A few days ago I cited an article by Frank Page on Calvinism. Turns out this article by Page has led to quite a bit of discussion on whether or not a candidate should be up front about his beliefs on the Doctrines of Grace. You can read the discussion here.
Many in academia are calling for young pastors that adhere to the doctrines of grace (Calvinistic) to be upfront and lay all their cards on the table. As you read the comments on Founders you will notice that some agree with this (as an issue of integrity) and others find it unfair. I am unsure of where I fall on this and am encouraging my readers to help me work through this issue (I know some of you are Calvinists and some of you are not).
As I am looking back I am wondering whether or not I would have been hired if I would have said upfront that I was a Calvinist. For one I was not nearly as established in the doctrines of grace as I am now. For two I know some of those on the search committee had (and maybe even to this day still have) a very vague understanding of what Calvinism is. I also know that many have false caricatures of what Calvinist actually believe and how a biblical Calvinist would actually engage people with the gospel. It appears to me that what people often reject is Hyper-Calvinism. Therefore, I wonder if all of the work that we have seen God do for the past 4 years would have been quenched from the beginning because I was a Calvinist. As soon as I stated what I believed about the Doctrines of Grace would I have been caricatured?
My stance has been to preach the gospel and to preach the word of God expositionally. If the doctrines of grace come out of the text then I will preach that. If the doctrines of grace are not in the text then I will never force it. My hope has been to be as biblical as possible in my life, practice, and ministry. Most people do not even know that I am a Calvinist. Does this make me dishonest? Many probably assume that I am a pre-tribulational pre-millenialist too. Should I have been upfront about that? Also my views have changed through the years on a few issues as well. What I might have said I believed in my interview I would disagree with now. To me "laying all your cards" on the table does not give room for growth for me (the minister) or for the congregation.
One of the funniest things that I remember was a conversation I had with a man in our church a couple of years ago. We were talking about some of the authors that we both enjoyed reading, as well as some of the Christian artists we loved to listen to. One of the bands that we were talking about we were discussing whether or not they are Calvinist, because they had cited John Piper as an influence. The guy I was speaking to began talking about all of the things he saw wrong with Calvinism. Their anti-evangelism, etc. All of the typical caricatures. Knowing my evangelistic zeal and passion to share the gospel, this man was floored when I told him that I too was a Calvinist. We did not get into a discussion on the theology of it, but by looking at my life and witness he saw that Calvinism does not necessarily lead to all of those horrible caricatures. (Thankfully, he could not smell the pride that emanated from me in my early caged-Calvinist days). So, my question to you is this: Am I deceptive for not sharing with our congregation that I am a Calvinist? Should I be upfront even if people do not ask? Is it right for me to make an issue of it? Or, is it a better approach to preach expositionally and only address the issue when they come up? What do you think?