Angry Calvinists?

Posted: September 17, 2011 in calvin, calvinism, controversy, humility, love, soteriology, theology

Calvinists are often stereotyped as austere, ungracious, unloving, and sometimes just plain mean.  My personal opinion is that this reputation is mostly caricature and/or misunderstanding.  However, I also recognize that Calvinists do indeed share some of the blame for their bad name.

This realization is what led me to write a series of posts entitled “Humble Calvinism,” in which I exhorted Calvinists to truly imitate Calvin in his profound theological humility and practical graciousness.

In a similar vein, Ed Stetzer recently asked Joe Thorn a few questions about “angry Calvinists,” and I think some of Thorn’s answers are extremely helpful.

I seem to run into the cranky Calvinists. So, that leads to my question: why do you think some Calvinists are so angry?

I know what you’re talking about, but honestly, I think it has nothing to do with their Calvinism, and everything to do with their faith. I don’t mean the object of their faith– Jesus. And, I don’t mean “the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” buttheir faith. Of course, it works this way in me as well. When I’m cranky, complaining, or whatever corruption is bubbling to the surface, it’s not my confession or theology that is in error, but my heart. When I am proud or petty it’s my heart that is out of alignment with my theology.

Sure, I agree with that. While it obviously isn’t true of all Calvinists there is a disproportionate number of angry Calvinists compared to other groups. Do you see that?

Well, yes I see that. I think we all see it. The question for me is why are we seeing that, and what exactly are we seeing? Why are there more angry, loud and proud, combative Calvinists than other kinds of Christians? I think, and I could be wrong, but I think it’s a combination of a few things.

One is that Cavinism, as a biblical and beautiful understanding of God, man, and redemption, is often very exciting to those newly acquainted with it. Many who have grown in the faith with very little theology and later discover Reformed theology are simply over-zealous…

Second, I think some who find their way into the Reformed faith are angry for having been denied a solid theological foundation in their past. They feel as if they’ve wasted years of their life, or the church has let them down…

Third, knowledge can and does “puff up” as Paul says. And while this is a shared problem with other systems of theology, it is certainly a reality among the Reformed. It’s ironic though…

Thorn then offers four constructive suggestions for how Calvinists can seek to address this issue:

First, I think it would be fruitful for more correction to come from inside our own theological tribe…

Second, when addressing the issue of “those angry Calvinists” we need to be careful and not make Calvinism the issue. It’s not about Calvinism…

Third, I’d encourage people to simply model a better way…

Fourth, I’d encourage others to simply not engage the haters. There are blogs I simply do not read because it doesn’t benefit me spiritually. Some people move me to examine myself, look to Jesus, and grow in grace. Others just provoke me to anger…

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Comments
  1. AMG says:

    I sincerely believe that Calvinists are angry because the devil has misled them. They no longer follow the truth, and this has stumped their faith. We grow in closeness to the Lord when we add to our faith knowledge. When Calvinists are learning and studying Calvinism so deeply…they get that much further from Christ.
    But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

    2 Peter 1:2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
    3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
    5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

    Colossians 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

    • Matt Tully says:

      I am sorry that you believe this. I disagree. Please see my series of posts entitled, “Humble Calvinism.”

      One question: How much of John Calvin’s writings have you actually read?

      • AMG says:

        Matt,
        You have not even replied to my scriptural explanation to all Calvinists using John 6 falsely. You tell me to read other posts that you have posted, maybe you should reply to all my comments and read one of my posts now. I sincerely only tried to help you to give up false doctrine and to show you God’s Truth. I guess I have said enough here and will not come back.

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