Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Theological Hipster Bullies

It seems like we never really grow out of high school social structures. And even theology nerds can grow up to become the new bullies on the block.

When I browse around certain theological circles, particularly on the internet, I've discovered a strange hipstery attitude that accompanies with it an intellectual snobbery that borders on bullying. 

Here's what I mean.

I enjoy a good meme.

And all you have to do is take a look at the world of Christian theology on social media, and you'll find several "Reformed Memes," "Calvinist Memes," "Presbyterian Memes," "Reformed Baptist Memes" many of which have something condescending to say about Arminianism (some times that is not even based on a proper understanding of Arminius' theology).

Likewise, I've found this with many classical theists and folks of the Thomist persuasion who have this similar sort of condescending attitude towards so called "theistic personalists" like Plantinga, Craig, Swinburne...

And I understand that it's a meme/satire and it's supposed to witty, and some of them do happen to be funny. But some of it borderlines on theological bullying.

Because it's not simply that if you deny Calvin's view of providence or the doctrine of divine simplicity, you are wrong, it's that you're intellectually obtuse. 

And yet, what I discovered is that I couldn't find all that much the other way around. I could barely find any "Arminius memes" or "Wesley memes" that aren't actually poking fun at these figures. Or Plantinga memes that scoff at classical theism.

And then it occurred to me: I wonder if the reason for this is partly because both these theological groups (Calvinists and classical theists) consider themselves the cool theological minorities-the theological hipsters of Christianity. The ones who aren't mainstream or popular and have tapped into something retro and sophisticated beyond the average intellectual palate. In a world where the average layperson Christian is probably not Calvinist and definitely not a classical theist, they're the guy whose sees the light, and is genuinely convinced that everyone else is in the dark. And what are hipsters if not condescending.

Undoubtedly, there are mean Arminians and kind Calvinists.

But this post has very little to do with either Calvinism or classical theism, and everything to do with how we talk to each other.

Look I get it. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. (I could pick on Tim Keller for hours...)

The point is simply that especially as Christian theologians we should have a little more charity and intellectual humility to go around.

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