OK, so to sum up the five points of Calvinism in my own way...
1) Total Depravity: Man is a slave to sin and can't accept God on his own. He must be regenerated by God first.
2) Unconditional Election: It follows that since Man can't choose God on their own, God chooses who gets to be regenerated. In effect, who will be saved and who will burn.
3) Limited Atonement: Christ died only for the chosen.
4) Irresistible Grace: If God has elected you to be regenerated, then clearly you can't resist the call of the Holy Spirit once chosen.
5) Perseverance of the Saints: The elect will be faithful to the end, and will not die having rejected Christ.
My problems with all this:
1) I agree that on my own, without the help of God in my life, I am completely fallen and sinful. I am under the curse. But that doesn't mean I can't exercise the free will needed to answer God's call and accept his free grace.
2)1 Peter 1:2 we see that the saved are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” It makes much more sense to me that God knows who will choose him from before the dawn of time. I understand that God is in control of all things, but I think in exercising that control, he has allowed us to have free will. For God to have mapped out everyone's specific life choices down to the tittle, takes away the explanation of evil in the world.
3) The offer of salvation HAS to be for all men. How can it be otherwise? If this atonement is 'limited', it is only limited in that some people have chosen to reject it. There is solid Biblical foundation to support the point that Jesus died for the world and wanted his apostles to go into the world and make disciples. *God sent the Son into the world that the world through Him might be saved (Jn. 3:17). That's why Jesus is referred to as the Savior of the world (Jn. 4:42; 1 Jn. 4:14). In dying for the whole world, Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). Jesus is truly the Savior of all men (1 Tim. 4:10).
4) Irresistable Grace: How could someone be saved against their will? How can we be held responsible for our actions if God has preordained that we are not called? My whole world view is too wrapped up in our freedom to choose God and righteousness vs. the freedom to walk away from him. God is love. You can't force someone to love you. This sounds like magic potion stuff. Calvinists have the order backwards. You don't get the spirit and then come to faith...you choose to come to faith in Christ whereby you are granted the spirit.
5) So in order to be sure that I've been chosen as part of the elect, I've got to wait until the last day of my life to make sure I havn't died in sin? C'mon man. I know I have eternal salvation because I'm secure in my relationship with Christ, and what he has done for me. I'm doing my best to live as a fallen man in a fallen world. God knows I can't be perfect until order is restored.
Well, those are my thoughts on the matter. This kind of stuff helps me work through things. I'm definitely more on the Arminian/Moderate side of the debate. Partly because I know that I get my sense of justice from God. And when things seem inherently unfair, I know I get that instinct from God. So to imagine that a person who works hard their whole life to follow the model of Christ, could be preordained to burn in hell...that's not justice or love. And God is the epitome of both love and justice.