We Are Calvinists All

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Introducing his mammoth work of thermonuclear theology, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1509-1564) writes,

Although the Holy Scriptures contain a perfect doctrine, to which nothing can be added—our Lord having been pleased therein to unfold the infinite treasures of his wisdom—still every person, not intimately acquainted with them, stands in need of some guidance and direction . . . Hence it is the duty of those who have received from God more light than others to assist the simple in this matter.

Okay. No wonder the guy’s dead.

No big deal. We dweebs who are predestined for a low-watt enlightenment are no longer enchanted by boring, densely packed treatises of divine revelation anyway. Who needs it? We’ve got ourselves a new champion of egocentric religion whose insight into the human condition is a whole lot more interesting. I speak, of course, of the other Calvin, that brilliant star of Bill Watterson’s cartoon Calvin and Hobbes. Unlike his long-dead namesake, our Calvin is not distracted by logical argument or constipated theology. Our Calvin takes the bead and cuts to the chase. He knows that religion is all about us, dammit, and he tells us so in words we can understand for once. He is the spokesman for the truth as we experience it. Watterson’s Calvin gets my vote for theologian of the century.

A while back, when I’d had as much as I could take of the Bible, I decided to read through all of Watterson’s The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. My morning devotions not only got interesting, but I discovered Calvin’s religious genius. In this huge three-volume set of Calvin cartoons I found a New Institutes for 21st century Christianity. You can keep your Paul, your Luther, your dead Calvin, your Wesley, your Benny Hinn, and your bobbity-boop Bono. Compared to Watterson’s Calvin, these guys are total religious losers. I was so impressed that I wrote down some of Calvin’s sayings.

Below, and without comment (for once), I present a personal gleaning of his aphoristic articles of faith. Together they’re a kind of Sermon on the Mole Hill. If anything, these gems prove that, no matter what kind of Christian we think we are, at heart we are Calvinists all.

  1. Careful. We don’t want to learn from this.
  2. Golly, I’d hate to have a kid like me.
  3. I hate being good.
  4. Do you think God let’s you plea bargain?
  5. Somehow I imagined this experience would be more rewarding.
  6. All this was funny until she did the same thing to me.
  7. I like maxims that don’t encourage behavior modification.
  8. What do you want me to do, suffer?
  9. My penitent sinner shtick needs work.
  10. The truth will set your teeth free.
  11. I’m not in denial. I’m just very selective about the reality I accept.
  12. From now on I’ll connect the dots my own way.
  13. I only throw consecrated snowballs.
  14. What’s the point of trying if you can’t be a winner?
  15. Everybody hates a literalist.
  16. I don’t think you should have to do something unless you’re enthusiastic about it.
  17. I just don’t test well.
  18. We need more special effects and dance numbers.
  19. Getting loads of loot is a very spiritual experience for me.
  20. When in doubt deny all terms and definitions.
  21. I refuse to be victimized by notions of virtuous behavior.
  22. I love loopholes.
  23. I pragmatically turn my whims into principles.
  24. Life is too inconvenient.
  25. I really hate having things put into perspective.

Amen, buddy boy. Amen.


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