[this is still under construction, and probably will be for many years to come.  It’s that hefty a topic...]




Although Calvinistic adherents refer to this as the Doctrine of Salvation, a more appropriate title would be The Means and Reasons which 99.9% of Us are Fucked with No Hope of Redemption.  According to this system, mankind is irredeemably corrupt, with the exception of a group I will for convenience call the Lucky 144.  

As a quick refresher, here’s the five-point system:




Total depravity of mankind.  (aka Original Sin) Adam and Eve sinned before they had children, so those subsequent children (and ultimately all of mankind) carry that sin inherently and physically.



Unconditional election.  If God chooses you, you will answer.  God already knows who they are, and nothing you can do will change that or help you become one if you aren’t already.



Limited Atonement.  Christ only died for the sins of those 144,000.  Everybody else still suffers from Original Sin and will go to Hell.



Irresistible Grace.  The 144,000 lucky enough to get God’s Grace will have no choice in the matter.  These people are guaranteed to be born with Grace.



Perseverance of the saints.  If you are one of those lucky 144,000, you will lead a good life and never sin; God will see to it that you remain without sin for your entire life.


Now, let’s analyze and pick apart each petal of this fiendish flower of faith...


Total Depravity.  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, which was jumped on by later Christian thinkers as referring to the original sin and the burden we all bear from hence.  

For those who slept through Sunday School, here’s the theory behind Original Sin.  God told Adam and Eve “You shall not eat from the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”  Unfortunately, Adam and Eve disobeyed this directive and munched out.  This was the first time Adam and Eve had ever disobeyed God, and since disobeying God’s instructions is a sin (per 1 John 3:4,) it became known as the Original Sin.  Adam and Eve’s disobedience upset God to no end, and He banished the two in punishment.  He also did other things to them; from thence on, Eve (plus any other woman) would have pain in childbirth.  Adam and Eve lived for a few hundred years, then died.  The implication (accepted by such noted theologians as Paul of Tarsus) seems to be that had they not eaten the fruit, they would have lived forever.  Whatever the case, it seems that the punishment physically changed Adam and Eve, and all their children carry such “defects,” down to this present generation.

saint’s aside

The whole tree incident just doesn’t make sense.  It is never explained why God would put such a dangerous tree in the middle of the place, nor do we learn why God would make a serpent who would try to talk Adam and Eve into eating the fruit.  God told the two if they eat it, they would die.  The only outcome of eating the fruit was they could now recognize good, evil, and nudity.  The Bible doesn’t tell how long Eve lived, but Adam died when he was 930; he was 130 when his son Seth was born, so despite God saying he would die if he ate from the tree, it took at least 801 years for this to happen.  Are we to infer that had not Adam eaten from the tree, he would have been immortal?  This also brings up the question, why do animals die?  Did every animal in Eden also eat from that tree?  There are just too many problems with this story.  The Gnostics were the ones who best (or at least most uniquely) grappled with its absurdities and irregularities, by declaring that the creator of Eden was the imperfect (and usually insane) Demiurge, not the real God.  Intrigued readers are referred to gnostic works such as the Hypostasis of the Archons, which tells the Garden of Eden from the serpent’s view.

Anyway, the idea that God would be so petty and vindictive as to punish the entire human race in such a permanent way bothers most people who want to think of God as loving.  It also just doesn’t seem fair.  How can we be blamed for something we didn’t do?  I wasn’t in Eden, I didn’t eat from the tree, and if I had been there and God told me to avoid it I’d have listened to Him!—yet I have to bear the burden of something I didn’t do and didn’t have any control over.  

Unfortunately, the Bible seems split on this matter.  There are actually two parallels for something as drastic as the original sin stigma to be passed on.  When Cain killed Abel, he and his subsequent family all bore a “mark” by which they would be known and avoided.  The Flood would have killed anybody bearing this Mark of Cain, but just after humanity starts over with Noah, one of his sons (Ham) made fun of the drunk, passed out, and naked Noah, and was cursed by by Noah in a similar way.  We are to believe that God backed up the curse, marking them and allowing them to be .     

Fortunately, other parts of the Bible itself agrees with me that concepts like Original Sin are not only too severe, but unjust.


The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

—Ezekiel 18:20


Unconditional Election.  Revelation tosses out a specific number: 144,000 people will be “sealed” to Christ, which spares them the torment of what happens to everyone else.  Calvinism takes this at face value (as in a finite number of saved; they split over whether there are literally only 144,000 of them.)  Whatever the case, God already knows who these people are.  Recall that John Calvin came up with this concept back in the 1500s.  Since the events of Revelation have yet to happen, it stands that these Lucky 144 have not been born yet.  God knows how you will be even before you are born.  God will make His chosen twelve-score thousand that way; He has already decided the matter, and nothing you can do will change His mind to get on that list.

Limited atonement.  Although it’s nice to think that Jesus came and died for everybody, there are parts of the bible that say his death was the salvation of “many” not “all”  (Matthew etc.)  Although people like Martin Luther took that  to mean that not everyone would voluntarily take advantage of Christ’s gift to us, John Calvin and his ilk take it to mean that Jesus only redeemed the elect 144,000 of sin.

The implication of this is staggering.  If true, not only am I still shackled with Original Sin, but if I commit another sin and genuinely repent, I cannot shake the stigma of it and be forgiven.  Even if I lead a good, sinless life, I have no chance for any rewards in the afterlife.

Although there are ample passages that God sent Jesus to save “the world” or “all” or “every man” (1 John 4:44, Hebrews 2:9, 1 Timothy 2:6 respectively, etc.) Calvinists say this only applies to the “world of the elect” or “all of the elect,” or “every man of the elect,” not the rest of the people.

Irresistible grace.  God has already made up His mind who the 144,000 are, and they will be compelled to be a part of it.  Given the benefits, it’s hard to see how anyone wouldn’t want to be part of the “in” crowd of 144,000, but the extrapolation is that if you’re not one of them, you never will be, no matter how good a life you lead or how much you believe and love God.  It’s not good enough, and never will be.

Perseverance of saints.  The “saints” in this case the 144 Club, have been guaranteed grace by God, and nothing they can do will make them lose it.  They were born with irresistible grace, you will remember, so they will lead good lives throughout.  They will never commit a sin.

There is a bit of debate over the application of this: does it mean that they will never commit a sin their whole lives, or if they did do something bad would they be granted automatic forgiveness no matter what they did? 

However, the Bible gives numerous examples of people having grace but falling from it.  Presumably, these people were never part of the Elect.