You hear your husband utter the following words: “Honey, I think that Calvinism might be the truth.”
Step 1: Pause to see if he might be joking. Realize he isn’t. Allow panic to seize your body. Tremble. Feel your heart rate rapidly increase. Begin to hyperventilate, hold on to a chair or any stable object as this news sinks in: You are married to a heretic!
Step 2: Break out in a cold sweat as you quickly ponder what being a heretic will cost you:
- Family – this includes three Baptist preachers who vehemently oppose Calvinism.
- Friends – this includes every single person you have associated with since you were in the nursery at your very NON-Calvinistic Baptist church.
- Pastoral leaders – this includes both the living and the dead. Those who are living will be shaking their heads in disappointment at your departure from the faith. The deceased will roll in their graves.
- Ministry – this is every Baptist church in the world. None of them want to hire a heretic pastor.
- While you’re at it, just include everyone else in the world – they will all see the scarlet “C” emblazoned upon your chest and know that you are a heretic.
Step 3: Wipe your brow, feel your mouth go dry and say to your husband with trembling voice, “No, no. You’re not that.” (Try to stay calm.) Stare at him with wild eyes and say, “It’ll be all right. This is just a phase. You’re lonely! You need good preacher-fellowship. Call your dad! Have you talked to your dad?”
Step 4: When none of that makes a difference, (My! Isn’t HE mister calm, cool and collected! He doesn’t even KNOW that he’s a heretic, bless his heart.) ring your hands and pace back and forth till, finally, you’re worn out. Ask yourself whether or not this is grounds for divorce.
Step 5: Begin to feel anger. Start exclaiming things like “Why would you DO this to me?” (start to cry here) “You think we should stop witnessing? You think God has picked some people for Heaven and some for Hell? My own MOTHER wouldn’t do that, so how could God?” (Keep going with your rant even if he tries to calmly interrupt your tirade.) “I suppose we can just sit back and be LAZY because God will save whom He will, WE don’t need to bother!” If your husband tries to explain his position using the Bible, just ignore it. After all, how can the Bible refute sound mental reasoning?
Step 6: Go to bed angry, even though you know it’s wrong to do that. Maybe your seething will get his attention and he’ll turn from his heretical thinking. While you’re seething, try to remember what you’ve heard other preachers say about Calvinism. Feel worried when you discover that you really don’t know much about it. Oh well, you know it’s wrong. That’s enough.
Step 7: Wake up the next day to see that he is the same. Still calm, cool and collected. The cold-shoulder treatment didn’t affect him at all. After a full morning of only necessary conversation, go ahead and ask him what led him into this. Was he reading Hitler? Or Charles Taze Russell? Show concern for him with furrowed brow and pleading eyes. Take a sip of your cappuccino and try to listen.
“I was out soul-winning and met a guy who prayed the sinner’s prayer with me. He claimed to be born-again. I called him to see about bringing him to church – because saved people have at least some interest in coming to church. He always had an excuse as to why he couldn’t come. Finally, about the fourth phone call, I said, ‘Hey man, are you wanting to come to church or not, I don’t want to keep bothering you.’ He said, ‘Look, I did the prayer-thing with you. What more do you want from me?’ It was a moment where I realized that leading people to Christ, having them pray a prayer, is not what salvation is. Salvation is a work that only the Lord can do on a person, and neither I – nor anyone else on planet Earth – can control who is born-again and who isn’t.”
“So, we just quit soul-winning? I mean, what’s the point?” (Feel your face grow warm and your heart rate increase. Again.)
“No, of course not.” He says. “We are commanded to witness in the Bible. But we don’t have to worry about ‘leading people to Christ’ nor should we boast about ‘winning someone’, because it ISN’T us! It’s very freeing, Valerie. Don’t you see? We witness, yes, but that’s all we do. We explain the Gospel and go on. We don’t have to nag people or have them ‘repeat after me’.”
Based on this conversation, decide to let it rest. Maybe he’s not as big of a heretic as you thought.
At least he still wants to go soul-winning.
To be continued…