I haven’t written anything on my idea of Woven Theology in a while, and I have watched the Calvinist/Traditionalist debate continue to roll. I want to through this out today, most of the argument is based on “what” and I find it disturbing. While the Calvinists have a stronger scriptural argument, the Traditionalist have some points that cannot be overlooked and ignored. Both of these things fit together, but I am not so interested in “what” but the “why” that drives me.
It’s never been enough for me to know that something works, I want to know why it works. When it comes to Salvation, I wanted to know why we see this tension. We see in scripture that God calls, God justifies, God initiates and God saves. We know that we are born again, not of the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God. All of the sudden, we have this process that seems to throw our choice in the mix. We repent, we believe, we follow and we trust. All seems to be actions that bring about the act of Salvation, but we know that we can’t do anything to be saved, we do not work, earn or merit it. If we can’t do anything to be saved, why do I see these actions?
To make matters more complicated, we know from scripture that God has predestined some for eternal life. Romans chapter nine is clear, and we see this pattern begin with Abraham, through his offspring, God choosing the Nation of Israel and choosing prophets and kings based on His election. We see this theme repeated in the New Testament, with God electing, so why again we have the calling to share and to preach? Why do we have this struggle and this seeming duplicity in the scripture. I think the answer is found in not focusing so much of why, and looking at the why.
If you have read some of my other articles on Wovenism, you know that I think the biggest issue is our assumption that God experiences time the same way we do. That God’s predestination is based on foreknowledge, when in reality, this is a description that is used purely from man’s point of view. God in His eternal and timeless nature exists outside of time. There was no time before God created time, and God transcends all time. There is no future for God, there is no past, there is just now. Everything that happens is all at God’s fingertips. God does not wait, He does not simply just know the future, but He is in the future, in the past and in the present. Like the Casting Crowns song says “to you, my future is a memory, you’re already there” (Already There). God’s predestination is simply a reality of His nature of being timeless. The beginning, the process, the end, it’s all part of His design, and nothing will change or thwart this design, because it’s already done. In this sense, those who are saved are already saved. The elect are those who are saved in the end, and they have been saved and are being saved and will be saved. Christ died and forgave the sins of the elect outside of time, His death reached the beginning to the end of time.
The problem here is that God is relational, He wants to be in a relationship with us, but we cannot connect with the God who is outside time. It’s too far beyond us, we cannot fathom or even comprehend God. In response, God came into time Himself. As God came into time He interacted with us in time. In doing so, God has conversations with Moses in which God changes His mind and decides not to destroy the Isrealietes. God and Abraham can have a conversation about not destroying Sodom for 5 righteous people. This nature of God became flesh and Jesus entered time and experienced all the confines of time. Jesus waited. God continues to operate inside of time in relationship with us. He comes, He calls and we respond. Further, God has called His Church to the work of preaching and teaching and making disciples. God is relational with His bride and expects us to be in relationship with each other.
God has an eternal plan in which He called, built a nation, brought His Son, redeemed His people, first the Gentiles and then will complete it with Israel and then will bring His kingdom to fruition. This is set, it’s already done, we simply wait for those things to happen from out perspective in the timeline. God’s plan will come to completion, He has made it happen. This is the fullness of Calvinism. God is sovereign over time and space and His work will be carried out as He decrees.
God is much more than just the grand architect of time and events. God loves His people, He loves His creation and He is involved. He comes down to us and gets into the mess, He walks into time and interacts with us. We can’t fathom or understand the timeless nature, but we can understand that God so loves the world that He gave His only Son, so that those who will believe in Him will have everlasting life, so we go and we tell others. We share and we tell them of how they have sin, but Jesus died to forgive sin. We pray for them and we understand that somehow, prayer can change the world. Prayer can make things happen, prayer changes lives. (The idea of prayer and it’s interactions with the timeless aspect of God is for another blog). We pray and we plead for salvation and we trust that God is at work. Our relationship with God and our relationship with others, they matter. They are part of God’s plan and we are the instrument which He uses to bring the Good News and share with all people. This is the message of Traditionalism, that we share and invite and people respond and accept. That the message of the Gospel is to be preached and proclaimed to every human being (and the pets that happen to be listening) and that redemption is available to all who will respond and seek God. God has put this in motion, not because He needs us to do the work or because He doesn’t know who is His, but because He is doing something amazing. He is growing us into His body and creating a small piece of eternity in the temporal. While we are waiting, we are together and we are (or should be) growing in faith and love and connection.
So, the last “why”. Why did I write this blog today. In my opinion, we are taking the “why” of the church and losing it because of the “what” of the process. I see the conflict and why it exists. Calvinists want to protect the sovereignty of God, Traditionalists are protecting the work and responsibility of the Church and both are right and both are wrong. We have created a division and made the work and calling of His people much harder. We have focused on one aspect of God and in a way claiming that God and His work and plan are limited to that one aspect of His character that we are focused on. As a result, we have beaten, bruised and damaged the body of Christ. When will we repent and see that God is all powerful, but loves us enough to get down and work with us where we live. God has woven all this together, time and space, the church and the world, the sinner and the saint, the law and grace for one purpose. To be in a love relationship with His creation that is deep and wide, healing and strengthening and glorious beyond imagine. It’s not woven together for the what, it’s woven for the why.