Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Combatting the Calvinist Virus

I came across a blog entry by Nate Casebolt that gave me a good smile:

My fellow Evangelicals:

It is with a deep and abiding sense of responsibility that I offer this public statement. As you may know, the esteemed Dr. Ergun Caner recently alerted usto a virulent strand of theological plague that threatens all our churches. The technical name of this virus is Voluntatem Dei, more popularly known as Calvinism. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

-fewer, shorter, or non-existent altar calls
-narrower parameters of baptism
-elevated levels of expository preaching
-shallow interest in the latest Christian fads
-accumulation of old theological texts
-heightened indignation at popular worship
-obsession with tulips

Early detection is key to fighting Calvinism. Presymptomatic signs include increased interest in Romans 9 and Ephesians 1. If you suspect a preliminary infection of Calvinism in your church, follow these steps immediately:

1. Quarantine the affected Christians from other church members. Unfortunately, you can't kick them out of the church right away (We need their votes and money), but you can tell them to shut up or face church discipline. Don't let their weak excuses about "Bible study" and "the truth" shake your resolve. Logic and reason are one of Calvinism's most insidious routes into the church, and you must limit exposure to the best of your ability.

2. Isolate the affected Christians from Puritan books. John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon are particularly crucial to deny your church members. Popular contemporary authors in the Reformed tradition are R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and John MacArthur. Other contemporary writers include C.J. Mahaney, Steve Lawson, Ligon Duncan, an obnoxious Old Gray Dog, and Sinclair Ferguson. Other authors should be avoided just as strenuously; this list is not exhaustive.

3. Inoculate the affected Christians with hyper-Calvinists. Tell them of hyper-Calvinists -- ones who keep demanding a clear, unequivocal answer to the question: For whom did Christ die? As part of the isolation process, don't let them know about churches pastored by any of the authors listed above or anyone who does know how the Bible answers the aforementioned question. It won't do to let them know of loving, growing, evangelistic Calvinist churches.

4. Inject heavy dosages of anthropocentric theology. Begin by hinging God's actions on man's choice. Tell your patient it would be immoral for God to let anyone go to Hell without a completely libertarian choice. Then tell them God doesn't want to love robots, and that a totally libertarian will was God's greatest gift to man. Make God's salvation completely contingent on man's response. Again, isolate your patient from Calvinist mutterings about God's free choice, His self-defined righteousness, or His use of means in the accomplishment of His will.

5. Feed the affected Christians a steady dose of Evangelism. Make altar calls, decision cards, revival week, aisle-walking, and hand-raising equivalent to apostolic evangelism in the minds of your patients. Then hammer away at Calvinists who don't do these things for lacking evangelistic zeal. Again, isolate your patient from examples of Calvinists who call for repentance in ways you don't approve.

6. Bring down the affected Christian's expectations. If they want to talk about Greek, call them elitists. If they bring up church history, make up your own. And if they mention exegeting John 6, divert them with an alternate interpretation of a completely unrelated verse in an entirely unrelated context. Gradually ease your patients away from the biblical text, and remind them that knowledge puffs up, but Evangelistic love edifies.

In the end, no measure of success is guaranteed. Despite your best efforts, you might lose some of your church members to Calvinism. If that happens, the best thing you can do is cut them loose. If you don't actually throw them out of your church, create such an atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia that they leave of their own accord. Let them join a Calvinist church if they wish. Leper colonies have their place.

Finally, be aware that the greatest threat comes not from your own church members studying their Bibles and reading Reformed writers. If you're leading your church responsibly, you have them so busy with the latest program and so involved with the latest Evangelistic crusade that they don't have time for indepth study and meditation. No, the greatest threat comes from other Calvinists infiltrating your ranks and releasing their deadly toxin among your church members.This is biological terrorism. Treat it as such, and show no mercy to Calvinists who would threaten your church with an outbreak of 'Tulip's Disease.'


Frontier Forest said...

And just think.... It was only a year and a half ago, I didn't even know one Calvinist! Know I are one!

Anonymous said...

Hey, is that middle picture Nathan with shades on?

GUNNY said...

ff, that Calvinist virus is contagious. Careful not to get it on any others with whom you come in contact!