It is unfortunate that many Calvinists have established a stereotype of being arrogant, mean, and snobby about their theological convictions. It is for this reason that I do believe a recently converted Calvinist should be locked in a closet for a few months before speaking to anyone or commit themselves to these 10 truths and acknowledge the need for humility in all discourse.
10. John Wesley must have been pretty physically fit from his horseback riding…some even suggest that he rode some 250,000 miles on horseback. This suggests that he was a strong dude. Calvin, on the otherhand, hardly ate, drank lots of wine, and often fasted. In a boxing match, I would humbly have to concede that Wesley would knock Calvin out in the 1st Round.
9. We do believe that we are totally depraved and wicked in our hearts, right? If we therefore believe that we are more deprave than our Arminian counterparts, we should be humbler. We believe that we are worse people than Arminians think of themselves, so be humble.
8. We do believe that God chose us unconditionally, meaning that we were chosen in spite of ourselves and not because God was attracted to something, right? Therefore we are like the person picked last in a kickball game because we simply aren’t good. Act like the person picked last in a pickup game.
7. We do believe that Jesus had to come rescue us, right? It’s not like Jesus threw a life ladder down for us to climb up on for safety. We were dead, rotting, and beyond repair. Jesus’ work on the cross was necessary to bring us back to life, right? If so, then we can no more boast than Lazarus over being brought back from the dead. Therefore, act like one was dead and brought back to life.
6. We do believe that we are so wicked in our hearts that we would never be inclined to love God and see truth, right? If so, then God is a mighty lover who attracted us to Himself because He opened our eyes, our ears, and our hearts so that we might see, taste, and feel His beauty. If our eyes were opened by Him so that we could see Him, where then is boasting? Therefore, act like one whose sight has been given. It’s His beauty that attracted us, not our intellect.
5. We do believe that if left to ourselves, none would be saved or stay saved, right? If left to ourselves, we wouldn’t even stay in heaven for much longer than a second. If our justification and eventual glorification are in His hands, then we will ever be a debtor to grace. We don’t believe that in order for love to be genuine that there HAS TO BE the potential for disobedience. We don’t believe that we will fall into temptation in our eternal state and yet we would say that this is the most perfect manifestation of our love towards God. If therefore we are preserved by God’s grace, then act like it.
4. Was Calvin an apostle? No, I didn’t think so…so stop acting like it. Calvin was drawn to his conclusions because of God’s grace, right? It really freaks Arminians out when you argue why they should take down their pictures of Jesus, while yet having no problems with your portraits of Calvin, your Calvin T-Shirts, etc. Therefore, love Jesus more than Calvin with your affections. Appeal to Jesus’ own words to establish your understanding of Grace rather than quickly quoting Calvin. Show that you are in love with Jesus, quote Jesus, act like Jesus.
3. Most “Calvinists” I meet have yet to even read Calvin’s Institutes. As such, I have rarely met a comprehensive Calvinist…one who embraces everything Calvin believed. Be careful how you flaunt Calvin…in fact, it’s much better to flaunt Jesus. Again, saturate yourself with the aroma of Jesus, cling to His words in your understanding of grace.
2. Arminians are nice people…at the least the ones I know. In fact, I once was an Arminian and still believe that I was in God’s grace while thinking such. Don’t treat Arminians like heretical witches. Also, try not to foam at the mouth or get red in the face when you discuss your disagreements with your counterparts. Be normal, speak nicely, be civil, brush your teeth, and smile once in awhile.
1. We are told how we are to treat those who actually are wicked and ensnared to the devil.
2 Ti 2:23-26 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. (24) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, (25) correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, (26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
If this is how we are to treat unbelievers, then how much more graciously should we deal with actual believers who hold differing theological convictions? I am NOT putting Arminians in the group Paul is mentioning in this passage. I am simply stating that unbelievers are brought to truth through a “gentle” loving approach. It is also God who grants the repentance. If such is the case, then acknowledge that it is God who has brought us to our current understanding of truth. Therefore, realize that you can’t argue someone into Calvinism…you must simply present your views in loving gentleness and be patient with people, realizing that we truly believe in Grace and will therefore allow God’s grace to work in people’s minds. Treat your theology like precious jewels that have been mined in the vast caves of Scripture. Don’t throw your jewels at people…but rather display precious truth in all its splendor and share it with people as you would share a gift…graciously and with joy.
If you have more reasons, please post them as comments!!!
By the way, Abraham Piper has offered some similar sentiments for the need of Calvinsitic Kindness on the Desiring God Blog: http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/934_be_a_kinder_calvinist
© 2008, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.