No. But Calvinism is a useful tool for jerky people to act like jerks.
Reformed folks have been stereotyped as the cranky Christians on the block. I’m not interested in debating whether the stereotype is deserved or not. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we are the meanies because we have the audacity to believe what we believe and the temerity to say that others are wrong. No problem there. That’s Christianity (not all of it, but part of it).
And yet, who among us has not met the quintessential Calvinist curmudgeon? How many of us have been that curmudgeon? Some of you still are! We might as well admit it: Calvinists can be jerks.
But the problem is owing to the jerks, not to the Calvinism. I’ve seen feminist jerks and social justice jerks, libertarian jerks and liberal jerks, hipster jerks and “you Calvinists are Taliban fundamentalists” jerks. The problem is not predestination. It’s pride.
We are all susceptible. And those most obnoxious with their pride are the ones who have found a suitable vehicle for their vanity.
Calvinism is a way of thinking. It’s a worldview. It’s a doctrinal system. It demands thought and intellectual rigor. It must be learned. It is a minority position in America and in the American church. None of this make the Calvinist a nasty person. But if you have a predilection toward nastiness, then developing an intellectually sophisticated set of beliefs that you understand and most people do not will help you immensely in your feelings of superiority and expressions of condescension. The same can be true of the feminist who knows the whole world is a chauvinist plot to demean women or of the libertarian who has come to see the inherent malevolence of the Fed or of the artist who sneers at consumerism and pop culture or of the enlightened middle-of-the-roader who disdains those benighted backward people who can’t seem to get with the kingdom way of living.
Some people hate Calvinism because they hate the truth. That’s their problem. But some hate the ugliness they see in Calvinists. That’s our problem. It happens to be the problem with a lot of people who have a cause, hold to a belief, or think they see something others don’t see.
But if the Calvinist cause is Christ, the beliefs we hold have been revealed to us, and what we see is grace upon grace all for the glory of God, then we of all people ought to be meek instead of mean, humble instead of haughty, and joyous instead of jerky.