Friday, July 14, 2006

“So, are you a Calvinist?” I have no clue how many times I’ve been asked this by pastors and other students of the Bible. Sometimes I answer with the question, "is Jesus a Calvinist? Whatever Jesus is that is what I want to be". It is a very loaded question asked by everyone concerned, no matter what their view. Calvinists ask it to find out if you believe that God is sovereign. Armenians ask to find out if you believe in evangelism. I get aggravated by both implications cause they, most of the time, TOTALLY misrepresent the opposing view. Most Armenians believe that God has sovereignly chosen to allow all men and all women to freely choose or reject Him. They see that as His sovereign plan. Most Calvinists do believe in evangelism and outreach. Some of the greatest and most direct gospel preaching you will ever hear come from Calvinist pulpits. Heck, Evangelism Explosion was started by Coral Ridge church in Florida…and their CALVINISTS!

I bring this issue to you for your consideration with some concern. There is a real power struggle going on over this issue with evangelicalism, it sickens me to be honest with you. The religious politics swirling around this is just dreadful. All the good ol’ boys are picking sides and lobbing bombs every which way but up. Let me be as clear as I can: I want no part of it. Maybe I’m just a young, punk, idealistic kid… but I don’t want to be in anybody's camp save Christ’s. I don’t want to hate my brothers and I don't want them to hate me. I've prayed and cried and searched and beat my head until I just gave up and admitted to myself that I’m a missional Calvinist. I believe that God saves everyone Christ died for and I believe that I am to preach that message to the entire world. I never pretend to know who is elect and who is not and my prayer is, like Spurgeon, “Lord, save the elect and elect some more!” My assumption is that every person is elect and I speak to everyone as if they were. I’m not the judge. To the charge that “if that is true then God is not fair” my response is, “be careful when you demand what is fair from God”. Furthermore, who are you or I to question or dare make such a judgment about the King? Can the pot ask the potter, why have you made me like this? Isn’t it the potter who has the right to make the clay as he sees fit? I do not believe that God is obligated to save any sinner. If He chooses to save some then that is an incredible manifestation of His grace and those who He does not save simply get what they truly desire and truly deserve. I do not believe that anyone in hell would have repented and turned to Christ if they had the chance. I believe they hate Him still and I do not believe that they are sorry now or regret their rejection of Him, even as they are in torment. Why do I believe this? Well, I’m convinced that this is what God has clearly revealed in His scripture. Do you disagree? Then sound off! We have various opinions even within the leadership of Southside, and that is ok. I’m ok with those people being dreadfully wrong about this issue! And I’m sure they’d say the same thing about me. Don't you understand that it is good to dig into scripture, to challenge each other and to seek deeper understanding? Discussion and debate is so healthy and so desperately needed with the western evangelical Church today. Oh, if God would use me, even this silly blog, to stir up the pastors and leaders in our own association to begin to think and openly discuss things deeper than just the hottest trends in how to grow a mega church.

The bs of religious politics will kill the spirituality within churches faster than anything in the world. So let’s roll with opinions and be ready to ask questions. But I’m gonna remove every comment that even remotely smells un-Christ-like or rude or political. I also don’t want to hear any stupid blanket statements like “Calvinism is a cancer” or “Armenians don’t believe in grace” or “Calvinist churches don’t reach people” or “Armenians believe in a works based salvation”. If you honestly believe such things then at least be prepared to strongly and maturely support your claim, ok?

I love a good discussion and even an honest yet friendly debate. That’s why I’m bringing this up. I want your thoughts, I’m gonna push buttons and try to make you think. Will you do the same with me and each other? Let’s plow into each point, one by one. If you are a new Christian or at least thinking about these things for the first time, PLEASE pay attention, this is important. Your view of how God saves and who God saves is so very important.

Next time: How dead is dead?

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 niv

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary,

I'm in total agreement. These are the things Satan uses to divide & oh how it works many times. The Word is clear.."Tell the Good News." All is in the Bible..Do you love The Lord or not?..Are you telling others about Jesus love? Thanks, that was great. I ran it off for my husband who loves to debate these things often. When the people at work use to ask me what religion I was, I would tell them Christian..a follower of Jesus Christ, God's Son.

Mark said...

I am excited to see each point. I am Scripture driven. We say God is ALL-knowing, yet we waffle on His sovereignty with regards to election. I'll be reading...

Dead is DEAD, not drowning, not on life support, DEAD. Why do I share the Gospel? Because in Matthew 28:19-20 I am commanded to do so. When I realize it is totally God, the burden for me to "save someone" is lifted.

irreverend fox said...

Mark,

I agree. I think, more than anything else, many "3-pointers" or "4-pointers" simply reject the rest cause it is so dang uncomfortable to think about. It was very hard for me, not cause I couldn't see that the Bible taught it, it's just that I wanted to spin against it. It is very hard for us to even fathom that God does not chose to save everybody or that He chooses some and not others. It is not easy to admit that you're a "Calvinist" or as I like to describe myself as one who believes in the five doctrines of grace.

But, like you, I'm scripture driven and I'd love nothing more than to be disproven.

tim said...

You know my point of view by now and it was perfectly wrapped up in your thought of the day once. You said "All who would be saved will be saved." I see both election and free will taught in the pages of Scripture. It's not a 50/50 proposition, but 100/100. Yes we have free will, that's evident from the fall. Yes God is sovereign, that's evident from Genesis to Revelation. As I read Scripture I see both the free will of man and God's soveriegnty. The main point is, even though God knows who He will save, WE DON'T. We have to treat everyone as if they are one of the future elect. Call me a "calviminian" or an "arminist". I dunno.

irreverend fox said...

Tim,

sounds basically like a "Calvinist" viewpoint to me! Ut-oh!

love ya bro,


gary