The Cage Phase

  Here’s a great excerpt from M. Horton’s new book, For Calvinism.

“Critics have frequently confused Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism, and sometimes contact with hyper-Calvinists proves the caricature.  Often, bowled over by a sense of God’s majesty and grace, new Calvinists enter what we call ‘the cage phase.’  Like any new convert, we can be hard to live with when we’ve just experienced a radical paradigm shift.  Why weren’t we taught this when it seems so evident in Scripture?  How can our fellow Christians ignore these doctrines and even squelch any discussion?  In this condition, enthusiasm can turn to frustration and even to arrogance and divisiveness.  Only superficially acquainted with Reformed teaching at this stage, we swing from one extreme to the other, misunderstanding and misrepresenting these doctrines.  This often proves the caricature.  No doubt, many critics of Calvinism have encountered this, and it puts them off from taking a second look at the position.”

“However, mainstream Calvinism has been associated with personal renewal as well as doctrinal reformation.  In fact, Reformed piety has resisted the false choice between head and heart, doctrine and life, church and individual.  In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both Lutheran and Reformed traditions reflected a concern for doctrine and life as one integrated pattern.  Like the Reformers themselves, the evangelical movement was deeply impressed with the significance of Christian truth for daily living.  That is why the Bible was translated into the common languages of the people and widely distributed to parishes and households, along with catechisms, prayer books, and psalters.”

Michael Horton, For Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 13-14.

shane lems

5 Replies to “The Cage Phase”

  1. Nuts … I was hoping that he’d have nothing all that new to say here and that I’d be set with my usual go-to books by Sproul, White and Boice. Grrrr … looks like I need to pick this up too.

    I went to the Biola talk last week where Horton and Olsen had a conversation about their books. Really good talk! Made me want to buy both books!


    1. Andrew,

      Speaking of Boice, I have fond memories of listening to him on the radio a decade ago.

      How fortunate you were to attend the Biola talk. Look forward to your decision after you read the two books.


      1. Thanks for the comment, Matt!

        I’ve never actually listened to him on the radio, but I’ve spent a little time reading his books. Mike Horton always spoke fondly of him!

        The Biola talk was fun. I found myself quite appreciative of Olsen’s presentation. Out here, most Arminians are a bit, well, unsophisticated. Of course, as Horton rightly noted, Olsen has spent too much time letting Jonathan Edwards be the “official voice” of Calvinism (thus skewing how God’s sovereignty is actually described in the confessional Reformed tradition). Also, since most “Calvinist” writers (i.e., 5-point defenders) talk about this issue in isolation from covenant theology, most Arminians (Olsen included) reading them learn about a view of predestination that sounds arbitrary at best.

        I’m sure that when I get the time to read these books, I’ll be glad I did, but after hearing what I did at Biola, I doubt I’ll be dropping out of the Reformed tradition! {grin}


        1. Pastor Boice had a really wonderful tone in his voice in addition to being someone who rightly handled God’s word.

          I’m still working through the 5 points as I grew up Lutheran, then unfortunately attended a Wesleyan church (because my wife was a memeber) but over the past 6 years I’ve been leaning to the Reformed side. Can I be a Reformed Lutheran?


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