I’m venting a little. I know that not all Calvinists are represented in this, but the pattern is 100% consistent in my store. And truth be told, I even think moderate Calvinists are annoyed by these Calvinists.
You know, these, they, them. The extreme and narrow-minded ones. As one non-academic co-worker of mine astutely and elegantly put it, “they’re so childish.”
What did she mean by that? I may have blogged about this before on this site because it is one of my HUGE pet peeves. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the pattern of hiding certain books in my bookstore in order to suppress alternative theological perspectives.
Before I came along our academic section was quite pathetic, hardly taking up a single shelf. Pastors and Christians who enjoy taking their faith deeper than the Karen Kingsbury’s and Wanda Brunstetter’s out there stayed away and told there friends to do so as well. “All they carry is fluff” I would hear.
I came along and all of that changed. We now have an entire section of academic books boasting a wide spectrum of theological voices. I’m quite influential in this store and could, if I so chose to, make sure that we did not carry any books by authors I don’t agree with. I could, for example, make sure to keep Piper off the shelf. I could guarantee that Justin Taylor, Josh Moody and Anne Graham Lotz never see the light of day here.
The reason I don’t do that is not because I want to see their voices dominate the theological atmosphere of this community (quite the contrary actually!), but rather because I believe the dialogue is important. I want their voices to be heard. But I also want other voices to be heard. This is why I have to proactively and consciously get in books from the other perspectives as well.
But here’s where my pet peeve comes in. Occasionally I’ll get a KJV Only advocate who will, as they say, blow in, blow up and blow out. Their rants can cause quite a disturbance. Other times I’ll get someone who will irrevocably condemn me to the pit of hell because I have a tattoo of a cross on my arm. But most often, and much more subtly, I get others who will sneak over to our academic section – people who obviously know what they are doing – and will intentionally hide every book by N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight, Greg Boyd, Roger Olson and other similar authors behind books written by D.A. Carson, Michael Horton, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Josh Moody and others of that theological camp.
I literally have to dig out books from this first group and place everything back the way it was – in alphabetical order. It’s not enough that N.T. Wright is at the bottom of the academic section (“W” being at the tail end of the alphabet), but he must be covered up as well, lest some unsuspecting soul do what I did four years ago: stumble upon his writings and never look back!
As someone who comes from an Arminian background, I eschew the perception that all Arminians are liberal theologians. I engage and oppose liberal theology and will spare no words with anyone who says that Arminianism amounts to Pelagianism or liberalism. Balderdash!
In the same fashion I would like to see Calvinists oppose this narrow-minded and extreme branch. I would like to see more Calvinist bloggers – Trevin Wax, C. Michael Patton and Tim Challies to name a few of the biggies – encourage their readers forcefully that Calvinism does not amount to fundamentalism and narrow-mindedness.
I would like Calvinists to say, ‘here’s what we believe, but let’s leave room for the spectrum and the conversation‘.
Less of ‘farewell Rob Bell‘ and more of ‘feel free to read the book, but then lets have the conversations‘.
Less ‘I’m talking to fellow Calvinists and assuming everything‘ and more of ‘I’m talking to non-Calvinists who don’t share my premise, so let’s start there‘.
Calvinists want to stand up for the traditional view of Hell, but they want to make it all about their Calvinism.
Calvinists want to stand up for the gospel, but they want to make the gospel all about Calvinism.
And they wonder why there is such a big divide! The more this perception is exasperated the less attractive Calvinism becomes.