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Switch to Forum Live View Why are Calvinists so smug and self-righteous?
5 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2010 - 8:39PM #1
deep thinker
Posts: 13

Hello, as a non-Dutch, non-Calvinist person who grew up in the midst of Grand Rapids Calvinist-dominated society (1950's and 60's), I am wondering if those of the Calvinist persuasion know how they are regarded by "the outsiders".  The Amish call anyone not like themselves, "The English".  Somehow, this West Michigan Dutch community of religiously and culturally linked believers has defined the phrase "puffed up with pride" for many years, defined by an unholy combination of limited ethnicity and religious expression.   One is either in the inner circle "Dutch Calvinist", or regarded with disdain as one who "just doesn't belong".  This sort of religious tyranny was alive and well, and at least in the older folks, continues to flourish.  Though I do not disparage the many funding contributions of some of the richest Calvinist families to this area, even today, you're either "one of us" or "against us".  I call it "circling the wagons", and I hope the younger folks will see that the holier-than-thou, I-can-be-more-religious-than-you attitudes could use some adjustment.  It's impossible for those steeped in the tradition, to realize how off-putting and overly pious they appear to the world.  At one point my daughter attended one of the local Christian schools, but though she had a Dutch name, the fact that she didn't attend a CRC or Reformed church made her eternally an outsider.  What a shame.  I'd love to know how those raised in this tradition and now "out in the real world" feel about this.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 12:31AM #2
greenponder
Posts: 1,395

Pious means godly or devout. Are you saying someone can be overly godly?

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 7:25AM #3
deep thinker
Posts: 13

No, sorry, I meant the ostentatious display of religiousity by those who are determined to let you know just how (outwardly) observant they are.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 15, 2010 - 7:54AM #4
greenponder
Posts: 1,395

Mar 13, 2010 -- 7:25AM, deep thinker wrote:


No, sorry, I meant the ostentatious display of religiousity by those who are determined to let you know just how (outwardly) observant they are.




How do you know it is just outwardly?

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 15, 2010 - 8:04AM #5
deep thinker
Posts: 13

Because I've seen it in action.  Good example--my husband used to deliver Sunday papers in Jenison, and had to "hide" that delivery for some people, so others wouldn't see that they were getting the paper on the Sabbath.  And, my parents' friends, who, though they wouldn't watch tv in their own home, would always manage to "drop by" on Sunday evening to catch the programs on our tv.  So sad.  And then there's the lady I bumped into returning beer bottles at the local store--she had to make sure that I knew that they were "not hers".    And my best friend's dad, who, thought he'd never say "God-D*&#", would frequently sprinkle the s*&t word in his conversation--but of course, it wasn't technically "swearing"...

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 17, 2010 - 3:32PM #6
CalKnox
Posts: 330

I don't think Dutch Calvinists would have a problem with anyone knowing they were drinking beer.


Any ethnic group who live in the same place may issolate themselves somewhat. This probably has little to do with their Calvinism, and more to do with being Dutch in Grand Rapids.  When I, a Presbyterian, visit a church with Durch connections, I notice the cultural differences.


 

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 17, 2010 - 9:00PM #7
deep thinker
Posts: 13

Yes, CalKnox--I have noticed that the clannish behavior of the G.R. Dutch is a well-known factor in the community.  My friend's father once told her to hire a certain plumber since "He is one of us", and when my husband and I moved into a new house (our married name was Dutch), the first question posed to us by new neighbors was, "Where do you belong?", meaning, "Which Christian Reformed Church do you attend?"  Perhaps it is just because such a huge number emigrated from the Netherlands to West Michigan in the post-WWII years, that the cultural imprint seems so large, and the divide is more noticeable.

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 25, 2010 - 1:05AM #8
CalKnox
Posts: 330

Any sizeable religious groups will have at least a minority who conform outwardly, but secretly violate the principles they affirm.  This has little to do with whether they are Calvinist or not.  I know plenty of Calvinists who strictly observe the Lord's Day and consider it a delight to do so.


If any Christian group too closely identifies their culture with their faith, making the former more important, they are wrong. We are one people in Christ first, commanded to take the gospel to all nations. 

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 25, 2010 - 3:30AM #9
deep thinker
Posts: 13

I am so happy to see that second paragraph.  It gives me hope.

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4 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2010 - 7:30PM #10
Crc_guy
Posts: 2

I think it's safe to say the Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids is improving in the areas you have raised. It's certainly true that the Dutch stuck together closely when they were relatively new immigrants to the United States, and this negatively affected their outreach to the surrounding community. We have been very public in recognizing these faults and the denomination is working hard to focus on local outreach and cultural diversity in our churches.


This change doesn't happen overnight, but there is ample evidence that we're moving in the right direction. There are CRC churches throughout the country, including many in Grand Rapids that have a great amount of ethnic and cultural diversity - Madison Square and Oakdale Park CRCs come to mind. The CRC church in which I was raised in Illinois is around 30% Dutch people.


So what's my point? First of all, I apologize for the negativity you have experienced from some Dutch people you have known. Second, to ask you not to write off the whole denomination (especially its theology) because of those experiences.

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