Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Calvinists and Evangelism

While I often joke and use satire as a rhetorical device against Arminians, one charge that Arminians make that I do take umbrage with is the claim that Calvinists are not interested in evangelism. This has been seen in the comments features of several blogs recently, such as Walter’s claim on Reppert’s blog that “I read somewhere that a Calvinist would rather cross the country to debate their theological system than cross the street to witness to someone” or Johnny Dialetic’s claim on Birch’s blog “We all know it [Calvinism] dampens evangelism and chills churches.”

The reason I take umbrage is because not only do I know more Calvinists than Arminians who are missionaries, but I know I evangelize to atheists far more than these “fine” Arminian representatives do.

In point of fact, my personal blog keeps statistics on the posts that I do. Since most of my main blog articles are cross posted on Triablogue as well (I only keep personal stuff on just my personal blog), a glimpse over them will show a fairly accurate representation of the spread of posts that I write and who the audience is.

Thus, I’ve written a total of 30 articles on Arminianism and 35 on Calvinism (and there are some posts that are archived under both, of course). In contrast, I’ve got 157 on Atheism, including 84 on presuppositionalism alone. There are another 144 on science, 45 on math, and 52 on evolution, but these don’t all fit as apologetics against Atheism. Still, 157 articles on Atheism is more than 5x the number of articles I’ve written about Arminians.

For someone who would rather cross the country to debate Calvinism than witness to someone across the street, I sure engage a lot of atheists.

So I could simply ask, how many atheists have our Arminian detractors engaged? How many people have they witnessed to, those who say that Calvinists are not interested in evangelism? And what are the odds that someone who’s writing a blog called “Classical Arminianism: A FORMER CALVINIST'S CENSURE AGAINST CALVINISM AND PROMOTION OF 5-POINT ARMINIANISM” is going to dedicate five times the volume of posts against Calvinists to posts against atheism? Or even Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, or New Agers?


  1. Hey Peter, while I agree with your general thrust (I don't think Calvinism dampens evangelism at all; quite the opposite), it should be recognized that there's a distinction between evangelism and apologetics. I do a lot of the latter, but not very much of the former. That's because apologetics is my strength. Other people are much better at evangelism. Or at preaching. Or at hospitality. Or whatever. Anyway, I guess my warm Calvinistic church, with its weekly open-air evangelism, and the weekly evangelism classes, must be the exception that proves the Arminian rule O.o

  2. Let us also not forget what the Arminian version of evangelism so often seems to be reducible to a formula like the Five Spiritual Laws followed by the sinner's prayer. That's what I grew up with at least, and it's the sort of thing that the world sees through as shallow. It's what they make fun of on a regular basis.

  3. I'm not sure if I could define the distinction between evangelism and apologetics...

    But it does seem coherent for someone to say, "I don't enjoy evangelism at all, but I do enjoy arguing with people about whether the Bible is right."

    But that might have more to do with your motivations than with there being a definable distinction.

  4. Hey Jugulum. For a brief primer on the distinctions I see between apologetics and evanglism, see 'The Purpose of Apologetics'.


  5. Hey Bnonn,

    I think even distinguishing them my point still stands. Rather than defending my precious Calvinism against the icky ebil Arminians, by a 5:1 margin I've engaged more Atheists. I would still maintain that I doubt their record would stand up similarly, even accounting for the difference between apologetics and evangelism.

  6. Note: by "their record" I mean the Arminians, not the Atheists. Sorry for the ambiguity.