Hug a Calvinist

2nd Annual International Hug a Calvinist Day

Wherever you are, find a Calvinist to hug in celebration of John Calvin’s 500th birthday and all to the glory of God.

My online experiences with Calvinists left me feeling that they were perhaps not so nice. A few visits to the former EmergentNo and to TeamPyro were more than enough for me. (They are purposely not hyper-linked.) Then there was the “poster war” set off by producing my series of “emergent” posters. None of that created a desire to further my understanding of Calvinism.

When my husband started attending Men’s Group, he frequently came home with stories about John – stories about heated arguments involving John that occurred at the meetings. Not knowing his last name, we referred to him as John the Calvinist.

I was a little disappointed the first few times I attended Men’s Group and the infamous John wasn’t there. When I finally met John, I liked him and he seemed to like me. At first I didn’t witness any of the arguments John was known for. In fact, he seemed to restrain himself around me.

Eventually, the gloves came off. His first attempt at enlightening me was a set of copied notes from his Scofield Bible. Because of John, I wanted to understand Calvinism enough to be able to converse with a basic understanding of his positions. This was one of the reasons that I was pondering the Doctrines of Grace.

It is pretty much a given that John and I won’t agree about much, but now we laugh and celebrate the moments when we discover things that we do agree on. I know that he will furrow his brow when I talk about the kingdom, and I probably furrow mine when he goes off on dispensations. But he has a twinkle in his eye when he refers to me as his “favorite combatant.”

So Friday I will hug my favorite Calvinist, a kind, white-haired gentleman named John.

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7 thoughts on “Hug a Calvinist

  1. Great thoughts. Calvinism seems to bring out the fighter in me too lately… but God loves Calvinists as much as he loves everyone else… so I do too.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Grace, I’m a Calvinist lurker, enjoyed your series on the doctrines of grace.

    Also, one point of clarification, it sounds like your friend John is a dispensational calvinist. There are lots of them out there, but most Calvinists historically are not. In fact, many Calvinists historically would probably agree with much of what you have to say about the kingdom (I know I do :) ).

    Anyway, happy hug a Calvinist day, thanks for writing.

    peace

  3. Wow, I didn’t think Calvinists liked Scofield. Most of the ones I’ve known aren’t dispensationalists. Well, I just learned something.

  4. I want to thank you for your posts on Doctrines lately. I’ve been praying for humility and faith lately, esp to increase my capacity for love. This was after I had been reading a lot of Viola, mind you. So, intellectually, I felt a little free-er than I had, having loosed a few traditional strings, Calvinist or otherwise, but then felt I was getting a bit too hot about making sure others did the same. Then I realized that I was returning to same doctrine-based self-righteousness that I was guilty of before (still am, of course, though, hopefully recoving ;P ) only, this time, the from other end of the spectrum.
    God lead me to a few Shane Claiborne books, Pragmatic Eclectic, your posts here and few other places. Folks who made me think a bit more realistically what it means to live in the Kingdom and not just hope for it.

    I’m starting to think that none of us have it perfectly right (it is, after all a journey of faith) but that we do great harm every time we shove our own thoughts down others throats. There is, mind you a “right way” and a “wrong way” but I am more inclined to leave God to His work in determining that then I used to be. We aren’t to judge and I think that Jesus really meant what He said. Besides, I’m too prone to mistake wheat for darnel and vise versa.

    To bring it home, (literally) my mother and I used to argue about things that she claimed are right and I know are quite obviously not (though she will tell you the other way ’round, I’m sure ;P ) but what I realized was, God doesn’t care who is right or who is wrong. He cares that I honor my mother. That is right.

    (I used to have a link to Pyromaniacs too, but I dumped that pretty quickly)

    1. haha, well, its not that. I’d been linked to them a while actually, and like a lot of their stuff. what they say i don’t think is wrong (at least what I’ve read) it just doesn’t seem to be focusing on the same things that our blog is – they seem to focus more on righteousness and how to live that out. And I certainly don’t see that as wrong, not one bit, but I less trying to live righteously now and live more for the One who makes me Righteous. Dan would probably call me a tree-hugging hippie for the stuff I’ve been writing on my blog lately, but I dunno.

  5. Grace,

    Only knowing John by what you’ve written, and, making a certain subjective discernment based on my own experience–I’d say John is a “cage-stage Calvinist”. Micheal Spencer describes the “cage stage” aptly;

    “A lot of new and ignorant Calvinists need to…well, shut up. I know that isn’t the politest phrase in the book, but it is the truth. Most of the damage done in these matters is done by people who are in what Calvinists call the “cage phase,” those inaugural few months when you know very little except some version of TULIP and you won’t be quiet about that. These are people who need to get a very large stack of books and get some roots going, but instead they go and pick a fight with whoever is least likely to understand what they are talking about. These converts- often impressionable students or very unread laity- can be obnoxious, immature and thoughtless in their assaults. They’ve done a lot of damage and there is no apologizing for them. I would say they should be recognized for what they are- untaught, ignorant, and often, young. Most them will grow out of it. A few remain that way until their next phase.” – Michael Spencer

    ( http://wooq.blogspot.com/2006/06/cage-stage-calvinist.html )

    My wife’s father was “cage-stage” till the day he died, and I suspect that would have been his default state even if he’d been a Universalist.

    TULIP, as an expression of a systematic theology, rates high in my estimation. However, no single systematic theology (that I’ve studied) seems to really “do God justice”.

    BTW, I’m definately not Dispensational. It seems from my experience that a broad range of hyphenated Calvinism exist in the Kingdom, however, Dispensational Calvinism is totally quirky. But, that’s coming from a bloke that likes his BEERS well chilled ;o)

    Tom

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