Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Root of Angry and Divisive Calvinists: Part Seven

You probably have a “Mark” in your life.  We want to be living in the epilogue and not in the beginning of the story.  Here is how to help the “Marks” in your life.  If “Mark” is not a Calvinist but is carrying some other doctrine in an angry and divisive manner I think the advice could still pertain. 

Also keep in mind that I’m a Calvinist who sadly used to be a little too close to Mark.  These are some of the things the Lord used in my life—both from Calvinists and non-Calvinists to help me walk more faithfully in step with the Spirit and not be “Mark”. 

Calvinists helping “Mark”

  1. Love him.  If God has given you the grace to be a humble Calvinist then rather than dismissing angry and divisive young Calvinists you need to love them and do the difficult thing of entering into their lives.
  2. Model humility when discussing doctrine (any doctrine) with those who differ.  Differ and teach others with gentleness and respect.
  3. Call him out on his arrogance, pride, and divisiveness (after #1 has been firmly established).
  4. Minister with Arminians.  I say Arminians but I really mean any that aren’t hardcore Calvinists like Mark.  He wants to make everything about Calvinism.  Put people in his life who really don’t care much about the issue but just want to see Jesus glorified.  This will season him and help him see there are more important issues than whether or not a man’s favorite flower is a Tulip.
  5. Be a consistent Calvinist and push Mark in the same way.
  6. Have him read fiction, biographies, and practical books just as much as doctrine. 
  7. Have him teach children.  (Or better yet have him get married and have his own children—though I wouldn’t suggest you being in control of this).
  8. Hang out with dead guys (John Newton, Charles Simeon, Robert Murray McCheyne, etc.)  These guys will agree with him doctrinally but their humble hearts will be contagious
  9. Be Trinitarian.  We Calvinists love to give lip service to this but we can easily become doctrine centered and not fixated on the beauty and majesty of the Trinity.  The only thing that can really help Mark is a better grasp of the gospel—or perhaps the gospel having a better grasp on Mark.  Keep the gospel central not his Calvinism.
  10. Entrust “Mark” to the work of the Spirit.  He’s not an unbeliever he’s just acting like one at times.  The Spirit wants Mark to be a humble and consistent believer more than you do.  He’s in charge of Mark.  Entrust the Spirit to mold and shape Mark’s heart. 

Non-Calvinists Helping “Mark”

If Mark is like many angry and divisive Calvinists then he is sinning by making Calvinism the issue instead of love.  He will probably have less respect for you and your walk with Christ simply because you are not a Calvinist.  He will try to convert you to Calvinism so that you finally get ministry correct.  He will not be quick to listen to you or even to fellowship with you.  This is sad.  This is sin.  But this is a painful reality (though not as pervasive as some would have us believe).  Still you are called to help Mark…

  1. Love Him.  It will be hard because Mark is going to insult you. 
  2. Don’t argue theology with him.  This is what he wants.  A Calvinist will never win this argument with an angry and divisive Arminian.  Same goes for someone trying to win this debate with an angry and divisive Calvinist.  Even if you win who cares—you’ve both lost because “Mark’s” heart hasn’t been addressed.
  3. Have him hang out with dead guys.  Your chance of “softening” Mark is pretty negligent.  But you can certainly put a few of these men in his life that are Calvinists who will season him.  Have him read a healthy dose of Newton or Charles Simeon. 
  4. Make the Gospel Central.  If you have a high view of God’s sovereignty, you love Jesus, you care about doctrine, you share the gospel with people, etc. then hopefully Mark will begin to see past his silly idea that Calvinism is the most important question you can ask of somebody.  Help him see his (and your) identity is in Jesus and not adherence to TULIP.
  5. Entrust “Mark” to the work of the Spirit.  He’s not an unbeliever he’s just acting like one at times.  The Spirit wants Mark to be a humble and consistent believer more than you do.  He’s in charge of Mark.  Entrust the Spirit to mold and shape Mark’s heart. 

Many of those in the Calvinists helping “Mark” could be applied here as well but I have intentionally kept this list more short and to the point.  The biggest thing you can do is to love “Mark” and point him to people that he will naturally trust and respect (just because they were the Scarlet C).  Keep plodding along, keep preaching the gospel, keep growing yourself, and keep loving Mark and entrusting Him to the Spirit.  Your goal isn’t to get him “un-Reformed” your goal is to get him to love Jesus more and to trust the Spirit.  If Calvinism is false don’t worry—the Spirit will work on Mark’s heart and fine tune his theology as well. 


  1. Dear Mike: I like your attitude and spirit. In fact, I have tried to make such my modus operandi for years, but there is a little problem I do wish you might address, one which I have tried to address but find my self stymied. The problem is the hostility of those who reject Sovereign Grace, regardless of how much you try to be inoffensive and winsome. They speak favorably in your presence and that of others, when the occasion seems to demand it. Once out of sight, however, they start to wheel and deal and do their utmost to put the skids under you. Sort of like a DOM that one of my deacons told me about. He said, "Preacher, that fellow told me we ought to fire you, and I asked why? He is doing his job."

    1. Your compliment of my attitude and spirit means a ton to me. Thank you. You model the grace that we Calvinists ought to exhibit.

      Honestly, I'm often amazed at the hostility myself. There seems to be so much heat in all of these discussions (and from both sides). I'm trying to remember what was going on in my heart before I began to slowly accept the doctrines of grace. But that may not be helpful b/c I was such an immature Christian at the time that I doubt it'd really give us a good answer.

      The answer is probably multi-faceted and there are probably as many answers as their are non-Calvinists. Sorry I can't be more helpful. I'm befuddled myself.

  2. Just keep at it. Just keep it up. Just keep on keeping on. We can't answer for what others do, and we must answer for what we do. Our aim is to honor and glorify the Lord who has shown such favor to us, and we want to win others to our views, the views that we believe to be biblical, truly biblical, by the only means God has appointed to win them, namely, those of persuasion with and by the truth.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...