I love my Reformed Calvinist brothers and sisters, but I can no longer claim to be a “Reformed Calvinist.” I have removed it from my About section.
I have been attacked by only three groups of people: militant atheists, a handful of fanatics from Steven Furtick’s church, and Reformed Calvinists. So basically non-Christians, false Christians, and Super Christians. And the worst of these attacks were from — you guessed it — Reformed Calvinists.
I can take persecution from the frontlines. I’d gladly take a bullet or be tortured to death for Jesus or for my fellow friend. I can handle discouragement and perversity in the world. But what I cannot understand is when those who claim to love Jesus destroy others who love Jesus.
This is not a theology issue, but rather a love issue. The ivory tower of Neo-Calvinism has reached so high, I’m not sure what the point is anymore. Calvinist bloggers only stimulate other Calvinist bloggers. Neo-Calvinism has become the ghetto of the ghetto of the Christian subculture.
Somehow the sincere search for deeper doctrine has led to arrogance, inhouse fighting, a ridiculously isolated blogosphere, and 20 year olds condescending to everyone. Doctrine-nerds are yelling “heresy” and “blasphemy” without a clue how serious those charges are, and also without a single gesture of brotherly love or empathy. Disagreements do not mean nuclear war. How Jesus would grieve over these New Pharisees.
I’m aware that I’m probably doing the same thing I’m calling out others on, and it’s self-defeating. I’ve apologized for ranting against Calvinists before. I don’t mean to cause one more dividing line, and I genuinely grieve for brothers and sisters in Christ to love God and love people.
It is my genuine belief that Reformed Calvinism has certainly done a lot of good. I know at least a few self-proclaimed Calvinists who do more than shout on the internet. And if your theology is pushing you towards the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, that’s awesome. I encourage that. In no way do I want to paint a black-and-white caricature of young basement-living Calvinists. None of us get it right every time and we’re all still learning.
BUT: If your theology is not pushing you towards a seriously grief-filled heart for real living human beings and to say I love you Jesus, it’s not a theology worth having. If your theology does not allow you to rejoice, cry out, smile, sing, and have fun, that really sucks. If your theology does not encourage you, but condemns you and puts you on eggshells and makes you constantly anxious about “having right doctrine,” that’s pretty lame.
I’ve worked with all kinds of people as I’m sure you have as well — Army veterans, troubled kids, the homeless, ex-convicts, single moms — and absolutely zero percent of them were encouraged by TULIP, cessationism, or predestination. Calvinism does not matter in third world countries where heads are being cut off. Your doctrine does not work in the trenches. Only Jesus does. And if you’re dead honest with yourself, your super-tight dogma doesn’t work for you, either.
Who cares if you win the internet? What I care about is you look me in the eye and you love me. That the Holy Spirit is working. That you love Jesus. People can tell if you don’t. They only need to see your blog.
I don’t mean to replace a rich theology with a simplistic gospel. But this is exactly what the Reformed Calvinists have accused so many of doing. Ask: Do you really need to keep adding to Jesus without lifting a finger to help people? Must you weigh down people with “correct-gospel-you-guys” who are struggling with bills, sickness, patients coding, bullets flying, businesses tanking, and rights taken? We live in a real world with real people with a real Jesus who really came to save them.
Let’s please, please, please keep this real. I love Jesus. I love people.
Jesus was not a Reformed Calvinist. John Calvin was reformed by Jesus. I hope you are too.