Close Encounters of the Reformed Kind

On a clear day, a rocket launch can be seen as far south as Vero Beach, FL.

A few years ago, my wife and I visited her parents in Florida. The town? Vero Beach located a few miles south of Cape Canaveral. There I was able to meet for the first time, my mother-in-law’s (who had just remarried after being a widow)  husband who was a retired pastor of the Church of the Nazarene.

One particular day during our visit, as he was droving us around town, he pointed to a church edifice and said, “that church is of Calvin.” Passing by another church, he commented, “That one is a Wesleyan church.”  Even though I was nodding yes every time I heard him speak on that topic, I did not know what the heck he was talking about.

Finally, after a few more churches had been tagged by him as being Calvinist or Arminian, I could not hold back any further. I asked him why he was
emphasizing a difference between the two?

My father-in-law replied he had, over the years, only pastored churches of the Wesleyan tradition. In other words, he served in the branch of the Protestant church of the Arminian persuasion that rejects the doctrine taught by Calvinists who believe in a limited atonement and other aspects of their doctrine of election.

My previous, one-semester study of church history in my college years earlier had been rather brief and sketchy, to say the least. I did not, back then, capture any significant, Christian relevance of church history to the now.

After returning home to Connecticut from that trip, I did some research on these two types of church beliefs. I soon became very familiar with reformed theology which was influenced, as I stated earlier, by the teachings of John Calvin. He was one of the most prominent theologians of the reformation period of the 16th century, next to Martin Luther.

I was surprised how many Christian churches in the United States and elsewhere still identify with Calvin. They include:

* Primitive Baptist or Reformed Baptist Churches
* Presbyterian Churches
* Reformed Chuches
* The United Church of Christ
* The Protestant Reformed Churches in America

As I continued studying, I became perplexed and somewhat aversed with the teachings of Calvinism.  How can God choose who can be saved and who cannot be saved before the person even had a chance to learn about God and accept salvation? Did not Christ die for the world? Or did Jesus die only for those who were already pre-selected by God to be saved? This view of salvation by the reformed church seemed phony, shallow and short-sighted to me. Something about their teaching did not feel right with me.

Anyway, I let it go at that and years later, while using Facebook, I posted to my Bible college alumni group the following question:

“What Christian radio station do you frequently listen to?”

Responses that I received included:

K-Love Network

WSFH 104.7 FM out of Atlanta, GA. And, if I remember well…

KLTY 94.9 FM  Dallas-Fort Worth , TX

One alumnus from the upper midwest United States, however, responded that he did not want to listen to any Christian radio stations at all. He said those in his area were mostly influenced by reformed programming. I was stunned at his response. Again, that word “reformed” suddenly, once again, stimulated an emotional response with me. I then began asking myself if there has been a continuing, subtle infiltration of Calvinism into Christian radio stations everywhere – throughout the world.

Since this friend in Facebook apparently knew which Christian radio stations around him were highly influenced by reformed teaching, I began to wonder if other Christians elsewhere have also noticed this in their neck of the woods. I then began to realize many Protestant Christian radio stations do indeed have sponsors, staff and management who are Calvinists who highly support programming that are based on Calvin.

So, with that in mind, I requested to be a member of another Facebook group. This one was one formed and run by Calvinists who also accepted members with different views than theirs.  By interacting with them, I wanted to gain a better grasp of their theology and express my views with them on where and why I disagreed.

After commenting to some of the questions they posted and providing my viewpoints which contrasted with theirs, I suddenly was bombarded by what (as I look back) were very antagonistic replies to my thoughts. Vicious language was spewing from many within this group! I was shocked!

An image such as this one was suddenly posted in a Calvinists’ Facebook group thread I was commenting on.

I continued posting my opinions and thoughts with scriptural and non-scriptural support. As I did so, the Facebook members of the group became increasingly vitriolic! I could not believe what was happening! Here were Christians practically having a fit about what I was saying!

I then began engaging in another Facebook thread topic initiated by another Calvinist member of the group and, once again, anger was voiced in their writing. Soon, one member posted an alarm to others in the group saying, “IT’S A TRAP!”

I wish I had written down all of my comments I posted that caused them to become upset. Why? Because the person who started one very interesting Facebook lead question deleted the whole thread! The amount of time I spent thinking and organizing my thoughts which I posted in response to that question were suddenly gone!

Following that incident, one of the other Calvinist, Facebook members of the group confessed he was saddened by what had occurred and noted it did not reflect the actions of how Christians should engage other Christians. I highly appreciated his soothing words. After expressing concern and commenting on other viewpoints, for some reason, I found myself expelled from the group.

Since then, I cannot help perceiving Christian radio broadcasting stations somewhat suspiciously. I continually wonder how much of Reformed theology has infiltrated Christian radio stations such as WIHS 104.9 FM that I listen to daily.

As I continued listening to this station’s broadcasts, I quickly recognize which programs were backed by Reformed sponsors and which are not. I guess about 15 percent of the total programs have Calvinistic roots.

How many in management, Board of directors and staff are
Calvinists?  I do not know. I will guess about 15 percent again, but I
could be wrong.

Is it poison what Calvinists preach and teach? No. Many Christian
churches follow Reformed theology. I am also aware of other
Christian radio stations that are Catholic-based, Pentecostal,
and Southern gospel, etc.

Therefore, I resist at this point looking at WIHS radio as being invaded and infiltrated by antagonistic “Calvinist aliens”. I try not to be like the character in the TV Sci-Fi series, The Invaders (See trailer of episode below). As long as WIHS professes the core tenets of the Christian faith (future blog here), it will be well with me. But, once it extremely veers off course on its mission of preaching the gospel is when I just may consider going elsewhere.

Anyway, as of today, I feel like joining another Calvinist Facebook group and see what happens there.

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Opening scene of The Invaders

 

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