Friday, August 23, 2013

A Calvinistic Conclusion

So, let me start by saying, this seventh post came about when I was two-thirds of the way done with the blog posts. I had already written the introduction and taken on three points of Calvinism, and I had read a Driscoll quote I am going to share when my pastor Jon mentioned how much John Piper hates being identified as a Calvinist. Sure, his beliefs align with Calvin, but ultimately he wants to be seen as a Christian first. I respect that. And in light of that share this from Mark Driscoll.

Thankfully, my theological convictions are a home, not a prison. I mean that my beliefs may be firm on issues such as this, but even firmer is my commitment to the Bible’s clear teaching on loving one another and seeking the good of the whole Church in all its local expressions. This allows me to work outside of our church and theological tribe with brothers and sisters to see people meet the same Jesus both Arminian and Reformed Christians love. It also allows me to speak with Arminian theologians and influential pastors about these issues in the context of friendship rather than speaking about them in a way that is public and divisive. I guess you could say God predestined me before the foundations of the world to love Arminians and work with them as able to the glory of God.

I alluded to this kind of thought in the last post on perseverance of the saints. Ultimately the way of salvation doesn't matter as much as that God has intervened in history and provided a way of salvation. Whether God predestined me or I chose Him does not matter as much as the fact that I am a part of His eternal Kingdom. And more importantly that I take part in that Kingdom now.

A lot of Arminians will argue that one of the problems of Calvinism is it makes for a lack of evangelism. That shouldn't be the case. Calvinists don't get a salvation detector when they join the club. They just believe that salvation happens a certain way. Evangelism should be a joint effort and process on either side of the lines here. Driscoll mentioned that being a Calvinist should actually make you that much more convinced that evangelism is of upmost importance.

I feel that I learned or refreshed a lot of what I had learned through this process. I liked getting into stuff by Irenaeus and Cassian. The early Church had a lot to say on things that matter to us today. We just disregard those thoughts, because we think that Modernity made us better at these things. And sure, from a loving the Lord with our mind kind of view, that might be the case. But grand theologies do not necessarily lead to loving the Lord with all of our heart.

“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”  
~ Teresa of Avila

We have to learn that our different believes should not prevent us from engaging in the works that Jesus has called us to. That is what Driscoll is saying above. His difference in theology from mine should not prevent us from engaging in prayer for our city, helping the poor and proclaiming Good News to men and women. Good theology will draw you to that place. Good theology knows its place, because at its heart...theology is simply our thoughts of God. And whatever is good, noble, right, etc. are the things of theology...and they are good things.

So, yeah. Here I am again saying what I have said from the very beginning. You are my brothers and sisters. Driscoll is my brother. And any way that we offend one another needs to be addressed. If his theologies offend some women, they need to be addressed. If my beliefs are too humanistic, they need to be addressed. We are of one body...and as such we need one another. That was one of the reasons I did what I did, how I did it here. With that said, I had one small regret here.

And that is this.

Did everyone notice how exceptionally male and White everything was? Until I got Teresa of Avila on here, I could not find a single person that was not a white male who talked a lot about these things. Sure...there has to be. But a lot of our brothers and sisters of other ethnicities and nationalities simply haven't put these things in writing. And part of that is simply because we haven't listened. And part of that is simply because they were busy dealing with things like reconciliation, prejudice, segregation or even teaching people how to die well because of malnourishment. In other words, their doctrines are more focused on doing faith...and that is not simply rudimentary theology they are doing. They would do Water Brueggemann proud. They are engaging the Word and their world.

Just because we have had the luxury and opportunity of exploring the finer workings of faith does not in fact mean we are engaging in the better things of God. I think we all can agree that getting clean water to children in West Africa is actually a much higher goal than understanding double predestination. We can probably also agree that our understanding of the tribulation is less important than grieving with the mother who has had yet another miscarriage and is scared that her broken body will never producing a living child. Yet...that is where our energies go. That is where my energy went in the past few days...and I just realized that in the end, sure, it was good, but ultimately it doesn't matter as much as doing the stuff.

Having copious amounts of knowledge does not matter if your heart was not changed. Being the smartest person in the room doesn't matter if you cannot see the poor, let alone help them. Being able to lord your knowledge over those around you doesn't matter if you cannot apply that knowledge in any productive way. It's just simply another commodity that you have hoarded.

And that's why I added this post. There are good things and there are better things. And truth be told, I learn things through long processes at times. It took writing six blog posts on Calvinism to realize that if I am not loving Jesus, my opinions on things that I will frankly never fully understand because I have a finite mind, doesn't matter. Because loving Jesus is the call. That is what I do. That is what we do. And we do it differently. And we understand the way God did things differently.

And so, that's a wrap folks. I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed writing it. And we'll see what's next. Maybe something real deep and reflective. Like a movie review of Babe. 

1 comment:

  1. The Arminians who point out the lack of evangelism aren't entirely off. There have been Calvinists so committed to double-predestination that they don't evangelize. Abraham Lincoln's parents were a part of a church that rejected evangelism because they said it was trying to save people who were never going to be saved. God had already chosen. Here we have a God who coldly made a decision and isn't going to change. (Any wonder that Lincoln had ongoing difficulties with Christianity?) That's an extreme example.

    But if we take the Arminian approach to its extreme, we have people worrying all the time that they're going to lose their salvation if they sin. Here we have a God constantly measuring peoples' worth, making sure they have enough faith, or deciding if they've sinned badly enough to get kicked out of the kingdom.

    Whereas Calvinism may not give human agency enough credit, Arminianism runs the risk of turning faith into a work. All this reminds me of something my NT professor in college said, "If you take any one doctrine from scripture and run it to its logical conclusion in isolation from other doctrines, you get heresy."

    Oh, and your posts haven't been all white guys. Augustine was from North Africa -- he was born in what is now Algeria. It's just a lot of art has painted him as white.