Monday, February 11, 2013

The Devotional Side of Calvinism

“Real Calvinism is all about joy”, says Greg Forster. In his book of The Joy of Calvinism he hopes to defend that statement. He believes that Calvinism is a wonderful path to rejoice in the Lord always. Calvinists have gotten a bad rap and a good amount of that is our fault. But at it’s heart Calvinism is about joy.

I’ll review the book on Friday, but in the meantime I want to give you a taste.

The trouble is that people outside the Calvinistic tradition only hear the formulas and technicalities. They don’t hear what we say ‘within’ Calvinism; they only hear what we say about Calvinism. So while Calvinists produce reams of positive, spontaneous, and devotional religious writings, the outside world never knows. If it hears our devotional voices at all, it never associates that devotion with our Calvinism; it thinks we’re pious in spite of our Calvinism, not because of it. “Calvinism” to the outside world means only the formulas, technicalities, and negations.

I pray along with Forster that this changes. A good place to start is by giving this book a read. It’s actually on sale this week for under 5 bucks.


  1. First of all, I believe people outside of the Calvinistic tradition have heard more than formulas and technicalities. What has been said 'within Calvinism' has been heard. Using the statement above, do you really want your deep devotional thoughts to be associated with your Calvinism or with your deep abiding love relationship with Jesus Christ? Secondly, are you really pious because of your Calvinism or because of your desire to imitate Christ? (Ephesians 5:1) What banner should we be raising?

    1. Craig,
      Thanks for the comment.
      I guess this is the problem with labels, isn't it? If one would say as did Spurgeon, "What I mean by Calvinism is what some have called the gospel", then one is seen as being offensive and equating Calvinism with the gospel. But such a statement would be an answer to your questions. I could care little about Calvinism or what you call it. But labels are helpful.

      Of course I'd say that my deep devotional thoughts come from my deep abiding relationship with Christ. But I'm not so sure that it can be so easily separated from things like election, perseverance, etc. Again piety comes from Christ. And the banner to be raised is that of Christ. I'll say that all day. But what Forster is saying, that I agree with, is that Calvinism at its core isn't about all these formulas and systems. It's about being awestruck by God's radical dedication to love His people.

    2. Thanks Mike, I appreciate your response, I'm just afraid that the world is not seeing people that have been with Jesus.(Acts 4:13) They are just seeing people that talk about Jesus and the Gospel. Philippians 3:10 comes to mind: "that I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." Regardless of one's tradition, the world must witness us "knowing him," and "living in his resurrection power," and "suffering without shame," (1 Peter 4:16) and "becoming like him." I fear that in some places that message is being drowned out at a time when we so desperately need passionate Christ followers to go into the world whose only label is "disciple making disciple."

    3. I can give a hearty Amen to that, brother! If you've read any of my other stuff I think that you'd agree that I'm not all that tied up in Calvinism. It's rare that I even post on it.

    4. Thanks again Mike for the interaction.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...