Let me give a direct example: there have been at least a dozen people recently who have said verbatim or very very similar, “I do not follow Calvin or Arminius, I follow Christ.” Do you seriously not read your Bible? You claim to be Bible believers and yet you misquote Paul so blatantly? Please take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 in your preferred Bible translation; I’ll post it in a moment, but I want you to see that I am not making up a Bible verse.
Let me take a different road to get to the same place, Paul said quite clearly in several places to, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, et al.) Therefore a person can be a follower of Paul and still be quite right. Therefore I follow Paul, but I also follow Peter, and I follow Jean Calvin, and I follow Andrew Fuller, and I follow Steve Lawson, and I follow John MacArthur. As they imitate Christ, I imitate them, and I call for my disciples to be followers of me in as much as I am following Christ.
Were I to say, “I do not follow MacArthur, I follow Christ,” then I sever Dr. MacArthur from the faith. I do not follow Rob Bell or Mark Driscoll, because neither follows Christ, and by making this statement, I thoroughly anathematize their gospels.
Therefore, to say that you do not follow Calvin or Arminius, you claim that both are totally wrong. And I will say this: I do not follow Arminius, because as was stated so forcefully and well at Dort, his path is heresy.
So let us then look at 1 Corinthians 1:12-13, starting at verse 10:
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided?As much as Calvin and Arminius are divided by vast gulfs of theology, we must seek to be united in the same mind and judgment in the message of the cross. Those who are divided from this thinking must repent and return to the truth; we will not compromise on the truth of the gospel of grace. Paul himself anathematizes Arminius’ gospel early in his Epistle:
[Saints] wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.Therefore I have no problem saying I follow Calvin (but not Arminius), I follow Paul, Peter, Apollos, and Jesus. I do not dare say that I only follow Jesus, for to do so is to remove everyone of these godly men from the unity of Christ, and in so doing I set myself up as the authority of my own interpretation, which, beloved, is specifically prohibited by my dear brother Peter in 2 Peter 1:21.
Now, place these men in the correct light. Calvin was not crucified for my sins; I was not baptized in the name of MacArthur. I follow them as they follow saints, apostles, and Christ.
I do not follow Christ alone, I would not be so presumptuous nor illiterate. Christ has sent many as prophets, evangelists, and teachers, and these have prepared for us a biblical tradition of orthodoxy that spans the ages. I do not follow only one man alone, but I love the church and cherish it; and this is summed up in a single word, for as Charles Spurgeon said so well (whom I follow also), “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”