Isn’t Calvinism the One That…

October 20th, 2010 § 0 comments

I recently learned that Calvinists go through a “cage period.” I hadn’t heard that before coming to Southern, but it makes sense. It’s naming a thing I knew about, though I’d never heard it delineated and named before. The cage period is the time shortly after someone has become a Calvinist when they are just bit too enthusiastic about their Calvinism. They see every doctrinal error and solution in terms of Calvinism. Calvinism is the solution to every sinful habit and vice. Calvinism, Calvinism, Calvinism. The error of Arminianism is so obvious and odious that their life (for that hopefully brief cage period) becomes dedicated to bringing others from the bondage of Arminianism into the shining light of Calvinism.

I have to admit, there is a bit of me that is still in the cage period, but I’ve learned to control myself. Generally, I find something more important to talk about, or I find a way to tweak a piece of the theology of the person I’m talking to without mentioning the broader systems in play. After all, no one even needs to know what Calvinism is to be a Calvinist. My goal is not to educate people on what Calvinism is. Rather, I should be seeking to instruct biblically in this or that issue as I may. Systems mature and develop over time. Rather than correct an Arminian on Arminianism, I’ll choose some key point and address that issue. Ramifications can be left for another discussion. And, if possible, depending on the discussion, it might be best to just let the issue slide altogether. Jesus died for your sins? Great! He died for mine, too!

But this past Sunday school, we were talking about unity/disunity from Eph. 4. We had a sub in Sunday school, not the normal teacher. He asked if there were any points of theological dispute that caused disunity at Southern. I said, no, generally, as Southern tends to draw a crowd that already has put together its theology into a vaguely similar format. Most disagreements are not sufficient to cause any disunity worth mentioning.

There was a girl from Boyce in Sunday school, too. (Boyce is the undergrad institution attached to Southern.) She mentioned that at Boyce there were significant numbers of Arminians, so there was sometimes a touch of fervent debate occasionally leading to disunity over the issue of Calvinism/Arminianism. The teacher paused a bit and then asked, “Now isn’t Calvinism the one that means it doesn’t matter if you sin or anything because of grace?”

I regressed back to my cage period. I think it was 10 minutes before we got back to talking about unity. Now they all know I’m a Calvinist. That definitely wasn’t my intent when I walked into Sunday school that morning.

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