11. Neo-Calvinists are slimey.
If Corrie Mitchell had to account for Nelson Kloosterman in her brief for Calvinism’s better, kinder, gentler side, what would she say? Of if she read Dr. K’s latest post, would she continue to say this about Calvinism?
Often, Calvinists are accused of being cocky, arrogant, abrasive — usually toward those who don’t share the Reformed theology they believe to be exclusively accurate. The danger comes in elevating the theology, the doctrine above Christ. In the end, Reformed theology doesn’t perfectly answer or satisfy every question we have, for God is bigger and beyond any system or framework that we contrive.
I like the way pastor Art Azurdia reorients us to Jesus by saying, “The evidence of God’s mercy in your life isn’t determined by how much theology you know, by how many books you read, but by your active goodness to people in misery and in need.”
The difficulty for Ms. Mitchell is that she may engage in a bit of the shell-game in which Dr. K excels — accent the positive, ignore the negative. Another name for it is cherry picking, and Dr. K is particularly adept at making his opponents look bad and scaring his readers about his opponents. I know first hand since his series on 2k for Canadian Calvinists hammered away at attempting to connect my own views about Christian involvement in politics to Misty Irons thoughts’ about gays. It took Dr. K almost 5 years to recognize that he might have erred and to apologize (in the banter at his blog somewhere, I’m not going to search now).
Now Dr. K tries to make Brian Lee look like a man who doesn’t give a large rodent’s behind for Chinese Christians (even though Dr. K comes across as not particularly caring for a minister in his former communion). When Lee writes:
. . . neither the Church nor her preachers can say unambiguously that such laws must be enacted. She lacks the authority, and the wisdom, to do so. Perhaps such a law will backfire; perhaps it will lead to more abortions, to more deadly abortions. Perhaps it is politically unwise, though being morally just. If she bases her actions on what God’s word teaches, the church must remain agnostic on such questions.
he really means, according to Dr. K:
There you have it: Chinese Pastor Wang is detained on the streets of Chengdu, along with his parishioners, for opposing China’s one-child abortion policy, while URC Pastor Lee blogs from his desk at Starbucks in Washington, DC, that such pastors lack the wisdom to preach unambiguously that such forced abortions must stop.
I’m guessing that Pastor Wang didn’t get the Washington, DC, URC memo: Sit down and be quiet, Pastor! As a result, he’s in clear and obvious violation of the URC pastor’s virulent policy of religious disengagement.
(As if Dr. K blogging from his bunker in Illinois is showing the courage of Pastor Wang. I guess Pastor Lee didn’t receive Dr. K’s memo about where to blog.)
The thing is, Dr. K cherry picks in both directions. He selectively uses Pastor Wang to show up Pastor Lee (what if Brian were an Asian-American? Would Dr. K write as he did?). And he selectively uses Pastor Wang to prove the transformational effects of Christianity:
Some Chinese also discern in Christianity the roots of Western strength. They see it as the force behind the development of social justice, civil society and rule of law, all things they hope to see in China. Many new NGOs are run by Christians or Buddhists. There are growing numbers of Christian doctors and academics. More than 2,000 Christian schools are also dotted around China, many of them small and all, as yet, illegal.
One civil-rights activist says that, of the 50 most-senior civil-rights lawyers in China, probably half are Christians. Some of them have set up the Association of Human Rights Attorneys for Chinese Christians. Groups of well-paid urban Christian lawyers join together to defend Christians—and others—in court. Missionaries have begun to go out from China to the developing world.
So why exactly would he credit Christianity with civil rights efforts if half the civil rights advocates in China are not Christian? Does he ever consider that maybe the diagram here is not a Venn arrangement but a circle (Christians) within a larger circle (civil rights advocates) — let’s call it a Subset Diagram? That is, could it be that civil rights is a product as much of the Enlightenment that Christians eventually embraced as it is somehow an outgrowth of Christian faith? It sure would be possible to find plenty of liberal Christians who support civil rights and don’t give a fig about limited atonement or Calvinistic epistemology.
But such analysis rarely gets in the way of Dr. K’s execution of w-w.
When Ms. Mitchell encounters the Dr. K’s of the world, will she issue a retraction?