Aug 29 2005

Why Calvin is Cool

Michael,

I just read your infomercial and browsed through your e-monastary and related e-inn. I’m still giggling, albeit to myself lest my wife think me mad. You are one unusual fellow — a calvinistic Baptist (odd enough) doing pulpit supply at a Presbyterian church! I had heard that Baptists and Presbyterians co-congregated back in the early days but thought the practice had long since died out. (It’s much more fun now to rest in the assurance that my beliefs are the only correct ones.) Your desire to be close to a pub makes you an extremely rare sort of Baptist — one who does not eschew the brew as most Baptists do (in public anyway).

Anyway, I’m thoroughly enjoying your writing and your sense of humor. And I’m asking for advice. We have lived in this area for more than 11 years. We sporadically attended a Sovereign Grace Baptist church about an hour’s drive away, but never felt like we belonged there. We have “experimented” with Arminian baptists and calvinistic Presbyterians, but the cognitive dissonance has always been more than we could bear. However, desperation for Christian fellowship and a keen desire for our teenage son to spend his last at-home year (we hope) in a church where his parents are actively involved is driving us back to a large Baptist church (ironically, the one J.B. Moody pastored twice around 1900 when he spoke of “tautological tomfoolery” regarding the notion of a “local church”).

Our first Sunday back was yesterday and we were once again confronted with all the things that drive us nuts — new-fangled Bible translations, loud applause after every “special” song, praise dancing, really really shallow Bible lessons in Sunday School, and so forth. We don’t know if we should just ignore these things and be “missionaries to the Southern Baptists” or run like hell from their worldly ways. Or is our discomfort with these things God’s way of pointing out our own pride and a weird sort of orthodoxy-based phariseeism? I’m almost through with C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and am newly reminded that our earthly journey is hardly a black-and-white one. Sounds like you’ve wandered and wondered a bit over the years, so I’m wondering what you think about our predicament.

If you’re ever in Hot Springs, give me a shout — we’ve got a great little German place downtown and I’d love to hoist a few with you and discuss what it would take to get you to pastor a new church here. I would even do a praise dance on 5th Sundays…

[Jacques d’Nalgar]

PS — “tautological tomfoolery” is from an address to the SBC J.B. Moody delivered here in Hot Springs around 1900. It’s published in a collection of sermons titled “My Church” (ISBN 0879210303) that used to be a standard text in Baptist libraries.

Painting by Flemish school (unknown, 15th and 16th centuries).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Calvin_-_Young.jpg or http://bit.ly/pJX1UL or http://tinyurl.com/3gzauaq

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2005/08/29/why-calvin-is-cool/

1 comment

    • Jacques on August 29, 2005 at 6:12 pm
      Author

    Thanks for writing [Jacques]. I guess I have just come to that place in life where I really want almost nothing but simple preaching, prayer and encouragement. I don’t want big programs, but expectations, big plans or big fellowship. Sort of like C.S. Lewis attending the tiny little church near his house for so many years. Church shopping should be done quickly and then get it over with.

    God bless you in your search. Thanks for reading.

    MSpencer

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