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Question For Former Reformed Calvinists


MattFoley
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I'm relatively new to this forum, but one thing that I have noticed is that there seem to be many former Reformed Calvinists posting here. Why is this?

 

Having been raised in a Reformed Christian Reconstructionist church, I can see why this might be the last stop where a person rejects Christianity altogether. Once you start taking the whole Bible literally and stop dancing around the uncomfortable passages, you realize just how divisive and unpleasant it is.

 

Plus, Calvinists are not particularly happy or charitable folks. Many of the ones I know are really obnoxious and appear to suffer from undiagnosed mental illnesses.

 

I could see how a rational person might say, "Wow, so this is what happens when you take Christianity to it's literal ends? Count me out."

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Just my opinion, but i think there are 2 kinds of ex-christians (probably more than 2, but keeping it simple..):  Those who essentially studied their way out of Christianity, and those who deserted because of abusive christian situations (spiritual, emotional, sexual, etc).  Of course these can overlap, but i find that those who are primarily the former were usually VERY ardent in their beliefs, loved theology and debate, and had a strong reliance on truth/bible as opposed to the more emotional aspects of spirituality, community, etc.  

 

We all know (now!) that Christianity is an utter mess of contradictions, but it seems to me that the group striving the hardest to put together a "logical," unified theology are the Calvinists.  They are cerebral, not touchy-feely or mysterious in their beliefs (also the most douchy, IMO).  This kind of Christianity appeals to people who are logical  by nature and looking to fit all the pieces together...get all the questions answered.  So I think it's natural that a lot of these types of personalities come to the point in their quest for truth where they realize the pieces don't all fit!  

 

As well, being logical debaters, they are the kind of ex-christian who  is far more likely to come to a forum like this to announce their discoveries, and to continue debating issues as opposed to many people who are coming from a place of deep woundedness.  That's my guess why there are so many ex-Calvinists around here.

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Stop reading my posts and telling my parents. This site is supposed to be confidential. You're a jerk and a jack ass whoever you are. Thanks also for hurting my folks. Good Christian actions. NOT.

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I'm relatively new to this forum, but one thing that I have noticed is that there seem to be many former Reformed Calvinists posting here. Why is this?

 

I didn't realize there were that many of us, but now that I think about it, I guess there are a few.

 

I can only give my own anecdotal reasons. I was not raised a Calvinist. In fact, I was quite resistant to it when I first encountered it several years ago, but was eventually dragged to it kicking and screaming by the biblical texts themselves. I guess I'm one of those more cerebral and less touchy-feely types. I did know a lot of Calvinists who didn't fit the traditional Angry Bearded Truly Reformed™ characiture and some were quite experiential in their expression of Christianity.

 

For me, the Reformed tradition had a rich history with some intellectual giants like Calvin, the Westminster Divines, Edwards, Owen, the old Princetonians, and on and on. These guys aren't exactly Billy Graham or Joel Osteen. Brainy types can get lost in a mountain of that stuff and never find their way out. To top that all off you've got Van Til and Bahnsen with their circular presupper mind trap to keep you hemmed in.

 

The problem becomes the Bible itself and thanks to their stalwart approach to lectio continua in public, private and family worship, many in the Reformed camp are eventually going to see some ugly stuff that isn't easily explained away. They can ignore it, or, like me, try to find a good explanation. If they're honest with themselves, they find there aren't any good excuses for many of the issues. Once that happens, it's all downhill with other more liberal expressions never even being really considered as an option. That's pretty much how it went for me anyway.

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I'm relatively new to this forum, but one thing that I have noticed is that there seem to be many former Reformed Calvinists posting here. Why is this?

 

I didn't realize there were that many of us, but now that I think about it, I guess there are a few.

 

I can only give my own anecdotal reasons. I was not raised a Calvinist. In fact, I was quite resistant to it when I first encountered it several years ago, but was eventually dragged to it kicking and screaming by the biblical texts themselves. I guess I'm one of those more cerebral and less touchy-feely types. I did know a lot of Calvinists who didn't fit the traditional Angry Bearded Truly Reformed™ characiture and some were quite experiential in their expression of Christianity.

 

For me, the Reformed tradition had a rich history with some intellectual giants like Calvin, the Westminster Divines, Edwards, Owen, the old Princetonians, and on and on. These guys aren't exactly Billy Graham or Joel Osteen. Brainy types can get lost in a mountain of that stuff and never find their way out. To top that all off you've got Van Til and Bahnsen with their circular presupper mind trap to keep you hemmed in.

 

The problem becomes the Bible itself and thanks to their stalwart approach to lectio continua in public, private and family worship, many in the Reformed camp are eventually going to see some ugly stuff that isn't easily explained away. They can ignore it, or, like me, try to find a good explanation. If they're honest with themselves, they find there aren't any good excuses for many of the issues. Once that happens, it's all downhill with other more liberal expressions never even being really considered as an option. That's pretty much how it went for me anyway.

 

 

It's those who embrace the ugliness and write it off as god's sovereignty that are the most repugnant Christians. Since they have deemed themselves to be of the "elect" then the rest of the world is simply waiting out their time on Earth before they will burn in hell anyway. I have seen very little empathy from the Calvinist crowd towards anyone outside of their own little circle.

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Stop reading my posts and telling my parents. This site is supposed to be confidential. You're a jerk and a jack ass whoever you are. Thanks also for hurting my folks. Good Christian actions. NOT.

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It's those who embrace the ugliness and write it off as god's sovereignty that are the most repugnant Christians. Since they have deemed themselves to be of the "elect" then the rest of the world is simply waiting out their time on Earth before they will burn in hell anyway. I have seen very little empathy from the Calvinist crowd towards anyone outside of their own little circle.

 

 

Yep! That's right. There is very little empathy from Calvinists towards the "lost". That's exactly why they don't evangelize. I mean, what's the point?!

 

 

Totally agree. The church I grew up in started off as a charismatic, premillenial fellowship where people would dance, run through the aisles, and speak in toungues. Not saying it was any better at that point, but I know that they did try to actively evangelize to the "lost."

 

But then something changed. They got really involved in the pro-life cause and Operation Rescue. A new assistant pastor came in and all of the sudden they became a Reformed Christian Reconstructionist church. After that, the entire mood of the place changed. All these really rigid, unhappy people started attending. Messages became really dry and worship was incredibly dull and lifeless.

 

The effect on young people was really something to behold. It seemed that around age 12 or 13, the kids who went there just completely checked out. If I had to guess, I'd say that of the 75 to 100 kids who attended that church, maybe 5 to 10 still attend church today. It was an absolute disaster. 

 

The Web master of this site actually went to this church briefly. You can read in his Xtimony just how charitable they were to new comers.

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It's those who embrace the ugliness and write it off as god's sovereignty that are the most repugnant Christians. Since they have deemed themselves to be of the "elect" then the rest of the world is simply waiting out their time on Earth before they will burn in hell anyway. I have seen very little empathy from the Calvinist crowd towards anyone outside of their own little circle.

 

Yep! That's right. There is very little empathy from Calvinists towards the "lost". That's exactly why they don't evangelize. I mean, what's the point?!

 

I could see how it could be turned that way, but Calvinism as a doctrine (not the straw man) does not necessitate a lack of concern for those outside the church, nor does it necessarily lead to little empathy for the "lost". CH Spurgeon, a Calvinist, once remarked something to the effect that if God had put yellow stripes down the backs of the elect he would go around looking up shirt tails; since God didn't do that he felt it necessary to evangelize everyone. Only a Calvinist who doesn't properly understand Calvinism would advocate for not evangelizing.

 

Most of the Calvinists I knew were former happy-clappy Baptists who went looking for more depth in theology and reverence in worship. Most never really shed the former outward expressions of their faith. Several were actively involved in outreach, the local food bank, short term missions, foreign orphan aid, and such. I suppose everyone's mileage varies, but what you are describing was not my experience at all.

 

Maybe that's because Calvin himself was such a malicious bastard. bill

 

Meh. Calvin had some issues to be sure, but placed in his historical and cultural context, he was actually pretty progressive in some ways. I know he takes a lot of heat for the whole Servetus thing, but what people often leave out is that Calvin was not in charge of Geneva when Servetus was arrested and charged. When sentence was given, Calvin pleaded with the magistrates to behead him in lieu of burning him. He was called a softie for it. Yeah, beheading someone for publishing anti-trinitarian books is still not cool, but considering this was a time when heretics were typically tortured and burned first, it was a step in the right direction.

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