I have a beef with Calvinists.
First of all before you get ready to send my an email with your fists flying, let me remind you that I am one (cf. the url). This means that I have theological license to throw elbows and pound the speed bag.
My beef centers on the fundamental contradiction that is unveiled in many of the arguments and attitudes communicated by those ‘in the camp’. I have seen and heard some of the most condescending, unkind, and ungracious tones in communicating with or about those who do not agree with us. And sometimes if you get a few of us together, talking theology, the sniper rifles come out and we are soon enjoying open season on liberals, Arminians, Emergents and various and sundry freaks in the American Christian movement.
Now, as a good Calvinist let me first qualify this. I don’t think it is wrong to point out error, especially within the umbrella of Christianity. In fact it is biblical (1 Tim. 4.1-8). However, it is the aura of self-righteousness that accompanies these jabs that is troublesome. We think, talk and act like they are so stupid. We filet folks who do not believe in the universal depravity of mankind.
We say things like, “Humanity is spiritually dead. We can do nothing to arouse our affections for God. God must impart truth to the mind of the dead man. God must illumine the soul of the one whom he has regenerated.”
And we say these things (which are true) with a condescension that undermines it.
Friends, just think about what you have just said. You have admitted that there is not one drop of true spiritual knowledge that you have that has come as a result of your own flesh or the flesh of another, but rather as a supernatural invasion of grace and mercy. God has kindly taught you things that you would not otherwise know.
And you say “Amen.” But you punch the guy with jacked up theology in the eye because he is…“stupid”?
Does anyone see this to be a problem?
Paul’s words could be cited here: “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4.7)
It must be the product of our flesh that the most God-exalting, pride-smashing theology in all of the world has become a means of self-promotion, ego-stroking, pride.
Pastors, do you not realize that if God were not kind to you, that you would probably not even be in the ministry? And if you were you would probably be performing civil unions for homosexuals?
The only reason why we give a flip about biblical truth is because God has sparked a love for truth in our souls. Forbid it that we then hijack truth and use it for ourselves and our glory rather than God and his.
It is good to point out error. But it is to be done with gospel-centered humility not self-centered pride. As Calvinists we must never separate theological truth as if it is something that we have come up with, discovered, or codified. God has revealed it. It is his compassion that has showed it to you, that continues to show it to you as you grow, and will continue to show it to you as you continue to grow.
During his earthly ministry Jesus lived with compassion that was informed by human depravity and motivated by grace. It is about time that we start looking through the eyes of the one to whom we cling for righteousness to view how he looked at people, grace and truth. If there was ever a one who had the right to just throw up his hands and call people idiots, it was him. But he never did. He did stuff like this:
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” Mark 6:34