I consider myself a “modified Calvinist” — modified in the sense that I don’t subscribe to all the main tenets of classical Calvinism. (I especially bristle at the notion that God destines some for damnation, that Christ died only for the elect, and, to a lesser degree, that grace cannot be resisted.) Lately, I’ve suspected that I’m probably not Reformed enough to even BE “modified.” Which is fine. I’ve no need to exactly fit into any one theological box.
But the more I’ve reflected upon my shaky relationship with Calvinism, the more I’ve come to realize my aversion to parts of the Reformed faith has less to do with the faith, than a belief about theological systems in general.
- No one human system perfectly codifies and articulates all Truth.
Calvinism is a “human system.”
This doesn’t mean Calvin didn’t isolate and systematize some essential “biblical” truths. It simply means that, at some point, defense of Calvinism becomes defense of a system more than defense of the Gospel.
Is it just me, or are proponents of Calvinism especially fervent about their system? Perhaps such fervency comes when you know you are chosen. I’m not sure. But I know of several churches that have split over this issue. I realize I musn’t base my opinion of Calvinism entirely on Calvinists. However, there is, in my experience, a type of rigid devotion to “the system”, as if it were almost equal to Scripture. We must remember that John Calvin was a man ( a young man, at that), who developed and refined his theology over time. While it may align itself on many fronts with God’s Word, to suggest Calvinism or Reformed Theology — or any other denomination or creed — perfectly codifies the essence of Scripture, is stupid.
All that to say, part of my problem with the Reformed faith is my problem with “systems” in general. I realize, this may be an unfair way to approach the subject. Nevertheless, I am suspicious of any system — or church or group or movement or book — that claims to have the corner of the market on something as big and mysterious and wild as God.
Am I wrong?