by Harley Voogd
The only thing worse than a self-righteous Calvinist is a self-righteous anti-Calvinist.
I’ve occasionally found myself among those who are confusedly obsessed with this issue. Some are for, some are against. But what I’ve noticed about many is that they don’t really know what they’re talking about. They get caught up in the buzzwords and assign shallow meanings to such words (predestination, election, sovereignty, etc.), and become highly critical of something they don’t even try to understand. It’s the same as when Atheists attack the Bible without making any effort to understand it.
“The Bible condones slavery and genocide!”
“Okay, but how much of the Bible have you read?”
“The parts about slavery and genocide!”
I remember one person using the word ‘Calvinistic’ to describe anything she didn’t like. “That worship leader is too Calvinistic!” Which meant what? I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t contort his face enough during the ‘free worship’ time. Maybe he just had bad breath. But what I do know is that she had no idea what ‘Calvinistic’ really meant. “These brownies are too Calvinistic!” Maybe they just needed more sugar.
The word Calvinist is a shorthand word used in contemporary times. It will most likely be replaced by something else one day. You could also use ‘Augustinianism’, or ‘The Doctrines of Grace’, or ‘Reformed Theology’, or whatever. Maybe in the future it will be called ‘Piperism’. One who currently calls himself a Calvinist is not necessarily guilty of what Paul is rebuking in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. That rebuke was about pride, not theology. And, of course, if one is using his Calvinism to cause division with other believers, he is indeed guilty of what Paul was rebuking, but again, not because of theology, but because of pride.
If you want to understand something, even to the point of being able to criticize it, then you must first set aside the buzzwords (Calvinism, Arminianism, those listed above, and others), and educate yourself on the subject. Read books and listen to messages by those who hold to the positions and then hold all that up to the Bible (test it!) and see where it takes you.
It seems the biggest proponent of Calvinism today is John Piper, although there are many others. Piper recently retired from his position as a pastor. About a month before he did so he gave a seminar on the five points of Calvinism, or his personal take on the theology currently called Calvinism. I have listened to this whole seminar myself. I recommend this to all thinking Christians. If you don’t like to think, then don’t listen to it — the reason I make that jab is because God gave us brains, and to truly know Him is not just a matter for the heart or the spirit, it is for the mind too.
I invite you to listen to the seminar. Set aside the buzzwords and really listen to what Piper is saying about God. It is quite profound. Here is the link…
*photo credit: http://www.lolbrary.com/post/51576/vegan-brownies/