Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Calvinist "Likes-to-fight" guy

I find myself persuaded most by people who are gracious, gentle, and loving. I want to like what I would become if I believed more like them. I think most people are probably like that. When folks are angry because they feel they are divinely defending the truth (and sometimes a situation calls for righteous anger-I just think probably less than we think, though I can't prove that) like a Martin Luther had to do, many either tune them out or choose the opposite side. The anger of the messenger stalls the propagation of the message. Now of course some folks like that angry-get-in-your-face-guy and they follow him. Then they become him. They become Calvinist "likes to fight guy." Not good.

Unfortunately there are many "Calvinistic" folks who are just flat out angry at others. They defend their positions with as much vociferation and defiance as say a Martin Luther did, while claiming the same amount of scriptural clarity to the issue. While I'll always hold to the "doctrines of grace" (part of Calvinistic understanding of salvation) because I believe it makes most scriptural sense to me and gives God the most glory (I think scriptures put that higher on God's priority list than our autonomous choice), I never want to be an angry Calvinist drawing a sword to pridefully attack other legitimate branches of Christianity. 

There are too many such folks out there. Many are Presbyterians. But that's why my seminary, R.T.S. coined the phrase "Winsomely Reformed."It's a nice way of saying, "There are too many jerks out there calling themselves Calvinists; the doctrines of grace should make people like you more, not less!" 

Here's an interview exchange with Baptist church planting guru and Lifeway researcher Ed Stetzer (I don't think he's Calvinistic but does run in such "circles") and Joe Horn on the problem of Angry "fake" Calvinists. Pretty cool.

You wonder if God would ever say, "You know more people would have believed the doctrines of grace if you weren't such a jerk." Now for a Calvinist this is clearly a hypothetical scenario only. Nevertheless, its probably a good exercise to think through while on Earth.

If you've run into angry Calvinists, and are turned off by them, then please realize that there are many not like that. If that term is something vilely offensive to you, then it might be worth re-examining some of the scriptures with a winsome Calvinist. Because people have the power to turn me off, even to things that I already like or promote, it's very clear that the messenger of God's grace has to be shaped by God's grace before many will believe in such "doctrines of grace." 

And if you find that it is scripture itself, and not just some angry Calvinists who are very hard to love, (nor YOUR notions of what God should be like), which prevents your from landing in this "camp," then God bless you, and keep on keeping on. And reading on I hope! I'm glad and proud to call you brother or sister or father or mother in the faith. Hope the reverse is also true.

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