OK, now that I’ve gotten everyone’s attention, let’s get on with the post.
First, this post is not intended to bring offense. It is a point of discussion based on my own beliefs and observations, and is intended to be just that, a discussion. There are two dear brothers whom I highly respect, although have never met, who openly profess “allegiance” (my word) to the tenets of the Reformed movement, Arthur at “Voice of One Crying Out…” and Eric at A Pilgrim’s Progress. Both have been very open in discussing their observations of the shortcomings or mistakes of the Reformed movement, so by no means do I feel they are one-sided. As such, I feel that my discussion on this topic will not be taken wrongly. So, on to the discussion.
I have two points that I want to make, but before I do that I want to give a caveat. I do not have the intellectual mind to discuss the finer points of Calvinism vs. Arminianism. I can’t quote scripture in support of one or the other, and that is not really my point. Minds much greater than mine have argued these points ad nauseum, so I can’t hope to offer anything new in that vein. I also want to say that I don’t identify myself with either side. I think both sides have merit, and I think, paradoxically, that both are right! So, again, on to it.
1. I am always amazed at the loyalty expressed by Reformed people for Reformed theology. Although the brothers I mentioned above do not have a blind loyalty by any means, there is still a strong devotion to the “5 solas” and the 5 Points of Calvinism. Now, I don’t condemn this loyalty. I guess the question in my mind is one of unity. If I identify myself as reformed, do I risk alienating my Arminian brethren? Or, if I identify myself as Arminian do I risk alienating my Reformed brethren? Is any one theological system anything, in light of the greater importance of Christ? Or, put a different way, do I want to identify myself by any other identifier than a follower of Christ? Now let me stress again, I do not write this to be offensive. I am sure Eric, Arthur and other Reformed believers have responses to my questions, and that is why I ask these questions. My interest lies in the fact that I’ve not come across many similar allegiances in those that are walking outside of traditional Christianity, and so I thought I’d bring it up.
2. God, and thus the bible, is full of seeming paradoxes. I say seeming because I am sure they are not paradoxes at all, but appear that way to me with my limited understanding of His nature, and limited understanding of eternity. For example, on the one hand God commanded the Isrealites to kill every man, woman and child when the Isrealites crossed into and conquered Canaan. Failure to comply had serious consequences. On the other hand, “For God so loved the world….”. My natural mind can not comprehend that this is one and the same God, but it is. How can the same God be full of vengeance and full of supreme love at the same time? Well, He just can! Likewise, how do you make sense of the arguments for Calvinism and Arminianism? Both can point to scriptures that support their view, and both can outline why the other side is interpreting their scriptures wrong. Could it be that both are right? Can it be that man has the ability to make a choice, but is only able to make that choice by the grace of God? I know it sounds contradictory, but I believe that something akin to this is the truth. Let me discuss why I say this (see next paragraph).
The longer I live the more I see that God has a purpose in the earth. That purpose is more than to live together in eternal harmony, or to barely escape the end times until we get raptured. The purpose of God is to build His city, His people, in the earth. His purpose is to express His glory in the person of Christ, and he’s chosen to use us to accomplish that. I also believe that He has chosen to use man to bring about the final and ultimate defeat of the enemy, or said differently, the final and ultimate reign of Christ on the earth. “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'” I believe His work is to establish Himself as the unquestioned God of this earth (I won’t go into more detail here, so as to not get bogged down too much). So, if God has a specific purpose in the earth, and He chooses to use man to accomplish it, the fine points of Arminianism and Calvinism come into play, regarding man’s ability to make a choice in His service to God. If Calvinism is right, God would have His plan, He would choose the people He wanted to accomplish it, He would call those people into service and they would accomplish the task at hand. Would such a plan take 2000 years? On the other hand, if God calls many, but we have the choice to follow or not, then we can see why the process has taken so long, because man often doesn’t do as God directs. Here is what I believe: I believe God calls men (men and women) to do tasks in His kingdom. Man can choose to do those tasks or not do those tasks. As long as man continues to miss the boat, so to speak, there is a continuous merry-go-round-type cycle that goes on, where man goes around and around on the same track, until he finally decides to follow the directions of God, and moves onto the next step, or season. In this process God is supremely patient. I also believe that, in the end, the will of God is irresistible. He WILL accomplish His work. The timeframe in which it is accomplished, however, is partially up to man, because God has chosen us to accomplish His will. As a specific example, if God’s grace and will were completely irresistible then why did the New Testament church degenerate into what we see today?
Well, I’m going to cut this off before it gets any longer. I invite my Reformed friends to respond, as once again all I seek here is an open discussion. I want to reiterate that neither Arthur nor Eric has ever made their Reformed theology a quarreling point with others, as far as I have read. I have never seen them make it a point of dissension or division, and neither do I seek to do this. Again I would stress that I agree with much of Reformed theology, so my goal is not to slander or malign it, or those that hold to it.