Being Ungracious About Grace: Why I Don’t Wear Calvinism On My Sleeve

calvinism-caricatureCalvinism is an extremely debated theological system that emphasizes the sovereignty of God in salvation. This system explains the means and order of salvation in a biblically faithful manner; however, it is not salvation. As I think about the caricatures that are thrust upon Calvinists, I’m reminded of the wisdom of not wearing Calvinism on my sleeve. Since a caricature does have some resemblance of reality, it is important to have patience with those who are still developing their theological beliefs, to understand the concept “theological triage,” and to be gracious about grace.

Sometimes Christians can forget about important questions of theological formation. How long does it take one to arrive at their settled theological convictions? Should time be allowed for intense study of the word of God? Of course time and study don’t necessarily lead to Calvinistic soteriology; however, if we are honest, patience may be lacking as we engage with people on this topic who simply haven’t had time to study it out. Furthermore, it is unlikely that we will definitively settle a theological issue that has been debated by scholars for centuries.

What issues of theology are primary and which are peripheral? This leads to what Al Mohler describes as “theological triage.” Mohler states, “A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world’s framework for medical priority.” I submit that Calvinism, while directly and indirectly important, is not urgent. When it is presented as urgent, it is actually out of its theological place within the triage framework and Calvinists earn their caricatures as truly urgent theological issues are bypassed.

Unfortunately, Christians (specifically Calvinists) have at times been quite ungracious about grace. This is antithetical and unacceptable. My advice is to lose the snark, the arrogant edge, and the condescension. Let’s proclaim the sovereign grace of God graciously!

As we have opportunities to share the Gospel and discuss theological issues, wisdom should incline our hearts and mouths to engage with patience, assign appropriate urgency, and model the grace we proclaim. This is why I don’t wear Calvinism on my sleeve.

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