It started out innocently enough. I began to be fatalistic in my discussions now and then to loosen up and to test my theories. Inevitably, though, one philosophical axiom led to another and soon I was more than just a social Calvinist.
I began to imbibe sublapsarianism and supralapsarianism alone—"just to relax," I told myself—but I knew it wasn't true. I was becoming involved in Calvinist philosophy all the time. I began to teach Calvinism in my college class and in the pulpit. I knew that Calvinism and my church and the gospel did not mix, but I couldn't help myself. I was addicted.
I began to avoid my evangelistic friends (suspecting them of being Pelagians )and started hanging out with some Primitive Baptists, who shared my addiction and knew about the unwritten decrees of God. I was so inebriated with Calvin's Institutes, the Baptist Examiner, and listening to the White Horse Inn that I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly that I was predestined to do here?" I fell down a pair of cellar stairs and cried out, " I'm glad that is over!"
Things weren't going so great at home, either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of the predestinated life and unconditional destiny. She spent that night at her mother’s.
I soon had a reputation as a hard shell. I had an uncontrollable urge to burn an Arminian at the stake or to hang a Quaker. One day the Fundamental Baptist Seminary President called me in. He said, "Skip, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your fatalism has become a real problem. If you don't stop your philosophical sophistry in front of the students, you'll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about. Similar complaints had come from my evangelical church after I stopped ordering Gospel Tracts and had canceled the visitation program.
I came home early after my conversation with the Seminary President, bringing the wife some TULIPS instead of Roses. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been caught up in election and reprobation and it has an awful hold on me." "I know you've been in a Calvinistic daze," she said, "and I want a divorce!" "But, honey, surely it’s not that serious!" "It IS serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "If you keep on you will be fired from the school and the church and we won't have any money! And most Calvinist intellectuals hardly make any money! Why can't you be a healer or something?"
"That’s a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, trying to give her the logical and scholarly answer that I give my students, and she began to cry. I'd had enough. "I'm going to the library!" I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed for the library, in the mood for some Arthur Pink or R.C. Sproul. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors….but they didn't open. The library was closed.
To this day, I believe that a Higher Sovereign Power was looking out for me that night. As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, irresistibly whimpering for some Louis Berkof, a poster caught my eye: ‘Friend, is heavy Calvinism ruining your life?’ it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Calvinist Anonymous poster. It is responsible for what I am today—a recovering Calvinist. I never miss a CA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-theological video; last week it was "God so Loved the World." Then we share experiences about how we avoided Hard Shellism since the last meeting. I still have my professor's job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed … easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped participating in the doctrines of innuendo and inference and accepted the Gospel for what it is – an escape from hell for anyone who believes.
--copied, edited, and adapted by Herb Evans