Calvinists and the Political Left

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)

It’s taken me awhile to understand the uneasy feeling I get when I get the urge to post a comment to a Calvinist blog. Will my words be considered as a Brother in Christ or will I be vilified and subjected to ad hominem attacks that avoid the content of the post? Anymore these days, I am finding more and more that some of those theobloggers who claim the name Calvinist or Reformed default to the latter. What has brought this to a head is the current hyper-focus on politics due to the back to back conventions and specifically, the fevered attempts to defile the name and reputation of Governor Palin over the past few days. Sadly, what I have discovered is that there is a body of these Calvinist bloggers who are indiscernible from the left-wing chattering classes. This clique will brook no wavering from the TULIP line, refusing to engage any idea that challenges it and, because the challenger is considered to be somehow heretical, he or she must must be burned in the electronic town center.

Contrary to the repeated calls to unity within the body that can be found in the Scriptures, there is an increasing body within the Body that have chosen to attack rather than respond. I’ll give you a recent example (and yes I know, I should have known better) which occurred when I foolishly chose to leave a comment on the Pyromaniacs blog. In an attempt to stir further dissension within the body, a question was posted inviting response from Arminian readers. The trouble with the question was that it was a false dilemma; Arminian theology offered no different view on the topic than that of the Calvinist framework and I wrote just that in my response. Expecting a biblical challenge or theological counterpoint, imagine how disheartening it was to check back later to find that the entire response was an attempt to make a mockery of my screen name.

It’s a bit troubling to find this in any context but to get this response by the Pyros main man Phil Johnson certainly diminishes any positive reputation that he might have gained outside of his close knit little community. Attempting to misstate the intention of my Greek to English transliteration meant (ironically in their eyes) Slave Christ, a perfect definition of Arminian theology. Mistakenly responding back that this obviously not the intent, referring to Rom 1:1 in the Greek, and restating the original answer to the provocative question, my gift was a further lambasting that remained off topic.

I don’t share this to gain sympathy. I’m a big boy and mature enough to handle people like this. The reason that I post this is because the level of conversation about God should not be descending into the the same kind of rancor, vitriol, and immature attack mentality that we see from the left wing of the political establishment and their media sycophants aimed toward those of the opposing party. Personal attacks and hyperbolic caricatures replace substantive discussion of an issue. The assumption is that if you do not agree with the liberal mindset, well you simply are too stupid to even engage and you must be the recipient of character destruction and mockery.

Christ didn’t die for a Church divided by this kind of worldly dissension. There are topics to which forceful comment and righteous anger are appropriate (Todd Bentley for example) in a Christian context but theological differences on non-essentials are not among them. To mirror the world’s approach to discussing differences runs counter to being in the world but not of it. Shall we all just go to our corners and talk only amongst ourselves?

Update: Check out the comments at the end of this posting. While not as mocking, you can witness how the discussion that disintegrates in not on how the post writer constructed his argument or the content of his statements. The Calvinist cries martyrdom (no doubt scrawling Ichabod on the doorframe) as he leaves the conversation. Talk scripture in context, don’t send me to Pink or Piper. We’ve got learn to think for ourselves rather than relying on other theologians all the time.

Wesley on the catholic Spirit

Wesley does not speak here about theological compromise. Instead, he demonstrates a rare ability to segregate the essential from nonessential elements in the Christian faith.

Every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true; (for to believe any opinion is not true, is the same thing as not to hold it;) yet can no man be assured that  all his own opinions, taken together, are true. Nay, every thinking man is assured they are not… “To be ignorant of many things  and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity.” This, therefore, he is sensible is his own case. He knows in the  general, that he himself is mistaken; although in what particular he mistakes, he does not, perhaps he cannot, know…

Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking which he desires they should allow him; and will no more insist on their embracing his. He bears with those who differ from him, and only asks him whom he desires to unite in love that single question, “Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?”…

But what is properly implied in the question? … The first thing implied is this: Is they heart right with God?…Does the love of God constrain thee to serve Him with fear? … Is they heart right toward thy neighbor?… Do you show your love by your works?… Then, “thy heart is right, as my heart is with they heart.”

“If it be, give me thy hand.” I do not mean, “Be of my opinion.” You need not: I do not expect or desire it. Neither do I mean, “I will be of your opinion.” I cannot; It does no depend on my choice; I can no more think, than I can see or hear, as I will. Keep you your opinion, I mine; and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavour to come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute these points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Let all opinions alone on one side and the other: Only “give me thine hand.”

I do not mean, “Embrace my modes of worship;” or, “I will embrace yours.” This also is a thing which does no depend either on your choice or mine. We must both act as each is fully persuaded in his own mind. Hold you fast that which you believe is most acceptable government to be Scriptural and Apostolic. If you thing the Presbyterians or Independents are better, think so still, and act accordingly. I believe infants ought to be baptized; and that this may be done either by dipping or sprinkling. If you are otherwise persuaded, be so still, and follow you own persuasion. It appears to me, that the forms of prayer are of excellent use, particularly in the great congregation. If you judge extemporary prayer to be of more use, act suitably to your own judgment. My sentiment, is that I ought not to forbid water, wherein persons may be baptized; and that I ought to eat bread and drink wine, as a memorial of my dying Master; however, if you are not convinced of this, act according to the light you have. I have not desire to dispute with you one moment upon any of the preceding heads. Let all these smaller points stand aside. Let them never come into light. If thin heart is as my heart, if thou lovest God and all mankind, I ask no more: “Give me thine hand” (Works, V, 494-499)

Perhaps we too can exercise some discernment and divide the essential from the non-essential, loving one another as the result.