Well, Calvinism has acquired a bad name. Partly because of so-called hyper-Calvinists (those American Social Studies class stories of congregations where the elect were chosen people who were pointed out by other people
), Calvinism has become the c-word. Then you hear of things like TULIP that you absolutely must agree to in this club...
This is a topic I've sought to address in my own beliefs. For many years I could have been described as fully Arminian in my doctrine. However, I had an epiphany of sorts in a lesson with my pastor. He is not a Calvinist, by the way. He pointed out that he grew up in a cycle of getting saved and falling off in his church as a child. It's the old get up and sing "Just As I Am" and get saved on Sunday thing. Well, like he pointed out, the Bible refers to things being done, finished, finito, etc. If salvation were dependent upon us, then it's not complete until we are saved, making it basically dependent upon us. Otherwise, what Jesus did is incomplete and salvation doesn't quite work.
At that moment, I realized that a Christian is not going to lose his or her salvation. If we could lose it, then it would be incomplete/imperfect by nature. However, I don't think it's license to sit around and do nothing or see how far you can push Father in an attempt to bend the rules. I had always reacted negatively to Calvinism because of the idea of Unconditional Election being a bit vague to me - IE: the idea of OSAS doctrine no matter what evil you commit.
All that being said, a cousin of mine who I respect deeply is a Reformed guy (another named for Calvinist, essentially). I've listened to some Reformed pastors and I've always had respect for them because it's the closest thing to intellectual Christianity that we have. I do not use the term intellectual in the sense of the high and mighty with knowledge, but in the sense that they are all generally very well studied, aware of the Bible, and always good in conversation about Jesus. I guess another way to put it is that they very much have a good picture of what is called Systematic Theology - IE: they work to view the whole and build complex logical arguments that answer some tough questions.
I've probably moved closer to the Reformed side of things in the past year. I'm nervous about saying I'm a Calvinist, but I seem to find myself in agreement with much of what's said once
I get past some terms and look at the doctrines. However, I don't have an appreciation for the crotchety grandpa syndrome that many Reformed/Calvinists seem to have. I've heard things like Christian rock music is of the devil, etc.
Once you look under the hood, I think you have to recognize that many Christians are pretty close to Calvinists already. We might not use the same terms or the way of putting it, but much of TULIP, once explained, would find many Christians in pretty strong if not complete agreement. The Baptist tradition - which is probably 60% of my background - draws a lot from this, though the term is a pejorative in many parts. The Presbyterian Church basically sprung out of the Reformed tradition as well. However, some would consider the PCUSA liberal. So, denominations get complicated - particularly in the Baptist and Presbyterian arena. There are connections.
The reason this is coming to a head is that Reformed Theology is on the rise, at least in the Baptist ranks. Ironically, it's being embraced by people in and around my generation. The popular term was the "Young, Restless, and Reformed" coined by Christianity Today in this article
My theory on this is that it appeals to these generations because it offers a systematic explanation of Christianity. It's a very rigid, fairly concise, and informed perspective. If you get into debate with a Reformed person, you'll very rarely say they don't know their Bible. Even if you disagree totally with interpretations, you'll respect their knowledge. That's not to build a pedestal or anything.
I realize this is long and rambling, so I am going to close it out, but I hope this discussion can get some stuff going. I think it's a good one to have, and I don't necessarily think you have to take sides or hate the other side. We've had a bit of discussion on our Facebook Group
Some people have pointed out how selfish infants can be to try and support the idea of complete depravity, but you can say the same thing about all infant mammals - they are born with a will to live which requires them to seek out care from their parents. So, once again how can infants sin of they have no concept of the law?
I found this difficult to deal with for a long time. We think of babies as innocent and generally good. However, we are sinners and there's not a magical time where we don't know how to sin. The age of accountability in the Bible seems to be 12, so I think God's maybe an extra bit forgiving, but that does not change our nature. If the child grows up, even in a vacuum, he or she is a sinner. We don't learn to sin, we just do it.