During my last year in seminary, Mark Dever, the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and the founder of 9 Marks Ministries, was invited to teach my systematic theology class for a week. He took this as an opportunity to work through the 1689 Baptist Confession and expound some sweet theology for us. When our senior pastor, Pastor Dan, got wind that Dever was going to be teaching, he asked if he could tag along. About half way through Dever’s lecture, Dan leaned over to me and said, with a boyish snicker, “Ask him why this confession sounds so reformed (i.e. God being the one who chooses us for salvation)?” I felt daring that day so I asked. What was Dever’s response? He said, “Because the guys who wrote this Confession were SLOBBERING CALVINISTS!” Exhilarated by his statement, I then asked, “Is ‘slobbering’ bad?” “If you’re a serial killer” He said, “it’s bad; if you’re a Calvinist, it’s good!” It was unexpected and knee-slapping hilarious!
One thing I didn’t mention to you about my seminary is that it is largely Arminian (i.e. man chooses God for salvation) instead of Calvinist, but that didn’t stop Dever from expressing to the entire class his passion for the doctrines of Calvinism. Why do I bring this up? I bring it up because if you are like me, then you feel, at times, a need to confess your Calvinist beliefs like they’re sins whenever you’re talking to someone of an Arminian bent. You may get to talking Bible, and when the conversation is brought to a place where you can’t hide it anymore, you give a sheepish grin, raise your shoulders, tilt your head, and whisper, “I believe God is the initiator of salvation”. It doesn’t have to be this way, and, in fact, it shouldn’t be this way. If you believe Calvinist doctrine, then do not be ashamed of it! I know there is a stigma attached to the label “Calvinist” that says you must also be arrogant, cold, and unevangelistic, but it’s only a stigma, and you can help change it! What Mark Dever shows us is that there is a way for us to be passionate about Calvinism that is winsome and funny, but unapologetic. Join me in helping to give Calvinists a better name with this kind of spirit!