It’s quite common to hear critics of Calvinism, especially within the blogosphere, say that Calvinism has a mean-streak.
One question I have is what supplies the frame of reference? Mean compared with what? Were the Catholic Conquistadors mean? Was Torquemada mean?
The Waldenses felt the Catholics were mean. The Greek Orthodox also thought the Catholics were pretty mean during the Fourth Crusade. The Copts and the Armenians felt the Greek Orthodox were pretty mean.
The Puritans felt that Bloody Mary was mean. They also thought that Bishop Laud was mean. The Huguenots thought Catherine de Medici was mean. The Baptists and Anabaptists felt that the Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians were all a bunch of meanies. The Hutterites felt the Münsterites were mean.
Modern-day liberals feel that “fundamentalists” in the SBC are mean. Liberal Lutherans felt that Jack Preus was mean. Liberals also think that charismatics like Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart are mean. Liberals even think that our Methodist President is mean.
Nowadays, traditional Anglicans think that liberal Anglicans are mean, while liberal Anglicans think that traditional Anglicans are mean.
The only common denominator is that those out of power think those in positions of power are mean-spirited and abusive. And sometimes they are. But when the party out of power comes to power, they can be just as mean-spirited and abusive. Meanness has no creed--excepting Islam.