The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Poll: Can I be a Calvinist and a Universalist?

Can I be a Calvinist and a Universalist?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes, but it is irrational to do so.
  • Only if you have been predestined to do so.

0 voters

I haven’t really introduced myself as I am still mainly wrestling with this question:

I am convinced that Reformed theology (including Calvinism) is true. But I am also convinced that universalism is true. Are these positions compatible? Often when I read or talk to Christian univervsalists one of their biggest gripes is with Calvinism. But what if the calvinist is a universalist? Christian universalists also tend to make a big deal about free will being a driving force in their universalism. While I believe we have “wills” I don’t believe in “free will” or more specifically, I don’t believe in libertarian free will.

So if I am a calvinistic universalist have I just jettisoned all possible friends? Am I being inconsistent? Is there room for me?

Welcome brother. I’m glad you’ve joined the conversation.

Calvinism could be said to include eternal conscious torment, so that’s probably why it seems universalists have a gripe with it. But Calvinist soteriology (monergism) is most certainly compatible with universalism. In my experience most universalists tend to lean that way anyway (you’ll certainly find friends here). I think you’re being the most consistent you could be with that soteriology.

I lean that direction. I believe God has chosen some for salvation in this age to demonstrate the love and grace of God, for service, for continuing the work of Christ in the present age, in order to bless and bring to salvation the rest in the ages to come.


Welcome to the forum! I believe there are others on this forum who would define themselves in that way. I recommend Jan Bonda’s book ‘The One Purpose of God’, if you haven’t come across it yet. Bonda was a Dutch Reformed Minister who finished his book after retirement. He challenges the reformed tradition from within and puts forward a strong biblical case for reforming its doctrine to incorporate a universalist perspective. Neither Calvin, nor the -ists who have followed him, nor anyone else through history has a complete, unassailable, watertight theological system. That’s why the early reformers had the ‘semper reformanda’ principle. If universalism is correct, it is just one example of the church continuing to be reformed by deepening or correcting its understanding of scripture.
Have you introduced yourself yet? There’s a special section for that - so that we can get to know some of your story and give you a proper welcome.
Blessings, Drew

I am a Universalist and a Calvinist. To me, Calvinism’s logical outcome is universalism. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people make choices, but ultimately, I think God gets his man! Pharoah made choices, but God’s will was done

Welcome to the forum darkfalznz,

Thus far I was the one who responded “no” to the survey. Concerning Calvin’s 5 points, a Universalist could agree with all but one, limited atonement, thus by definition could not be a Calvinist. Personally, I tend to agree with the other 4 points.

T - Total depravity, from the perspective of man being born in this present evil age under the dominion of sin and evil, man is depraved. We are born slaves to sin, spiritually dead and to live we must be raised to life and set free from bondage. This ressurection to life is not something we can do or “choose”, but is something that God does in us.

U - Unconditional Election, I agree with from the perspective of election being for inclusion, not exclusion. In other words, God has sovereignly chosen some people to be a blessing to all people. God has sovereignly chosen the elect, not at the exclusion of others, but for the inclusion of others. God chooses the first-fruits so that all might be saved.

L - Limited Atonement, this is the point that Universalists/I disagree with. The atonement is not limited in either scope (Calvinism) or in effect/power (Arminianism). For the Universalist the Atonement ultimately accomplishes the reconciliation of all.

I - Irresistable Grace, from the perspective of eternity, yes grace is irresitable. It is like gravity, one can fight it for a season but eventually one will succumb to it. In this present evil age, this life, grace is resistable to some degree, but ultimately, for some in this life and for all in the life to come grace is irresistable.

P - Perseverance of the Saints, once a person is saved, born of the Spirit, have eternal life, they cannot be unsaved, lost again, die. People often speak of this as “Once saved Always saved”; personally I believe “Always saved, once, twice, three times saved!”

Anyhow, welcome to the forum. I looke forward to getting to know you.

Agreed with Sherman, voted no(-but-otherwise-yes) for the same (limited) reason. :slight_smile:

Do you have to hold the whole TULIP to be a Calvinist?

Good question because I obviously don’t hold to limited atonement, unless that limited atoning is based on a “firstfruits” that eventually include a further atonement of “secondary” and “tertiary” etc. fruits.

Thank you everyone! Very interesting discussion. It seems like everyone who has responded basically believes they are compatible (with slight modifications) and not contradictory.

The “L” in TULIP seems to be a point of contention.

I guess I would hold to limited atonement in the sense that not everyone becomes a Christian in this lifetime.That the atonement is only made effect for those before death by those who have been elected unto faith before death.

I am fairly new to evangelical universalism. This was one question I just needed to throw out there. I’ll make sure to introduce myself in the introduction area. I thought about asking this question while introducing myself but I didn’t think that was the place for it so I asked it here first.

isn’t double predestination a part of Calvinist doctrine?

you cannot seriously believe in double predestination and universalism at the same time

why do you bother so much to label yourself a “Calvinist” don’t you know that Calvin indorsed the murder of Servetus? - why label yourself after such a man? - Still you can believe the parts of Calvinist doctrine that are scriptural.

Hi darkfalznz

Welcome to the forum. It’s lovely to have you here. But I fear we are going to cross swords from the get-go! :smiley:

Unequivocally, no, you cannot be a Calvinist in any meaningful sense of the word and also be a Universalist. One of the fundamental tenets of Calvinism - the L of TULIP - is Limited Atonement. If you believe in Limited Atonement you cannot be a Universalist. If you don’t believe in Limited Atonement you are not a Calvinist. Simple as.



Only if John Calvin was a universalist.

Well, you can certainly be a Presbyterian and a universalist. I think you and I will probably agree, Darkfalz (yeah, I finally got it – I’m slow :laughing: ).

Only along with not believing that we generally have free will in the Arminian point of view, I also believe that God is rearing us to be His free children. We don’t YET have free will in any meaningful sense. Neither does an infant. He can’t handle the free will. I think God wants to have children who CAN handle the free will, and He will have what He wants.

But that’s my current notion and I could be persuaded otherwise from scripture, if it’s truly contrary to that. Meantime, I believe that he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

And I answered “only if you’re predestined” because it made me laugh. :wink:

Love in Jesus, Cindy


Thanks Sven, good question! I don’t believe double predestination is a part of calvinistic doctrine. Most calvinists don’t believe in double predestination. I would say most believe that God actively predestines the elect but lets those He doesn’t elect to go on their merry way. He doesn’t actively make them sinners and thus doesn’t actively send them to Hell. They do that themselves.

That’s probably how I would approach that issue as well, just with the modification that everyone will eventually be elected unto salvation.

Re: Calvin and Servetus
I’m not sure that situation is as black and white and some people make it. If you read my reply to nimblewill you will see my thoughts suggesting that Calvinism doesn’t really mean you “follow” John Calvin.

Good questions!


En garde! :smiley:

Well, limited atonement, or better put, particular redemption just at its most absolute basic level states that Christ only died for the elect. Well, I believe that. I just believe everyone is the elect (though I think some experience their election earlier than others).

Also, as I said earlier:

I would also hold to limited atonement in the sense that not everyone becomes a Christian in this lifetime.That the atonement is only made effect for those before death by those who have been elected unto faith before death.

But as I said, the atonement will be made effect for everyone eventually.

I guess really, when I am asking is Calvinism and Universalism compatible, I mean are they compatible without significant alterations to either system. I think Calvinism can co-exist with Universalism largely unaltered, though some nuances have to be introduced, like with the “L”.

I liked the “simple as” comment. Are you from down here? :slight_smile:

I also think **@dirtboy **was on the right track responding to @revdrew61

Being a Calvinist doesn’t mean believing what John Calvin believed en toto :stuck_out_tongue: It’s like when people say they listen to Classical music. Do you mean big ‘Classical’ as in a whole genre of instrumental music or do you mean the small ‘c’ classical in the sense of the ''classical" period of music (E.g. Mozart, Handel) as opposed to the romantic period of music (E.g. Beethoven, Tchaikovsky). Being a Calvinist just means you hold to a particular system of thought that happens to be named after John Calvin but which didn’t originate with him, though was consistent with him.

Re: Free Will

That is absolutely brilliant! I’ve never heard it suggested like that before. But it makes perfect sense (from a Calvinistic perspective). Love it. Will have to reflect on that more. :smiley:

Glad you were predestined to find the funny answer funny :wink: Sometimes I wonder if that’s the only reason people laugh at my lame jokes!

I answered with the silly one like Cindy did :laughing:

Well, I’m not sure if you could be a 5-point Calvinist, at most a 4-point one, cuz you would have to drop the ‘L’… but then if you went by your definition of the ‘L’, maybe you could still be a 5-point Calvinist… :wink: But then I’m not sure if that definition would fit with the traditional take on the doctrine of Limited Atonement in Calvinism… and I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus took on the sins of the whole world, which I’m guessing would include everyone’s sins, and therefore everyone, since everyone from the dawn of man till now has been a sinner… :neutral_face:

But hey, none of us have everything sorted out. :wink:

I recommend you check out The One Purpose Of God by Jan Bonda (if revdrew61 hasn’t recommended it to you already :wink:).
I just read it recently, and it was very eye-opening and thought-provoking and well-written.
People have compared it to Robin Parry’s book (actually haven’t gotten around to reading that myself) in its level of scholarship, plus Bonda came from a Dutch Reformed background, so you may want to give it a look. :slight_smile:

Here’s a link for it on Amazon if you wanted to get a copy: … 262&sr=8-1

You may also want to check out The Restitution Of All Things by Andrew Jukes… It’s an older book that I’m currently reading and though I haven’t finished it just yet, I’ve read more than half of it and it’s very good so far… and you can read that one online for free. :slight_smile:
I’m not sure if Jukes came from a Reformed background or not, but he was definitely an intelligent and an articulate guy, not to mention a hardcore Bible scholar, so you may want to check him out too. :slight_smile:

Here’s a link to read it free online: … ntents.htm

By the way, I admit I lean towards being fairly liberal in a lot of my views, but I like to hear out different sides, including conservative ones, as long as they aren’t abusive or oppressive or pompous…

And you seem to me to be none of those in how you handle yourself. :slight_smile:

And your humility in your introduction was and is refreshing. :slight_smile:

Hope those recommendations help. :slight_smile:

Blessings to you, and peace :slight_smile:


Hi Dark

En garde indeed! Although I trust any skirmishes we may have will be of the non-lethal variety. You say so many things I agree with, both here and in your introductory post, that I think we’re going to get along just fine. (Although I’m not from your neck of the planet – I’m from the Mother Country. But I won’t hold that against you. :smiley: )

(And if you don’t mind, for the sake of brevity, I’m going to conflate what you say here with what you say in your introductory post.)

So, Calvin. One of my all time heroes. An arrogant anti-Semite who happily packed a sizeable proportion of the human race, including babies, off to eternal damnation in the next life, and actively conspired to hasten one man’s (Servetus) entry into that damnation largely (as far as I can tell) out of wounded spiritual pride. (Servetus, it seems, had the impudence to question some of Calvin’s Institutes of Religion. How very dare he?)

I mean, what’s not to like? :smiling_imp:

Seriously, I accept that the Servetus issue is, as you say, not as black and white as some would have us believe. But there is no doubt that Calvin comes out of the whole sorry affair with little credit.

And there is even less doubt that his horrible theology of double predestination* (which wasn’t original to him, of course) has been the source of a great deal of evil and cruelty in the world. After all, you don’t need to be a philosopher or a theologian to work out that if God doesn’t love some people, and is going to burn them for eternity, then you don’t need to love them either, and that indeed you have a divine mandate to reciprocate, and even embody in a political system, God’s eternal cruelty in this life. Apartheid anybody?

I’m sorry. The very word ‘Calvinism’ is like a red rag to a bull to me. In its hard line, five point form I can see no good in it at all. (Because that good is obliterated by the horror of double predestination.) But of course I recognise that it covers a wide spectrum of beliefs. And I am intrigued that you choose to define – or perhaps I should say simply describe – yourself as a Calvinist. Why not simply ‘Reformed thinker’, I wonder?

You say you are “a Calvinist with some very ‘limited’ modifications”. But surely those modifications, while they may be limited, strike at the heart of what it is to be a Calvinist? Call me old fashioned, but I would say that if you do not hold to the basic tenets of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which you clearly do not, you are not a Calvinist. Simple as. :smiley: :smiley:

For example, your stance as an Open Theist is in direct opposition to the Reformed or Calvinist (or whatever) view that “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass”. Now I respect your honesty in admitting that you must “deal with an element of tension and mystery at a level higher than most Christians”. (And you are spot on in your implication that all Christians must deal with tensions of some sort; much as we would like our doctrine to be black and white, it surely ain’t …) But to me, it seems that the tension is all on one side. I buy your definition of Open Theism – for I too do not believe that the future exists, only that God will, in the end, get what He wants. But I don’t see where your views, as expressed, conform with the Reformed view that everything is preordained (as per the quote above).

But maybe that’s because I don’t properly understand where you’re coming from. I’m sure you will enlighten me … :smiley:

I also disagree with your definition of limited atonement (or particular redemption), mainly because I disagree with your definition of election. I don’t think we are all elect. With Sonia, I believe “God has chosen some for salvation in this age to demonstrate the love and grace of God, for service, for continuing the work of Christ in the present age, in order to bless and bring to salvation the rest in the ages to come”. (Couldn’t have put it better myself Sonia! :smiley: )

Most of your other beliefs – ancient creeds; the Trinity; resurrection; Biblical infallibility but not inerrancy; evolution; hell etc – get a big tick from me. I’m not so sure about cosmic warfare, a) because I don’t believe in ‘Satan’; and b) I’m not well enough acquainted with it or with Boyd to have much of an opinion.

And finally, if I might be so bold as to say, I like the way you write, as an expression of the person you are. As we Brits used to say, I like the cut of your jib. :smiley:

I look forward to some interesting and stimulating debate with you, sir.

All the best


  • You *might *argue, as does another of my heroes, Mark Driscoll :wink: , that God doesn’t predestine people to hell, He simply allows them to end up there as the ‘natural’ result of their sinfulness, while predestining the elect to salvation. But that, I would aver, is pure theological sleight of hand. If the elect and *only *the elect are predestined to salvation, the rest, the reprobate, are, by definition, predestined to the alternative. Whichever way you cut that particular cake, it still stinketh …

I would have to agree with others that the L of TULIP contradicts universalism unless it is understood in the sense of temporarily limited. But that is sort of like attempting to define white as “temporarily black”. :laughing: I don’t think Reformed doctrine in general is necessarily totally in opposition to universalism, and many aspects work strongly together with some form of it. I come from a fairly strongly Calvinistic background myself, though I would no longer characterize myself as a Calvinist. I still definitely have some views that lean in that direction, particularly with respect to the sovereignty of God.
I have yet to read Bonda’s book (one of the few universalists I haven’t read!) but I want to get around to it, as I’ve heard it’s very good.


Thanks for the book recommendation! Though, living down here, I never really buy physical books anymore. The shipping is sinful. It’s Kindle all the way now for me. Saves trees as well, and everyone loves trees.

But I will keep an eye on that book in hopes it gets converted to an elect format :wink:

Andrew Jukes has been added to my long list of reading!

Thank you for the compliments. Hopefully I can eventually live up to them!

Re: Your hero worship of Calvin

I’m not saying John Calvin is the bee’s knees or anything. It’s just that he wrote good and there is a theological system named after him. Probably an unfortunate turn in history. But I appreciate the frustration one may have with him.

I do call myself a Reformed thinker as well. I am hesitant to use the Calvinist label. But I’ve been a Calvinist for many years now. Also, I was introducing myself so I figured I’d be as upfront as I could be about myself. Also, you have to admit, Calvinistic Open Theist sounds better then Reformed Open Theist :wink:

I also call myself a Calvinist because it best describes how I myself became a Christian. I didn’t choose God. Maybe people do choose God and the Arminians are largely right, but they aren’t right when it comes to me. I didn’t respond to His grace, I was literally transformed and made anew. I wasn’t looking for God, He found me. I can’t speak for others, but for me, the calvinistic way of things best describes my faith in Jesus Christ.

Re: Westminster Standards
Well, there is a lot one could reject in the Westmister confession and still be a calvinist. The question is how much one can reject and still be considered Reformed? Calvinism is just one aspect of Reformed theology. The advantage of my denomination is that it provides me some flexibility. My immediate supervisor I believe is an atheist for example. However, I am strongly evangelical (especially in proclaiming the good news and calling people to follow Christ)(as is my congregation), and then I have brethren and fellow pastors who are extremely evangelical and conservative and believe in 6 day creationism. All in the same “Reformed” denomination. But am I the same type of Calvinist and Reformed thinker as Calvin was? No. But a call of the Reformation is that we should always be reforming, and well, you can’t say I haven’t tried to take that seriously :stuck_out_tongue:

Re: Your quote of the confession and claim that it contradicts Open Theism: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”

Well, I’m not sure I disagree with that quote. And I’m not sure where the contradiction lies. There are two places where a contradiction may exist that I can see. First, “from all eternity.” But just because God doesn’t know the future (not because he isn’t powerful enough, rather because it doesn’t exist and therefore can’t be a subject of his knowledge) doesn’t mean he can’t have a plan from all eternity. I believe God knew what He was doing when He created. He had a plan. And he will ultimately succeed in that plan. Second, “unchangeably ordain whatsoever come to pass.” Well, I guess this could be a contradiction depending on how you define “ordain.” I believe that by the sheer fact that God created He has ordained everything that has come to pass. In the same way a king may ordain that pigs may be sold in the kingdom. By his very ordination he has created unlimited possibilities: Bacon, ham, pork chops, hot dogs, etc. While he may not have directly created all these yummy foods, he clearly ordained their possibility and eventual actuality by ordaining that pigs may be sold in the kingdom.

We are in agreement that @Sonia is a genius. Her statement, which deserves repeating here, "“God has chosen some for salvation in this age to demonstrate the love and grace of God, for service, for continuing the work of Christ in the present age, in order to bless and bring to salvation the rest in the ages to come.” I also make a distinction between who is elected in this life time and in the time hereafter.

Re: Cosmic warfare

Basically, like Boyd, I believe there is a cosmic war going on between the forces of good and evil. Our physical world is impacted by the spiritual. Prayer does affect outcomes. There is a Satan (What’s that saying? The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist)(Sorry, I just had to pull that one on you :wink:) Etc. Very classic and traditional, and very out of place in our materialistic enlightenment culture :smiley:

Iron sharpens iron as the good Book says. I appreciate the stimulating discussion as well!

**@Melchizedek **

Thanks for the comments! Love the name. As for the “limited”, I think most calvinists agree that it is an unfortunate term. Most calvinists I think prefer the phrase “particular redemption” but TUPIP sounds like a bad drink.

I label myself as a Reformed Universalist. For me, it acknowledges both influences of Reformed Theology and Universalism upon my theology. It also side-steps the whole Servitus thing, as it avoids calling myself a Calvinist.

I accept the Five Points of Calvinism as they apply to this life. The reprobate, those whom God has not chosen to be saved in this lifetime, will be reconciled to him in the next lifetime, although the reprobate will have to endure hell for a time, whether it be a few days or a few centuries, only God knows.

I also tend to lean towards Calvinist eschatology, that is to say, amillenialism (although lots of modern Calvinists accept dispensationationalism, this is a modern phenomena…)

So yes, I do believe it is possible…