Sometimes, Upon First Becoming Reformed, Some Become Jerks

Let’s admit, however, that sometimes, upon first becoming Reformed, some folk become jerks. Sometimes this phase is temporary. Mike Horton calls this the “cage phase,” when a new convert to Reformed Christianity needs to be put in a cage until he matures. Some, when they first discover “the doctrines of grace” (code for unconditional predestination and justification by grace alone, through faith alone) can actually become angry that they’ve been denied these truths for so long. It’s as if one grew up in England (pay attention Carl) and suddenly discovers that food can be pleasant, that just a few miles to the southeast there is a people of strange tongues and marvelous food beyond one’s wildest dreams! Gaining this knowledge can produce genuine frustration. Having tasted French food, our Englishman is beside himself. It’s all he can talk about. It’s all he wants to read about. It’s all he cooks. The first time his Mum brings out the usual Thursday night dinner, he rages at her, but she doesn’t know any better. She’s never been to France and wouldn’t know pain au chocolate if it hit her on the head. Read more»

R. Scott Clark, “Why (Some) Reformed People Are Such Jerks? Heidelblog (2006)


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Timeless truth. Also one can fall into a kind of cage stage idolatry (I know I did), where particular person X first explained these doctrines to me (which actually take me years to understand and live) so I am therefore Team X forever. As if the truths did exist independently of any particular Christian celebrity explainer.

  2. Thank you for this. I’m not sure I was a full-blown, cage-stage jerk, but I certainly engaged in idolatry of doctrine. There was a likely a bit of QIRC weaved into the formula, and my tendency to focus on distinctives caused grief when I interacted with Christians outside of my world. If I’m honest, I still struggle with a lack of love and need to repent, daily. Praise God that I am a work in progress and he is more concerned with mortification of the old man than I too often am.

  3. Your analogy is utterly wrong-headed.
    Only fey, middle class heathens would believe that French food is superior to good, solid English food.
    And if an Englishman came back wanting a pain au chocolate over a full English then serious questions would be asked. There’s not a lot more disappointing to a true Englishman than finding out your hotel only serves a continental breakfast.

    Apart from that, though, the point made is a good one.

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