Thursday, August 27, 2009

How to Hate a Calvinist

I have to admit, that for the longest time I did not know what 'Calvinist' meant. The closest thing to the term for me was a cartoon character, Calvin & Hobbs, which I always loved to read - so was I a Calvinist? However, the term was used in several church circles when I was a new Christian - these people didn't strike me as cartoon people. When they used the term it was generally being negative - sort of like spitting. Eventually, I started asking questions. The answers were pretty vague and used word like 'heresy' and 'zealots'. A summary of a conversation went like this:

"Well, the Calvinist doctrine states some very dangerous theology."

Me: "Like what?"

"A big one is total depravity of man. They believe we cannot choose (big emphasis on this word - stretch out the oooo) to receive salvation."

Me: "Oh, but you don't believe that?"

"NO (raise voice here), God gives everyone the opportunity to be saved. Then we can cho(oooo)ose to receive salvation or not."

Me: "Why would anyone choose not to receive salvation?"

"I don't know, but the point is we are given the choice - we're not robots being programmed by God."

There seemed to be great vehemence for this doctrine, but very little discussion as to why it was wrong. It was just wrong. Anyone who followed it was ignorant, arrogant or abhorrent.

Well...I've never been much of a bandwagon person. In anything from fashion and trends right through to my growing faith, the bandwagon wasn't an attractive place for me. Quite frankly, anything that is presented by people as THE only way brings instant suspicion to my mind.

Why is this doctrine wrong? Where in scripture is it outlined as heresy? Where did the doctrine come from? Who is John Calvin? Does he know Hobbs?

The more questions that I asked the more it became that obvious I would have to find out on my own (actually, I am blessed with a husband who avoids the bandwagon, as well, and had just as many questions). I looked at both sides of the debate. Turns out the Doctrines of Grace, a.k.a. the 5 points of Calvinism, make for enlightening reading. Calvin, himself comes across as a no-nonsense type of fellow. He doesn't pad the truth to make it soft. I liked it. I understood it. It opened up a greater relationship with the Lord.

Yes, I am a Calvinist. However, I don't generally introduce myself this way. My church does not have a banner over the entrance that says 'Armenianists stink!'. But, there is no denying that the Doctrines of Grace have lead me to serve the Lord in ways I never did before, because I understand and am humbled by the love Lord has shown me.

I know I was blind and He gave me sight: And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16 (emphasis mine)

I know I was dead and He gave me life: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 (emphasis mine)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephesians 2:5 (emphasis mine)

I know I was not capable of choosing righteousness while happily wallowing in my sin. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:30

I know He had to drag me kicking and screaming from the life I lived for me, to a life for His Son to live through me. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:19-21

My husband has an analogy for the term 'receiving' salvation - if we receive a beating, it isn't something we ask for! However, we have received it nonetheless. Our salvation is completed in the same manner - against our sinful desires.

Does that make me a heretical zealot who lives as a robot under God? I can live with that. For eternity.

How do you hate a Calvinist? Jump on the bandwagon, you'll have lots of company!

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17&18

1 comment:

Mrs. Parunak said...

Good summary. I'm pretty much right there with you on the doctrines of grace.