Liberal Calvinist

robinson

University of the South/flcikr

While in the Surgical Waiting Room at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, I picked up copy The American Conservative Magazine (September/October 2013) and found it interesting reading.  Of special interest was an article about Marilynne Robison, the author of Gilead and Home. The writer, Robert Long, is an editorial assistant for the magazine.

Long admires Robinson’s form of Calvinism, even though he recognizes that she can hardly be called a conservative.  I found especially interesting her response via e-mail to a question about the identification of American Christians with the right.  Here is what she wrote:

Well, what is a Christian, after all?  Can we say that most of us are defined by the belief that Jesus Christ made the most gracious gift of his life and death for our redemption?  Then what does he deserve from us?  He said we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek.  Granted, these are difficult teachings.  But does our most gracious Lord deserve to have his name associated with concealed weapons and stand-your-ground laws, things that fly in the face of his teaching and example?  Does he say anywhere that we exist primarily to drive an economy and flourish in it?  He says precisely the opposite.  Surely we all know this.  I suspect that the association of Christianity with positions that would not survive a glance at the Gospels or the Epistles is opportunistic, and if the actual Christians raised these questions those whose real commitments are to money and hostility and potential violence would drop the pretense and walk away. 

Long concludes,

It’s little wonder conservatives are drawn to the liberal Robinson, when she not only writes beautifully but does so with a thoughtful Christianity that transcends our current political divisions and economic ideologies.  Robinson’s critiques, if at times broad-brush, provide an always-needed reminder that the church should never allow itself to be simply the Republican Party at prayer.  As Robinson writes in “Open Thy Hand Wide,” the Christian story is “too great a narrative to be reduced to serving any parochial interest or to be overwritten by any lesser human tale.”

Amen, sister!  Kind of makes you proud (but not too proud) to be a Calvinist.

About Brant Copeland

I was born in Brownsville, Texas, grew up in San Antonio and in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I'm the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Tallahassee, Florida.
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