I know it’s the Christmas season, but recently having read once again the claim that all Baptists are Calvinists, I must now draw this line in the sand and, of my own free will, form a covenant with my Calvinist brothers that I will “slap upside the head” the next person who tells me I’m a Calvinist!
Of course, God already possesses the foreknowledge that I will do this thing. He has given me free will, a functioning right arm and a right hand fully capable of an open-faced slap. I will not make a fist. I will not break any bones. I will probably not miss you unless you duck. Your skin may be slightly red for a short while. But I fully intend to unleash my wrath, in an unlimited manner, extending to whosoever maketh this outrageous claim, because I refuse to be called by such a name.
Stop it! Stop it right now! I’m not a Calvinist–not in the usual sense of the word. The fact that I share with Calvinists a couple of the tulip petals does not make me one of them. To paraphrase the old yarn, going to the Southern Baptist Convention does not make me a Calvinist any more than being in a garage makes me a car.
Let me share a few caveats. First, if someone of the fairer gender calls me a Calvinist, I will overlook the transgression, which it is a man’s glory to do. Second, if a minor calls me a Calvinist, I will overlook the transgression. They may not have reached the age of accountability and it’s just plain wrong. Third, if someone is preaching the Word and they claim that all Baptists are Calvinists, I will wait until the sermon is over so I can fulfill this prophecy in the parking lot after the service. Fourth, I will not slap a man in the presence of his wife and children. Fifth, out of respect for their service, I will not slap a seminary president or elected convention officer unless granted permission first. Sixth, out of courtesy to the Greatest Generation, I will not slap a senior citizen. Seventh, out of gratitude for their sacrifice, I will not slap a military veteran, police officer, fireman or other community helper. Eighth, if someone trains their parrot to say, “All Baptists are Calvinists,” I will harm no animals in the fulfillment of this pledge. Finally, if someone looks really mean and appears to work out a lot, they won’t get slapped either. So mostly I guess this is just for wimpy middle-aged guys who call me names.
Friends, SBC may stand for Slowly Becoming Calvinist, but every Baptist is not on board with that understanding and we do not appreciate the name calling. We no more accept that moniker than most Baptist ministers would accept being called a Liberal. I realize we may be “liberal” in the sense of being generous in our gifts to the poor, but the usual sense of that word theologically is an insult to those with conservative beliefs.
Because I have told you in advance that this is going to happen, and because God in His sovereignty knows it is going to happen, then He either wills it or He allows it, a moot point really, since in either case, the sting will feel the same upon your cheek. After receiving the blow, you are encouraged to turn the other cheek, which I promise not to strike unless you (a) bring my mother into the conversation, or (b) reiterate your claim that all Baptists are Calvinists.
Let me say that I am generally a very mild mannered person, but I have come to accept the axiom that the difference between a Calvinist and a Terrorist is that you can negotiate with a Terrorist. All of my reasons for disputing the title of Calvinist will only be rejected, point by point, by the Calvinist, probably with an annotated outline and footnotes attributing long quotations to Piper and Spurgeon. Regardless, I should be allowed to define what I am and what I am not.
I believe the only way to stop this annoying practice is for somebody to shout, “Stop it!” “No” means “no.” Quit doing it! We don’t like the label. It carries far too much baggage. It offends us. We understand you like the label. You probably think you’re building bridges by including us in your broadly defined term. But you’re not. It’s insulting, condescending and unfair.
I am a Baptist who is not a Calvinist. Stop calling me one or suffer the consequences that God, before the foundation of the world, knew would be yours, at the hand of a pastor (with a tongue firmly planted in his cheek) who is unapologetically predestined to punch.