Yesterday, I shared a portion of Gospel Wakefulness that really hit home with me. Today, I have some further reflections on yesterday’s topic.
The reason why what Wilson wrote in Gospel Wakefulness hit me so hard is because for a while I was one of those “graceless” Calvinists. I didn’t intend to be, but that’s the way it played out. I feel that Joe Thorn best sums up why I believe many are this way in an interview with Ed Stetzer:
Stetzer: Sure, I agree with that. While it obviously isn’t true of all Calvinists there is a disproportionate number of angry Calvinists compared to other groups. Do you see that?
Thorn: Well, yes I see that. I think we all see it. The question for me is why are we seeing that, and what exactly are we seeing? Why are there more angry, loud and proud, combative Calvinists than other kinds of Christians? I think, and I could be wrong, but I think it’s a combination of a few things.
One is that Cavinism, as a biblical and beautiful understanding of God, man, and redemption, is often very exciting to those newly acquainted with it. Many who have grown in the faith with very little theology and later discover Reformed theology are simply over-zealous. They are pumped about the truth and want everyone to see what they see. We call this the “cage stage.” Some of us, and I was one of them, would benefit from being locked up in a cage for a few years until our heart can catch up with our head. More realistically, good discipleship helps with that.
Thorn does list other reasons, and I’d encourage you to read the rest of the interview to see what they are, but this is the one with which I identify the most. I experienced so much joy and freedom when I came to know the truths of Reformed Theology, but I didn’t know how to teach or express them in a way that was beneficial and edifying. Part of this was because I was searching for answers, and I feel that I found them, but didn’t pause long enough to let the weight of the truths impact my heart fully before I went around talking about it with everyone I knew.
This leaves me with a question though. Believing that truth should be taught with love and grace is one thing, but being able to do it is another. In reality, all truth is offensive, because it forces us to either conform our beliefs to truth, or deny truth to continue in our own beliefs. I’m not speaking specifically about Calvinism in this case, but about truth in general.
So, if truth is offensive in nature, how do we teach truth without adding to the offense unnecessarily, but not backing down from proclaiming truth as absolute either?