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Douglaqs Belardi

During most of human history the Gospel's dispersement has been to a small minority of mankind. In Old Testament times to the Middle East. In New Testament times the Roman Empire. The western hemisphere for just over 500 years.
is this fair?



Back in 2004, George Bryson wrote a 400 page book entitled, The Dark Side of Calvinism. It is subtitled "The Calvinist Caste System." http://www.amazon.com/The-Dark-Side-Calvinism-Calvinist/dp/1931667888. He argues that the soteriology of Calvin, in which he groups all people into the categories elect and non-elect, is a caste system because one cannot be moved or transferred from one classification to the other.

I highly recommend the book as one of the best on the subject and one that is nigh on irrefutable in its cogent arguments against what many view as a damnable heresy.

Leslie Puryear


Nail hit on the head. Excellent article.


peter lumpkins

Hi Douglaqs

Not sure how "fair" got caught up in your thoughts from the questions I posed...


Thanks. Interesting. I actually have Bryson's book and have read it but it's been several years. I had forgotten his subtitle. Thanks for calling my attention to it again!

After quickly scanning the chapter titles, however, I really don't see where he teases out the "caste" notion he offers in the subtitle though he perhaps could have done so in sub-sections within the book body. If you know of specific references to what he means by "caste" in the book body, I'd be interested to know (too lazy on one hand and busy on the other to try and locate it myself ;^).

One clarification note if I may. You wrote of Bryson's book as being "one that is nigh on irrefutable in its cogent arguments against what many view as a damnable heresy."

Personally, I am not one who views Calvinism as damnable heresy. I have many theological reservations contra Calvinism, some reservations more serious than others. Even so, I never have nor do I think I ever will characterize Calvinism in the category of heresy and certainly not damnable heresy as you rightly mention some do (and erroneously do, at least for me).

Thanks again, Gary. Lord bless...


Thankz brother.

Scott Shaver

Good post Pete. I would say that proof-in-the-pudding of the metaphor's accuracy as it relates to steroid-fed Calvinism can be seen on most SBC blog sites. For the terminally curious, offering rebuttal to a severely infected Calvinist based on scripture, common sense or even common courtesy is a sure-fire method of discovering your particular caste if you haven't guessed it already.



This is very, very interesting. Makes you think.


JD Hall

This post is BRILLIANT.


When discussing Calvinism, Peter has become worse than liberals when discussing conservative politics. Dr. Cox seems to be in the same boat. "Spiritual bigotry?"

Seeing Christians talk about these matters with this type of rhetoric and "logic" it is easy to see how liberal media is they way they are.

peter lumpkins

Hi brother Svoboda

I see you're back to making your routine rounds logging insults but never quite able to muster a serious contribution. Know I have no interest in volleying with you today about whether or not I'm the diabolically inspired person you addictively make me out to be (nor tomorrow actually). Thanks for the jolly good try at least.

Have a good evening, Matt...



Debbie Kaufman

Peter: Problem is again you have totally castigated Calvinism in your above list. I can go to agreeing with you as in the last post, to thinking what the .....? in this one and others like it. This is nothing but out and out lies and in the future I will not address this, but I certainly am now. Whoa.


Yes, Calvinism is a spiritual caste system. It has is roots in a pagan caste system construct introduced by Augustine and perfected by the Reformers.

How anyone can look at Luther's writings about Jews, Peasants, women and then look at Calvin's police state in Geneva and not see both a social/spiritual caste sytem, then what is it?

Shall we move on to the Dutch Calvinist in South Africa? How about the Puritans and their deeds concerning the Indians and 'witches'. And our Calvinist pro slavery "Founders"?

Historically, I think a case can be made for both a social and spiritual caste system in that theological paradigm.



Are you not the one who said, (and I am paraphrasing from a cmoment you made at Voices a while back)

....if hiring committees at churches are too ignorant to ask you the right questions to know if you are a Calvinist or not, it is their own fault if they hire you...

Sounds like spiritual caste thinking.

The very people who subsidize our seminaries and expect to be able to trust the integrity of the candidates they are sent from their own seminaries?

peter lumpkins

Dear Debbie,

Read these words very carefully:

" In Appendix B (p.107), Cox included a comparison chart suggesting an ideological affinity... he apparently infers from the socio-religious construct.

Below Dr. Cox's comparison chart is reproduced. Do you think Cox's theo-social comparison construct is justified in at least some significant way(s), or is Cox's comparison entirely unjustified..."

What emboldened thread holds these words together? For me, it's fairly clear: the chart obviously is Michael Cox's and I said or inferred that several times asking the reader whether he or she agreed with Cox's proposal.

How you can log, without a red face, a comment explicitly stating in the face of this clarity,

"Problem is again you have totally castigated Calvinism in your above list...."

remains beyond reasonable explanation. Period.



Interesting since liberals want to control and micromanage people....just like YRR SBC Calvinists with their membership covenants, focus on controlling church discipline, partnering with shepherding cults like SGM, partnering with bullies like Mark Driscoll, keys to the kingdom teaching from 9 Marks, etc, etc.

Seems Calvinists are the ones like liberals with their penchant for control. Everyone has to believe only they have the "true Gospel" and only New Calvinism wants to see the nations rejoice for Christ. One of your hero's said that last part. Spiritual caste system thinking.

Thanks, I will stick with free church. I love freedom and do not require a 20something human mediator between me and Christ. :o)


Lydia maybe Matt made the comment you're referring to also. I know Mr Unity has made similar comments. Then they all protest that Calvinists are not deceiving churches and start demanding proof!


Mary... "mr. unity?" lol


A little off topic, but there's a caste system rampant in much of Christianity, not just among the Calvinists.

Every time I talk to a Calvinist, he says the decline in church attendance is because we're not "going deep enough in the Word," but demographers point to other factors.

Researchers at University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins say that the people leaving the church are low- and middle-income Christians and those who are not (or no longer) married.

There is a mass exodus of those who don't fit the Elite Caste of Christianity. And these researchers are not very optimistic about the future.

For those who wish to dig deeper, see the article by pro-marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox (National Marriage Project at U. Virginia): "No Money, No Honey, No Church." It can be downloaded free. Worth the read, especially of pages 8-11 and the conclusions on page 20-21.

peter lumpkins


"Mr Unity" is a colorful little descriptor Mary employs. It sets some of Chris' friends off like July 4th firecrackers. The humorous irony is, Chris has been very quick to fling the 'heresy' label around with no correction from his buds. However, Mary's funny little moniker is perceived as ugly, unchristian, and inappropriate. How humorously contrary we can become!!

Rick Patrick

I am intrigued about the "mutual exclusivity" aspect of the Caste system and its implications for Calvinism in the SBC. It seems logical that once the exclusion takes place in one direction, it will eventually follow in the other.

Since Calvinists exclude other Southern Baptists from their Founders Luncheons, their Acts 29 Networks, and their Gospel Coalition Conferences, not to mention the possibility of exclusion from entity leadership positions, one must wonder how they really expect not to be on the receiving end of exclusive behavior in return, as they seem to brand as "disunity" the normal and natural response to their exclusion of others.

Such exclusion is a two way street. Within an organization, you simply cannot form a little club excluding others, and then get upset when those others finally begin doing the same.


One way you see the caste employed is the use of the title "Doctor" or in some cases "Doktor" for the wannabes. Notice how Calvinists will refer to their own as "Dr" but anyone with the title who is not Calvinist is not given the same deference. It seems that if one has a fake store front Doktorate that that is considered superior to those who hold degrees from real schools if one is not a Calvinist. Education obviously didn't take if you're still too dumb to reject DOG

Peter when someone calls you "Petey" you should point out it's Dr Petey and no you're not just pretending to be one on the radio.


But Rick or I should say Dr. Rick the people the Calvinists want to exclude are heretics. When you read Founders site you understand that the Founders have been working to oust Traditionalist way before anyone called themselves Traditionalist. The purpose of Founders is to purge the SBC of heresy. Founders was not surprised by the Trad Statement as it is exactly what the Founders have tried to cleanse from the SBC. For all the screaming about the BFM the fact is that if you don't agree with the Abstract then you are probably a heretic who has no place in the SBC. It's the Abstract that is the litmus test not the BFM


I do not think that any element in Dr. Cox's list is inherent to Calvinism except "Spiritual Determinism" (and possible election, but that depends on his definition; Calvinist "Spiritual Election" is not the same as Segregation's racial election or Hindu's social election). This comment would be long and boring to examine each line of Dr. Cox's chart, but if I take "Spiritual Superiority" and the related line, "Spiritual Exclusivity" as examples, I hope I can make a concise and, yet still, convincing argument.

Everyone thinks their own position is superior to others; if you didn't you'd change what you think to what you find superior. Perhaps, it would be more humble to say I find my theological commitments more convincing summaries of the Bible than other positions, but it would still mean I find them superior. To say that my theology makes me (emphasis on "me") superior is operating outside the Calvinist system (and the Non-calvinist system too). There are definitely Calvinists who feel like they are superior (not their beliefs but themselves) to others, and there are Non-calvinists who do the same. Both Calvinists and Non-calvinists confess the need for undeserved grace, so spiritual pride is a corruption coming from either side. Neither fairly represents their systems.

Similarly, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists believe their system excludes others, particularly Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, etc. There are extremes from Calvinists and Non-calvinists who consider the other "damnable heresy," but that, as Rev. Lumpkins pointed out in a previous comment, is not inherent to either system of beliefs.

I think a convincing case can be made that we can find all of Dr. Cox's traits practiced among some Calvinists, but you could find them practiced among some Non-calvinists too. The list include items that are necessarily inherent to racial segregation and to the Hindu castes system (without the listed practices, you would not have segregation or Hindu castes), but they do not list items that are necessarily Calvinist practices. Perhaps Dr. Cox makes a better case that these characteristics flow from Calvinist theology in the body of his arguments rather than the charted summary. I am not convinced that his comparison is valid.

peter lumpkins

To lend more validity to Mary's proposal that "it's the abstract stupid!" note that a qualification for being a Founders-friendly church is the necessary adherence to a confession other than the BF&M. While one may embrace both the BF&M and another confession (a more Calvinistic confession in their estimation), one apparently may not be a Founders-friendly church and embrace only the BF&M.


Mary writes "It's the Abstract that is the litmus test not the BFM."

Peter writes "... one apparently may not be a Founders-friendly church and embrace only the BF&M."

There's so much theological wiggle room in the 2000 BFM revision that both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can hang their hat on it! That's why the young, restless and reformed keep harping "It's the BFM ... it's the BFM."

In Russell Dilday's analysis of BFM2000, he listed several "troubling factors" ... including trends "toward Calvinism and mistrust of personal Christian experience and shifting Baptist identity from its Anabaptist, free church tradition to a reformed evangelical identity."
Dilday obviously had a prophetic gifting. http://assets.baptiststandard.com/archived/2001/5_14/pages/dilday.html

Andrew Barker

Scott, I think your missing the point Peter is making here, a bit anyway. I was brought up in a Brethren Assembly. We had to call ourselves 'Open Brethren' to distinguish ourselves from the 'Closed' or 'Exclusive' groups. The point I'm making here is that all Christian groups to a certain extent make themselves different in one way or another. It can be a source of pride and superiority but doesn't have to be that way.

Christians also can sound very exclusive. I mean Jesus is THE way THE truth, THE life. It's not a very accommodating message is it! BUT the offer to ALL is open.

The difference with Calvinism is the inherent belief that God chose the elect before the foundation of the world purely in accordance with his will. Nothing you or I have done, can do, or will do, can or will ever change his mind. It is in fact determined!

So you are stuck with it. Either you're 'elect' and saved or you're effectively 'non-elect' and lost. If this is not exclusivity personified, I don't know what is.

Whether this inevitably leads to feelings of superiority or bigotry, depends more upon the individual's personality and how they relate to others. There are plenty of non-Calvinists who are smug and self satisfied with their 'own' belief system.

But one does get the feeling with Calvinism that the 'die is cast' and so therefore, are you .... caste that is!


Scott, You are discounting the history of Calvinism in many societies.

The question really is: If they had political/magisterial power would they resort to their historical methods?

I say yes and the proof is in what lengths they have gone to with "Quiet Revolution" tactics, deception in hiring practices, partnering with Shepherding cults, embracing Driscoll, lazer like focus on church discipline (for others not their peers), membership covenants where they can decide when you are allowed to leave the church "properly" according to them, etc, etc.

This doctrine has a long history of seeking to controlling people.

That Calvinism, in practice, originally supported a "church state" ought to be your first clue it was a social caste system, too.


Max, We were asleep? Mohler was playing with the "priesthood". Catch that? How convenient. I think we were also taken for a ride with the Founders and their insistence on church discipline. Thing with these guys is they never tell you what they are really going for long term. But now we know....control and power over people.


Lydia writes "Max, We were asleep?"

Lydia, traditional Southern Baptists were snoozing a long time before BFM2000 hit the streets! Consider Dr. Mohler's words from his 1993 convocation address at Southern:

"The 'Abstract' is a reminder that we bear a responsibility to this great denomination, whose name we so proudly bear as our own. We bear the collective responsibility to call this denomination back to itself and its doctrinal inheritance. This is a true reformation ... the 'Abstract' remains a powerful testimony to a Baptist theological heritage that is genuinely evangelical, Reformed, biblical, and orthodox."

Whew! Talk about a shot over the bow! Ready or not, here I come! Majority Southern Baptists had a window open in the 1990s to deal with the reformed agenda ... but while we slept, the window closed ... thus, the cast of the caste moves forward.



The list is unfair and inaccurate. I am sure someone can find a Calvinist who may live out some of these things, but you can also find some non-Calvinist Baptists who live out the list as well. A caste system is not an inherent or normal part of Calvinism just as a caste system is not an inherent or normal part of Christianity.

Andrew Barker

Sorry Chris, but you are clearly not thinking this through carefully. 'Unconditional election' involves the whole of humanity being divided into one of two groups from before the foundation of the world. The decision is God's alone and is set in stone. You could even say some are born into grace and others not, but it sounds very much like a caste system to me.

Of course non-Calvinists can exhibit all the bad attributes of the list. But that is not the issue. If you happen to be 'non-elect' as far as Calvinism goes, that's it. You are stuck and there is no possibility of redemption. A person's behaviour then is rather an irrelevance isn't it? Might as well enjoy what little 'common grace' God throws your way?!



You may be right about my thinking. But I am Reformed and see everyone as born first under judgement and then many born again to life. Also, if God creates the world knowing that some people will never come to Christ than how in the traditional Baptist view is God not choosing some and not others?

Also, no one knows who is elect or non-elect so how could anyone divide them in a caste fashion? As long as someone lives there is hope that they may repent. Only after death when someone stands before God will anyone know who was elect or non-elect.

Andrew Barker

Chris, I think this demonstrates what I see as some of the confused thinking of the Reformed position. If God chooses people ahead of their being born, how can you really say they are 'born under judgement'?

As a non-Baptist, I'll let Peter give the official line, but for me God doesn't choose us, he chose Christ. We are chosen yes, but 'in Him' never 'into Him'. Once you understand this, everything else fits into place (maybe being a tad optimistic here). Election goes from being a rather mean spirited little doctrine which excludes, to a wide encompassing open expression of God's love to all! The story of Ruth epitomizes election. An outsider, a Moabite, a women! makes her own free choice to join 'the elect' and ends up being an ancestor of King David and more importantly Jesus! You can't get more included than that. (apart from maybe being part of the Church, God's bride)

I'm not so sure either about your comment that "no one knows who is elect". Rom 10:9 " if you confess with your mouth Jesus [as] Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Now, what's so uncertain about that?

Where I agree is that we shouldn't go round trying to judge who is and who isn't elect! The parable of the wheat and tares teaches us that. It is God's place to judge. But as for waiting until we stand before God to find out ..... it's a bit late by then isn't it?!



I can say "born under judgment" because "under judgement" is the state of anyone not presently in Christ. The fact that someone will be saved out of that state doesn't take them out of that state now. Just as if I somehow knew that some persons were going to be raised out of poverty at some point in their life, I still wouldn't act as though they weren't currently poor as I see them begging on the side of the road.

As to exclusivity, I want to be as exclusive as Christ. "He that believes on Christ is not condemned and he that doesn't believe is condemned already." At the same time, I hope and am praying for persons to come to Christ today.

I agree with you that those who do what is described in Romans 10:9 are elect and I am certain with you that they are in Christ. My point was that I can't see into hearts to see who was genuine and who wasn't when they professed faith. Also, I can't predict who will be believe in Christ.

I didn't intend to say that we wait until judgment day to worry about our salvation or our neighbor's. Everyone should repent and trust Christ now. Instead of worrying if someone is elect, I want to know if they have trusted Christ.


"Everyone should repent and trust Christ now."

But that is the whole point. They can't. They are "totally unable" to repent and trust Christ. God has to force them since they were chosen before they were born.

Andrew's point still stands and yes, Calvinism is a proven caste system from a historical view. Just one example out of Calvinism's long history of caste thinking. Have you ever read Broadus' bio of Boyce? Boyce saw slavery as sent from God. He thought that slaves needed to be captive so they could be discipled. He was so pro slavery that he changed his tune on sucession when he found out it was the only way to keep slavery. That is an example of the SBC "Founder's" caste system thinking.

Andrew Barker

I can say "born under judgment" because "under judgement" is the state of anyone not presently in Christ. The fact that someone will be saved out of that state doesn't take them out of that state now.

So, one is only elect for part of one's life?

As to exclusivity, I want to be as exclusive as Christ. "He that believes on Christ is not condemned and he that doesn't believe is condemned already." At the same time, I hope and am praying for persons to come to Christ today.

Sorry but I don't see that as exclusive. Point out somebody who Jesus doesn't want to be saved! I can't think of anyone.

According to Calvinism, your prayers will be answered. People not only will come, they must.

I agree with you that those who do what is described in Romans 10:9 are elect and I am certain with you that they are in Christ.

RC Sproul disagrees with you here. According to him, it is the elect who will come to faith, not those who profess faith who are the elect. Trouble is, nobody within Reformed circles has come up with a chapter and verse solution to answer the question "how do I know who is elect?" At least I haven't seen one.



Again, I don't know who will or won't repent. So sharing the gospele with everyone is still important as some will come to Christ.

Also, the basic tenets of Calvinism do not support a caste system. I have said already and do not doubt you can find a Calvinist at some point who did. One or two people do not prove it is inherent anymore than I by my existence prove it is not inherent.



You might want to check out the man for whom your system of belief is named. Check out theGenevan Codes he insisted upon his second time there.... When he consolidated his power. The Anabaptists were not the right caste. And they paid a very high price. So I have to wonder if doctrine drives behavior? And that behavior creates caste systems. Calvinism is perfect for it.

I realize nothing anyone can say will make the case for you. But it is rather silly to ignore the historical behavior in your belief system. I am often grateful we live in a free country and do not need to fear the magistrates



I agree that it is silly to ignore history. But saying a Calvinist did a thing is not the same thing as proving that a Calvinist did a thing because of the five points. I am sure there non-Calvinist slave owners and non-Calvinist Anabaptist persecutors. You have yet to show why Calvinism leads to these acts. I don't see Calvinists today advocating either of these things.

Also, I don't hold to Calvinism because I think much of Calvin or follow Calvin. I hold to Calvinism because I see it in Scripture. I am happy to call those doctrines by another term.


"But saying a Calvinist did a thing is not the same thing as proving that a Calvinist did a thing because of the five points"

Did you miss the parts where in history where it was taught that God ordained slavery? That is the Augustinian filter systematized by the Reformation. The five points are just an abbreviated part of Calvin's ST. We could easily turn to Luther and his writings on the Jews for another view of how this plays out. Even his writings on the Peasants War takes us in this caste system direction.

If you could point me to "Anabaptist" persecutors of other believers for having different doctrinal views, I would be grateful. And I promise to give it to 'em.



I don't know if you are Southern Baptist, but Peter is. Southern Baptists have periods of racism throughout their history even up to the present. Will you say that Southern Baptists hold to a caste system? Or will you say at times Southern Baptists have believed and done horrible things contrary to Scripture but the main tenents of Southern Baptists are biblical? It is the same with Calvinism.

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