Frustratingly prevalent on Twitter these days is the fleshly stench of slander and belittlement of other Christians. Rummaging through Twitter the other day, I quickly stopped my thumb from scrolling more because I noticed that somebody shared what was a list of names deemed “woke.” In this tweet thread, the person explained we should not follow these pastors/teachers because they are apparently “woke.”
(To be sure, I am of the opinion that there is a problem with “wokeness” in the Christian church today. From my perspective, a lot of the problem resides in confusing definitions but there is absolutely a problem within the church surrounding how to properly deal with racism.)
The catastrophe of this tweet lies in the names listed. It’s not necessary to give you the name of the person who tweeted it since they don’t deserve anymore attention than they’ve received. And I’m not going to share the list of names as it’s pretty lengthy and not necessarily helpful either.
The vast majority of the men–and women–on this list are faithful brothers and sisters in the Lord with whom we may disagree with on peripheral issues. There are certainly people on the list that can teach some dangerous things (and, in my opinion, should be avoided) but, for the most part, the list is full of men and women who are faithful to the Lord.
With that being said, this tweet is merely the fruit of a root problem: ungracious Calvinists. This tweet, like other things on social media and in the real world, display a bigger problem. To put it simply, Calvinists can be mean. However, Calvinists–those who believe in the doctrines of grace–should be the most grace-filled Christians. Yet, that is exactly the opposite of what we see many times.
For some reason, Calvinists are always on the prowl. They are incessantly angry about something. Of course, not all Calvinists are like this, but many of them are. They are not characterized by their ability to give others the benefit of the doubt but instead by their ability to point out the worst in others. And I say this as one who affirms the acrostic TULIP.
There is a running conversation, of sorts, on Twitter about how ill-behaved Calvinists are on that medium. Many people who have “1689” on their Twitter bio (referencing the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith) are those who habitually act like people who have not experienced the saving grace of God. Instead of their Twitter feed being filled with edification and conviction when needed, it is saturated with slander, finger-pointing, and gossip.
Don’t get me wrong, we should criticize bad teaching and the like. But Calvinists take it further. “Yes, Calvinists can be critical types,” David Mathis wrote. “It’s good to be discerning, and pay attention to details. But a critical eye does not necessitate a quarrelsome spirit” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). There’s an ocean of difference between gracefully criticizing and incessantly quarreling over different issues. Be vigilant, yes. Be discerning, yes. But don’t be quarrelsome. Don’t be the person who is always looking to pick a fight.
Jared C. Wilson tweeted this scathing criticism (remember, it’s okay to criticize!) of the aforementioned tweet thread:
When folks make those stupid “who’s in and who’s out” lists, they’re not just playing around with pharisaism; they’re trying to bait those listed — who typically have bigger platforms — into engaging and thus amplifying their own voice. Don’t fall for it. Attention is oxygen to trolls. Let them suffocate.
The last thing we should give to people–to trolls–is attention. They build their platforms on incessant, unnecessary, and sometimes-slanderous criticism. Unfortunately, a lot of these people are the “1689ers” of Twitter: Calvinists.
If we believe, as Calvinists, that God has chosen us by sovereign grace and it had nothing to do with us; if we believe our salvation was purchased permanently on the cross; if we believe we have nothing good inside of us but only the Holy Spirit, then mercy, compassion, and kindness should leak out of us–not criticism. When we champion the doctrines of grace yet behave as though we haven’t been transformed by that same grace, what message are we sending?
To my fellow Calvinists: it’s okay to give more grace than criticism. You’re not compromising but actually displaying Christlike character. It’s okay to give others the benefit of the doubt while simultaneously believing in total depravity. They aren’t mutually exclusive. We don’t have to be in a tizzy all the time. Let’s show the same grace to others that we’ve received.