“Has a nation changed its gods, and they were not gods? But My people have changed their Glory without profiting. Be amazed at this, O heavens, and be horrified; be completely desolated, declares Jehovah. For My people have done two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, to hew out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:11-13).
Many who call themselves “Calvinist” are like a less extreme version of the late heretic, Clark Pinnock. They pounce on Peter’s “grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and flatten it into a pretext for perpetually hewing out broken cisterns for themselves.
Broken Cistern Calvinism denies that its spiritual pilgrimage is one of changing gods and constructing leaky receptacles that cannot hold the Water Of Life. Some have euphemized this pilgrimage (or journey) as a “gracious process” of “doctrinal sanctification.” They would misuse and adulterate Biblical facts like spiritual growth and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) as “proofs” that they were regenerate persons despite believing a false gospel, following a false christ, worshipping a false god, etc.
In the Bible there is a simple and significant distinction between imperfect (not sinless) regenerate persons growing in grace and knowledge of the Fountain Of Living Water, and unregenerate Calvinist idolaters growing in their knowledge regarding which of the broken cisterns leaks water that is least putrid.
The following excerpt by Marc Carpenter gets at what I mean by Broken Cistern Calvinism and its in-effect-assertion (one of many) that a regenerate person begins the Christian life by eating dirt and then eventually “grows into” drinking the Living Water:
As 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, God shone in our hearts to give us a KNOWLEDGE of the GLORY OF GOD in the FACE OF JESUS CHRIST. A moment before regeneration, our hearts were blind. As an immediate result of regeneration, God glorified Himself in our hearts by giving us a KNOWLEDGE of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. He gave us a knowledge of the PERSON of Jesus Christ and the WORK of Jesus Christ, showing forth His righteousness in which He is both a just God and a Savior, and causing us to boast in the cross of Christ alone. EVERY SAVED PERSON, from the newborn in Christ to the most mature believer, believes the SAME GOSPEL. A common response to this goes something like,
‘You’re saying that a newborn Christian has to suddenly be able to eat meat rather than to start out on milk. You’re saying that there is no growth that takes place in Christians as to their understanding of the gospel.’
And here’s how we respond to such dung: You don’t have a clue as to what the true milk is. What you call milk is actually POISON. You think a newborn Christian can start out the Christian life believing a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner and then “grow into” believing the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone. The truth is that a person who believes a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner HASN’T EVEN STARTED the life of a Christian. He is drinking POISON, not milk. And the reason you don’t recognize the difference between milk and poison is that YOU haven’t even started the life of a Christian. You would say to this person drinking poison,
‘You’re not a meat-eater like me, but what you’re drinking now, although it’s not as consistent as the meat, is still nourishment to your soul.’
The false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner is your MILK, which means it is the STARTING POINT, the FOUNDATION OF, your gospel. You remain dead in your sins. Do Christians grow in grace and knowledge? Of course they do – 2 Peter 3:18 is an encouragement to do just that. But does that mean that they ‘grow’ from believing in a false god and a false christ and a false gospel to believing in the true God and the true Christ and the true gospel? Of course not. Belief in the true God and the true Christ and the true gospel is the STARTING POINT of a believer’s spiritual life.”
Other metaphors or word-pictures could be used to describe the Calvinism or the Calvinists who enjoy rooting around in diabolical dirt. Strychnine Calvinism aptly depicts those using Hebrews 5:12-13 as a pretext for prescribing the Strychnine of salvation conditioned on the sinner instead of the Similac of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.