Caustic Calvinists.

In the recent past I’ve attempted to address some of the concerns I’ve had with those who use defending the faith as a conduit to unleash a torrent of scathing attacks in harsh-toned debates and disagreements with those whom they’re in disagreement with.  I posted two such admonitions this past year: One was a sermon on combative Calvinists and the other was a short video on pride and defensiveness.

One of the biggest challenges for those engaging in online discussions and debates while defending the Christian faith (and the Doctrines of Grace) is the temptation to be harsh and snarky, and how easy it is to fall into that mindset without even trying.

Thankfully, this detriment-to-the-gospel type of blogging is the exception and not the norm, but even so, it still needs to be addressed.  

I am publishing this post as a check for all of us who engage in online apologetics, and pray that this will help to refocus us on the purpose of our blogging.

It would also be of great benefit if we ask others to critically review what we’re writing in posts and in comment threads, and be willing to take their opinions and criticisms with an open and graceful heart.

I seriously want you to take a moment to reflect on whether or not you are one of these venomous bloggers. We must all examine ourselves, our spirit, and our motivations, and the following questions may be a good start:

- Is the vast majority of what you are producing coming from a negative attitude, inciting unnecessary argumentative debates when kinder words would have sufficed and been more effective?

- Is your writing known more for its condescending tone than its content?

- Are your words bitter and acidic, or are they kind and salted with grace?

- Is your response to people who disagree with you snarky and vitriolic, or graceful and from a heart of love?

- Do you write for the sole purpose of seeking out someone who doesn’t hold to your views so you can have an opportunity to publicly disembowel them with your superior intellect, or do you put material out there to educate, encourage, help, and edify others while simultaneously contending for the faith?

- Do you look at those deceived by false doctrine with contempt, or do you grieve for them and seek to lovingly correct them lest they should eternally perish?

If you are taking pleasure in your abrasive monologues and predictably harsh dialogues, I beg you to check your spirit and reevaluate why you do what you’re doing.

For those of you who are not sure of what I am talking about, I offer the following samples from the blogging world, including the unnecessary practice of name calling (e.g. referring to Arminians as “Armidiots”):

“Took this illiterate Armidiot flunky a full week to devise this moronic non sequitur of a ‘comeback.’ . . . ‘a 2-ton jumping, screaming elephant in a tool shed is all but invisible to an Armidiot like yourself . . .’. God help me, I really, truly DISLIKE Armidiots, and would hate to think they are bound for the same Heaven as are Bible-believers. Let them simmer evermore in their infernal ‘Freewill Paradise.'”

And

“Not sure what, if anything, he is ‘smoking,’ but Roger Olson is a loose, slutty whore (spiritually speaking).”

And

“. . . your obstinate BLINDNESS to the most BASIC and ESSENTIAL facts is nothing short of wicked perversion. And it’s exactly what one expects from today’s Armidiot. I’m curious to know, ol’ scholar, which ‘strong Calvinist Bible College’ you slept through, and how in HELL you managed to pilfer a diploma from the stack before your expulsion.”

There truly is no place for name calling in our defense of the faith. As far as I’m concerned this is completely unacceptable behavior and has gone far beyond the scope of how a Christian apologist should be corresponding with believers and unbelievers alike.

This type of exchange is in no way beneficial or instructive to the target of these angry words nor is it edifying to anyone else who happens to read it. This kind of discourse in the name of Christ and sound theology is grieving and should rightly be condemned.

I appeal to the coarse and caustic Calvinistic Christians to quit bringing reproach on the gospel with such inflammatory and pungent speech.

I recently wrote about how Christians’ behavior breeds atheism, but is your caustic Calvinism breeding Arminianism? Is it repelling people from ever considering the Doctrines of Grace?  


18 thoughts on “Caustic Calvinists.

  1. Amen brother. Truly wise and sobering words. While sometimes a string rebuke may even be needed, always should it be seasoned by compassion and grace. May we all seek to examine our hearts before we put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboards.

  2. Pilgrim, excellent post and a necessary reminder. This is what happens when we don’t have the words of Christ dwelling in us richly. The words of Paul make this clear and I find great encouragement from these:

    “[12] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
    (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

    Finally, I’ll add that in James’ epistle as he gets to the point of talking about “taming the tongue” and the sinfulness of our words, he starts with this simple statement: “Not many of you should become teachers…”

    Ouch. Double Ouch. Thanks for the post Pilgrim.

    -atg

  3. Thanks for this post. Because of the abrasive nature of many “Calvinists,” we steered clear those type of people. All we could see was the harshness of God and not His mercy and grace. It has only been in the last year that we have discovered the magnificent grace of God and what He accomplished for us at Calvary. How thankful we are for His grace.

    MommaC

  4. “God help me, I really, truly DISLIKE Armidiots, and would hate to think they are bound for the same Heaven as are Bible-believers.”

    I have to say, that such a person who wrote this should be put out of the local church and handed over to satan for the destruction of their flesh (1 Cor 5:11). They are in danger of the greater judgement according to Christ (Matthew 5:22) and may not have to worry about going to heaven at all (1 john 3:10). Sadly I see this fruit on a lot of reformed blogs and is a reason why I dont visit many besides this one, where I have found most of the contributors to be full of grace and love even when we disagree. I’ll paraphrase Paul Washer “its better to have it and not know how to perfectly explain it then to know how to explain it perfectly and not have it”.

    -Jim

  5. Great Post it’s unfortunate that there are people that are very caustic or callous towards others about their calvanism.

    I ran into one of them in a online chat room I ended up blocking him on Facebook & on the chat site because he was very spiteful and bitter to those who didn’t agree with his philosophy of life and kick them out of the chat room for no reason. I forgive for what he did but I wish not to speak to him.

    As a result of his bitter/spiteful behavior in the chat-room anyone I came into contact who came into contact with that person had a bad opinion towards Calvinism and even some I knew declared Calvinism to be unbiblical all as a result of one person.

  6. Thank you for this admonishment….Although I try to hold my tongue about things I am passionate about, I can sometimes think unkindly…and it can be such a battle. Thank you for words of wisdom…they are always appreciated from a brother in Christ! :)

  7. Dear Pilgrim,

    Thank you for such a wise reminder. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17&18

    May God in His mercy grant us all tender hearts and an abiding in the Spirit to avoid such worldy behavior.

    Only by His undeserved grace, charisse

  8. Thanks for a great post. I recently cancelled my account from a social networking site for this exact reason. What makes it harder to understand is that I am a Calvinist, and was still treated with disdain by those who are almost militant about their Calvinism. Considering it is us who claim to truly understand God’s sovereignty and irresistible grace, shouldn’t we be even more merciful and gracious towards others? We too, were once lost. We are Christians, and should act accordingly.

  9. Hate to say it,but many of the staunch Calvinists I’ve run into are no different in their approach then are the legalists in other denominations. Hateful, spiteful,vengeful, and otherwise holier than thou.
    No thanks to either crowd…just give me Jesus and Him crucified.

  10. I want to add one additional little thing to think about that seems to go unaddressed in this issue of the arrogant and caustic Calvinist…I want to refocus our eyes on truth with this thought:

    Calvinists are sinful wretched human fugitives desperately in need of a Savior just like everyone else…their sin often presents itself through pride and arrogance. Let us never forget this and let us never cease to throw ourselves at the foot of the cross.

    A Calvinist desperately in need of a savior,
    -abidingthroughgrace

  11. Pilgrim, the excerpts you’ve posted aren’t the words of an apologist or teacher – just a world-weary schmoe with strong opinions. No one reads his blog, and no one really cares what he thinks or writes. Don’t lose sleep over his venting into a vacuum. Leave him to it.

  12. True indeed, Pilgrim. There are many indeed who think that when we see Christ in that new city Jerusalem, the first question He’s gonna ask is, “Are you a Calvinist? Or an Arminian?” As if our salvation depended on whether we believe in election or free will. (I would love for someone to show me where it says anything like that in Scripture). In fact, George Whitefield, one of the most staunch Calvinists of any generation, even went so far as to say of John Wesley that “his mansion will be so close to the throne of God, we will be lucky to catch a glimpse of his back.”

    Until several years ago I used to visit and dialog on the message boards at CARM. When I checked back about a year ago to see how the discussions were going, I was nearly horrified by what I read: Nothing but snark and sarcasm, people trying to intimidate other commenters with sarcasm rather than presenting reasoned responses. And this coming from those who believe as we do, dialoging with JW’s, Mormons, etc.

    Apparently there are some out there who think that when someone disagrees with their point of view, the first response should be to pound them down with “Apostate!” and “Judgment!” rather than reasoning with them from the Scriptures. As if THAT kind of response is going to sway them from their error.

  13. Thank you all for your kind and gracious replies. I see now that I am not the only one who has observed/experienced the harshness of some Calvinists. I don’t receive the brunt of their vitriol since I hold to the Doctrines of Grace, but I have seen how they treat others and it is shameful (thus, the purpose of this post).

    It’s also interesting to see that–as I suspected–the behavior of some Calvinists tends to repel people from ever seriously considering the wonderful truths of Scripture regarding God’s sovereignty. For those caustic Calvinists reading this, they would do good to take note of some of these comments and see how their words/behavior affects others.

    Dear AZTexan:

    Regardless of the “title” or “position” of the origin of the quotes, the fact remains as long as he/she is blogging as a Christian and dealing with the matters of Christianity he/she is teaching and acting as an apologist. Every time we witness to someone or answer questions about our faith on a blog or on a bus, we are acting in those capacities, and thus we should mind our speech/words.

    And even if no one reads the blog or the comments of the individual whence those quotes came from (which is not true, that blog does have readers and the comment was left on a thread that was read by others) the fact is that the person is very caustic in their speech and needs to seriously and prayerfully consider what they say/write. The quantity of people exposed to vitriolic speech from a Christian isn’t the problem, the problem is that anyone is exposed to it.

    And if they reject my words, then I appeal to them to consider the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

    Again, thank you all for your comments.

  14. Your post says nothing about an objective standard by which to judge truth from error. Instead you appeal to subjective categories like: check your spirit. What is my spirit? My attitude? Really the only thing that should matter in a discussion of the Bible is what is biblical and what is not biblical. To focus on subjective feelings rather than God’s Word and what it says is to succumb to irrationalism, subjectivism, and feelings rather than focusing on the intellect and the biblical message.

    While it is true that some folks in a debate resort to ad hominem and emotional arguments, the bottom line is what is true. If the Bible says something that is plain and obvious then we are obligated to believe it. To call someone who is committed to the Bible as the final authority “arrogant and caustic” is simply appealing to a logical fallacy called “ad hominem”. Rather than dealing with the argument itself the person cannot answer the argument and so resorts to name calling and personal attacks. So calling someone you disagree with an “arrogant and caustic Calvinist” betrays a lack of understanding of the Bible, theology and apologetics.

    How about following Christ’s example? “You brood of vipers” is truly a loving thing to say, wouldn’t you say? Of course, simply because Jesus could say that without sinning does not extend that same right to us. But there is at least one example of NOT following Jesus’ example. So it would appear that logic is unavoidable, wouldn’t you say? Feelings have little to nothing to do with what is true or false.

    Charlie

  15. “There are many indeed who think that when we see Christ in that new city Jerusalem, the first question He’s gonna ask is, “Are you a Calvinist? Or an Arminian?””

    Brother – I dont think the Lord will be asking at all – these are man made terms! God bless you in Christ Jesus and thank you for the many edifying things you share. -Jim

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