There is a certain amount of pride in theology, in terms of a personal interest in getting things correct. Sometimes, this has resulted in a phenomena whereby new converts to Calvinism become aggressive toward non-Calvinist Christians. This phenomena is called a “Cage Stage,” in which it would be better if the new convert to Calvinism was locked in a cage than to be released upon the general public, because they are prone to be nasty to others in their new-found, systemized pride.
What do Calvinists believe?
James White: “I’ve seen it many times. The Cage Stage. A believer’s eyes are opened to the majesty of God as the sovereign King of the universe, and their entire life is turned upside down. And for a while, they have more zeal than they have knowledge. We call it the “cage stage.” That period in the experience of the new Calvinist where they would be better off kept in a cage until they can gain enough maturity to handle these vitally important topics aright. That time when they are more likely to hurt themselves, and others! You know, when they are all running around smacking someone upside the head with Pink’s The Sovereignty of God?”53
One would think that if Calvinism was a transition to greater spirituality that it would be reflected in one’s spiritual fruits. Jesus states: “‘Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.’” (Matthew 12:33) Perhaps the “Cage Stage” is a telltale sign of something being terribly wrong.
Sometimes, Calvinists will attribute the “Cage Stage” phenomena to a simple lack of consistency within the mind of a newly converted Calvinist, since if conversion to Calvinism requires divine enlightenment, then the failure of others to similarly convert, should be seen as a factor of the fallen nature, and thus one should be patient with objectors, while they await having their own eyes similarly, divinely opened.
The biggest challenge in correcting errant theology is the hurdle of what people “like, a lot.” Two sides may find what they both like, and one side may be right while the other is wrong, but correcting the errant side can be extremely difficult if you are working against someone’s personal feelings. What can make one side extremely entrenched is if what they “like” is combined with an ounce of biblical truth. The result is that they can become extremely defensive. Calvinism definitely has appeal. It gives its adherents a sense of comfort and confidence. The fact that the Bible can be used to defend Calvinism, can fill the adherent with a sense of righteous indignation as a soldier in the midst of spiritual warfare. Nonetheless, a tree is always known by its fruit. The very fact of “Stage Cage Calvinism” is very telling. The accusations that Calvinists sometimes end up acting like cultists is telling. The charge of “jerky Calvinists” is telling. The fact that John Calvin (a famous promoter of a theology that today bears his name) was himself a murderer, is very telling. The fact that sometimes it is said that the best evidence against Calvinism are Calvinists themselves, is very telling. Again, a tree is always known by its fruit.
53 James White, How to Avoid Cage-Stage-itis.