As a high school student, college student, seminary student, or career learner, you find about the Doctrines of Grace. At first glance, they seem awful. “God forced me to be redeemed before He even created? He didn’t die for everybody? He forces the Spirit on to me? Doesn’t sound like a good God to me.” Then it all starts to make sense. Now that it doesn’t seem moronic to you, and you love the Doctrines of Grace, here are a few things to consider. Don’t take these admonishments harshly, we’ve all been through it.
Don’t Be a Jerk
Remember that time when you didn’t quite believe in Reformed Theology, and Calvinism seemed like heresy to you? Remember when anyone who said they didn’t believe in the rapture seemed like a moron? Don’t forget where you used to be.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
How glorifying to the Father is it when you’re a jerk to those wrestling with Scripture? Moreover, how glorifying to the Father is it when unbelievers see you being a jerk to another Christian when you don’t agree with them? Good works glorify our God, but so do good words.
Stop Turning Every Discussion Into A Discussion About Election And Predestination
The beautiful doctrine of how God, knowing how wicked and wretched we would be, elected us before the foundation of the world into adoption as sons into His loving arms is important. It’s central to our theology, but it doesn’t belong in every discussion.
Your baptism, eschatology, and “whether Christians can use legal Marijuana or not” discussions don’t need to be turning into debates on predestination with your non-Reformed friends. If they always do, people will begin to believe that that is all you care about, and it probably is. If it is the only thing you care about, Paul (or whomever you may say wrote Hebrews) has a few words to say to you in Hebrews 5.
A right understanding of predestination, election, atonement, and justification are important, but so is the next part: sanctification.
Look Into The Deeper Things Of Reformed Theology
You’re a Calvinist—congratulations—but there’s so much more about Reformed Theology than that. You’re being sanctified, being conformed into the image of Christ, being worked into doing good works to the praise of God. It’s only natural that you start seeking the deeper topics of the Lord.
You’ll hear from many that three things are needed for you to be Reformed: Calvinist, Confessional, and Covenantal. Though I do not believe it is as simple as that, it is a decent framework to work from. Take a look at some of the Reformed confessions, Covenant Theology, and of course Calvinist resources on monergistic soteriology. Some suggestions will be provided below.
Pick Your Battles
As a Christian, you first represent Christ before you represent anything else. Of course, you also represent your family, your congregation, your denomination, your career, and yourself as well, but you represent Christ first. As such, you need to act like it.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” — James 1:19 (ESV)
There are most definitely times to speak truth, have righteous anger, and ignore heretical speech, but there is also a time for you to stay quiet, calm, and listen. More than likely, the latter will be wiser in many more situations than you give credit.
For example, I have a professor in seminary who is clearly not a Calvinist, but usually gives a fair account of every view point when it comes into the context of his lecture. That being said, he misrepresented the view of particular redemption—or ‘limited atonement’—by describing it as “Calvinists believe God couldn’t save everyone.” Of course, I wanted to jump out of my seat and yell “Romans 9, John 8” as loudly as I could, but that would not be appropriate. Instead, I spoke to him after class, and asked him kindly to fairly represent the view that Calvinists actually have on the redemption of Christ—its intent and its extent.
Had I done what was natural to me in my sinful nature, I wouldn’t have gotten this kind response back, “I appreciate your concern, and I apologize if I caricaturized the viewpoint and made a strawman of it. I understand the view, and it was wrong of me to make it something that it is not.” It’s magical what happens when you know and do the Word.
Keep on reforming in love and truth!
This article originally appeared on The Chorus in the Chaos
“God Saves” by Matt Chandler
“The Potter’s Freedom” by James White
“London Baptist Confession of 1689” in Updated English
“The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology” by Pascal Denault
“Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Primer” by Douglas Van Dorn
“Introducing Covenant Theology” by Michael Horton