I'm annoyed about one aspect of the whole Calvinism brouhaha! The debate is an exciting one and many on both sides of the complex biblical/theological/philosophical issue consider it to be vitally important. I do too. I'm an evangelist, and whether or not Calvinism leads to a lack of evangelism it speaks to the nature and mechanics of salvation. This, I think, is the best reason for wanting to dialogue about the subject. However, I have found that there is an unnatural obsession about this issue that causes evangelicals, particularly Southern Baptists, to focus on it to the exclusion of other items that are more pressing for the modern believer. Now, I am greatly appreciative of those who have shared my recent article Talking Past Each Other and hope that when I write on Calvinism in the future that those same people and others will again snatch up my thoughts (though I am always humbled and shocked when anyone does) and share them via social media. Still, I offer this caution. The Calvinism debate has become black magic that many of us resort to when blog hits are down. If you haven't had many views for a few weeks, just sprinkle a little Calvinism, pro or con, and suddenly the attention comes flooding. The solution is not to stop talking about this vital issue, but rather, to start talking as much or more about more important issues.
ATHEISM/AGNOSTICISM - Whether you are a Calvinist or not your opponent isn't necessarily going to hell. Atheists and agnostics are and so they warrant more of our time. As a Christian apologist I constantly hear pastors and lay-people say that apologetics is just too hard to learn. I promise you that learning to handle the theistic arguments and the resurrection evidence IS NOT more difficult than learning how to talk about the ordo salutis, transworld depravity, compatibilism or a host of other concepts that arise as the subject of Calvinism is broached. You can learn to do apologetics and if as much effort was put into this as is put into the Calvinism debate perhaps our youth would not be slipping away as freshmen in college.
FALSE DOCTRINE - Now, while there are a great many evangelicals who quietly believe that there opponents in the Calvinism debate are guilty of some sort of heresy, there is no doubt that whether you are Calvinist or non-Calvinist your opponent is a lot closer to truth than Muslims, Mormons, JWs, Hindus, Buddhists, or any other believer in a non-Christian worldview. It is shocking to me that we as evangelicals are putting more effort into rebutting our opponents within Christian soteriological discussions than we are into responding to a false religion like Islam. I personally became convicted about this a couple of years ago and it led me to embark on a year long study of Islam for my own apologetic purposes.
EVANGELISM - I'll say exactly what you would expect from a loud mouthed, leather lunged, evangelist. People are dying and going to hell. Reality hit me a few years ago when a former ministry partner called me from his new ministry field on a Native American reservation. He said, "Man, you guys are getting all bent out of shape over Calvinism when I've got people here who I've got to debate with about the aligator god." Look, people need Jesus more than they need John Piper or Kenneth Keathley, and both men would agree.
So, before you sprinkle a little black magic into your blog or facebook feed, try asking yourself whether you just did that yesterday. I'm not saying we shouldn't talk about this issue. I personally write on it somewhat regularly, but I try to keep seven or eight other articles or podcasts between my rants on the topic. This is also good advice for those who have become obsessed with some other Christian sub-category. And let's share and retweet articles on other issues that do not directly touch on the Calvinism debate. We do not want to become intoxicated by black magic.