Great. Point conceded.
On the other hand, many of the most zealous servants of Christ have been Calvinists. Some of the most pioneering, devoted, self-sacrificing missionaries in the history of the Church have been Calvinists. Many of the martyrs who have testified passionately and died for Christ's cause have been Calvinists. Many of the greatest devotional works - the ones that point to the glories of Christ and call us to love-inspired labors - were written by Calvinists. Newton, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Baxter, Whitefield and Watson come to mind.
How is it that some Calvinists have demonstrated such intense devotion, while others have gone flat? It's a good question, and an important one. Below are a few thoughts about how we Calvinists can stay aflame for God, speaking Truth in love and maintaining the simplicity of devotion to Christ, even as we wrestle Calvin-style with the hard doctrines of Scripture and refuse to back away from any of their philosophical implications.
- Never think about the doctrine of Total Depravity without considering your own sins. Especially your recent sins. Let the desperate plight of fallen humanity inspire a fresh compassion for the lost people around you.
- Never think about the doctrine of Unconditional Election without reminding yourself that nothing in you influenced God's choice. That's what unconditional means. Know that it was purely of His mercy that He took pity on you and saved you.
- Never think about Christ's atoning work without thanking Him for what He has done for you at the cross, and in the resurrection, and the way He applies that work to your life now. Be affected by how much you need the cross on a daily and moment-by-moment basis.
- Never think about the doctrine of the Effectual Call without marveling that God miraculously changed your stony heart.
- Never think about the doctrines of the Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints without recognizing that all your godly fruit is an effect of Christ's unmerited mercy toward you. Remember that a lack of godly fruit is a sign of trouble that must move you to re-examine your heart. Don't use the doctrine of election to exempt yourself from this.
- Never think about the sovereignty of God without surrendering yourself afresh to His glorious rule.
- Never let logical deductions about the secret will of God lessen your adherence to His revealed will in the Scriptures. Don't get carried away by speculations.
- Read plenty of Reformed books and blogs if you like, but devote yourself to the study and application of Scripture. Read the whole Bible and spend more effort applying it than thinking philosophically about it.
- Share the Gospel regularly and stay involved in missions. Prove that you believe in the free offer of the Gospel.
- Worship God alone. Don't let theology become your idol.
- When you speak, boast in the goodness of God rather than just spouting theological facts you have learned.
- Repent thoroughly, earnestly and often. Confess your sins to God daily, and rejoice in His outpoured grace daily. Repent to other people when you sin against them (it's wonderfully humbling).
- Stay close to your Lord, and tremble if you gain a head full of knowledge without corresponding affections for Him.