What is it that draws Calvinists to Calvinism? I suppose there are an array of responses that could legitimately answer that question. This post is going to be a probing one, suggesting some hunches that I have towards answering this question — one word of clarification, the question is speaking of Calvinists who are Classic in orientation (you know, the “Westminster” Five-Point kind).
First off, and this is I am sure the response that these “kinds” of Calvinists would give, is that they are drawn to Calvinism (often out of other “theological traditions”) because it represents the “truth of God’s Word.” And I’ll just tip my hat to that one, and say, amen . . . I’m sure that’s the primary reason why any Christian follows any particular theological tradition (they believe it is true in best representing the teachings of scripture).
Now that we have cleared that one off the table, here is what I think “might” be a very strong force in drawing many folks into the labryinth known as Calvinism (and there is some overlap between the point I mention above and this one); what I think is that people are drawn to the culture of doctrinal stability that Calvinism has to offer. What I mean is that Classic Calvinism has scripture and doctrine hammered out; all a person has to do is read their particular confessions, canons, and catechisms. And it becomes very clear what we “believe” as Calvinists; in other words, it is all spelled out for easy consumption. This, beyond the naked fact that Calvinists simply believe what they believe because they believe it is biblical, is what I believe is so appealing — and thus endearing — to many folks in this regard.
So more than doctrine, although this is an inseparably related reality, I believe that many Calvinists are Classic Calvinists today because of the “culture” that it presents. There is a sense of historical continuity, and great Christian classics embedded within this tradition; thus for many who are looking for more substance (which is highly understandable given the state of “Evangelicalism”), Classic Calvinism offers a “stable-deep” way of being a Christian.
Unfortunately, I believe that the premises that this kind of Calvinism flows from, doctrinally (and thus culturally) is an illusion in many respects; and that the “biblicism” it appears to operate from, is actually a synthesis of an “metaphysic” that really does not serve the teachings of scriptures, but instead subsumes scripture with its own emphases and trajectories that lead many folks astray in regards to their daily spirituality. Here I am only hinting at some of the things I will be talking about further in the days to come . . .