There are probably tons of different types of Calvinists but I’m going to briefly describe a few types that I’ve ran into and then address the one that’s most ridiculous. First up is the Cage Stage Calvinist (This cartoon will help!)
A cage stage Calvinist is someone who’s just recently found out about what we call the Doctrines of Grace or the Five Points of Calvinism. We call them cage stagers because they should be locked in a cage immediately! These people can be seen questioning peoples salvation in local Bible studies, going to war with all of their friends and family on social media over the finer points of doctrine, as well as kibitzing all of their local pastor’s sermons.
Cage stagers can be a real problem for your Bible studies and your ministries, but as they mature they learn to be human again and show grace as they speak truth in love. Cage stagers make sense, you learn something new and exciting, you’re gonna talk about it.
Next up is the Concerned Calvinist (yeah I’m sticking with the alliteration, sorry). The Concerned Calvinist is the man or woman who sees the logical implications of someone’s theology and seeks to address it, because, well, they’re concerned. This type of Calvinist is different from the Cage Stager in that they will prayerfully consider broaching the subject and seek to persuade the person whom they’re concerned for, rather than just bulling their way in and destroying all the fine China in the process. It makes sense that someone, convinced by the Scriptures, would seek to share their perspective with their friends and family who’s theology is wack. If someone’s view of God isn’t inline with the Bible’s teaching then you most definitely should seek to win them over, this is perfectly understandable and commendable.
Another type of Calvinist is the Cool Calvinist. I don’t mean this in an ironic or sarcastic sense, I actually mean there are cool Calvinists out there. Now, I didn’t say trendy Calvinists, bearded Calvinists, or anything like that, not that I have a problem with them, I’ve definitely got one foot in the trendy camp. But when I say “Cool Calvinist” I mean guys and gals who have already passed through the cage stage and are well into maturity, they have a cool demeanor when it comes to disagreements. Rumor has it, they can have conversations with Arminians without snarling even once! They have friends who disagree with them theologically. They’ve learned to treat each conversation as a unique interaction, understanding that sometimes you gotta throw down, other times you need to ask good questions to help someone reach their own conclusions. Cool Calvinists have even learned that sometimes you need to just shut your face. I’ve met a few Cool Calvinists and I aspire to be one someday! Cool Calvinists make sense.
Something that definitely doesn’t make sense is a Conceited Calvinist. Now you may be thinking, “it sure does make sense! I know plenty of ’em!” Yeah, unfortunately I know a few myself and I gotta admit I’ve been pretty conceited in past conversations and I still wrestle with it today. But this shouldn’t be! It really doesn’t make sense for someone to be a Calvinist and arrogant, prideful, or conceited.
The basic tenets of Calvinism tell us that we are totally dead in our trespasses and sins, unable to turn to Christ because of our dark hearts and our darkened understanding. We believe that God chose us by grace alone and because of nothing in ourselves. We weren’t smarter, more useful, or holier than anyone! We believe that God the Father chose us to be one of Christ’s sheep before the foundation of the earth, that Christ died to pay the penalty of our sins. We also believe that the grace He gave us is effectual grace, meaning if He chose us, He will give us the grace we need to respond to His call. We believe that God has taken out our hearts of stone and given us new hearts with new desires for Him. We, who once found God repulsive, now find Him irresistible. And we believe that God will finish the good work that He began in us. God, in His amazing grace, will keep us till thee end, not because we are so awesome but because we belong to Him and He’s promised that nothing can separate us from His love through Christ Jesus our Lord.
If we believe all of that, how could we ever be conceited??
How does it make sense for us to get puffed up? We believe that salvation belongs to the Lord, it’s is all of grace. The very faith it took to call on the name of Jesus was a gift from God. We continually rest in God’s sovereignty and we sure talk about it a lot, but why don’t we let the doctrine of God’s providence guide how we view those who haven’t come to affirm the Doctrines of Grace yet? Did you come to understand these truths without the grace of God? Are you that much smarter than Arminian theologians and philosophers? God has lead us into the truth, I truly believe that, but we’ve been blessed to be a blessing. I constantly need to remind myself of that fact. If we truly affirm Calvinist principles, which are mined from the Scriptures, then there is no room for us to be conceited or puffed up in our own minds.
So for my Calvinist friends, let’s try to be cool, level headed Calvinists. Let’s follow our Lord’s example, seeking to be full of grace and truth, with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, and most of all, love.