Is There A 3rd Option?



Proud Calvinism?!?

6 Signs of proud Calvinism

After these two blog posts (linked above) a friend asked:

“Two realities, which I personally struggle with, because they seem to be in tension are: How do you show this kind of humility while at the same time standing firm in the faith one for all delivered to the saints…aka, not being a sort of post-modern, uncertain, wavering, passive type of Christian.

I fear that I all-to-often sound like the proud Calvinist, but often the only alternative seems to be compromise and sounding like a post-modernist—you know, “we can’t really know the truth, so let’s just agree to disagree.”


Thanks for asking the question! I sure don’t want to come across as the guy who has this all figured out! Because, I don’t! But, I do have a couple thoughts that might be helpful, and if not helpful… there is a great little book listed at the end of the post.

First of all we need to recognize there are not two options. We need to know there is a third option.

We tend to think in 2 options:

Option 1:  Humility means watering down the message and convictions.  So to keep the peace, I need to be a “passive – keep the peace” Christian.

Option 2:  Arrogantly defend my views and convictions to the death of all future conversation.

Option 1 is not helpful as it misses truth.

Option 2 is not healthy as it misses grace.  Can you hear the clanging cymbals that Paul writes about in I Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)

Now while the context of I Corinthians 13 is NOT chatting theology with a friend.  However, there is a helpful application of the text for us.

How sad, the Corinthian church was gifted, but their lack of love seems to be noise in the ears of everyone around them. Option 2 is not a good option.

But is that all?  Might there be another option?  This is where a person may have the “right” argument but he presents them it in the “wrong” way. (Sounds like my parenting at times!)

We don’t want to just be “right”. It is not simply about being “right” – we need to communicate what is right and do so in the “right” way.

So that…. we realize – This conversation is not only about the message, but our character in delivering that message matters as well!

In a similar way:  The Corinthians had the “right” gifts but they used them in the “wrong” way? So Paul basically tells them to knock it off!

There is a 3rd option.

Option 3:  Humility that flows from the gospel.  (Truth and Grace)

1.) The Gospel Informs The Conversation:

Think about it: When we present the gospel, arrogantly….  we are disconnected from the very gospel we are presenting. How odd is that? It should stop us in our tracks.

The gospel is humbling! We are sinners, separated from God. God in His mercy sent His Son to die for our sins and redeem us. We were not smart enough to figure this out nor are we holy enough to deserve it. Rather, God in His unfathomable mercy drew us, saved us, chose us!

“For by grace you were saved and this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God….” Ephesians 2:8-9

How in the world does my pride crawl into that?

The truth of the gospel informs our character in the midst of the conversation, even when we disagree, we can disagree with humility.  Because Christ dying for undeserving sinners is… humbling.

Disagreeing with a brother arrogantly is a disagreement that is disconnected from the Gospel itself.

We want to let the gospel not only be the content of the conversation, but allow the gospel to inform your heart in the conversation.

Is it possible for a believer to blast a friend with ones supposed superior knowledge AND be affected by the gospel at the same time….?  I don’t know – because I have never been able to pull that one-off!  :-)

2.) The Sovereignty of God releases me.

Isn’t it great! I am NOT the Holy Spirit! And neither are you!

Last time I checked there was no job opening in the Trinity.

This is wonderfully liberating. I don’t have to convince someone of my convictions. I do not feel the need to win an argument. It is ok, God is able to reveal Himself to this person. And, since I DO NOT have it all figured out… God is able to take care of me too!

By the way, isn’t it funny how it can take years to become convinced of something. God is kind and He is soooo patient with us. But, eventually God works in our hearts and change soon follows.

How weird is it then that what takes us years,  we turn around and demand someone to “get on board” with what we are saying in a 30 minute coffee chat?

“How’s come they don’t get it?”

It’s ok – chill out – Tim!

I love it when Paul says in Philippians 3:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:14-15 ESV)

What a relief, the apostle Paul seems to release himself from this burden and turns it over to God.  That does not mean that Paul waters down his convictions or refrains from the truth.

3.) My knowledge is not all that!

We think so highly of ourselves, don’t we?!? We read a bit, study some things, and think we have it all figured out. I wonder how much we really have figured out.

I think it is likely that we will all have a lot of “ah ha” moments in heaven!!!!

Lastly, I think we would do well to remember this does not need to be the end of the conversation. There are times when the stakes are high and the truth must be defended. But, even in that, I want to make sure that the person that sits across the table from me knows that I love him and care about him. If we want there to be a future conversation than the arrogance and noisy gong is not going to help.

Book Recommendation:

This is a liGrace and Truth Paradoxttle book that I have gone back to often.

Grace and Truth Paradox By Randy Alcorn





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4 thoughts on “Is There A 3rd Option?”

  1. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for sharing this question and for addressing it. I really needed to read this this week!!! Hopefully, it will not take me too many more years to be convicted of option 3. My Christian Arminian friends and family will really appreciate it! :) May the Lord help us “…Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” Phil. 2:1-5


    1. Yadi, thanks for reading and posting. I am with you – praying God will help me and give me grace to live on the track of option 3. Aren’t you glad it is His kindness that leads us to repentance….! Grace to you!

  2. Again, this seems fitting…

    “We must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Our demeanor, not just our arguments, must be reasonable.” – Ravi Zacharias

    I often think of the verse that says to speak truth in love. I have heard too many times a person blasting someone with truth devoid of grace or love. It’s like a present where the gift inside is great (truth) but the wrapping is so filthy (lack of love, arrogant delivery of message) that no one wants to touch it or open it. (Of course you can have the opposite problem, junk falsehood wrapped in pretty packaging to sell it to the undiscerning…)

    Here’s the verse – Ephesians 4:15 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

    In that context it’s talking about having discernent and unity, knowledge, and maturity…

    I like to differentiate between a debate and an argument. To me, a debate exemplifies opposing views discussed rationally whereas an argument is opposing views “discussed” emotionally. The first is peaceful, calm, loving in tone and there is humility and charity…the second is heated, argumentative, divisive, damaging…

    Anyways, just thinking.

    1. Jason, thanks for chiming in and I agree. Seems when the debate turns into arguments something has shifted in our hearts and we have moved from a position of love for my friend to love for myself / reputation / etc. I love myself and love being right more than I love my friend….. also….. great Ravi quote.

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