Proud Calvinism?!?

John Calvin

Full disclosure:  I am a Calvinist.  Yep, all 5 points…. Offended?

Stick around, it will be ok!

Now that we got that out-of-the-way, the point of this post is NOT to make a case or argue for Calvinism.  Have you noticed? It has kinda already been done!  There are many better places to make a humble argument for or against Calvinism.

So, Let’s dive in!

It is a great day we live in where there has been a resurgence of reading, studying, and learning of theology.  10 years ago you could not pay a guy to read a theology book.  So, I begin with gratitude!

I am grateful for those who have taken up big, thick, theology books written by dead guys and living guys.  LOVE IT!

I also enjoy the conversations that the reading has stirred.

And, I love, most of all, OUR great God! He is God, the focus, and the reason for all this great theology!

BUT

I have this growing concern for my friends in the reformed theology camp.  (Oh, Oh… perhaps this post will offend BOTH Arminians and Calvinists? I hope not.)

It is with the reformed brothers that I have the most agreement….. and well, disagreement.

You see, amidst this surge in theology, there seems to be an accompanying surge of pride.  Yikes!  Not the pride word! How dare I mention it while so MUCH pride is still hanging on to my heart and life? Dare I attempt to write about “Proud Calvinism”?

“Tim, what are you thinking!?!”

Well, I press on and pray for a work of humility in me. Besides, if you think about it, today’s topic falls under the scope of this blog.  “Gospel Connections.”

There seems to be a gospel disconnect when it comes to proud Calvinism.

How does one subscribe to reformed theology and do so with a pronounced arrogance??

At the core of Reformed theology is the Sovereign God.  

I don’t like to use the term “Calvinist”.  Not that I don’t like John Calvin, or have gained from John Calvin. Rather, it’s because I don’t think John Calvin would like the term “Calvinist”!  The term immediately takes the glories of Christ off of….. well, Christ.   And, it places an emphasis on….. a man.   Ugh!

A right understanding of Reformed theology specifically points the attention away from man and seeks to center the attention where it belongs…. God!

Reformed theology is not about Calvin!

Reformed theology is not about you or me!!

Reformed theology is about GOD!!!

Here is what I am getting at…. How is it that there seems to be in this surge of theology an accompanying surge of pride?

 

It’s in the coffee shop in Anywhere, USA.  Two brothers sitting down, sipping their Americano, debating theology.  (By the way, I have NO problem with brothers debating theology!  Quite the contrary!  May there be an increase of humble theological discussions over coffee!)

The Reformed brother believes he is saved by the grace of God, the Arminian brother does too. And, it is in that moment Barney Fifethat my Reformed friend kicks into high gear.  Feeling the need to unpack everything he learned the night before.  Like Barney Fife he has a bullet.  This brother knows enough….. to be dangerous.

Arminians…. don’t get overly excited about the above paragraph. The temptations are the same in both camps.

Like the clanging gong Paul references in I Corinthians towards the “we are so proud of our spiritual gifting” Corinthians.  I don’t think your friend can hear you over the noisy cymbals and gongs. We must ask, Where is the love for my brother?

I know my Arminian friends are saying…. “yep, I have met the proud Calvinist” Please be kind in the comments section below and don’t try to add to the noisy gongs we Reformed guys are creating.

Isn’t proud Calvinism an oxymoron? You know…..

Jumbo Shrimp

Pretty Ugly

Proud Calvinist

Consider our salvation: we believe we were “dead in our transgressions and sins….” Ephesians 2.  And dead means….. dead.  Not almost dead, just….. dead. We believe that in our spiritually dead place, God by His Spirit called / chose / elected us to salvation.  And because He did – we then responded to His gospel call.

Praise be to God! We were once dead in our sins and now we are alive in Christ Jesus!  (I know the above paragraph is overly simplified! Did I mention, the intent of the post is not an attempt to unpack the reformed view of salvation….)

My point is to simply say – isn’t the above paragraph inconsistent with the accompanying pride we see in the coffee shop?

To my reformed brothers of whom I AGREE…..

Do we really have it ALL figured out?  AND, even if we did……(which we don’t!)  But, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume we have it all figured out. Does it then become our right to blast our brothers and sisters with the sum total of all our reformed wisdom over a 60 minute coffee?  The damage we do in the name of Reformed theology – in the name of Christ!

I believe God is sovereign over my salvation! That said – God is sovereign over my salvation does not equal…..pride.  When we rightly understand that God is sovereign over my salvation the accompanying heart response is humility and worship.

God chose me and did so in spite of me… How does my wicked heart bring pride into that equation?

Reformed theology is not a gonging cymbal. God forbid! It is brokeness and humble gratitude.  Thanks be to God – I am saved!  Praise Him!

We might do well to leave that bullet in our shirt pocket and instead worship and glory in OUR Savior.

Stay tuned:

Next post:  “Signs of Proud Calvinism”

 

 

Comments?  

To the Arminian followers of this blog – give us your perspective!  How do we Calvinists need to grow?  Be honest, humble, and gracious in your thoughts.

To the Calvinist followers of this blog – give us your perspective!  How have you been proud? How are you seeking to repent and change?

 

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5 thoughts on “Proud Calvinism?!?”

  1. Good post Tim. Your thoughts echo exactly ones that I have had. My guess is the pride come from two factors…

    1. Even with the resurgence of Calvinism, the prevailing view in our churches tends to be Arminian (one could argue semi-pelagian, but to be fair, I don’t think history was kind to Paligius. Sorry, that is a whole different can of worms) Because of this imbalance I feel like many from the reformed ranks have a chip on their shoulder. They have something to prove.

    2. I think we all fall prey to the desire to be right. We want to align ourselves with our camp and be victoriously right. And that action, in itself is fueled by pride. To this Paul would say, wouldn’t be better to be wronged?

    Here is the bottom line… Christ is right. Me? Generally wrong… over and over again… wrong. And when I do get it right… that is grace. We see God, who is always right, dimly as through a glass. But one day we shall see him as he is.

    So for me, I say to my reformed friends, I am Arminian, because I have not been convinced otherwise. I am not Arminian because I have chosen that team and am unmovable. God is always true, always right. My view of theology needs to factor my propensity to be “wrong” and always be open to greater enlightenment from the Holy Spirit and Scripture.

    3. I know I said two, but just thought of another. I find that Calvinist and Arminians both have their Barney’s. Not the purple dinosaur, but the Fife. From my point of view, I don’t run into many Calvinist who truly know what Arminians believe. They know a lot about what Piper and Sproul have said about Arminianism, but they haven’t sat down and talked with many actual Arminians. It is much easier to assail a straw man then the real man. I think if more from both camps were inclined to truly understand each other more than they wanted to win the argument, it would fix a number of problems.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Jason

    1. Good thoughts Jason. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I love it when you said, “CHRIST is right. Me? Generally wrong…” That is a perspective we all need. Grateful for you bro! Soooooo many memories. :-)

  2. I enjoyed your thoughts here, Tim. I also agree with Augustine, Luther, and Calvin about God’s sovereignty.

    Sort of a side note but related, one thing I’ve struggled with in Reformed churches, even though I like to think, read, write when it comes to theolgy, is the tendency to become too academic or too intellectual in our analysis of God and his word. As John Piper has said, God will not just be analyzed, he will be glorified.

    So I think any kind of theology done right should lead to praise of God…

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