This is a quick post, but I have noticed a similar thing with both theology and politics in my life. My personal theology distinctly leans towards (note, leans toward) the Reformed/Calvinistic side. However, speaking generally (there are exceptions) I have mostly found this camp to be… cold, uncaring, non-pastoral, unkind. This includes BOTH my online and local, in-the-flesh life. I am definitely not the only one to observe and experience this, and even some Calvinists have spoken out with concern about their harsh ways and their need to improve in this area.
Speaking generally (again exceptions), my experience among the Wesleyan-Arminian folks is that they are… warm, caring, pastoral, kind. This is one reason (along with the issue of women in ministry) that I have spent years now in this camp. I was among the Nazarenes for about 8 years, and now I have been in the Methodist church about 6 years. I can tolerate some theology that I don’t fully agree with, more than I can tolerate the cold and unkind ways of the Calvinists.
I am not going to delve into politics, but lets just say that my experience has been similar.
It is good to have beliefs, but is the way that your beliefs project themselves repelling people or attracting people? Are you kind? Empathetic? You CAN be empathetic and kind even if you have a different view than another.
I recently read a Reformed/Calvinistic blog post where it admitted to their problems with being harsh. I left a comment where I honestly explained that I lean towards their theology, but stay among the Wesleyan-Arminian because they are more warm and caring. I also asked some questions. Well…
The author answered my questions and I appreciated that, but something jumped out to me. My questions were answered in a non-pastoral way that lacked care. After what I shared, this person really should have began with something sympathetic or apologetic in regards to my experiences. They could have attempted to “connect” with me as a person. Instead, it was like a detached answering of my questions.
A sad case in point: Even when writing a post of concern about a Calvinistic tendency to be harsh or uncaring, the reply I got – while not harsh – lacked a warm or pastoral approach! Uh?!? (And the author of the post is a pastor!)
But I know we can ALL fail here. Are you seeing A PERSON? Take a moment to connect. You can have a different view than someone, but still relate to where they are coming from. Try to put yourself in another’s shoes. A kind word can build bridges, while the lack of kindness builds walls.
If you came across an injured and suffering person laying in the street, would you decide whether or not to help them by finding out if they are…. Christian or Muslim, Republican or Democrat, Calvinist or Arminian, pro-life or pro-choice?
EVERYONE deserves kindness. See a person! See their humanity. Read through the Gospels and observe Jesus. Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Perhaps you’d like to further explore it? I have Bible study notes, book reviews, and “thoughtful” Christian content. You can subscribe via e-mail: see the right side column, at the top.