November 13, 2011. it was the year I graduated high school. Christ saved this foul-mouthed, video game addict (I’m talking about at least 12 hours a day of playing) bisexual agnostic. I was baptized in the local river that was unforgivingly cold but I didn’t care. As I was shaking from the temperature, listening as the Baptizer told me “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” I put my hand over my nose and then I was dunked into the water. While under, I thought of Christ’s burial and how I was being buried with him in baptism. I walked out, excited to start a new life in following Christ. However, it did not last. For soon after, I went back to my old ways, playing video games all day and neglecting the reading of the word and chatting with unbelieving women with the intention of dating them.
You see, as a very new Christian, I was a practical hypocrite and heretic. I believed in outright heretical things because I didn’t know any better, I wasn’t discipled, I went to a small free will baptist church that preached the gospel, but there wasn’t much more than the milk of the word there at that time. I chuckle at my erroneous beliefs now, but boy, they were scary to live by. I thought that every sin I committed I had to repent to get my salvation back, I thought If I got caught sinning, Jesus wouldn’t take me up in the rapture and that TBN was a good Christian channel.
Another cringe-worthy thing about me was that I was a KJV-Onlyist and if you know about KJV-Onlyism, you know that Dr. James White was the archnemesis to us. So, I’d watch Dr. White’s videos with the intent to refute them, but I wanted to know more about what he believed. So I watched his theology videos as well. A particular video called “Are Calvinists Christians?” Caught my eye, and I watched it and began to struggle on the inside. This Calvinism stuff is dumb, but Dr. White makes it sound so convincing. I was talking to a friend of mine about Calvinism on the phone, and when they asked me what I thought about it, I reacted by saying “It’s f***ing stupid” to which she agreed. But I was only reacting so harshly because I knew at this point, it had a hold on me.
Later down the road, I saw a free book offer from Ligonier Ministries, a book by R.C. Sproul called “What’s Reformed theology?” I thought to myself “Here we go, I can read and refute Calvinism once I read this!” So, I ordered the book, when I got it, I threw it against a wall, because I was afraid of reading it because I thought I’d agree with it. I really didn’t want to be a Calvinist. I was a licensed minister in a non-Calvinist church, so I had some things to lose by being one. One day, I picked up the book and read through it with more interest than I had in any other book at the time. I filled it with highlights and underlines and I was again struggling on the inside.
Then I was on Facebook with my Society of Evangelical Arminian buddies, and one of them picked a fight with Matt Slick. In the argument, which was about if God gives the same opportunity to all, I remember asking my friend if the closing of the Red Sea was an accident. To which he responded, you aren’t a Calvinist Tony, why are you asking me that? The inner struggle continued.
Sometime later, I was reading my daily Bible reading plan, and the chapter was Exodus 20. When I read the angel of death passed over the houses with the blood of the lamb on them, limited atonement made sense to me. I then decided that all five points made sense to me, and there I accepted them and prayed and asked God to teach me.
Becoming a Calvinist ruined my relationships with my Arminian friends unfortunately, I lost my position in the society, I rejected ordination into the free will Baptist Church, and I had to make new friends in general, because I wanted like-minded individuals and it was a bit tiring when everyone was telling me I worshiped a murderer. That being said, I have a few Arminian friends who were around during my theological conversion and are still here today, which I am very thankful for.
Calvinism gave me a rational theology, Calvinism gave me something that quenched the thirst of my intellect, Calvinism gave me comfort in the trials of my life. Spurgeon said it best when he stated”
“When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.”