Kevin DeYoung has a piece on his Gospel Coalition blog in which he examines whether Calvinists are jerks. His response: yes, some of them are, just as there are liberal jerks and social-justice jerks and so on.
On this particular point, I agree with him: the problem is human pride and you don’t have to be a Calvinist in order to be full of yourself. So for this, I’m glad DeYoung has written this piece and pushed back against the stereotype, because there are a good number of Calvinists who put the love of Christ on display and don’t deserve to be identified with the jerks in their camp.
However, there is a part of DeYoung’s argument that I think misunderstands why some people aren’t fans of Calvinism:
Some people hate Calvinism because they hate the truth. That’s their problem. But some hate the ugliness they see in Calvinists. That’s our problem. It happens to be the problem with a lot of people who have a cause, hold to a belief, or think they see something others don’t see.
So I feel the need to clarify: a good number of us don’t hate (or at the very least, disagree with) Calvinism because it’s true. And we wouldn’t be willing to agree with that theological system if its adherents would just be nicer (although it wouldn’t kill anyone of any doctrinal stripe to be nicer.)
We aren’t Calvinists because of the image it presents of God. We find no biblical support for the idea that God has chosen only some people to have faith in Christ and so be saved, while He withholds the ability to believe from the rest of humanity and then proceeds to hold those sinners guilty for not choosing Christ, even when He knew they didn’t have the power to choose him in the first place. We don’t see how a God like that can be good, let alone worthy of worship.
Personally speaking, I’m not a Calvinist anymore because I find that most of the supposed biblical arguments for that system to be based on verses and concepts that have been removed from their actual context. For example, Romans 9 is not about God choosing some people to believe and be saved and leaving the rest to be damned. That chapter, when left in its actual context, is Paul’s argument as to why Israel now found itself on the outs with God: because they were continuing to pursue righteousness by the Law, while the Gentiles pursued it by faith. And in case there was any doubt to Paul’s meaning, he says this very thing in verses 30-33. And this interpretation shouldn’t be a novel one or come as a surprise, because it’s what Paul had been saying throughout that book.
So again: it’s not how Calvinists present their beliefs about predestination that’s the main problem. (There are many nice and respectful Calvinists with whom I continue to disagree.)
It’s the beliefs themselves with which we take issue.