A Kinder, Nicer Anti-Calvinism?

I’m sure there are folks, even friends, who think that I should perhaps, as they say, “be more irenic (peaceful and conciliatory).” They would prefer that I didn’t come at this issue, as it were, with my “guns a blazin'”. If so, you have obviously missed how I feel about high-Sovereignty. To arrive at a full picture of my angst, read the earlier entry entitled, “I’m Finally Out of the Closet”, June 15, 2009. If you prefer irenic anti-Calvinism, I suggest you consult Mr. Geisler.

Christian leaders get uptight about all sorts of things and even though “the kingdom is upon His shoulders,” we like to help out where and when we can.

I am disturbed about other theological issues as well. It is here in America that we can have the luxury of such public disagreement. With so many TV ministers and unemployed or underemployed Ph.D’s. trying to find suitable employment, make names and $$$$$’s for themselves, there is no end to spurious doctrines I might feel led to take on. For instance, I surely don’t like “Word Faith” and “Prosperity” teaching. I am leery of  “Open-Theism” and would like to nip it in the bud. I have just run into a scary fellow by the name of John Crowder, a proponent of The New Mystics movement and before that it was Todd Bentley, and before that Benny Hinn on and  on it goes, ad infinitum. In spite of all the compelling targets, one only has so much time and energy so we have to pick the item we most dislike and for me that has to be “high-Sovereignty.”

Oh, don’t go a “tut-tuttin me” you feel the same way but you don’t have the courage to draw fire.

If I have an axe to grind (and I do) then there must be some reason why I select this from the myriad of choices out there. Why pick on high-Sovereignty?

Masquerading as orthodoxy.

There are many reasons but for me – I believe that rather than honoring God, the doctrine does the opposite, it besmirches God’s character and nature and makes him out to be  the devil (just follow the concept to its logical conclusion to see what I mean) or perhaps the determinist god of Islam or a two-headed, dualistic god (the source of both good and evil) as in Hinduism . This is not the God I read about. To me, though nothing alike, the God of Calvinism is as extra-biblical as the god(s) of Mormonism.

Next, I earnestly believe that Calvinists mishandle the word of God ignoring or reinterpreting  large portions that appear disagreeable with their dogma. In my opinion, they often engage in eisogesis and do hermeneutical violence to the intent of the text. I have a high view of scripture and “jist don’t like folks a tamperin’ with it”. They pretend to care about theology but  in my view they are more committed to Calvin’s philosophical conclusions than to the Word of God.

Finally, and most importantly, they are proselytizers. They take “no quarter” or make no allowance for their opponents. Now, for me, I don’t care so much that a person decides, upon reading the Bible (without indoctrination), that Calvinism works. Sometimes, I am more of a Calvinists than Beza was. I can even see how someone might arrive at this notion. But, to be fair, I can also see how the “Holiness” churches land where they do as well.

Predestination is something but it is not everything.

Holiness is something but it is not everything. 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is something but it is not everything.

Church governance is something but it is not everything. 

Is it really about  “The Glory of God” or is it about power?

Here’s the rub. Calvinists are not in the least irenic. They are divisive and destructive. With glossy-eyed, almost cult like devotion, Calvin’s progeny will allow for no other view of sovereignty than their perspective.  In fact, they have gone so far as to label any other sovereignty as heresy (Oh, yes they do). A Calvinist is un-relenting and will demand that entire churches belly-up to the bar alongside them and if they don’t, well, you’ve had it! Here it comes – the rancor and then a church split. Presto! A new, separationist Sovereign Grace or Reform Presbyterian congregation magically appears. 

I challenge any of you to invite a Calvinist to teach a Bible study to the naive. Don’t tell them what’s up and see what they do with it. If one is given complete liberty they will not, rather cannot, even in the interest of Christian charity, resist turning to Romans or Ephesians.

Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, their quivers are full of doubt producing doctrine. “What does it mean Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated?” or “If a man is dead, what can he do for himself?” I have answers to those questions but millions are unprepared for this assault and are taken off  guard. Paul calls this kind of loyalty to men (Paul, Apollos, Luther, Calvin, Wesley) an evidence of immaturity and sinful. The truth should be that we do not belong to any of these men but they all belong to us. 

So there you have it.

Well, not all of it. Calvinism speaks through both sides of the mouth. The civilized tone is only a feigned politeness.  Calvinism’s adherents are  glib and smug elitists. (Oh, Tony, is this an ad hominem attack? Why, yes, yes, I suspect it is). So much so that John Piper was compelled to recently preach a message entitled ” Be a Kinder, Nicer Calvinist.”  Calvinism is not known for being kind and nice. They do not intend to be theological lap-dogs.” To this writer they are the rottweillers of contemporary evangelicalism.

So when it comes to Christian charity I intend to be as nice as Calvinism was and is to its antogonists and detractors. I at least want to be nicer than they were to Michael Servetus, Koornheerts, Jocobus Arminius, The Remonstrance and Hugo Grotius. Though I am not a fan of Open Theism, more recently, I would need to be  as irenic as John Piper was toward John Sanders, Clark Pinnock and Greg Boyd at the 2002 Evangelical Theological Society Conference. For a complete run down on what I mean, see these Christianity Today issues: November 2002 and January 2003.


4 Responses to “A Kinder, Nicer Anti-Calvinism?”

  1. September 14, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Hey Tony,

    A friend posted a link to your blog on my FB page. Just wanted to say: GREAT BLOG!!! Thank you for being courageous enough to take on Calvinism. They will attack you! ..but I’m sure you know that by now. Each time I take on Calvinism on my blog, I stir up at least one or two cage-stage Calvinists who threaten me with eternal hell-fire and attack my character. (The Piperites are the worst.)

    Also, thought you might find it interesting that Calvinism is now utterly dominated Christian Hip Hop music. To my knowledge, I am the only person who has come out against it in writing.

    You can read my notes about it here:

    Keep up the good posts!
    ~T. C.

  2. September 14, 2009 at 6:37 pm


    did you just change you colors? Wasn’t there more white before?

  3. September 14, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Yup… I was pretty white. Maybe this is an indicator that my blogs are becoming darker? Oh, I hope not! I want to be a cheery blogger. How am I doing at being positive and upbeat?

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