|Charles Finney (I just thought I would throw this in there)|
Monday, June 6, 2011
It was interesting to leave my reformed college, full of reformed friends and teachers, and come home to have this conversation. He said something along these lines, “The main thing I don’t like about Calvinists is their arrogance, because they think they have everything right. I believe that I am saved by the grace of God. If when I go to heaven he tells me that he chose me and predestined me, then I guess I will be wrong. But I don’t think it matters very much.” This statement ended a discussion about whether or not God has predestined some to be vessels of glory and others to be vessels of dishonor, some to be saved and some to not be saved.
I strongly believe in predestined salvation, and the complete sovereignty of God. However, the conversation itself didn’t matter as much as his last statement. Neither of us convinced each other of anything, but he did hit me right where I needed to be hit, by his statement about arrogant Calvinists.
Are we arrogant? We have our very particular liturgies and hymn books. We have our Westminster Confession and Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, and Calvin’s institutes. These statements of faith are seen to be basically as infallible as the word of God. If one disputes them, then they are probably not a Christian, or at least they are a very immature one. I don’t mean to undermine the importance of these historical statements. They are brilliant and beautiful.
What I mean to dispute is the arrogant tendencies of people who believe in them.
As a part of the reformed community, I have witnessed belittling or mocking comments made towards people of other denominations, and I even threw in some of my own comments in these conversations. Whether or not people of other denominations were present during these conversations hardly matters. We shake our heads at Pentecostals, Baptists, etc, amazed at their ignorance and unbiblical theology.
I am not claiming innocence or trying to be self-righteous. I have done this myself. However, I am appalled at my own arrogance and the arrogance of others, because that is exactly what the reformed faith is not about. We recognize God’s complete sovereignty and our helplessness, our complete depravity. We cannot take credit for our salvation or even the mind-blowing theology we believe in so strongly. Any knowledge we have is a gift from God, and if we look down on people who don’t believe like we do, can we really say we believe that we are helpless and completely dependent on our sovereign God?
I’m not saying that we can’t have discussions and disagreements with Arminians. Discussions force us to examine our beliefs through defending them, so they are valuable. However, when we have these discussions, we should be extremely humble and loving. Our faith isn’t about showing how smart we are, or how great Calvin is. It’s about bringing glory to God and showing our dependence on him. It’s also important to know that maybe we don’t have everything right, and we can learn from other non-reformed Christians (that is probably the hardest thing for me to realize).
Arrogance in the reformed Christian community is completely self-contradictory and hypocritical. We have to recognize that we are not saved, made wise, or knowledgeable because of our own efforts. It is all from God, by his grace. We owe all to him and can take credit for nothing. The last thing we should be known for is our arrogance.