I have long been puzzled by the demonstrated vitriol of many who rave and rant against John Calvin and Calvinism. These folks don’t just disagree with what is probably better defined as sovereign grace doctrine, they absolutely HATE it, blaming everything the hate about it at the fate of John Calvin, as if he invented the idea of sovereign grace and personally originated the much despised TULIP acronym, an idea proven completely false by any honest historian. I won’t get into the ‘poisonous flower’ (according to non-Calvinists) here; that’s a story unto itself. It’s the abject hatred to which I refer.
By now, I’ve managed to gather a rather large amount of the above mentioned vitriol, but I won’t get into the sordid details. Like I intimated, my question is “WHY such hatred?” In all of the documents I have assembled thus far, I haven’t found what I think might be the core issue, although I probably just haven’t found what is undoubtedly out there – somewhere.
You see, I’ve come to the conclusion, right or wrong, that the reason for all the hatred and vitriol against Calvinism is what I call the ‘assumption of libertarian free will’ that has become so ingrained in so much of today’s Protestant evangelicalism, that considering the opposite (the fallen human will cannot, nor will not ever choose Christ).
For the sake of argument, assume for a moment that my conclusion is correct. Now we must face the question of “WHY won’t so many even consider the possibility that the human will of fallen man might be incapable of choosing Christ?” After all, scripture seems very clear about such things. Take Romans 3:9-11, Romans 8:5-8, or 1 Corinthians 2:14 just for starters. If you want to go deeper into it just do an internet search on ‘the nature of fallen man’. I cannot fathom why anyone could read any of those passages and not wonder if the belief in complete natural free will is really true!
Back to my WHY question. “WHY won’t so many even consider the possibility that the human will of fallen man might be incapable of choosing Christ?” The simple answer is that they just don’t want to. But again, “WHY not?” Here’s where I make some people really mad. I think it’s a simple case of ‘idolatry’. You see, we hate it when that which we ‘worship’ is attacked or shown to be wrong or false. False idols don’t go down easy. We humans are a stubborn lot. And when one does come crashing down, we tend to find another, at least until God opens our eyes to our idolatry.
The ‘free will’ idol might just be the toughest and most firmly entrenched false God of American Christendom. To consider something is to examine every side and use the information obtained from reputable sources and only then come to conclusions. It’s a call to rational thinking, nothing more. My prayers are also to that end. I used to be ‘Ed’ a long time ago, but at some point I began serious study of the Bible and the history of John Calvin and Calvinism.
But like I said, false idols go down hard!
I believe you are right. People truly hate “Calvinism” because they are hostile to the God Calvinists worship. In his place they have erected a grand image of the “free [autonomous] will” deity to which they offer adoration and worship. One wonders why they are not interested in extolling God’s free will.