Monday, July 10

The First Time Ever I Heard the Label

One of the blessings I'm most thankful for is that for most of my life, I've had solid Bible teaching. When I was growing up, I was almost always under the teaching of my own father--in church three times a week, often in Sunday School, too, and around the kitchen table.

My father is an exegete and expositor. That's the way he preaches and teaches and discusses. He's not a polemicist, although he does have opinions on controversial matters, but he doesn't approach things polemically, which means that while I grew up grounded in the truths of scripture, I was also mostly ignorant of the various theological disputes.

That's not a bad way to be. Having been so grounded in what scripture said, and having developed a sort of system over time to put all the teaching I absorbed into a unified whole (even though I wouldn't have been able to label that system), I could usually smell lousy teaching a mile away, because somewhere, in some little corner of my system, it didn't fit.

This is all to explain why, at aged 22, and married with one baby, I'd never really paid much attention to the label Calvinist. Perhaps I'd heard it--I wasn't living under a barrel, you know--but if I had, I'd chosen to ignore it, probably figuring that it had very little to do with me. So there I was, an ignorant young missus, walking with my husband and wee daughter back from an evening service at a Bible conference at the little Christian college to my parent's home right off campus. My younger sister and some of her friends, who were students at the college, were walking along with us.

When we got to my parent's driveway, my sister stopped to say goodbye to her friends. "Did you know," said one of them, "that your dad is a Calvinist?" That last word was said in the kind of tone that let everyone know it was not a good thing to be a Calvinist. The label was used as an insult, so I've never forgotten that incident. You don't forget when you hear someone in your family attacked, even in an off-handed way.

That young man? He went on to become a professor and author--an author of books like this one.

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