Monday, December 17, 2007

"Beware the Jabberwock, My Son!"

The following lines come from the first two stanzas of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," a poem written in about 1872. This poem is part of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, which is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland.

I am not much of a reader of poetry, but this is my favorite because it sounds ridiculous, is fun, and I can still tell what is going on in the poem.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

To read the remainder of the poem, click here.

In this poem, the reader is warned about the dreaded Jabberwock. I want to sound forth another warning today.

This warning goes out to all my brothers and sisters in the Christian faith who, like me, claim to be Calvinists, claim to hold to Reformed Theology, and/or claim to hold to the Doctrines of Grace (for a good, short synopsis of the Doctrines of Grace, click here).

The warning for all of us is this: let us beware the sin of pride.

As I read various articles on the internet, I see quite a bit of condescending language aimed from Calvinists toward other Christians who do not hold to our Reformed beliefs (I realize that there is also quite a bit of negative language aimed back at Calvinists, but I am not addressing that here).

The language of some Calvinists makes it sound like those who reject the Doctrines of Grace either are less intelligent or are just pig-headed. However, I know several intelligent people who claim to be Arminian, or at least do not hold to the Doctrines of Grace. Are these folks less intelligent than I am? No, they aren't. They simply have a different interpretation of scripture than I do.

Do I agree with my Arminian brothers and sisters? Well, I certainly do when it comes to the fundamental doctrines of the faith such as the trinity, the fall of man, the virgin birth, Christ's substitutionary atonement, the resurrection, the future glorification of all believers, etc.

I disagree with those who do not hold to the Doctrines of Grace. That is obvious. However, I also realize that I am not perfect in my interpretation of scripture, and acknowledge that my Calvinism does not somehow make me smarter.

As Calvinists, we need to be careful not to act like the early Gnostics. We come close to this when we act like we have some sort of "secret knowledge" that only we understand.

Let us, then, beware the sin of pride. If we are correct in our interpretation of scripture, this is only by the grace of God (as Calvinists, this should be easy for us to admit). If we are incorrect, then we're simply wrong.

Instead of dividing over the Doctrines of Grace, let's unite around our glorious Savior and His atoning work on the cross. Let's continue to discuss these issues, sharpening each other as we do.

Pride is not only sinful but is also absurd for Calvinists, since we say that anything good we have is a gift from God.

6 comments:

Alan said...

Amen brother. I have this tendency often. I am the most prideful man I know. I do not mean to do it, it's just my nature that gets in the way. If you ever read me doing it go ahead and humble me, I probably need it. I have been working on this of late, getting into some gracious dialogs with those who do not hold to the reformed faith as I do and it has been a real blessing. Keep up the good work.

In Christ
Alan

Eric said...

Alan,

We all, myself included, need to guard against pride. If we are aware of it, we have won half the battle already.

Thanks again for your blogging.

Eric

Brian said...

well, its nice to meet nice calvinist - I am not one but I do have points of agreement with you and like you have said before we agree on a whole lot more that we often recognize.

I think the first rule is "seek first to understand and then be understood" - I think if all of us followed this rule we'd show more grace to one another (wait did I just agree to the doctrines of grace??)) ;)

Eric said...

Brian,

It troubles me how much in American Christianity we focus on what separates us instead of what brings us together. My denomination (the SBC) is one of the worst at this. It seems we are always pointing out differences, and then explaining why we are more biblical than others. I'm tired of it.

Some Calvinists work the same way. There is a great deal of pride within some factions of the Calvinist camp.

Part of my goal with this blog is to discuss life issues from different perspectives across denominational lines. Although I am a Baptist and a Calvinist (some within the SBC don't think you can be both), I certainly still believe that I can learn a lot from others.

Your point of seeking first to understand is a good one. When arguments occur, often times it seems that the two (or more) groups really do not understand what the other side(s) actually believe.

For examples, Charismatics are often lumped together by evangelicals and thought of as being loony or obsessed with only speaking in tongues. This caricature frustrates and embarrasses me.

So, although I'm a member of the SBC, and claim to be a Calvinist, I'm first and foremost a follower of Jesus. We should all be uniting around the gospel.

Eric

Jason said...

Good article! I have been reading about Calvin and Luther. I should of listed Luther as one of my favorite movies because it was a great movie. I saw an older movie version of Luther from Netflix which was almost better that the latest.I like your blog because I like thinkers. You might find my blog interesting. Check it out sometime http://pilgrimspub.blogspot.com/

Eric said...

Jason,

Thank you for the kind words about my blog. It looks like you are tackling a difficult issue (among others) on your blog of Christians and alcohol. Personally, I steer clear of it myself because I like it too much.

I loved the Luther movie. I just wish the actor who played Luther was a bit chubbier.

Eric