I was just reading the Ben Witherington on the Bible and Culture blog and came across his post on John Calvin. I was interested in the comments to the piece, and really liked this one by Rob Suggs.
I’ve had close Calvinist friends for thirty years, and I’ve come to suspect that the delicately polished system of their Godview appeals most to a certain kind of personality type. Calvin himself was not this way, but those who gravitate toward Reformed systematic theology are so often Spocks rather than Kirks. (argument ad pop culture; sue me.)
Calvinism was an inevitable development of the Age of Reason colliding with the Reformation. People with a strong logical and mathematical bent are drawn to/comforted by a portrait of God that can be assembled by Scripture plus Socratic deduction. The problem is that God is above our equations and formulations. If there’s anything he seems to enjoy doing throughout Scripture and history, it’s flying in the face of logic. And there is no strand of tidy dialectic that can take in love or grace, which form the sheer heart of the New Testament. God is love–put that in your Piper and smoke it.
In college, when I would get into lengthy (and silly) drawn-out debates with Calvinist friends, I noticed they would resort to logic more often than not (“Doesn’t it follow that if God is absolute…”), while I would point to the character of God so fully laid out in the gospels and epistles. The debates always ended with my friends saying, “Ah, well, if God wants you to understand this, surely He will make you understand it.”
To this day I have a healthy fondness for a great number of Reformed believers, writers, and preachers. I myself need constantly to be reminded of the awesome, infinite God that they depict so well. Sproul points out that in the historic tug of war, his team has Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Jonathan Edwards and others on its side. As that great cloud of witnesses yank the rope and pull me into the mud, I hang onto my end, which is inscribed with John 3:16, and the phrases “the world” and “whosoever”–that rope feels good to the touch.