Why in the world do Calvinists always have that grin on their face?


When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

Todd Pruitt writes:

I’m thinking about starting a support group for Calvinists who have been mistreated by Arminians, Mennonites, Amish, Mormons, Hindus, stamp collectors, and residents of New Jersey. More seriously, I do wonder what is behind the “Calvinists are meanies” posts to which we are treated routinely. Don’t misunderstand, I know there are prickly Calvinists. But I don’t buy the hype. I suppose we could trade anecdotes. For example I could write posts about the fact that the meanest and most self-righteous people I have ever encountered are Arminians. But what would that accomplish? Honestly, some of these posts sound a bit like, “I thank you Lord that I am not like this mean Calvinist.” What is more, until prominent Arminian theologians stop publicly comparing “the god of Calvinism” with Satan, then the reports of mean Calvinists are going to ring a bit hollow.”

Certainly I am not the only one concerned by these conversations. Have we become this soft? I am trying to imagine previous generations of Christians complaining about their feelings being hurt. I am not trying to be glib, nor am I seeking to mock anyone. But I am genuinely concerned about the softening of our spines. I suppose we can ask Calvinists to be less confident in their doctrine or that they take a softer stand on Joel Osteen and substitutionary atonement. But then we would be robbing Calvinists of some of the fun in being a Calvinist. And who wants to be around an unhappy Calvinist? How about we do this: The next time a Calvinist acts like a horses rear end, forgive him. If he persists then confront him in a spirit of gentleness and continue to forgive him since the Lord has forgiven you so extravagantly. And I promise to do the same the next time I encounter a particularly nasty Arminian or stamp collector. (“My name is Todd and Arminians have been mean to me“).

Not all stamp collectors are Arminians; indeed, most are agnostics, at best. I bet, though, that most Christian stamp collectors are Arminians. Pruitt’s Arminian stamp collectors remind me of the physicist, Ernest Rutherford’s (1871–1937) contempt for non-physical (non-materialist) science: “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.” Noam Chomsky mentions another hobby to describe the same mind-set: “You can also collect butterflies and make many observations. If you like butterflies, that’s fine; but such work must not be confounded with research, which is concerned to discover explanatory principles.” One famous clutch of Arminian observations is the univocal interpretation in the New Testament of “world,”  John 3:16 for example: God loved the world. See it says “world.” So it means everyone in the world. The Arminian unifying principle for instances of “world” in the New Testament is “every Tom, Dick and Whosoever.” Why do they think this way? Why do they ignore the basic rules of language use, of living language, of which the key principle is context? Fo one reason: they hate the idea that God does what he pleases, regardless of what pleases man; they hate that he chooses to have mercy on some reprobates while passing other by (“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
 and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[Romans 9:15 Exodus 33:19), that he chooses to elect to salvation some deserving of hell, while giving others deserving of hell their just desserts.

John Owen gives a superabundance of contexts in which “world” is used, which, one would think, should sink the Arminian’s straight-jacket exegesis of “world” to the bottom of the lake of fire. Here is Owen’s exegesis of the “world.” (John Owen, “The death of death in the death of Christ,” p. 141 ff.).

The word world in the Scripture is in general taken five ways:—

First, Pro mundo continente; and that, — First, generally, ὅλως, for the whole fabric of heaven and earth, with all things in them contained, which in the beginning were created of God: so Job xxxiv. 13; Acts xvii. 24; Eph. i. 4, and in very many other places. Secondly, Distinctively, first, for the heavens, and all things belonging to them, distinguished from the earth, Ps. xc. 2; secondly,  The habitable earth, and this very frequently, as Ps. xxiv. 1, xcviii. 7; Matt. xiii. 38; John i. 9, iii. 17, 19, vi. 14, xvii. 11; 1 Tim. i. 15, vi. 7.

Secondly, For the world contained, especially men in the world; and that either, — 1. universally for all and every one, Rom. iii. 6, 19, v. 12. 2.  Indefinitely for men, without restriction or enlargement, John vii. 4; Isa. xiii. 11. 3. Exegetically, for many, which is the most usual acceptation of the word, Matt. xviii. 7; John iv. 42, xii. 19, xvi. 8, xvii. 21; 1 Cor. iv. 9; Rev. xiii. 3. 4. Comparatively, for a great part of the world, Rom. i. 8; Matt. xxiv. 14, xxvi. 13; Rom. x. 18. 5. Restrictively, for the inhabitants of the Roman empire, Luke ii. 1. 6. For men distinguished in their several qualifications, as, — 1st, For the good, God’s people, either in designation or possession, Ps. xxii. 27; John iii. 16, vi. 33, 51; Rom. iv. 13, xi. 12, 15; 2 Cor. v. 19; Col. i. 6; 1 John ii. 2. 2nd, For the evil, wicked, rejected men of the world, Isa. xiii. 11; John vii. 7, xiv. 17, 22, xv. 19, xvii. 25; 1 Cor. vi. 2, xi. 32; Heb. xi. 38; 2 Pet. ii. 5; 1 John v. 19; Rev. xiii. 3.

Thirdly, For the world corrupted, or that universal corruption which is in all things in it, as Gal. i. 4, vi. 14; Eph. ii. 2; James i. 27, iv. 4; 1 John ii. 15–17; 1 Cor. vii. 31, 33; Col. ii. 8; 2 Tim. iv. 10; Rom. xii. 2; 1 Cor. i. 20, 21, iii. 18, 19. 

Fourthly, For a terrene worldly estate or condition of men or things, Ps. lxxiii. 12; Luke xvi. 8; John xviii. 36; 1 John iv. 5, and very many other places.

Fifthly, For the world accursed, as under the power of Satan, John vii. 7, xiv. 30, xvi. 11, 33; 1 Cor. ii. 12; 2 Cor. iv. 4; Eph. vi. 12. And divers other significations hath this word in holy writ,

which are needless to recount.

End of Owen

photme new

Now we know why Calvinists have that sickly other-worldly grin on their face. “You can tell he’s a Calvinist by the smile on his face.” – the late Robert K. Rapa, former pastor of Indian River Baptist Church, referring to the “Lighthearted Calvinist,” as he entered a Wednesday night Bible study. When it comes to stamp or butterfly collecting, Calvinists have more than one stamp or one butterfly to drool over; and a unifying principle to boot (not to boot out):

Isaiah 46

8 Remember this, keep it in mind,
 take it to heart, you rebels. 9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
 I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
 and I will do all that I please.’

8 thoughts on “Why in the world do Calvinists always have that grin on their face?

  1. God’s in Isaiah 46 it seems to me he is speaking to you as a Jew more than Calvinist 🙂 After all there was no agreement about the fact that the Savior would have been also the Servant and most of all the Servant the first time around….then please consider the historical ramification/ context. Also I am not Armenian…did you know this? 🙂
    “Now where do we fit Catholicism into all this? In some respects Catholicism and Calvinism agree (e.g., Catholic theologians from Thomas Aquinas to Robert Bellarmine have taught unconditional election) and in some they disagree (e.g., the Church does not teach that anyone is predestined to hell). In some respects Catholicism and Arminianism agree (e.g., the Church teaches universal redemption) and in some they disagree (e.g., the Church teaches that all who are saved are among the elect; we simply don’t know in this life who is among the elect).”
    Meaning that do you want it or not…between Calvinism and Arminiamism there is today as always Catholicism…who does say that in the middle there is the balance and also the possible truth? Remind me please….too many? 🙂

    • Thank you Maria. About your “God’s in Isaiah 46 it seems to me he is speaking to you as a Jew more than Calvinist 🙂 After all there was no agreement about the fact that the Savior would have been also the Servant and most of all the Servant the first time around.”,

      I don’t follow you. (I follow Jesus, but that’s another kind of follow). How does:
      “God’s in Isaiah 46 it seems to me he is speaking to you as a Jew more than Calvinist” relate to

      “After all there was no agreement about the fact that the Savior would have been also the Servant and most of all the Servant the first time around.”

      Second question: What do you understand by “unconditional election?”

      • It doesn’t’ matter so much…do not worry. Somehow there is a mention of rebellion to what God has decided and God was not considering only the present I suppose if it’s true prophetic what is said by Isaiah, You are a protestant/rebel for Catholicism and you are a rebel for the Jews and both Jews and Calvinists are then rebelling against someone or something 🙂 …the Jews are rebels to the idea of the possible will of God to have a Servant’s Savior..you are a rebel to the refusal of Judaism of this Savior and this could in a Christian’s prospective make it right with a God’s who does what He pleases but if you are then a rebel against also the main stream doctrine that could be considered Catholicism it could seem that there is a one too many rebellion 🙂 to make it right…If you were only Jewish then God’s (in the Christian prospective) could have considered you a rebel but in a contemporary Catholic as Jew you could be at this point not a rebel against anything 🙂

        But if Catholicism (main stream and original historically only ” Catholic Church”) also consider you a rebel where does the rebellion ends? 🙂 If I were a Jew I would try not to be a rebel in God’s eyes but also if I were rebelling against Judaism as Christian I would try to be part of the most recognized form of Christianity because to be rebelling three times doesn’t make it a charm…but this is me 🙂

  2. I don’t’ know what is happening here. The previous message disappeared while I was writing it I suppose for a bad WIfei connection and I was not going to write it anymore because it was not a good right message and all the rebellions are somehow romantic too :-). A similar message has reappeared under an anonymous nickname…It’s not anymore my message mister Bog…I don’t know what is going on I own you an apology.

  3. if it was not you doing it beyond the scene as the author of this blog, it doesn’t puzzle you the happening of my message disappearing and reappearing under the anonymous nickname that was of someone else before on this websites with his own avatar too, do you remember all our discussion 🙂 ? Could it have been perhaps after all a not politically correct message but an intrinsically good message? Why did you erase it so fast? Flushing it as you say? What if it was not mine anymore because it appeared as anonymous but it was better than if it appeared under my own name after disappearing form me? 🙂 how do you decide? I didn’t tell you to erase it..it was your own choice. I only told you it was not anymore mine and that since it spoke about your historical and personal rebellions (as God says in Isaiah) as Jew and Calvinist it could have been a good thing that it didn’t appear under my own name…but what is politically correct we know it doesn’t mean it’s actually intrinsically a good message. I am presuming you didn’t make it appear as anonymous and with his own avatar after disappeared on my screen and therefore it was not your own doing. If you didn’t do it, then consider why did you decide to erase it without my telling you to erase it but to not considering it anymore mine. t I didn’t know what was happening. In the ‘anonymous’ message there was something I said that was supposed to be known to you (not under my own name)? . Isn’t the way ‘prophecy’ was supposed to work to begin with? 🙂 And if it was perhaps (in this delirious and hilarious/ ironic discussion) ‘prophetic’ are you not doing what Jews did sometimes to their prophecies? Flushing it down somewhere? 🙂

  4. There is also a third possibility. Anonymous with his own avatar has hijacked your website and he decided that my ‘bad message’ was worth to be published it under his own nickname…..Could it be?  Bur if he doesn’t show up and tell us that this is the case than…..we are never going to know

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