Blame this post on Roberts Wesleyan College. There I drank too deeply at the well of John Wesley and so developed what one Calvinist colleague called a case of election envy. . .
Some of my best friends are Calvinists and I feel that they are too often stereotyped, judged, and labeled. Most of you, my non-Calvinist readers, do not understood them or their funny ways. The rest of you, the other three readers, Calvinists, are, for some reason, constantly irritated with me.
Since this could not be my fault, surely not, I have decided you need cheering up for Christmas.
Knowing the Objects of Our Compassion: the Dour versus Other Calvinists
First we must define who it is that needs cheering up: the dour Calvinist.
Some Calvinists are Couric Calvinists and they are mostly not really Calvinists, but urban Presbyterians or former Pentecostals that teach at Calvin College. Other Calvinists are dour and they are usually upset with Presbyterians and Calvin College.
If you have to say you are not dour, then you are a dour Calvinist.
There are also the cool new Calvinists who are neither Couric-y or dour, but are feisty and have put the fun and the mental back in fundamentalism. . . except when they give in to their inner Cromwell and sack a web site or two that has the temerity to argue badly.
I shall have nothing else to say about the cool Calvinists since cheerful, right-minded, wholesome people are much harder to describe than the illusory Calvinists of straw I have invented out of nothing for the purposes of parody.
Let us recapitulate for the non-Calvinist. There are three basic types of Calvinists: the dour, the Couric-y, and the Cool. The “dour” is the Calvinist of stereotype and he is our concern here.
How To Cheer a Dour Calvinist
When thinking how to give my Calvinist friends good cheer for the Holidays, I thought of finding them a church they could split over neo-lapsarianism or one of the other things the kids are into these days.
When dour Calvinists wish to cheer up, they split their own churches. This compares favorably to Catholics who conquer other churches in Crusades that feature swords and not Billy Graham and the Orthodox who haven’t built a new church since the Great Schism, but might soon.
Couric-y Calvinists try to corrupt the disillusioned young of dour Calvinists, while cool Calvinists make converts . . . some of whom go too far and become the new dour Calvinists.
It is the circle of Calvinist life.
This is so unfair to the dour Calvinist, but since they accept it that way, let me try to complain for them. Call me the Job for the dour Calvinists.
Roman Catholics have grand cathedrals, Wesleyans awesome hymns, the Orthodox centuries of iconography, but Calvinists must content themselves with knowing that by God’s foresight they alone of all those who called on Christ got an answer. . . though maybe not one they like.
The dour Calvinists are, therefore, almost as if by definition a gloomy lot. They are Pilgrims slouching toward Geneva under the burden of the banner of truth. Usually they spend their time profitably engaged in schism, inventing haggis, reading Sproul for fun, and inventing worries about whether their attempts not to earn their salvation are in fact a way of earning their salvation. It is a sad thing if a man discovers that despite his best efforts he has been hit by the semi in semi-Pelegian.
Christmas and the Dour Calvinist
And so Christmas comes and the false cheer of the totally depraved jangles the nerves of the elect.
Holidays are hard on the serious minded and Thanksgiving starts the problem. Quite unfairly, G.K. Chesterton, that noted papist oft quoted by Calvinists, remarked that Thanksgiving was a national holiday in both England and America. Thanksgiving in America celebrates God’s bountiful gifts and in England God’s gift to Europe in sending the Puritans to America.
This is the sort of slander dour Calvinists face with the joy of a Dimmesdale.
I have noted that saying, “Cheer up!” has little impact on the deeply dour and so I have gone the extra mile, because I am (I am told by dour Calvinists) merely working out my own salvation. This post is an attempt to earn favor and merit . . . or something.
Because of this hope, I have decided to produce a serious list of reasons for my Calvinist friends to be jolly this Holiday. I have limited myself to ten, because that is the number God willed me to pick.
Reasons for Dour Calvinist Cheer
You should be cheerful if you are a Calvinist:
I. . . . because God may not have chosen you for the team, but He did choose Al Mohler and John Piper and both guys are smarter individually than John Spong and the whole Anglican communion collectively . . . at least since the death of C.S. Lewis taken by God in the knowledge that John Piper and Al Mohler were on the horizon.
II . . . because Calvinists no longer have to ban Christmas.
III . . .because Oliver Cromwell is still dead, but the Second Coming is one day closer.
V. . . because you need only memorize TULIP and not something like POINSETTIA.
VI . . . given her birthplace, there is a better than a fifty percent chance the Swiss Miss is a Calvinist.
VII . . . because you can have alcohol in your wassail and smoke cigars while reading Edwards.
VIII . . . because Wesleyan-types take the risks and make the converts, but when the converts hit middle-age Calvinists acquire them and their tithe.
X . . . Francis Schaeffer may have worn knickers, but he never dressed like Benny Hinn.
BONUS for Sober Jollification:
Discussion of “Total Depravity” might attract non-Christians confused about content to Wednesday service.
Doubly Predestined BONUS:
Merry Christmas, Joe, Frank, and all you other cool Calvinists.