Micro-fiction: Arminian Grandpa and the Old, Old Stories

“Gather round! Chil’en, I’m here to tell you a story today, that took place back in the time of that low life John Calvin. It’s ’bout a young preacher that wouldn’t believe the Calvinists of his day, but believed instead what he saw in Scripture! And he prevailed!” Gramps sits in his favorite chair and rocks slowly as the grand kids settle in around him.

“What was his name Grandpa?” asks generic young character, portrayed to be a grandchild.

“Hiram Bingham!” says Grandpa, in his older, Grandpa voice.

“Tell us more!” said young generic female character, introduced to demonstrate respect for older family members recollections and believe in them as goodness.

‘Well, he had heard about people in far off lands that didn’t speak English. and having read the Bible, he wanted to go and preach to those people so they would be saved too. Because he felt they were all equal in the eyes of God! Unlike the Calvinist!”

“So what happened?” asked a real young person with a bit of skepticism in his voice.

“Well, he asked for money and permission from his local Calvinistic church. But they said “Let the heathen rot! If God wanted to save them he would have to pour out another blessing like Pentecost so we could speak their language or transport us miraculously to far off places!” Of course, they didn’t want the miracle, because miracles aren’t good for capitalism! They’re free!”

“Those mean ol’ Calvinists! I’ll bet they wanted to keep the good news of the cross all to themselves! Just like Calvinists today.” says young generic female character that always sides with Grandpa no matter what he says.

“That’s exactly right!” smiles Grandpa, slapping his knee. “But he willed himself to have courage. And after that! He willed himself to petition for funds from that same church to teach him language skills. He had a strong will, you see! Just like you!”

“I’ll bet they turned him down.” says young generic female character who is there to spoon feed Grandpa questions and encouragements in his line of thought.

“That’s right! You know why?” says Grandpa.

“Because Calvinists hate missions! They hate everybody!” say the grand kids in unison ..except for the one skeptical young person.

“Grandpa, do you know what year that took place?” asks the skeptical grandson.

“Back in Calvin’s own day!” says Grandpa, incredulous that he is being asked a detail. The kids usually get ice cream after these events and therefore no one asks for evidence that might delay the ice cream.

‘That’s more like an era. A year is one part of an era. It’s more specific. And where did you see this story. Was it written down? They actually wrote all that down? Because.. I don’t believe it.”

Grandpa stares, open mouthed. “You don’t believe it?!”

“I’m not an expert on theology or anything. But it just doesn’t pass the smell test for actual facts. Calvinists are famous for sending missionaries all over the world. Why would they turn a guy down who wanted to go? And why did he think they could give him permission to do anything? Didn’t he have God inside him? It sounds more like he wanted social recognition for being a good Arminian than he was interested in just getting up and going to do God’s will.”

Grandpa taps the edge of one eye and then points to the skeptical grandson. “I got my eye on you. You ..you’re questioning the authority of the Board of Deacons! Besides, the whole point of the story wasn’t to be factual, it was to show that Calvinists do our theology all wrong. You have to ask and get our permission to do missions. Calvinist do too.”

“But Grandpa, isn’t that like saying the Spanish word for vegetables ought to be the English word for vegetables but pronounced vege-tah-blays and going around trying to correct people who speak Spanish as if they were speaking Spanish incorrectly every time they said verduras? Don’t you see? It’s, you know ..completely different. You can’t just say they do you incorrectly and make up a story to prove it as if that means they were wrong according to Scripture. You lied. When you do that and lie, then they look honest simply because you lied.”

‘What’s happened to you? What have you been reading? These things are regularly done and its okay. You do what you have to do to win.” Grandpa puts a kind arm around the wayward thinker.

“The Bible, Gramps. Win what? A theoretical argument about doing the gospel at some unspecified future time? Calvinists theoretically get in the way of that theoretical future time actually arriving?”

“Calvinism is making gains in our churches. Think what that means to the heathen who haven’t heard the gospel?!” Grandpa squeezes his grandson’s shoulder urgently.

The rest of the grand kids head for the kitchen and the refrigerator. They’ve agreed with Grandpa exactly enough.

“But Gramps, Calvinists are famous for sending missionaries all over the world, whether or not they know the local language. They don’t rely on their own control of the situation. See, no free will means you don’t have to know every detail of something before God works in you for His glory and the betterment of the body of Christ.” continues the skeptical grandson, wondering at the vocabulary he has just been given for the occasion.

“Then they are at odds with our version of their doctrine!” Gramps adjusts his hair and looks skeptically in a mirror by the kitchen,  placed there in the story for him to look at during this exact moment. “How do you say that? Vege ..tah-blays?”

“Verduras. It means vegetables. And isn’t Hiram Bingham the freemason guy of lore?

“Are they retarded? Why can’t they just say vegetables?”


Matthew 11:16-19  But to whom shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the markets, which, calling to their companions,  say, We have piped to you, and ye have not danced: we have mourned to you, and ye have not wailed.  For John has come neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon.  The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a man that is eating and wine-drinking, a friend of tax-gatherers, and of sinners: –and wisdom has been justified by her children.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen


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