Cage Stage

Old Razormouth article, but still a good read: Why I Left Calvinism. (Not Really.) “I heard George Grant say one time that every new Calvinist should be locked in a cage for the first two years of ‘Reformed Enlightenment.’ He called those two years the ‘cage stage.'”

I think a lot of us go through a “cage stage” — not necessarily a Calvinist one — at the point of switching from one belief system to another. I was a cage-stager in my first few years after leaving Roman Catholicism to become a bible-thumping fundamentalist evangelical Protestant (“Oh, that poor cult of Mary-worshipping traditionalist cannibals!”), and I went through a cage-stage-Lite when I discovered Calvinism (“But the ‘L’ in TULIP is asbolutely crucial!“). I’ve seen converts to Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Amillenialism, Atheism, Christian Hedonism, Old-Earth Creationism, Poststructuralism, and other -ism’s, go through conniptions of righteousness, flush with the joy of discovering The Truth, and quick to denounce all ideological threats to its Glorious Wonder — which usually covers just about everything from Disney movies and Chicken Soup to Jabez and the Rapture. Some believers and unbelievers never outgrow the phase, and go on to become pastors, writers, activists, and bloggers.

On the other hand, I don’t want to turn into a cage-stage anti-cage-stager, and fall into the trap of undiscerning ecumenical relativism. I will never cease to affirm the central truths of the Word: faith in Christ alone, and love for God and neighbor; and my spirit stays on guard against the legion of errors and stumbling blocks the enemy has laid for the believer. Yet it bears knowing that sometimes my own pride and passion for the truth can be one of those stumbling blocks, especially when my ears do not listen.

A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

More good stuff: “Faith Alone in Faith Alone?”


  1. Rod says:

    Yes, I too have done this. It is humbling to remember. Cage-stagers simply don’t do nuance.

    As for Calvinsm, I have finally shed the last vestiges of it. I clung the sovereingty of God concept long after I discarded the rest as logical sleight-of-hand. I have a new concept: God is free. Radically free. Unbound by preconceptions. Free to do as he chooses. Free to upset our notions of propriety and order.

    I can’t take credit for this idea. I read about it in Walter Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination. I highly recommend the book and the author – he has become my favorite theologian.

  2. Sparticus says:

    Ah yes, I too can see myself here. Discovering all sorts of biblical truths and wanting to beat them over the heads of various peoples. I remember going to worships services and spending the entire time thinking “well that’s unbiblical, as their are at least 4 people speaking in tongues all at once, with no one attempting to translate them”, which is a fair point I suppose, but I got so caught up in my ranting that I could never quite get round to actually worshipping God.

    I finally realised quite what I had been doing when I read Romans 14 & 15 and 1 Corinthians 8 & 9 and then heard a sermon on loving your neighbour.

  3. Sparticus says:

    That said, I’m still get rather irrate when people start going on about the rapture.

  4. Jon M. says:

    Man, it’s good to be Catholic and not have to worry about those things, anymore.