Stuff Calvinists Like

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m (mostly) reformed. That means I believe in things like unconditional election, total depravity, etc. I believe that those are biblical doctrines.

One of the main complaints I’ve heard against reformed Christians is that they’re arrogant and like to bash people over the head with truth. And to be honest, there’s probably some truth in that. But I don’t want to be an arrogant Calvinist. I have a lot to be humble about, including my little reformed quirks. So to help us stay humble, I’ve compiled a “Stuff Calvinists Like” list.

Calvinists Like…

Using Air Quotes When We Say “Free Will”

If you say the words “free will” without putting air quotes around it, we’ll stop you in your tracks and begin a five point interrogation. To be safe, put air quotes around anything that sounds like “free will”, such as “free willy”.

Making Resolutions

Jonathan Edwards, who is the Calvinist equivalent of Spiderman, made over seventy resolutions. We Calvinists like to make resolutions, post them on our blogs, and then not do them. We mainly just like to say the word “Resolved”. And the word “Institutes”.

Quoting John Piper

We try to maintain a 2:1 Bible to Piper ratio. We quote two Bible verses and then a sentence out of Don’t Waste Your Life. When we see someone collecting sea shells, we say, “What’s he going to do with that shell collection when he gets to heaven?”

Moleskine Journals

Apparently there is something spiritual about Moleskine journals because every Calvinist owns at least four. One for devotional notes, one for sermons notes, one for prayer lists, and one for fantasy football stats. For some reason we also use fountain pens, even though using a fountain pen is like trying to write with an octopus.

Correcting Someone When They Say “Lucky”

Please don’t say the word “lucky” around me. It was providence, not luck. And that breakfast cereal you’re eating? Providence Charms.

Loving On C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is basically the Bono of the reformed world. He was definitely not a Calvinist, but we still go absolutely crazy for the guy. Yes he held some unbiblical doctrines, but you still have to love him. Only a cold-hearted machine would get angry at a guy who wrote about centaurs and fawns.

Showing That We’re Culturally Relevant

People often associate reformed doctrine with stuffy, old, out-of-touch churches. We don’t like that, and do all we can to prove our relevance. So we’ll make references to the show Full House and talk about how much we love Creed (even though they’re probably not Christian, but we’re not sure).

Okay, that’s a start. We reformed people can be pretty ridiculous at times, and have a lot to be humble about. If you’re not reformed, that’s okay. What matters most is the gospel.

What else would you add to the list?

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I’m married to Jen, and I have three kids. I know a lot about Star Wars, and I live in a van down by the river. I’ve also written a number of books, which people seem to like.


    • ryan says

      I was going to say
      Cigars and micro-brewed/imported beer
      but you were providentially chosen to comment before me (:

  1. JDog says

    1. There is no 4 point Calvinists . . . only 5 Pointers and Armenians.
    2. Church discipline is something to look forward to, not just a function of the church. I even hear they mix their M&M's with their popcorn during the public forum!
    3. True historical Calvinists have problems with Sproul. It's all about the dunk, not the sprinkle!

  2. says

    writing with a fountain pen is not trying to write with an octopus but is allowing your writing to dance smoothly across the page, instead of looking like a drunk spider with inky feet running across a floor that shocks them.

    Just so you know…

  3. Ryan Boyer says

    As a Calvinist that serves as an associate pastor in a Reformed church, I tried eliminating potluck meals for Pot-Providence meals. The response was more than slightly underwhelming to say the least. No matter how much Calvinists love providence, you don't mess with a potluck.

    • Todd says

      Of course, I meant to say "worth referencing." That brings up another thing – Calvinists like to be correct in everything – and they don't like being corrected.

    • says

      My fiancé and I are terrible at this! Planning for our future is fraught with caveats AT. EVERY. STEP! Every sentence has this:

      "we'll be together for the rest of one of our lives, who knows when that'll be."
      "I can't wait to marry you, provided one of us doesn't die before then, or Jesus doesn't return."

      It's simultaneously amusing and annoying. But whenever I go to say anything else, it's like this loudspeaker in the back of my head, demanding that I caveat!

  4. says

    Drinking RC Cola to support Ligonier Ministries.

    Favorite karaoke tune: "Tiptoe through the T.U.L.I.P"

    Thinking my election reveals God's wisdom, instead of His grace.

  5. Skendell says

    They also like the greatest Calvinist pickup line of all time:
    Is your name Grace? … Because you’re irresistible

  6. Skendell says

    They also like the greatest Calvinist pickup line of all time:
    Is your name Grace? … Because you're irresistible
    (Even if they would never dream of using it, they enjoy it)

  7. says

    I don't have anything witty or amusing to add. I just want to say that I've been following your blog for a couple of months now, and I really appreciate the sincerity and humility with which you write.
    I find myself doctrinally leaning towards reformed theology, but completely turned off by the attitude and arrogance of many reformed bloggers. Thank you for your thoughts, insights, and bits of humor, but even more, thank you for the spirit in which you present them. (fyi: found you through a link on the Sojourn Music blog.)

    • says

      I'm so glad you said this, Diana, I feel exactly the same way. I don't have anything to add to this particular post, just have to let you know that this blog gives me inspiration, encouragement and comedic relief every day.
      When I see the latest post in my Inbox, I'm instantly cheered.
      God bless you guys :)

    • Dan says

      I agree with you Diana about the arrogance of many reformed bloggers, and I too tend towards being reformed. But I guess that I am just crabby if I can't always be nice to some people.

  8. says

    “Please don?t say the word ?lucky? around me. It was providence, not luck. And that breakfast cereal you?re eating? Providence Charms.”

    Best line ever

  9. Brad says

    A Calvinist friend once shared that when a Calvinist slips and falls down the stairs the proper response shall be, "I'm glad that's over." Of course, referring to the point that everything is predestined. But, perhaps the Calvinist was just a bit clumsy.

  10. Desiree says

    we like to catechize the kiddos. We like Lord of the RIngs, don't we? I really like it, anyway. And we like the Purtians…but we forget that when we mention them to friends and family outside reformed circles, they only think of The Salem Witch Trails — which therefore freaks our friends and family out. We like Classical education and music from the Gettys.

  11. Desiree says

    Oh, and we like to say "Happy Reformation Day" rather than "happy halloween." I am going to be thinking of these all day now! :) I have to agree about the mole skin journals! :)

  12. Dan says

    1. Useless debates.
    2. Juding those who are not Calvinists.
    3. Pretending to be humble.
    4. Growing beards.

  13. John says

    Calvinist gets a bad rep all the time. Some churches today in are smoking out Calvinist pastors. That’s is really sad. Anyone who uses the ESV Bible is a Calvinist, so they say. We all should be a biblicist!

  14. Megan Liz says

    Ha! I never thought of myself as Calvinist, but I fit Every. Single. One of these.

    (Except for the fountain pen. Those things are more than evil. :P)

  15. Markthisname says

    Like the Puritans, our speech may be a bit flowery at times, but we prefer TULIPs (Calvinsim–>5 points) to DAISY's (Arminianism–>He loves me…He loves me not…He loves me…He loves me not….)

  16. Andrew says

    An oldie but a goodie:

    10 Reasons Why I Am A Calvinist

    1. Calvinists tend to wear pure wool and fine cotton, dispensationalists tend to wear cheap lime-green polyester leisure suits.

    2. John Calvin was French, being French is very chic.

    3. Calvin sounds like Calvin Klein, and his clothes are very chic.

    4. Calvinists can drink (all good things in moderation).

    5. Calvinists can smoke (fine quality cigars and pipe tobacco).

    6. Dispensationalists are into prophecy conferences where they talk about Star-Trek eschatology and the mark of the Beast. Calvinists have conferences on "life and culture", art, social justice, and other highbrow things like that. Afterwards we go to the local pub and talk about philosophy over a pint of Bass ale.

    7. Calvinists have close ties with Scotland, and Scotland is very cool: Sean Connery, the movie Highlander, Bagpipes, the Loch Ness Monster, Glenlivet 18 year old Scotch, the movie Train Spotting, etc…

    8. Calvinists think we are smarter than everyone else.

    9. It is more socially acceptable to say, "I go to St Andrew's Presbyterian Church" than to say, "I go to Sonlife Charismatic Believers Assembly" or to say "I go to Boston Berean Bible Believing Baptist Bethel" or to say "I go to the Latter-Day-Rain Deliverance Tabernacle Prophecy Center Inc." or to say "I go to the Philadelphia Church of the Majority Text" or to say "I go to the Lithuanian Apostolic Orthodox Autocephalic Church of the Baltic Union of 1838."

    10. Ultimately, I am a Calvinist because I had no choice in the matter.


    • Dan says

      #8 – "Think" is quite a ways from "are" – which is why I think Calvinists need a dose of humility.

  17. GodFearer says

    Personally I think John Calvin would turn in his grave to read any of this stuff…

    What's wrong with being a God fearing, bible believing, Christ following Christian…

    There's too much 'idolatry' in this 'Calvinism'

    God forgive us for worshipping man…

  18. Jeff says

    Hey, side note: How many syllables in "Moleskine"? If we're gonna use these notebooks, shouldn't we pronounce it correctly?

  19. says

    * Making Fun of People We Don't Agree With *
    We draw that line on showing brotherly love to those who disagree with us. Instead of seeking them out and approaching them on issues, we're happy to sit in our virtual bunkers and create "hilarious" graphical mockeries of them (un-inspiration posters, cartoons, etc. – I'm looking at you Pyro), accompanied by in-depth commentary about all the reasons we are right and they are wrong. A shining testimony to our self-conjectured status as supernal planetary endowment (AKA…you figure it out).

    * Plastering "Sola" Ad Infinitum on the Web *
    And we won't stop at the Solas the reformers used, either. We'll keep going until there is Sola Uno Stilo for Reformed site/blog designs!

    * Jokes about Other Denominations *
    Why did the baptist cross the road? To get to the other SLIDE! (Yes, they're usually that bad. And yes, I meant water slide. See? Bad.)

    * Complaining About How Calvinists Don't Read Calvin *
    Most Calvinists don't read, period, just like most other-nists. That they don't read a massive 500-year-old text which can be linguistically daunting even in the best of translations is hardly surprising.

  20. David Roseberry says

    They like Calvinst jokes like, "Anyone who believes in total depravity of man…can't be all bad."

  21. markthog says

    Being "mostly reformed" myself (although never having attended a RP church, I love Jonathan Edwards, and I apprecite John Piper) and having just finished reading Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's _Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert_, I got a kick out of this post. I feel like an outsider looking in. Thanks Stephen!

  22. Lori says

    I must be a rotten Calvinist! I, nor any of the reformed Christians I know, do very few of these things. I don't even know what a moleskin journal is. I obviously hang with the wrong crowd!!

    I'd rather quote R. C. Sproul or John MacArthur, but I do love me some Spurgeon too! :-)

  23. Sharoncopy says

    Where in the Bible do we specifically find something called "traveling mercies" ? Why do people use such terms all the time? It's like it shows we are a member of the club because we know what to say for prayer time.

    Why do we (they) say "we trust that you had a ….whatever" instead of "Hope you had a ….whatever."


  1. […] Stuff Calvinists Like Stephen Altrogge writes: I?ll come right out and say it: I?m (mostly) reformed. That means I believe in things like unconditional election, total depravity, etc. I believe that those are biblical doctrines. ?One of the main complaints I?ve heard against reformed Christians is that they?re arrogant and like to bash people over the head with truth. And to be honest, there?s probably some truth in that. But I don?t want to be an arrogant Calvinist. I have a lot to be humble about, including my little reformed quirks. So to help us stay humble, I?ve compiled a ?Stuff Calvinists Like? list. ?Calvinists Like? […]

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