After completing his high school requirements, he enrolled in pre-seminary classes at Calvin College where he continued studying Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. It didn’t take long before the prospective preacher concluded that, taken seriously, Calvin’s theology was bound to destroy whatever self-esteem one had. According to Calvin, man was so totally depraved that even his best works are polluted with sin. Although the elect could be redeemed by grace, it seemed all humans were innately worthless miserable creatures: “Q: But are we so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all evil? A: Yes, indeed; unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God” (“Lord’s Day, 3” Heidelberg Catechism).
Moreover, a person wasn’t even allowed to wonder about what God had ordained (Dornbush/Zandstra Interview, 7-10-02). But the troubled Armand did wonder, a lot.
At 16 I discovered Beethoven and read one of the most ponderous things you can read, and that's "The Institutes of the Christian Religion" by John Calvin.. . and while I was in the service at an airfield outside of Denver, on a weekend break I went into a bookstore and there was a name I had never heard of before. A big, fat book, "The Essays of Schopenhauer” about human nature. Well, this German philosopher made sense to me, ya.
At the same time he took a psychology class where he was introduced to a far more congenial approach to humankind thanks to his professor, Johannes Broene. Instead of adhering to a vertical God-to-man relationship as Armand had been catechized, Broene awaked him to think in a new horizontal dimension—man-to-man or man-to-nature.
Broene’s lectures were “my biggest surprise when I got to Calvin.” It was new, revolutionary. He sat up straight, on the edge of his chair. “I felt like a rabbit who just couldn’t get his ears long enough.” He continued, “Why it’s just like the ceiling was lifted all of a sudden. I thought, huh, I’ve never heard people talk about people like this, what makes them tick, why they react, what molds their lives, their make-up, their disposition, all these—and it’s always evolving” (Dornbush/Zandstra Interview, 7-10-02). He soon realized that he was unsuited for the ministry.