OK, I should mention right at the outset that I would be classified as a Calvinist, though I am more correctly defined as a Particular Baptist ~ none-the-less, my refined invective is aimed directly at myself, as well as other procrastinating Calvinists. So please, if you are a Calvinist, do not think that this is an attack from someone who doesn’t know what a Calvinist is – I’m smack bang in the middle of your camp. Of course some would say I’m not because I’m Baptist and not a Paedobaptist, but let us not get too bogged down in that on this occasion.
I have had occasion to reflect (meditate) on a particular issue that is found across the board today in Reformed circles and that is on what I am calling procrastinating Calvinism. I was thinking of calling it Procrastinating Hypercalvinism, but that would be extremely inaccurate, for most of the procrastinaters that I am thinking of, whether they be individuals or groups of individuals communing together in churches, actually do believe in evangelism – at least in theory. In practice there seems to be very little of it actually happening however.
I was thinking of what the churches of yester-year got up to and in particular the pastors/elders of these churches. They seemed to be made of a different mettle to people of today. I’ve been involved in works where there has been opposition to evangelistic efforts because people were too busy, too tired, had too many other things to do (mundane things), etc. Now in my opinion, this would seem to be a far cry from the attitude and approach to the lost world by Christians, churches and pastors/elders, than what was the case in days gone by. In fact, I would say that we should be down-right ashamed of ourselves that we have allowed other things outside of our Christian calling to dominate our lives to such an extent that we have forgotten to practice our theory in the area of evangelism – not that this would be the only area affected by such sentiment.
Reformed churches have become just a little (maybe extremely) too comfortable with their present lot and the committment to evangelism, church planting, missions, etc, has been allowed to slide away to the point of almost non-existence because we care too much for the things of this world, whether it be entertainment, sporting activities, etc – many of which are perfectly acceptable liberties in and of themselves. But the world perishes and the church’s mission is cast aside while we do so.
We are very keen to make a convert of an erring brother or sister, to enter into a debate among ourselves as to whether we should address pastors/elders in certain ways, as to what a person should be wearing in church and the like (sounds a bit like the Pharisees and Sadducees doesn’t it?), etc, but when it comes down to making an effort and self-sacrifice – well, we are just a little too busy for that.
I remember a time when I was extremely horrified by a church that was prepared to loose what had become a fantastic outreach ministry to the surrounding community, because people just had too much on their plates outside of the church ministry – what an absolute disgrace! Yet this was a supposedly Calvinistic Baptist church that believed in evangelism! The outreach ministry had already proven successful, had already established itself in the community and had already brought a multitude of people into contact with the church – yet it was threatened by people being too busy. This proved to be the last straw for me and I left the church not long after. Interestingly, there has been no outreach ministry of the type held since.
Are we just too plain lazy and have we become procrastinating Calvinists? Or have we become practicing Hypercalvinists, believing that no matter what we do the Church will grow because the elect will be brought in by God? I am fearful it is both.
I long for the day when Reformed churches again take up the baton that we have all too easily dropped and left behind in our comfortable little groups that make war on one another ~ and being a Particular Baptist, I am especially thinking of Particular Baptists/Reformed Baptists. We have a heritage from the Lord and we have the truth passed down to us by those that have gone before, yet we are failing to walk worthy of the calling we have in Christ Jesus.