Defining the "Cage Stage" of Calvinism

Image © Dilip MuralidaranSomeone has asked, "What is the cage stage?" I have mentioned it a couple of times in various posts, most recently in my series Why I No Longer Celebrate Christmas. In my haste, I failed to adequately define this peculiar term for my readers, so I offer my sincere apologies and the following definition:

cage state | noun | demonstrating wild and possibly deranged excitement over the seventeenth century pronouncements of the Synod of the Canons of Dordt in the Netherlands. These pronouncements are often referred to as the five points of Calvinism and, once a person becomes convinced that these five points are true, he or she enters the dreaded "cage stage." The novice Calvinist is considered "armed and dangerous" during this period, which has been known to extend to six months, but in more serious cases can last up to ten years or longer. 

Symptoms include: high fever that results in delirious incoherence of thought and speech; vomiting spasms brought on when anyone mentions "free will" or "asking Jesus into their heart" or the dreaded philosophy of Jacob Arminius; restlessness, especially during church services, when the sufferer goes more than an hour without hearing the TULIP's five bells ringing in their ears; and diahrrea of the mouth, where uncontrollable spasms of verbal nonsense put everyone within earshot at risk.

The recommended treatment is complete isolation, restriction of movement and speech, until the symptoms pass. Unfortunately, this treatment is rarely sought by the afflicted person, so family and friends are often left to suffer silently. The only person who can reach the cage stage victim is a more experienced Calvinist, because the victim's state of mind does not permit trust in any others. Please DO NOT attempt intervention without consulting an expert.

I trust this tongue-in-cheek definition will be helpful, leading to the early detection, treatment, and cure of this serious illness. As for myself, I do believe that there is life after Calvinism. It might be encouraging to hear from those who have recovered from the cage stage or those who have been able to help others through this personal crisis.


Note: After writing this post, I discovered an excellent article by beowulf, along with links on his site to ten other related articles (below) by various bloggers:

  1. Why Calvinists Have a Poor Reputation
  2. Baby Calvinists Should Be Shackled!
  3. Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism
  4. Reformed Theology vs. the Reformed Attitude
  5. A Farewell to Calvinism
  6. You Might still be in the Caged Calvinist Stage If….
  7. Top Ten Signs You’re a Calvinist– Who’s Still in the “Cage Stage”
  8. Loving Calvinists: An Oxymoron?
  9. Is Arminianism a False Gospel?
  10. Are All Arminians Unsaved?
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8 thoughts on “Defining the "Cage Stage" of Calvinism”

  1. Personally, I would describe myself as a “Compassionate Calvinist”. We don’t so much receive Christ as Christ receives us. Yes, Bill, God has chosen people. It’s just we don’t know who they are and to presume to know is something less than Christian (even Calvinistic Christian). I like what one Scottish pastor said – “Assume everyone is chosen. If you happen to minister to someone who isn’t, I’m sure God will forgive you.” Thanks for the post.

  2. Pete: Thanks for commenting! Yes, I became a Calvinist in the early 80’s while attending seminary, and many of my friends over the years have been of the same theological persuasion. It’s a wonderful worldview and I like the high view of Scripture and of God, even though some might feel like it’s a bit over the top in many respects.

    Love the quote!

  3. Pete,

    “Assume everyone is chosen. If you happen to minister to someone who isn’t, I’m sure God will forgive you.” That is the best quote I have heard in a long time! Thanks….


    See I have been a nice Calvinist for 24 hours… can I please have the keys to my cage so I can get out for Christmass? :-)

  4. Sorry, Greg, but you’re one of the more serious cases I wrote about in my post. You must be nice for much longer than 24 hours to get out for the Christ-mass celebration. Just thinkin’ of things like national security, since you do live quite close to a large military installation. ;)

  5. Let’s face it “Calvinist” is a swear word.

    Those who consider themselves free-willer’s, & know why, have only one point of theology, “God loves everyone”: therefore how could a loving God ever condemn anyone to hell or, to put it another way, “Jacob I loved & Esau I hated”, or “saved not by the will of man but the will of God”, or Eph 1, …, or “…”. They, as I once, make themselves more righteous than God Himself (Job 4:17 KJV) while claiming the theology of Luther, Calvin, …, Crisp, Owen, Bunyan, …, Gill, Toplady, Hervey, …, Spurgeon, …, Pink,…, makes God a “monster”,…,”capricious”: the latter characteristic stated by a preacher of the church I left but my wife still attends. And us (swear word) Calvinists “unloving” and rejoicing as we express “O goody!! they are being thrown into …”.

    Free-willism is simply the result of a universal application of their premise “God loves everyone”, to literally everyone, to get “God of the hook” for some unpleasant Biblical doctrine – they simply will not believe the truth unless God Himself causes them, me once, to believe; until such a time they make God in their own image. The real swear word is “free-will”; well OK IMHO.

    Post Script: I have been a NC since the very early ’70’s when I first read Bondage of the Will.

  6. “Assume everyone is chosen. If you happen to minister to someone who isn’t, I’m sure God will forgive you.”

    … Unless, of course, you’re the illogical (but self-assured) ministering Calvinist who hasn’t been chosen.

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