What’s the deal with cranky Calvinists?
I don’t understand.
I don’t understand why any Calvinist should be cranky. I mean, it’s called the Doctrines of Grace for a reason.
You know, grace and stuff.
Sometimes I meet with pastors and Christians who have been significantly impacted by the rise of New Calvinism. And sometimes I leave with a sour taste in my mouth. It seems the ‘grace and stuff’ portion is missing. All that is left is hard doctrine expressed in a way that sounds like a resounding gong and clanging cymbal.
In recent years, Calvinism has made a massive impact in the Christian world, and its only been on the increase in the 10 years since this article was written. So much so there was a recent documentary produced about it. It’s certainly impacted me.
When I lived in the Chouf Mountains of Lebanon for two years I devoured John Piper’s teaching on TULIP, the main structure of Calvinistic thought. I first came across Piper over 15 years ago now, while listening to his biographical messages on significant Christians in church history. This made me put words to a theological system that I’d grown up under. In some ways nothing had changed, but in many ways everything had changed.
Yet, after 15 years of knowing what I’ve known about God, the Bible, and the Gospel I look around at this rise in Calvinism and am sometimes saddened. I’m either saddened, angry, or cynical – I’ll be honest. For some reason people jeopardise their relationship with others over a system of thinking about the Bible.
While I believe it is the more consistent system in understanding God and His Word I realise it is just that. A system. It’s not Jesus himself.
Anyway, this rant-like post has been inspired by my reading of William Jay. In his autobiography he writes about Calvinists in his own day. Thankfully he came across some good ones, as he says,
“In my considerable acquaintance with the religious world, some of the most exemplary individuals I have met with have been Calvinists. Of this persuasion were the two most extraordinary characters I ever knew – John Newton, and Cornelius Winter. They held its leading sentiments with firmness; but their Calvinism, like that of Bunyan, was rendered, by their temper, milder than that of some of their brethren; and they were candid towards who who differed from them; and esteemed and loved them as fellow-heirs together of the grace of life.”
Well, to have that said of you would be a terrific thing. But, evidently these cranky cage stage Calvinists must’ve been around in his day too (circa early-1800’s).
If you are a Calvinist, or lean that way, then I encourage you to be a pleasant and understanding Calvinist, not a cranky one.
Remember, grace and stuff.