I know that this title will have the effect to drive some who see it instantly to some other internet domain, while intriguing others.
I was wondering after viewing a video that a friend had put up about Calvinist evangelism, exactly how far should should we go in our abuse, and teasing, or our adoration or respect, or protection, of certain doctrines and views?
Well, immediately we have to point out that there is a hierarchy, I believe, to the things listed above, and their worth. By way of definition, they are, in reverse order of their importance,
Calvinists: a group of people who adhere to Reformed doctrines, particularly the Westminster Confession, and the Five Points of Calvinism, and the writings and teaching of Calvin, Luther Augustine, and as a matter of debate, the Apostle Paul. That’s very loose. There are a lot of things that can be added about specific persons, but we’re looking at the matter as a whole.
John Calvin: Jean Calvinus,a reformer in the sixteenth century who led reforms in France and Geneva Switzerland, and in lesser degrees in various other localities, all part of the major continent-wide reform that God brought about through the teachings of Luther and others.
Calvinism: a set of doctrinal beliefs concerning the Attributes of God, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Trinity in the salvation of humanity; believing along these lines in Radical depravity, Unconditional election, double Predestination, Definite Atonement, Triple Imputation (Adam’s sin to humanity, the Elect’s sin to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness to His redeemed), Irresistible grace, and the Preservation and Perseverance of the saints.
Now I’m not attempting to be pettish and whine about Calvinists being teased; the question is really this: where should we build fences? What ought we to lay down for unity, and what ought we to protect for the sake of the Gospel? Christian charity and family spirit will dictate that only the most important issues be stood upon to the point of living in disagreement with other brethren. But the force and importance of truth will demand that we hold fast to what God has revealed about Himself and His work.
So taking this point by point,
Calvinists: It cannot be denied that many people who adhere to the reformed confession bring an unparalleled amount of ridicule upon themselves. Those who live out the glorious truths that are found in scriptures (we must all fear presumption as to whether or not we are doing this) are held easily in obscurity because of others see fit to vent themselves and their opinions to the point of arrogance (again, let us fear presumption). But while our best portion is extreme fear and trembling that we do respond to what we have received, it is rarely to be seen that any attack is made on personalities without using them as a bridge to assail the truths themselves. The churches to whom the great defender of these doctrines first preached (Paul) were filled with solid Christians mixed with antinomians, hypocrites, people who lied in order to give themselves a mask of piety, and add unto these all the transgressions of which the Corinthian church were guilty. No matter what position you adhere to, they had the most perfect truths being presented to them, and they were responsible (note that phrase) to respond properly to those truths. The Church has an indisputable duty to have faith that the constant presentation of truths will turn hearts and restore the church and eventually culture. We must have care that we respond to truths that are given us. So it may be appropriate that we are, as Christians, to make much of everything that causes us to double check ourselves and ask, “Am I really making much of these realities about God and Christ, or am I abusing them?” We as Calvinist must not strap ourselves to the gospel: but, and I have not yet reached the proper elaboration of this point, if these are really the truths of scripture, we cannot afford to forsake them for anything which may be seen as a short term fix.
I will elaborate a little longer on the second point, which is also important, and even longer on the third, which I believe is really the pivotal topic in this discussion, and will really require some deep digging.