Zealous for Christ’s Calvinism/ Calvinist Couch Potatoes

If the title has seduced you (wow, never thought I could use seduce positively) then my goal is achieved. This is my first time writing for ‘Fresh Words for Young Minds’. Hope you all enjoy it. I have been chatting lately with my friend Michael (from ‘Living Waters SA www.TenThousandDollarOffer.com); we notice, as I’m sure you do, that among the reformed, of any age, there appears to be a deadness… A blandness even… A lack of life. We all want sound expository preaching, and we mind our T’s, U’s, L’s, I’s and P’s (was that a bit to much? šŸ™‚ ) We attend prayer meetings, go to conferences and really just generally gorge ourselves on some good solid Pink maybe some Gill (hyper dude, bit of a shame). But as some of the pagan prophets of our time say, “where is the love” (Note: I don’t think they are really prophets, was just trying to be cool like when Paul did it)

Yet if we look at men like Spurgeon, Calvin, Bunyan and Whitefield , modern day guys like MacArthur and Piper they all had (and have, that being the living ones) such an evangelistic zeal, such a fire for truth, such a depth of humility, such a love of the saints… Where is that today? Why is the same system of theology (I reject it as a system by the way, but thats another topic) that made them so on fire, turning our people today into Calvinistic Couch Potatoes?

Tyrell… What is a Calvinistic Couch Potatoes, is it a reformed dude, that watches too much TV?

Well, my dear Omnesimus (thats is a general term of endearment to you dear reader), A Calvinistic couch potatoes is one that that has this intellectual assent (acceptance) of the Doctrines of grace, which develops into a snobbery of intellectual dominance (they think they are smart cause they understand it, and now know the truth), which results in them gorging more and more, as I expressed in the beginning, thus become Calvinists in the head, but not the heart.

I don’t have this down, just the other day I stuck the Scripture on my door “Pride comes before the fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction” to remind myself every time before I leave my house; that blessed are the meek, and poor in Spirit, cause I forget all the time.

The following is part of an email I received, from friend (Michael, the dude I mention earlier), not sure where he got it from, but it really captured this for me:

The upsurge of Calvinism on the Internet in the 1990s seems to have spawned a large and unprecedented movement of jejune Calvinists who wear arrogance as if it were the team uniform. That kind of hotshot, shoot-from-the-hip Calvinism is ugly. I don’t blame anyone for being appalled by it. I’m worried about those who think it’s a good thing.

Obviously those criticisms are mostly generalizations, and they don’t necessarily apply to every Calvinist on the Internet. But (and here’s the hard part) I’m willing to admit that there have been times when every one of those criticisms could be legitimately applied to something I wrote or posted to a public forum somewhere. I’ll especially confess to my shame that I’m too much of a polemicist and not enough of an evangelist.

Historic Calvinism is not supposed to be that way. Yes, Calvinism is virile; it’s relentless when it comes to truth; and it’s not always easy to swallow. But it is full of truths that should humble us and fill us with compassion rather than swagger and conceit. The best Calvinism has always been fervently evangelistic, large-hearted, benevolent, merciful, and forgiving. After all, that’s what the doctrines of grace are supposed to be all about.

Until we get back there, some of the lumps the Reformed movement is currently taking are well-deserved.

And meanwhile, my advice to young Calvinists is to learn your theology from the historic mainstream Calvinist authors, not from blogs and discussion forums on the Internet. Some of the forums may be helpful in pointing you to more important resources. But if you think of them as a surrogate for seminary, you’re probably going to become an ugly Calvinist-and if you get hit in the face with a rotten egg, you probably deserve it.

Well, thats just my thoughts for now, will check in soon. Pray my brothers (and sisters), may God be gracious to us, may we love our Lord as much as we love of theology, no, more so.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Zealous for Christ’s Calvinism/ Calvinist Couch Potatoes

  1. Tyrell, thanks for the post. It’s great to have you here.
    I agree with what you say. This has been on my heart for some time now as well. Unfortunately you see this kind of thing rather as the norm than the exception. Especially in churches that have great doctrinal statements (s if it is about association and knowledge).

    “Knowledge puffs up, but love build up” (1 Cor 8:1). I think we should have something of a series on this. We just went through Galatians 6:1, as well as Matthew 13 (posts will follow). In Galatians we spoke about the characteristics of a truly spiritual person (as the instruction to restore is directed only at them). And who does not want to be one, right?

    The characteristics were: 1. care for others with compassion (spirit of gentleness) 2. watch yourself.

    In Matthew we spoke about the wheat and the weed. It’s interesting to mediate about the purpose of the wheat (us Christians). The seed was sown to grow, to bear fruit and (here it is again) to nourish.

    I believe there is so much in Scripture that points to the fact that we are there for others. I love 1 Cor 13:4-8. To me that is the heart of Christianity (note though that this is not all).

    The message of our life MUST be the Gospel alone, the heart that brings it must be one of love and compassion.

    As Josh Mack said it the other day: “theology and religiosity is the best place to hide unbelief behind”.

    I am sorely aware of that.

  2. trapezeartist

    Tyrell.
    Yes, your title did seduce me… The part of the email you received from your friend Michael came from a post on the pyromaniacs blog. It was posted on the 1st of June 2005 by Phil Johnson and is entitled “Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism.” May I suggest with a smile šŸ™‚ that you make use of inverted commas when quoting from emails as it is slightly unclear what you wrote and what you quoted from. Thanks for a good post.
    Renate

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