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?

If you enjoyed this post would you mind sharing it on Twitter or Facebook? Thanks!


  • "Jonathan Edwards, who is the Calvinist equivalent of Spider-man"

    Best. Line. Ever.

  • Cigars and Scotch.

  • 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!

  • 1. "John Piper is my homeboy" t-shirt.
    2. Westminster Catechism should be an appendix to our ESV Study Bible.

  • larry 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…

  • 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.

  • Petra Hefner says:

    Don't push your providence with a Calvinist!

  • megan says:

    hehehe, that's very good :-)

  • Todd says:

    Teaching/quoting Romans as if it is the only book with referencing.

  • 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.

  • Chris Gatihi says:

    making sure to preface or append your plans with "Lord willing" =)

  • HighlandLassie says:

    What do you mean by "mostly reformed"?

  • shemaromans says:

    It's called Pauline theology, not Calvinism. :)

  • Patricia says:

    Too funny! I've read Don't Waste Your Life more than once, and must humbly confess: I collect shells.

  • Dave Wilson 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.

  • Bob says:

    dead theologians

  • This may just be personal but…
    Calvinists like:
    Being a hawk on the lookout for anything that could be emergent.

    I must confess, it dominates most of my time.

  • Kathryn 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!

  • Skendell says:

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

  • 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)

  • I must be writing with the wrong kind of fountain pen then, because I always get ink all over my hands.

  • Yep, potluck is here to stay.

  • Yeah, I almost included this. I end every planning statement with that phrase.

  • There would be a few things that traditional reformed folks hold to that I would not, like infant baptism for example.

  • That's really funny. I'll give you that.

  • Diana 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.)

  • @darylhb 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 :)

  • wjcollier3 says:

    "Armenians" are from Armenia. Arminians hold a different soteriology from Calvinists.

  • Thanks so much for your encouragement guys. I'm really grateful that you are encouraged by this blog. That's the goal!

  • brewner says:

    no calvinist or armenian should ever like creed. EVER.

  • Kim says:


    "Thinking my election reveals…."

    AWESOME! :)

  • Craiger says:

    Um, Armenians come from Armenia. Arminians follow the teaching of Arminius (or some version of it…)

  • Kim says:

    Very funny!

  • Perry says:

    No non-Christian or Christian should EVER like Creed!

  • Rich says:

    "centaurs and fawns"

    really? Fawns? It's Faun…some Calvinist you are…

  • Sky 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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! :)

  • lloydjones says:

    Gaze longingly at the great Puritans, and wish we lived in the 17th century so we could meet J.I. Packer in his youth.

  • Dan says:

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

  • ryan says:

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

  • @gottheology says:

    I love this. Oh mylanta.

  • @gottheology says:

    Someone is a little grumpy.

  • I was spelling it the Calvinist way. CS Lewis spells it the Arminian way.

  • MSud says:

    Worshiping at the feet of Tim Keller

  • "even though using a fountain pen is like trying to write with an octopus…"

    PURE GOLD! Re-posting.

  • 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!

  • Lindele says:

    Hahaha, this is my husband's new thing…and he feels like he is being unfaithful to Piper.

  • 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)

  • laura says:

    I knew a church that did "Pot Blessing" meals. LAAAAAME.

  • Dan says:

    That is what driving in the dark in heavy rain after 3 hours of sleep will do to someone!

  • Dan says:

    The book "The Valley of Vision"

  • 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.

  • Allen G says:

    That is one of those effectual pick up lines. You may have to use it many times, but it will, without fail, win the heart of "the one" God has chosen for you.

  • Ken Askew says:

    It's not nice to make fun of John Piper. I'll make a note of the indiscretion in my moleskin.

  • 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….)

  • Calvinism is wrong. Molinism gets it.

  • 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.


  • "Correcting Someone When They Say 'Lucky'" Someone once said, "I spell 'luck' with a capitol 'G'."

  • Funny, but also a good Biblical practice, so I guess it slides for now…

  • danni mencer says:

    Don't even think about it!

  • Dan says:

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

  • Truth Seeker says:

    lol, this is the type of shit that turned me into an atheist. I know…I was never saved in the first place lol.

  • Stephen says:

    @brad. That's the funniest one yet.
    @brewner. You're totally right.

  • Leslie says:

    ESV Bibles. All others were translated through some combination of hearsay and Pictionary.

  • 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…

  • Jeff says:

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

  • dportela 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.

  • Felila Afoa says:

    Im laughing cause it's so true! No matter how cheesy we think of the potluck; it still better be there!

  • Alex says:

    no one's mentioned Pastor Mark Driscoll?

  • Alex says:

    Bob Kaufflin

  • No Not One says:

    Ohh yeah the Gettys! God glorifying music!!

  • Ben says:

    We end our prayers with "if it is Your will. Amen."

    We also say "Lord willing" almost any time we talk about future events.

  • Jasmine says:

    ahahaha this is hilarious! Especially "lucky" and loving Piper.Going to post it on my tumblr!

  • Petra Hefner says:

    Thanks for the laugh. Love the last two sentences!

  • David Roseberry says:

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

  • Barnabas says:

    Wait, there are churches that bless people with pot?

  • This Guy says:


  • suzanne b. says:

    This is one of the funniest things I have ever read. :)

    I'm thinking maybe you are the Calvinist equivalent of The Tick.

  • Lipstick6 says:

    Which begs the question, can Armenians be Arminian?

  • Graham Hynds says:

    HAH! This is golden!

  • @jchrisland says:

    Listening to Lecrae
    Reading big books that could be also used as paper weights
    Reading Puritans
    Having a sense of humor

  • 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!

  • Matt says:

    People from Armenia?

  • 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! :-)

  • 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."

  • Cindy says:

    Lord of the Rings definitely. And even better in French. More Calvinistic would be LOTR in Greek or Hebrew!

  • Cindy says:

    Beards definitely.
    Though I don't want one.

  • Cindy says:

    I'm over pens. Hurt my fingers and I'm too impatient. Much prefer typing now.

  • Cindy says:

    Rebuking coworkers for knocking on Formica (wood) or crossing their fingers.

  • JohnBrian says:

    Our Pastor (now retired) called them Pot-Providence!

  • JohnBrian says:

    If you're a God fearing, bible believing, Christ following Christian… you might be a Calvinist!

  • English Teacher 101 says:

    I’m a God-fearing, Bible-believing, Christ-follower, but I believe Molinism is the most logical option. :)

  • English Teacher 101 says:

    Molinism does away with both tulips (at least part of the petals) and daisies. :)

  • English Teacher 101 says:

    I use ESV….but I subscribe to Molinism.

  • Mrs. Erven says:

    I wish I had good enough handwriting for a moleskin journal. Sigh… :)

  • Dave Bonner says:

    It should be noted that John Piper is the 67th book of the Bible. There its been said!!

  • Berean says:

    There is that lack of humility.

  • Chris says:

    Hahaha!!! My favorite line

  • Michael Hampton says:

    Laughing over the RC cola line!

  • timdaniels says:

    Do you despise the trial God has ordained for you…?

  • timdaniels says:

    Dan, the humility of a Calvinist is found in our ability to to accept our intellectual superiority. We were chosen for this place…

  • timdaniels says:

    My friend, do you lack entirely a sense of humor?

  • timdaniels says:

    It depends who says it, D.James Kennedy or John Frame?

  • timdaniels says:

    Pastor Mark Driscoll. There.

  • timdaniels says:

    I’ve NEVER heard that before! Hilarious!

  • timdaniels says:

    Yeah, pretty rotten Calvinist. But the Spurgeon citing earned you some absolution.

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