Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reformed Jerks and Secular Heroines

One of the greatest things about reformed theology is that there is such a tremendous focus on God. Ironically, this is simultaneously one of the worst things about reformed theology. Let me clarify that - the theology is not really the problem. It's the people. People are and always have been the major reason why things get fouled up. We're sinners. We can't help it. And even in our attempts to glorify God to the absolute fullest, reformed folks can sometimes get carried away.

I came across a wonderful article about this very thing two years ago while I was struggling over this paradox. Specifically, if the Doctrines of Grace emphasize the importance of humility in our lives, as we are utterly helpless in our depraved estate, then why do we have a tendency to be so legalistic? It would seem that as we realize God's tremendous grace in our lives, that we would be more patient with those who do not understand or agree with reformed doctrine. But sadly, we are often not very patient with them at all.

In his article, "Are We Jerks?" Scott Clark helps to explain this phenomenon. Scott asks:
How can this happen? After all, of all folk shouldn’t Calvinists know God’s amazing grace? Sure they should. So why do they sometimes “cop an attitude?”

Our very own Latisha has shared some fantastic insights from Thabiti Anyabwile on the very same subject. In a series of posts entitled, "Calvinist Confessions: I am a Pharisee," Anyabwile writes:

There is this tendency to live in our heads. And when that meets with a theological tradition as rich and robust as the Reformed tradition, sparks fly–in our heads. Add to that a pinch of argumentative spirit and out comes the Pharisee.

But you know what’s lost? The spirit, or the Spirit. Sometimes both. The letter kills. That’s what happens with us Calvinist Pharisees. To read all the articles, visit Latisha's blog by clicking here.

I think one of the areas in which "Reformed Jerkism" has done a great deal of damage is in the manner by which women have come to view Biblical femininity. This results in one of two extremes. Some women will flat out reject God's design for modesty, holiness, and submission altogether. Others will embrace it to the point of erasing even the human aspects of femininity from their lives. It has been my experience that most reformed folks I've come in contact fall into the second category. They are often fearful of the natural traits that God has given women which make them unique. Physical beauty, artistic talent, leadership skills, friendliness and intelligence are not sins. Yet many times, women who possess these traits are often treated as though they are harlots.

Secular culture is often criticized as being ungodly, and this is often true, but not always. There are many times secular culture can be enjoyed as a means of celebrating our humanity. As we consider some of the "secular heroines" out there and examine their work, it is my hope that those of us who've been in bondage to legalism can regain our spirit -- the same spirit Thabiti Anyabwile claims many of us have lost. I'd encourage you to pray about what you may have repressed in your own life. Is it your spunk? Your smile? Your charming personality? God has not only brought me out of my shell these last few weeks, He's completely smashed that shell to smithereens! And I am praying He will do the same for you.

5 comments:

R. Scott Clark said...

Hi here's the updated link to the "Jerks" essay:

http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/why-some-reformed-people-are-such-jerks/

Jennifer said...

Thanks, Scott! What a privilege to hear from you!

Geraldine said...

I think this is going to be an exciting month here on Reformed Sheology!!!

Renee said...

Simplistic answer on "Calvinistic legalism" I know but - not all people who believe the doctrine are redeemed. (Just as not all people who don't believe the doctrine are not redeemed.)

Jennifer said...

Renee, GREAT INSIGHT. We need to be careful when Christianity becomes just another set of rules, regardless of what denominations, doctrines, or camps we associate with. Thank you for pointing that out.