You may remember there was a term they used for folks like us in our college days: cage-stage. I still recall the enthusiasm that ran through my veins when I first came to the doctrines of grace. I had so much faith in my own abilities and arguments, but the Calvinism business crushed the quick Sunday School answers I always had ready. But then you would think that it would humble me deeply. But it actually had the opposite effect. I was just telling you that story recently because it reminded me of how quickly a theological truth can turn on its head. Think about it: we affirmed as kids (I mean we were only 19) that God was absolutely sovereign over all things, even our wills, and furthermore, that his power to save is incontestable and irresistible. And then once we came to that remarkable biblical truth we wanted the whole world to come to the same conclusion overnight. They called it “cage-stage” because our zeal was too great, even arrogant at times.
But thankfully, we had enough sense to come to our senses. Even better, I had the opportunity to tell all my friends how idiotic I was and how deeply sorry I was for offending them. So, you see how I feel when I see these folks on Facebook alerting the world that they either accept their interpretation of Romans 9 or face mortality in ignorance all their days. I know they don’t put it that starkly, but that’s how I read it, and I already drank the kool-aid 20 years ago.
So, here is the statement I propose to those who have just read their first R.C. Sproul, John McArthur, or Michael Horton book and are persuaded beyond a shadow of a doubt of those interpretations of the Bible:
By the grace of God, I intend to live as if the doctrines of grace are true in my life, and not just in theology books.
I will to the best of my ability to contend for these truths with gentleness and humility.
I will use my social media platform to invite fruitful conversations and to not humiliate or score cheap points against those who hold to other positions.
I will affirm that those who hold to alternative viewpoints love the Bible as much as I do and may often see truths that I overlook.
I will affirm that respect in Christian dialogue is often more important than shouting truth or losing friendships.
I will remember that harshness repels and the Gospel draws us near to one another.
Brother, feel free to pass this on to that young friend if you see any value in this.
Soli Deo Gloria,