Over on the Jesus Creed blog, Scot McKnight is running a series about his personal experience with Calvinism. I can relate to his story, and I’m willing to bet $10,000 of Mitt Romney’s money that I’m not the only one.
Calvinism is enjoying a resurgence, especially among younger (and predominantly white) evangelicals. But these are not your grandmother’s Calvinists. They’re part of a theological movement sometimes described as “neo-Reformed.”
- The neo-Reformed often equate the gospel with the “doctrines of grace” (another name for the five points of Calvinism, a.k.a. TULIP).
- They hold a relatively narrow view of evangelicalism, regarding non-Calvinists with a mixture of suspicion and pity (and sometimes outright disdain).
- They relish any doctrine widely considered difficult to swallow. Limited atonement, double predestination . . . this is the red meat that, in their view, separates the men from the boys. (And yes, theirs is by and large a man’s world.)
I used to be one of the neo-Reformed. Until 2003 or so, I was a committed Calvinist. Each of the three statements above described me perfectly.
I studied at a Calvinist-leaning seminary. I wrote a 130-page thesis arguing that long before the foundations of the world, God in his absolute, meticulous sovereignty had determined every detail of human history. I attended a neo-Reformed church where predestination was the theme of almost every sermon, no matter what the text.
Eventually, I got out — because I grew to realize that Calvinism was killing my faith in a loving God.
Recently a good friend suggested I write about “why I am not a Calvinist (but used to be).” I’ve been putting it off for a while, but reading Scot’s story has encouraged me to tell my own. So… here we go.
Part 2 of this series can be found here.