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Why “BlackCalvinist” ?

Simple question. Buncha answers.

Simple answer.

I’m black.

I hold to reformed theology.

Actual reformed theology (including covenant theology), not just ‘the five points’.

 

Slightly-enlogated answer.

I’m black (African-American, person of color or person of African descent born in America).

I hold to reformed theology (Westminster Confession, Nicene-Constantinople Creed, Apostle’s Creed, Five Solas, Five Points of Calvinism, Covenant Theology).

 

The “How did you pick your nickname” answer.

Original nickname: Xarminian…. as in Ex (former) Arminian (a theological system which puts man as the final determiner of his/her salvation).

I think I came up with BlackCalvinist some time in the middle of 2002 or 2003….kinda for obvious reasons (see the “simple answer” above). I thought the name was ‘cool’. 😎

 

The “How did we end up here” answer (circa 2006).

We have a blogpost for that.

The Road to Calvinism – how I got here

 

The “you worship John Calvin” or “I am of Calvin” answer.

The name “Calvinism” was a nickname for the system of theology shared by French reformer, Jean (John) Cauvin (Calvin).  Calvin didn’t come up with the name (in fact, he’d probably be horrified that someone was using his name as a term to describe a system of theology). Calvin also didn’t come up with the theology; Guido de Bres (Belgic Confession), Heinreich Bullinger, Zacharias Ursinius (Heidelberg Catechism) are all teachers in the same theological tradition (though De Bres was a student of Calvin and Theodore Beza). The term calvinism first popped up around 1577 (Calvin died in 1564)…. as an insult to those who held to reformed theology (coincidentally, “Lutheran” and “Christian” started off as insults too).

Anyway, the term began to be used to describe an entire system of theology.  Over 250 years, it got diluted a bit down to “the five points” (The five points of response from the Synod of Dordt to the Remonstrants, 1618-1619). And down to the present day, many hairs were split defining the difference between calvinist, reformed, truly reformed and soteriological calvinists.

So yeah, long story short, I sometimes prefer to use the term reformed theology instead of calvinism because someone (and I’ve been reformed since 2000….I’ve had this conversation 3 quintillion times….) will always find this to be a satisfactory reason to not listen or have a decent discussion. The system existed long before him (think Augustine of Hippo…and Paul).  When I use those terms, I’m almost always talking about more than just “the five points”.

The “how can you embrace the theology of a slavemaster” answer.

Well, for starters, I don’t.  Men like Robert Dabney lived inconsistent lives – affirming the imago dei in systematic theology, then setting aside his theology to be an American in the 1800’s with “A Defence of Virginia”, which argued for perpetual slavery of black folks in America and secession from the US. How can you write a great systematic theology text, explain reformed theology accurately, then completely miss 1 Timothy and Exodus’s prohibitions against manstealing ?

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

The Christian life is all about grace; God looking at us, knowing the worst in us and still being loving, gracious and forgiving to us through the death of His Son. I know personally that God has been waaaaaaay more patient with me than I would be if I were God dealing with Kerry Gilliard.  Remember the parable of the guy that owed a buncha money ?  Yeah. I just had 23 million in debt forgiven of me. I’m not going to strangle the next guy over 12,000 in debt.  Every generation has blindspots (they are still sinful, by the way) where we (as a whole) ‘miss’ things that are clear in scripture in other generations.

In addition, every reformed person and denomination did not support slavery. Denominations like the RPCNA condemned ‘perpetual negro slavery’ early on, even while mainline denominations in the US perpetuated it. In the mid-1800’s, men like Spurgeon were hated in the South for speaking against slavery and violence was threatened against them. Calvin himself generally spoke negatively against slavery he knew of at the time (Northern Eurpoean slave trade with Africa).

All of that said, many ‘slavemasters’ did indeed claim to hold to reformed theology (some were also Weslyan Arminian, but that’s another story)….but there were some who were anti-slavery as well (John Brown also comes to mind).

The system of theology isn’t the issue here.