I’m about to start a series on something called “Neo-Calvinism.” I’m pretty excited about it, mainly because it’s an area of theology I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. I think there’s a lot to learn here. But I’ve put off the study for months because, well, I hate listening to Calvinist – Arminian (in the sense of “not Calvinist”) arguments. I do. I confess it.
Why? Well, it’s nothing personal against Calvinists as such. Some of my best friends are Calvinists. It’s just, well … these arguments can be so annoying. You see, both Calvinists and Arminians have their proof texts. And when they argue on the internet, they just talk past each other with each side citing their favorite text or argument, and neither bothering to actually wrestle with the other guy’s text or argument — and I’ve heard it all before, many, many times.
So let me say this plainly. Yes, there are classic Calvinistic proof texts and there are classic Arminian proof texts. And if you try to build your theology on one set of texts or the other, you are no better than Thomas Jefferson, who literally cut texts that he disagreed with out of the Bible. It’s all quite foolish and pointless and just tedious beyond words.
I’ve read and acknowledge all the Calvinistic texts. They’re there. But so are the Arminian texts. And I tried to honestly wrestle with the difficulties quite a while ago in a series posted as Searching for the Third Way. And if you want to argue for Calvinism, go over to that series, read what I’ve already written, and tell me what you think. But unless you’re interacting with the arguments there or saying something really new and interesting, I’ll not be responding.
On the other hand, if you do want to discuss the Third Way posts, I’ll be pleased to do so (time permitting). But only if you’ve read them and have something to add. Not if you want to just post one more set of arguments based on ignoring the Arminian passages or Calvinist passages. Been there. Done that. Not interested.
Also, there’s developed this very distasteful tendency among some Calvinists to argue that you can’t go to heaven unless you are a Calvinist. And not just a Calvinist, but the right kind of Calvinist. And this new Calvinistic narrow-mindedness is becoming increasingly militant — and annoying. For the reasons I reject the legalism of the conservative Churches of Christ, I reject the narrowness of these hyper-Calvinists. Indeed, this small-minded, Biblically ignorant approach to Christianity threatens to do great harm to Christianity in this country. It won’t be countenanced here.
Now I say all this in preparation for the upcoming discussion on Neo-Calvinism. In that discussion I’m going to present some very interesting ideas coming from that strand of thought, which I very much want to discuss. I just don’t want to discuss the 500-year old Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. It’s not interesting — unless you are making a genuine effort to synthesize and combine all Biblical thought dealing with the challenges both sets of passages present. And do it over at the Third Way posts.