When I was 21, I had finished 2 years of Bible college. I went to an Arminian School, learned Arminian doctrine, and read Arminian books. I had no previous learning in religion until I attended that school, so I was indoctrinated in that theology without ever knowing whether it was true or false. In my naïveté I believed what I was taught (Surely not to question doctrine was my own mistake, but being indoctrinated in that way helped me to understand more about what I believe now. So it was the providence of God which kept me in my sin of false doctrine for a time.) Not too long after my second year, a friend of mine, who believed the doctrines of grace Calvinist began to challenge me on many of my "biblical" doctrines. I had a well rounded handle on the doctrine I possessed and propagated it thoroughly among my friends at school. But when this young man challenged me as he did, I was not able to refute him. The reason I was not able to refute his arguments had nothing to do with not understanding my own doctrine, for I did. But he came at me with something I did not expect; the Bible. He proposed a whole new system of doctrine which ran completely contrary to my own beliefs. My understanding of sin was so unbiblical that when he told me to read Romans 3:10-18, I was taken back by Paul’s poignant words. I was challenged by the very book I thought I understood. My views of man, Christ, God, salvation, sin, sovereignty, the will, and others were so warped and twisted that my young friend didn’t even need to rebuke me, for the Scriptures were doing it quite well. I had understood doctrine, it was just not the doctrine of the Bible.
So over the next summer, because of that day and that particular challenge of my friend, I devoted my time to reading through the entire Bible and endeavor to take it as it stood rather than what I wanted to read into it. My prayer was that the Lord would teach me His word by the power of the Holy Spirit so that I would know what it said rather than what I wanted it to say. After three months my views on man, Christ, God, sin, salvation and the like were radically transformed. (you would be amazed at what the Spirit of God will do with such a prayer and a simple reading of the Bible.) The point is this, my theology came out Calvinist without ever knowing what Calvinism was. I had not known what Calvin taught or that he was even a person. But my theology reflected nonetheless. The study of the Word of God transformed me. The Scriptures taught me, instead of me trying to teach it. So we see that being a Calvinist is not following after one man, but submitting under the authority of the Bible.
Would that more of us would pray and read Scripture this way! I'm not promoting Calvinism by referring you to this, because I have friends who have read and studied deeply and become convicted Arminians. (We can't all be right on all the elements of our theological frameworks, but we can work towards what builds up one another and makes for mutual edification.)