are born into sin. Humans are inherently selfish rather than selfless, and are therefore unable to freely choose god.
  • Unconditional election – God has chosen a select few, and only they will receive salvation (and only through Christ).
  • Limited atonement – Although Jesus’ sacrifice could have redeemed all of mankind, it only atoned for the sins of god’s chosen.
  • Irresistible grace – Basically this means that if god wants to save you, you will be saved. Doesn’t matter whether you want it or not.
  • Perseverance of the saints – The chosen stay chosen, and if they stray then they were never really chosen in the first place.

How I interpret this as an agnostic –

  • If there is a god and he wants me to be saved, I will be saved.
  • If there is a god and he doesn’t want me to be saved, there’s nothing I can do about it.
  • If there is no god, there’s nothing to be gained by worrying.

I find this incredibly relaxing. The fate of my immortal soul (should such a thing exist) is entirely out of my hands.

I’ve tried to explain this to street preachers before, but unfortunately street preachers (and Christians generally, for that matter) don’t like being told that human beings are inherently  incapable of choosing god of their own volition.

If you’re at all interested (and have time on your hands), I thoroughly recommend reading up on Calvinism. When you get to Lapsarianism… ooh, that is some tasty stuff ; )

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Thank you for your time. This post was a bit rushed, so I’m sorry if things don’t make sense. Feel free to leave a comment if I’ve made a mistake or if you want anything clarified x

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    • bethany wong
    • June 20th, 2011

    The problem with not worrying about it it that we are still supposed to make a choice – we are both predestined to chooses or not choose God and have the free will to do so, which is one of many difficult dualities of the Christian God. I’m not saying you should necessarily stress about it, but relax too much and you’ll never find your way to Him.
    I hope that makes sense.

    • I totally agree that if a person has a reason to believe (e.g. a personal religious experience) then this line of reasoning doesn’t work. I personally don’t have a reason to believe though, and so any conversion would only be lip service.

        • bethany wong
        • June 21st, 2011

        Ah, but if you don’t maintain a curiosity and pursue God, you much lessen the chances of having that experience. God knocks, but we have to answer; He’s made the first move, but we have to respond. The relaxed, wait-and-see attitude will actually guarantee you are not one of the chosen.

  1. Doesn’t this somewhat render “God” entirely irrelevant?

    • In what sense? To me it does, I suppose.

      • What’s the point of believing in something which has absolutely no influence on your world whatsoever?

        Also, it rather seems like a belief of convenience…

  2. bethany wong :

    Ah, but if you don’t maintain a curiosity and pursue God, you much lessen the chances of having that experience. God knocks, but we have to answer; He’s made the first move, but we have to respond. The relaxed, wait-and-see attitude will actually guarantee you are not one of the chosen.

    If I was a true Calvinist I would disagree, and say that if I am destined to be saved I will be, and if I’m not destined to be saved I won’t be. Instead I’ll just say that I was born with this relaxed, wait-and-see attitude and I’m comfortable with wherever it may lead me :p

  3. Ben Wainwright :

    What’s the point of believing in something which has absolutely no influence on your world whatsoever?

    Also, it rather seems like a belief of convenience…

    I feel like I may have worded this poorly… this isn’t something I “believe” in. I’m not actually a Calvinist, since to be a Calvinist I would first have to be a Christian.

    This was intended *solely* as a (semi-humourous) explanation of why I feel comfortable leading a godless life. There are of course other rationalisations, but I enjoy this one in particular because I find Calvinism interesting and, in a way, amusing. I suppose I have a strange sense of humour.

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