I sense that somehow I still haven’t convinced you.
Well, that’s okay. It’s still the prologue after all. I haven’t yet arrived at the theology of the matter, the sweet, smooth soma of false humility, uttered by the bumper-sticker sound-bite mouthfuls of our modern attention deficit disordered culture. A culture, incidentally, that is perfect for the propagandizing and fear-mongering roots of Calvinist theology, which requires the masses be much adverse to thinking.
Oh sure, they will say they are lovers of good old 1950’s nuclear family tradition, in the vein of the black and white utopia of values-oriented sitcoms of the time. But inside they understand that it is THIS kind of culture–masses adverse to engaging too deeply in anything beyond what is required of them to secure financial stability (i.e. their jobs)–that is the fertile ground for a decidedly illogical and insane doctrine. That’s why they spend so much time discussing sports, metaphorically, allegorically. The meaninglessness of sports and team loyalty sets the tone for their teaching. Calvinism is in many ways like rooting for a sports team. We spill our emotions out all over the place with screams and chants and often declare undying fealty to an idea that ultimately doesn’t make any difference in our lives in any serious way. We go on to our end thinking that what we believe about our team really makes any difference at all, and yet when faced with one good, serious question, we fall back on raw emotion, devoid of any reason to defend our sacred mythology: “Well, I grew up there.” “Well, it’s who my dad liked when he was a kid.” “I have a buddy that went to school there.” “I went to school there.” “I like the mascot; colors, cheerleaders, they always win, they have a great legacy”…all of it devoid of any real substance.
Which is fine. For sports. But…
Welcome to Calvinism and the neo-Reformation. Faith without reason. Devotion to the death of the rationally untenable; the only practical purpose being to secure the financial and authoritative power of a few gnostic overlords. Which, in the end, secures you, the believer, nothing at all.
Have you noticed that many of the neo-Calvinist pastors start each sermon with a trite little joke? Or some silly meaningless story? Of course. It sets the tone for the entire sermon. With one little inane aside they set the tone for their theology. A silly story, a joke, is of course the antidote-the heading-off-at-the-pass–to serious thinking. They sweep you off your inquisitive feet and keep you there. You see, you don’t ever try to guess at the punchline of a joke, or a silly story. You simply sit and wait for the point to come. It is handed to you, and you accept it for what it is. A given conclusion that was, is and always will be totally out of your hands, out of your mind, your reason, your grasp, your input, your understanding…you, meaningless.
Welcome to the neo-Reformed sermon. Sit and wait for the ending. Accept it for what it is. Like a joke (and often the sermon is more of a joke than the joke itself) you ask no questions. You raise no objections. For there are none to be had. It’s a given, granted axiom. It is what it is. It is is solely dependent for its effectiveness on raw, pure emotion. Its purpose is to elicit a response that precludes critical injunction. The theology is likewise. All of its meaning is purely emotional. But emotions are often more powerful than reason. And indeed, as we can see by the hundreds of thousands that flock to the conferences of scary mystic propaganda put on by the gnostic organizations that have grown as adept at doing them as the Third Reich, we can see that truly emotion, no love nor reason, rules the day in Calvinism Land.
And the real joke, of course, is always on you.
But you still think this is hyperbole, don’t you? You continue to think me merely the Don Quixote of doom, charging at the windmills of my own fabrication. My own device; my own hyper imagination. I’m projecting my angst…the tangible manifestation of someone who was obviously hurt by some sad Calvinist who was just “not doing the doctrine right”. It wasn’t the doctrine itself, obviously. How could a thousand years of gnostic paganism be wrong when made “gospel-centered”. Gospel-centered gnosticism is still GOSPEL, after all. And the Westminster Confessions are on par with Scripture itself, of course, and who am I to argue with great men of faith who authored them? The Westminster Confessions are the Protestant Reformation’s New Testament, with Luther’s 95 Theses and Calvin’s Institutes vying for the position of OT.
I’m simply whoring myself out to the very mystic and overwrought style that the Calvinists I pretend to disdain employ…a vain attempt to cull. A bad version of Chaucer. A pointing to the wind and crying “beware!”
Forgive me if I don’t agree. Rule number one in this fight: Refuse to concede their premises, no matter how “Christian” they sound. MAKE them defend them rationally. This way, the fight stays very short indeed.
Oh…you think this is fun for me. That I’ve got nothing better to do than to point out the logical and metaphysical fallacies of the men (no women, of course; not biblical) who make their living by deception. Even worse, some of them think they are doing the LORD’S WILL! They think that by propagating a theology that removes man from himself and in so doing makes God a hypocrite and a divine cosmic nihilist, and in so doing strips God of his omnipotence and ability to create, and in so doing removes God from Himself makes them GOOD CHRISTIANS!
And I’m seen as the crazy one. I’m seen as the one who needs to get a grip; to employ reason and temperance, as if the Calvinists can find even a shred of either in their doctrine when it is held to scrutiny.
But, it is always this way when dealing with narcissism. The victims are always painted by the silver-tongued devils as the ones with the real problem. Narcissists are very, very good at sounding reasonable. Calm, collected and righteous. It is the cold, psychopathic empathy of those who love themselves alone and, convinced of their utter omnipotence and perfection, fear no reprisal from God or man.
These men are cold, intelligent, energetic, and…kinda funny and likeable. In short, to those who have been trained that thinking is a sin, I’m screwed. I’m bound to sound like a lunatic. They speak from an opulent mega-church. I speak from a sad little blog. I’m bound to look look like a yipping Chihuahua.
Unless. Unless…unless there is something by which I can prove that I’m not. And they are. And the proof is found in revealing the FACT that is this: Their categorically contradictory theology. Theology that cannot POSSIBLY be true. Reveal that, and you reveal who the madman really is. It doesn’t matter how much the church’s real estate is worth.
But let’s start with the fallout from their “sound doctrine”. What is really the result of believing that about God which cannot possibly be true?
Ask the abused. Ask them, and what they will tell you will sound like this:
“My whole life, terrified. I didn’t know God. ALL was His will…all the pain and all the torment. Only the pain was truth. I could no longer really trust my Lord…not really. For I realized that to be certain of anything of myself or God was an outworking of pride. To pretend to know anything was proof that I was still dripping in wicked , self-centered arrogance. Depravity…to think that I could actually discern the mind of God from the pit of my sin nature. And so I knew that I could no longer trust my Lord, because trust was merely a manifestation of some kind of knowledge of MYSELF, and that was pride. THAT was sin. And since I could no longer trust, I could no longer claim to have faith, because, in my depravity, I was forced to acknowledge that I could do nothing at all. If I felt faith, it was trust, and rooted in the pride that sinfully told me I could actually know anything about God. Jesus, like everything else GOOD, had to be my faith for me. My faith at best was irrelevant, and at worse, was wretched pride, and proof of my ongoing rejection of God. My sin. Even going to the Cross everyday didn’t help, except to enforce the status quo: That I could do nothing on my own except feel lost and helpless. And indeed, this utter removal of my own mind and thoughts from my life and very self was the only “proof” or “peace” of my acceptance by God. And even that, in light of the doctrine, was meaningless.”
“So I could no longer trust my Lord. The more I trusted the more I told myself, ‘You don’t deserve to trust.’ The more I attempted to find joy the further I was from God, because to be joyful meant I could somehow trust. Which I knew I could not, because that was sin…I could only trust that I could not really KNOW, and thus, could not really trust. And so going to God meant there could be NO joy at all. Again, if there was any joy, I would have to trust that it was Jesus doing it for me. And again, whatever had the word “I” or “me” in it was meaningless anyway. So I just tried not to think at all after a while. Because the one thing in common all my thoughts had was: me.”
“I ran to God and found that He hated me. And when I tried to win His affection I was accused of bringing filthy rags, even though inside myself I tried and tried and tried to actually do what He commanded me to do, all the while not understanding why He would ask of me things knowing I could not do them, and then condemn me for not being able to do what He precisely ordained and purposefully designed me not to be able to do. And that I had to accept that this was God’s righteous justice, and not capricious evil. And they quoted Spurgeon at me to make everything all right. And I nodded in agreement with the quotes of their lofty heroes, trying to ignore–for fear that stating the obvious would condemn me to hellfire–the fact that everything the preacher said could not possibly be both true and just at the same time.”
“Soon I realized the inevitable conclusion of their doctrine: pain was the the only measure of TRUTH. The more miserable, the more blind, unloving and abused I was the more I could be sure that I was properly denying myself, removing the log, and finding favor with my fickle Lord and Savior. I realized that my misery was the manifestation of His love. My anguish at not being certain of anything of myself or God, not even of my salvation, was the “peace that passes understanding”. And with this, I had to accept that for all my misery I could still be going to hell. Because the choice was not mine, it was God’s, and it was completely and utterly arbitrary. And it could be no other way but arbitrary because there was nothing in me or anyone else by which to choose; because simply existing is the mortal sin of man. And yet, contradictorily, I had to acknowledge that I was the worst sinner I knew. This kept me going to my pastor for answers; answers that never helped because, for all the words, I was still and only ever would be the WORST sinner. In light of this, I understood that I could really, in the end, ask nothing, seek nothing, knock for nothing, receive nothing, expect nothing, hope for nothing, and find nothing. There was no me, so what did I expect to receive? Being NOT me was the only shred of hope, and so I learned to keep my mouth shut.”
“But still I had a life to live. It was still, practically and applicably speaking, MY life. My pastors, for all their claims to be God in the stead, their sermons tantamount to God’s very own words, could not live my life for me, no matter how much I prayed for this (realizing that on my own, apart from the only human wisdom I could possibly access, and even that meaningless to me if I tried to use it for MY good…yes, on my own, I was neutered; moot; pointless, blind). I was tied to the church for my very LIFE, and yet, 99% of the time, I was on my own. And so I found that I was constantly trying to channel THEM and remove me. I needed a body to live my life, and since Christ wasn’t here in the flesh, I found myself trying, striving to BE my pastor in my life, just so someone could be there to live it. For I knew that that someone could not be me.”
“So I went through my week, being there and doing, and yet, not me, but my church, my pastor, my doctrine…anything and anyone I could claim fealty to besides my own worthless, sick, and selfish SELF. I tried to do my job, raise my kids, love my wife, care for my property while removing any “I” in the process. Refusing to find joy and happiness in any of it, fearing that any sense of happiness was proof that I was seeking my own glory and not God’s.”
“It was a monstrously suffocating way to live. For how do you live outside yourself, finding “joy” in your inability and hopelessness and blindness and uncertainty about your eternal fate, whether you are ever loved by God or not…yes how do you live outside yourself when it is precisely YOU that life commands to think?! To act?!”
All the above is based on a true story. It is the recollections and musings and outright confessions of countless numbers of former and current Christians languishing under the impossibly evil and philosophically brutal Reformed theology.
And it all started when this old, sweet, and unassuming, gray-haired little guest pastor came with his soothing voice and preached a “special” sermon on a “special” Sunday to my non-Calvinist church. He stood up behind the dark and knotty podium, took a sip of water, smiled gently and offered this little gem of decidedly irrational and metaphysically impossible insanity:
“The same God who brings the storm to your life is the same One who will rebuke it.”
And I sat back and in my mind I said…