Two years ago I posted this letter about some pesky Calvinists but for some reason it has drawn a new series of responses on the blog so I’m reposting it. The question this letter raises is pastoral: How are pastors dealing with pesky Calvinists?
We met a few years ago when I was youth pastor. Now I am at a church plant in Minnesota. I know that you are up to speed with the post modern church. That’s really good.
The main reason I am writing is to see if you know anything a person can do in response to hyper-calvinism.
Around these parts, we are getting killed by very vocal, self-righteous hyper-calvinists, especially those who are connected with Piper’s church. He has a very strong following around here. They always use the same language and have the same condescending attitude toward everyone else. This stripe also seems to revere Bob Dewaay, Kirk Cameron, and Lighthouse trails research. They turn up their nose at Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.
The problem is that they just are relentless. Absolutely no discussion or compromise. I have had the life kicked out of me at my church this past year by some of these people. For them, it just isn’t good enough to be a solid evangelical who really loves Jesus and wants to serve him. It has to be all about reformed theology.
With regards to these dear folks at my church — the proud Calvinists — my approach has always been exactly what you were suggesting. I went out of my way time and again to be friends with them — the number of hours spent over coffee and lunch (funny thing, it was always on my dime!) was incalculable. The tool that I had leaned on for so many years in youth ministry, namely loving relationships, failed me. They were just too stuck in their theology to see anything else. We couldn’t ever just agree to disagree and leave it at that.
Which is why it is such a stretch for these people to find a home in our church. We deliberately say that we will not divide over theological issues like this. We are centered on the cross, on walking with Jesus. They just seemed like they were always picking a fight.
So, any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions?