Friday, January 25, 2008

The Influence of Calvinism on Behaviour

Debate over at "The blog formerly know as 'These Infinite Spaces'" is getting rather heated over comments Craig Schwarze has made comparing those condone abortion with those who condoned the "ethnic cleansing" of the Nazis in World War II. As one astute commentator asked, what is Craig doing about this situation he is obviously so passionate about? Apart from spewing vitriol about those who disagree with him, absolutely nothing. Not a thing more than those he accuses of being complicit in genocide. If anything, Craig has more abortion deaths on his head than his targets do, quite simply because all his convoluted arguments and lazy analysis will do is alienate those who possibly could have been brought around to the pro-choice side of the fence.

Even though I oppose abortion, Craig's comments spurred me to action. I pointed out the inconsistency of his support of the death penalty with his opposition to abortion. Apparently life is sacred for one of these groups, but not the other. It seems that Craig still doesn't understand the hypocrisy of his accusations. But why should I be surprised that Craig so resolutely maintains his stance that the state has a right to kill when his hero was so fond of this practice himself? Quite simply, to turn around on this question would be more painful than the dilemma of having to juggle two inconsistent positions.

I must admit, I really didn't respond to Craig's comments with the grace that I should have. I really feel that he is a person who is trying to live the only faith that he knows with some of integrity. At least I should commend him for that. It isn't really his fault that he behaves this way - among other things, it's his theology. The damning indictment against me is that I don't have the same excuse.

People have asked me before whether I am so opposed to Calvinism because of bad experiences that I have had with Calvinists. While it is true that I have had a few, my experiences have generally been positive on the whole. Indeed, if it was my finding that Calvinists were nasty people, then I would have no reason to reject Calvinism on this basis, since nastiness in found in all walks of life, and there would be nothing to prove that there is a connection between Calvinists and nastiness. On the contrary, I have found many Calvinists to be some of the loveliest people that I have met, at least in the right context. However, it would seem that many of these lovely people do and say very nasty things. Calvinists were some of the slowest to oppose slavery. In South Africa, they were the slowest to oppose apartheid. They are still the slowest to oppose homophobia and sex discrimination. So this is my problem: not that Calvinists are nasty people, but actually that they are lovely people who tend to do and say nasty things in the name of their faith. In this, it has quite recently become my conviction that Calvinism is a corrupting, rather than a redeeming influence. From what I have seen, people seem to be infected proportionately to the extent that they are devoted to Calvinistic theology. What this means is that those who are nominally Calvinist tend to be relatively untouched, even while they may go to a Calvinist church, while those who go to great lengths to pursue knowledge about Calvinism are the most deeply afflicted. It is these people who need prayer and compassion the most.


CraigS said...

Charmingly patronising, as always David.

Luke was right to challenge me to do more about abortion, and I am. Now, what have *you* done about injustice in the world, David?

When I asked Luke the same question, he admitted he was doing nothing. David, I cannot recall any great acts of altruistic injustice fighting on your part.

You talk about injustice all the time, you complain that conservatives do nothing - but you do nothing yourself. You are a hypocrite. Luke is a hypocrite. I am a hypocrite. We are all hypocrites. May God have mercy on us, and help us to become a little better than we are...

David Castor said...

I suggest prayer and compassion, as well as complimenting you for trying to live out your faith with integrity and this is how you respond?

CraigS said...

David, re-read your post. You accused me of "spitting vitriol", of "hypocrisy", of "lazy analysis", of having "abortion deaths" on my head.

Then you turn around and wonder why I get angry? In your mind, you wrote graciously - but clearly I don't see it that way.

Anyway, I do think you are hypocritical on this issue, and I've thought so for some time. You speak a lot about injustice, but I just don't see you doing anything about it. The only altruistic thing I can ever recall you mentioning on this blog is giving a homeless man some 2-minute noodles.

So you are right that my actions have not been consistent with my beliefs. But you need to look at yourself first, surely...

David Castor said...

With all due respect Craig, I don't publicise what I have done or not done about injustice and won't violate this principle just to pacify you. You know the whole "not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing" thing? Or perhaps the words of Jesus aren't important to you because they don't say anything (that you like, anyway) about homosexuality or gender roles?