Calvinist drones are a big waste of Calvinism.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow pastor who was concerned about some folks getting sucked into “that Reformed theology.” I knew his feeling.

Not fear of the theology. I’m a Calvinist myself, the whole five yards. I’ve got the membership card laying around here somewhere . . .

Cold-hearted rigidity is not limited to those of the Reformed persuasion. You find it in Christian churches and traditions and cultures of all kinds. But it’s never as big a disappointment, to me anyway, as when it’s found among those who call themselves Calvinists.

Why? Because it’s a depressing irony that many who hold to the so-called “doctrines of grace” are some of the most graceless people around. The extent to which your soteriology is monergistic — most Calvinistic nerds know what I’m talking about here — is the extent to which your pride is a vomitous affront to God. Darn tootin’.

Here’s the deal, I think: The problem is not the Reformed theology, as many free-willers suspect, not the Calvinism. No, the problem is gospel wakefulness (which crosses theological systems and traditions). Or the lack thereof.

A joyless Calvinist knows the mechanics of salvation (probably). But he is like a guy who knows the ins and outs of a car engine and how the car runs. He can take it apart and put it back together. He knows what each part does and how it does it. A graceless Calvinist is a guy who knows how a car works but who’s never driven through the countryside in the warm spring air with the top down and the wind blowing through his hair.

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15 thoughts on “Don’t Waste Your Calvinism!”

  1. Gabriel says:

    I can attest to it not being specific to Reform theology. I think it comes down to needing a better way of looking at salvation. I like your analogy of the mechanic, though, it's apt.

  2. Joseph says:

    I get what you're saying here, and I agree. I am however a little confused by one statement and was wondering if you could clarify for me please."The extent to which your soteriology is monergistic — most Calvinistic nerds know what I'm talking about here — is the extent to which your pride is a vomitous affront to God. Darn tootin'."That seems to be saying that to the extent that you believe that salvation has everything to do with God and not you is the extent to which you are prideful. Is that right or am I missing something?I only ask because it seems like it would be the opposite to me.You have my word I'm not trying to start any kind of an argument. I am merely asking for some clarification.Thanks!

  3. Jared says:

    That seems to be saying that to the extent that you believe that salvation has everything to do with God and not you is the extent to which you are prideful.No, I'm saying that if you're really monergistic in your view of salvation and also prideful, your pride is more of an offense to God than if you were more synergistic.That's a rhetorical point, not a theological one, though. I don't decide what offends God more in any event: all pride offends him.But no, I'm not saying monergism leads to pride or that the more monergistic you are the more prideful you'll be. My view of soteriology is strongly monergistic, as a 5 point Calvinist myself.I'm saying that the more monergistic a prideful person is, the more God is offended by their pride. Because their soteriological system leaves less room for their own contribution. More synergistic soteriologies at least explain some measure of pride because some measure of contribution to salvation is assumed.Hope that makes sense. I can clarify further, if needed.And I knew you weren't picking a fight. I just didn't phrase it as well as I could have, probably, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to give it another go.

  4. nhe says:

    The most fun and the least fun Christians I know are Calvinists.Does that make sense? It's true in my experience.There are some Calvinists I've met who truly believe that if one does not come to understand what it means to be a Christian from the perspective of Calvinism, one is cannot come to know Christ. Those are the "least fun" people…..and "gospel wakefulness" is the key – I agree. BTW Jared – I LOVE that term – I've borrowed it from you and use it all the time now.

  5. Brandon Smith says:

    Jared,I will finally have time to finish the last few chapters of your book once school lets out and work is my only focus and I can't wait! Just received an advance copy of Batterson's "Primal" for his blog tour and it will hard for him to follow up on it! Thanks for the openness to discuss with me on Twitter and for your ministry.To the blog discussion, I simply think that Calvinism can, and has, brought about arrogance to those who feel they are elect. As Calvinists, we should evangelize in a way that glorifies God to the perishing and chosen, while preaching with the assumption that anyone, ANYONE, listening could be a few words of ours away from salvation.

  6. Martin Thorley says:

    Or, to use the dance metaphor, prideful calvinists can tell you how to dance, where to put your feet and so on but when it comes to actually dancing they'd rather sit it it out and criticise those who are dancing for not doing it right.For all their love of theology and of hisorical reformed theologians they have not learned the truth of John Calvin's assertion that we are 'idol factories' and, in particular, how we can easily make idols out of things like the perceived logic and neatness of our system of doctrine, the attention we get from others when we write provocatively, the need to win debates, etc, etc. Whatever we make into a 'functional' Lord and base our identity off of, we will fight to protect, hence many become aggressive when you challenge their (systematically rather than exegetically-derived) doctrines. By the way, I too, am not criticising from outside the camp. I too will accept the label Calvinist (albeit of the more moderate kind). The description above would fit how I was until the Lord wakened me to the tendency to make idols (Keller) and to the need to preach the gospel to myself (Bridges, Miller). Martin

  7. Spike says:

    Right on. I refuse to come right out and say that there are Calvinists who are still waiting for the Lord to open their eyes. Waiting for "gospel wakefullness" works for me. I agree it's common across theologies. Piper emailed today: "Our job is to make the word known. To display Christ and his work on the cross as clearly as we can. And to pray that God will do his humbling, teaching, drawing work."I must agree having my eyes opened to the grace of God in my salvation was very humbling indeed.

  8. Joseph says:

    Thanks Jared! I appreciate the clarification. I am solidly on the same page.

  9. The Blainemonster says:

    Simple and beautiful illustration! I shall use it myself, thank you very much. :)

  10. Chris says:

    You wrote, "it's a depressing irony that many who hold to the so-called 'doctrines of grace' are some of the most graceless people around." I'm a Calvinist, but that too has been one of my observations and thus I find myself getting along better with non-calvinist believers.

  11. beowulf2k8 says:

    "The extent to which your soteriology is monergistic — most Calvinistic nerds know what I'm talking about here — is the extent to which your pride is a vomitous affront to God."And yet knowing this, you say "I'm a Calvinist myself, the whole five yards." Wow. You're a self-professed devil worshiper. Do you want a cookie?

  12. Jared says:

    Beowulf, you misunderstood the sentence you quoted. Read it again and don't miss the "pride" part.Thanks for calling me a devil-worshiper, by the way. That is awesome. :-)

  13. Will Adair says:

    I'm Calvinistic. I was a arrogant Arminian until I understood the doctrine of grace. Now I am a constantly being reformed prideful Calvinist. God's working on the pride issue. Jared, good point on our pride getting in way of our doctrine. If Beowulf gives out cookies for holding the doctrine of grace then I vote for those thin mints that the Girl Scouts sell. I'll take two boxes.

  14. Martin Thorley says:

    Beowulf, you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about Calvinists. Regretably the behaviour of some Calvinists, as is being discussed here, will, no doubt, have been a contributing factor behind what, from your blog, seems like something of crusade. It may surprise you but there is far more diversity within Calvinism than the modern day internet-Calvinist would have you think. Don't form your opinions based on internet rants. One of the mottos of the reformation was ad fontes – to the source. We'd all do well to pay attention to it.

  15. Buck says:

    Thank you for this Jared.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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