By Patrick Hawthorne
I’m somewhat of a redneck…well, let me rephrase that…I’m more of a country boy with a smidge of redneck thrown in. No, I don’t smash beer cans on my forehead to show how manly I am – mainly because I don’t drink beer – but I am known to associate with those who do smash them…or have smashed them…or are willing to smash them against their forehead.
“So,” you might be thinking. “What is your point, Patrick?”
Well, the other day I received an email from someone wishing to discuss Calvinism with me. While in the process of thinking about the email, a strange thought flashed through the inner cortex of my cranium.
I thought, “I don’t ever recall talking with a red neck Calvinist before. I wonder why that is?”
Ok…Let’s have a side bar for a moment. I am not on a tirade against Calvinism nor rednecks. I’m part redneck, so I figure I’m somewhat qualified to speak for them. As for those who subscribe to Calvinism, this subject seems to be tracking me down instead of me tracking it down. I try to get off of it and, “Boom,” I get drug back into the subject. You know, kind of like in one of them wrestling matches where the one wrestler tries to grab hold of the ropes but gets yanked back into the center of the ring by the Cookie Monster…
Anyway, getting back to the subject, it took only a few seconds of muddling the redneck thing around in my head before the answer hit me. The reason, I believe, there are not a plethora of redneck Calvinist out there comes down to one word. Freedom!
Look at this statement made by Edwin Palmer, an early 1800’s Bible scholar. He would be known as a Hyper-Calvinist for his extreme views.
“All things that happen in all the world at any time and in all history—whether inorganic matter, vegetation, animal, man or angels (both good and evil ones– come to pass because God ordained them, Even sin- the fall of the devil from heaven, the fall of Adam, and every evil thought, word, and deed in all of history.”Edwin Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, 1999
To a redneck, those are fighting words. First, and foremost, Mr. Palmer, in a round-about-way, called God, my Heavenly Father, sadistic and manipulative. Reading between the lines, it can be argued that he believed that God is so sadistic that He first created evil, then the devil, and then man in that order so He could watch the horror of this world unfold as it has.
The second reason those are fighting words is because Calvinism teaches the removal of, or the severe limitation of, man’s free will. I might not know a great deal, but this one thing I do know; you never, and I repeat, never mess with a red neck and their freedom. “Over my dead body,” or “When you pry it from my cold dead hand,” is their anthem.
Oh, I know there are varying degrees of Calvinism, but in the end all points lead back to the same trail which is, man does not have free will. I would get into some of the philosophy of Calvinism but it really does make my brain hurt. Feel free to look up Determinism and Compatibilism if you like. But beware….
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
Do I believe that most who subscribe to Calvinism are heretics? Absolutely not! Most are simply good folk trying to make sense of a senseless mess this world has become. Do I expect to change a Calvinists mind with my posts? No, not really. However, as they feel they must speak up for what they believe, I too feel I must speak up for what I believe. And, just for the record, I’m not so naive to think I have all the right answers. Truth be known, we both could be a tad bit right and at the same time be a tad bit wrong with the truth lingering somewhere in the middle. Be blessed.