Ignorance is so common to many critics—including most evangelicals—of Reformed, Calvinism, and all true Christianity. All those who condemn something of which they don’t know anything about deserve to be called fools, ignorant, stupid—which they truly are—and many other not so “nice” words.
This stupidity was recently displayed by a blogger who wrote “5 Reasons Why Calvinism Makes Me Want To Gouge My Eyes Out.” I started writing “5 Reasons Why Eye-Gouging Arminian Universalist Blockheads Make Me Puke,” but I had some better things to do.
Most recently, the email below was written by Rev. Geoffrey Willour is Pastor of Lake Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Mentor, Ohio, and published in “A Response to Professor Mary Stange’s USA Today Article on Bowe Bergdahl.” This is in response to the “professor’s” fallacious slander against Calvinism. Rev. Willour’s letter is actually very generous.
As an Orthodox Presbyterian pastor, I was very disappointed and offended at your hit piece in the June 15, 2014 edition of USA Today (“Can Bergdahl’s faith explain his actions?”) attacking the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the bogeyman “Calvinism.” Your brief but shallow article was filled with misinformation, the logical fallacy of “poisoning the well” (for example, using emotion-laden terms like “hyperconservative” and “ultraconservative”), slander and bigotry against those with whom you disagree. How “tolerant,” open-minded and enlightened of you to attack a religion that you give little evidence of actually understanding, but which you personally find distasteful. With all due respect (and, sorry Professor, not too much is due given the content and tone of your article), that is called “prejudice,” the cardinal sin of the supposedly broadminded religious plularism you no doubt profess. (And, by the way, would you not agree that “prejudice” is a form of “hate”?) Your prejudiced rant against a religion that you give little evidence of having seriously studied with any depth is unworthy of your profession and the academic and intellectual integrity that one should expect from someone in your influential position.
Tell me, Professor Stange, have you ever actually read, with any depth and care, the works of John Calvin, or representative samples thereof? Have you ever read the confessional standards of the OPC, namely, the Westminster Confession of Faith (American revision) and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms? Have you actually studied the theological writings of classical, confessional Presbyterian theologians (and could you even name any of them)? Could you actually define the bogeyman “Calvinism” in an accurate way that we Calvinists who know our beliefs would recognize? Have you ever actually attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, spoken with Orthodox Presbyterian pastors, or interacted with OPC laypersons? Have you ever actually read historical writings on the founding of the OPC written by those sympathetic to the denomination, or on Dr. J. Gresham Machen (one of the major founders of the OPC)? If not, may I suggest that you go the OPC’s website and order some of the many books that are offered on the history and character of the denomination, and educate yourself (www.opc.org).
“His ultra-conservative church sees the world in either / or terms.” Professor Stange, may I suggest that your comment here could very well represent a case of psychological projection. It seems that in your world any Christian is “either” a “hyperconservative” (which is bad, very bad); “or” an enlightened, educated so-called “liberal” or mainliner (which, of course, in your world is very, very good and noble). Is that not a simplistic, “either/or” way of looking at things? Are you not yourself guilty of the very thing that you accuse us of?
Bullies like to pick on the little guys, and in the world of Christianity the OPC is one of the little guys. We are a small denomination (only about 30,000 members or so, though slowly growing), so I can understand the attraction of using us as your punching bag. But if you have an ounce of ethical integrity, you will publicly apologize to the OPC and to all of those other allegedly “hyperconservative” Christians you have frankly insulted in your article. I hope you will pleasantly surprise us by having the courage and integrity to do so, though I am not holding my breath.