Looking for Why, A Woven Thought

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.


  1. John Fariss says

    Hi Dan,

    I have not gotten much into your articles on “woven theology,” but I did notice this one. You wrote, “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. ” With or without “woven theology,” I believe you are right on target here. There is a general assumption (I prefer to use the word “presupposition”) that God “knows” the future. What far too many fail to realize is that the consequences of this presupposition can only mean that God is limited by time. If He is subject to time, then time is His Lord–and that cannot be. Frankly, I cannot really wrap my head around the idea of an “eternal present” in which time is not linear as we experience it, but all things are simultaneous. It seems to me that nullifies the whole idea of predestination and foreknowledge, at least from God’s perspective, and makes our arguments about free will verses double-edged or 5 point Calvinism much less important than we have imagined them to be. But that aside, I believe your comments are right on target.



    • Greg Harvey says

      I think it is unknowable whether God is time-bound or not. The fact of prophecies in the Bible find easy explanations with a couple of answers (some time-based, the rest not so much):

      1. God has complete understanding of human beings and therefore is thoroughly able to pre-determine what the outcome of every decision is without necessarily living outside of “time” as we know it.

      2. God’s form of “prediction” isn’t speculative but prescriptive. Which is to say: if he says something is going to happen, by his attributes and will he creates the conditions that cause it to happen.

      3. And, of course, if God isn’t bound by time at all and can freely move forwards and backwards through it–or simply surrounds all of time and therefore can see it all as if all of time is happening at the “same time” (from a human perspective–then there is no sense in which God can’t immediately comment (or inspire a human being to write) what is true at all points in time.

      That latter one, though, is filled with all of the potential problems that sci-fi writers explore in time traveling stories. If God is in all of time at the same time, then he could re-write the Bible at a whim because we wouldn’t be able to detect the re-write since we’re timebound. (Of course, since he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, we could conclude he doesn’t NEED to make changes, but that doesn’t resolve the time-travel-related issues in and of itself.

      There might be enough data in the Bible to strongly support one of the three positions to the exclusion of the others. I’ll note that #1 is consistent with Calvinistic soteriology especially the doctrine of sovereignty (well, you could argue all three are consistent with that doctrine, but I mean especially the pre-determination portion).

      But I’m of the opinion that intellectual situation that we’re seeking to tease apart has all of the faults of a limited human perspective and therefore should be treated not only as “unknowable” but perhaps even as an intentionally hidden (or rather, not revealed) mystery. The less we humans spend time speculating on exactly how prophecy works, the better off we all are in my opinion. Well, other than gratuitous entertainment opportunities that is to say: I love a good novel based on sci-fi-style premising and suspension of incredulity.

      • John Fariss says

        Greg, I follow your reasoning, I think. I was not commenting on the nature of prophesy, at least not directly, though there are some implications to it, which I have not taken to time to explore more thoroughly. And perhaps what I said is consistent with “Calvinistic soteriology especially the doctrine of sovereignty,” but frankly I think it is consistent with everything from Arminian/free will theology to 5 point Calvinism and everything in between. Consequently, if it is true, it supports every other truth, whatever that may be. The only thing you said that makes me wonder about your response is your first statement, “I think it is unknowable whether God is time-bound or not.” If by “unknowable” you mean we cannot be absolutely positive to a Biblical certainty, you are right. However, by the same logic on which Calvinists base their system and its inner consistencies, God cannot be bound by time unless time is His lord. The questions that remain–call it speculation if you prefer–are about whether God can “travel” through time like Dr. Who, or whether to God, time is non-linear. The logical conclusion of that–I think– is that eternity is not something that stretches past an undefined horizon, but rather is an “eternal present” so that our belief causality in the universe is almost (if not entirely) an accident of how we perceive the universe. I am more comfortable opting for non-linear time for God, and believe it is more than the makings of some sci-fi novel or movie.

        I freely admit also that having majored in Physics many years ago in college, I am more comfortable with science than are some Baptist preachers, and am influenced by it. In modern Physics, there is not just “time” but “space-time.” But then we each bring to the table our own group of presuppositions which influence our logic–you and I alike.


        • John Fariss says

          Whoops! In my next to last paragraph, it should be “eternity is not something that stretches past an undefined horizon, but rather is an “eternal present” so that our belief IN causality in the universe is almost (if not entirely) an accident of how we perceive the universe.”


  2. says

    Dan, you’re Calvinist! lol
    Seriously, I’ve heard this same stuff from some serious 5-pointers. I dont think this “Wovenism” is much more than an aversion to a certain label than a theology.

  3. Christiane says

    blessed are the peacemakers . . .

    it is a good work to attempt reconciliation among brothers who have disagreed, and you are doing this work at the time of year where your effort particularly honors the Prince of Peace

  4. volfan007 says

    “While the Calvinists have a stronger scriptural argument, the Traditionalist have some points that cannot be overlooked and ignored.”

    Wow, Dan. I think Adam G. in N. Carolina may be right in his comment above.

    I believe Traditionalists have a stronger scriptural argument.


    Disclaimer: I love my Calvinists Brothers and Sisters in the Lord. This comment is in no way a hateful comment towards Calvinists.

  5. says

    David, I see the Traditionalist moving more toward reason and logic, having to explain away more scripture than Calvinist. Just the way I see it, label me what you like.

    • volfan007 says

      Wow, Dan….just wow.

      When I think about ALL the SB’s, who could be termed in the Traditionalists tradition, from the past til this present day, these statements you just made are insulting. When I think about the great, Bible teachers, who have been SB’s, who were neither Calvinist, nor Arminian, I just have to shake my head at such statements that you’ve made. And then, it makes me see the problem we have in the SBC, today, in terms of having peace. I mean, “I see the Traditionalist moving more toward reason and logic, having to explain away more scripture than Calvinist.” Good grief!


      • Bill Mac says

        David: I don’t know why you would be insulted that a Calvinist (or wovenist) would think their view is more scripturally sound than the non-Calvinist view. Didn’t you say precisely that a few comments ago? Don’t we all think that people who hold to what we believe is an incorrect interpretation do so because of faulty reasoning, logic, or hermeneutics? Don’t you think that about Calvinists? I’m not insulted by that.

        • volfan007 says

          Bill Mac,

          I would say that Calvinists are wrong on minor points of theology; yes, that’s true. I would say that Calvinists are trying to make the Bible fit into their Augustinian, philosophical box; yes, I would say that. So, I can see your point.

          But, Dan’s word came across as if those of the Traditionalists flavor are not reasonable, or logical, or Biblical. It almost sounded like he was saying that Traditionalists are starting to sound a little bit more smart, than they have in the past. And then, I think of all the SB’s of the past, who would fit more into the Traditionalists way of seeing the Scriptures, men like Dr. Adrian Rogers and Dr. Jerry Vines just to name a very few, then, I admit, I took his words kind of hard…. especially from someone, who seems to be claiming to be a voice of peace in the SBC.


          • says

            David, I think you are offended because you want to be offended. I am agreeing with much of traditionalist theology in the aspect of God interacting with us inside time. You seem to be focused on the 50% you disagree with. My point is both views have merit. I feel like you and other traditionalists refuse to dialogue if I’m not in 100% agreement. If I have an opinion, you are offended. As for all the traditionalists, most of the Christian world was Arian before Athanatious. I spelled that wrong, but hopefully you get my meaning. Everyone can be wrong.

    • John Wylie says

      Yup Dan’s right the Calvinists don’t ever have to explain away passages. Let’s see, world doesn’t mean world, whole doesn’t mean whole, and all doesn’t mean all, but other than that Calvinists never explain away scriptures.

        • Tarheel says

          Not really a good point at all.

          No Calvinist I know teaches that those words do not mean what they mean in the context of the passages and the whole of scripture.

          • says

            John, I think what Tarheel is referring to is how we all must see these things in contact. “Whole” and “world” in context and in light of other scriptures. For instance, we agree, don’t we, that “all” does not always mean “all without exception.” Right?

            Like in Matthew 10:22:

            “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

            Are we to take this as “You will be hated by all [without exception, i.e. every single person that ever lives?] because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

            No of course not. Here it must mean all types of people. I think this is what Tarheel and other Calvinists are talking about when we are dealing with “whole” and “world.” As with “all,” it is a legitimate point.

            Blessings brother.

          • Tarheel says

            No Les, I was asking John to elaborate what he was saying (although I thought I knew what he meant)

          • John Wylie says


            As always I appreciate your tone in conversations, I could definitely take a page from your book in that respect.

            I recognize that there are place where that would be true, where all would mean in general. But for the life of me I cannot see how people get the “world of the elect” from John 3:16. Or how a person could interpret 1 John 2:2 to be anything other than the whole world.

          • says


            I understand. I’m sure both Calvinists and non-Calvinists have blind spots regarding our theological interpretations. I’m very confident I do. Heck, I’ve changed my views on some things over the years. Thought I had it figured out only to later see it another way and have to admit that people I had argued with about it were right all along. As far as I can tell at this time anyway. Could change again. I’ll never have it all correct his side of heaven for sure.

            But all that said, the point I’m making is that we should try to recognize that that other guy has a legitimate point. Non Cs have a legitimate interpretation on those “all” and “world” passages. I happen to disagree. Cs have a legitimate point on those passages too. And for al of us it will be more helpful if we can bring ourselves to acknowledge that. We Cs don’t need to be calling NCs universalists and NCs don’t need to be saying that Cs just don’t believe scripture or something like that. Not saying that’s what you’ve done.

            Anyway, blessings brother.


          • Tarheel says

            I have never heard a “world of the elect” argument for John 3:16?

            Calvinist believe that it is precisely because God so loved the world (humanity) that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall have everlasting life.”

            The ‘problem’ that non Calvinists (for lack of a better term) have with this passage as some sort of trump card and with it they try to answer something the passage does not address.

            While it is clear that “whosoever believes” will be saved…

            (Let me interject here that I think we all, Calvinist .Trads., wovenists, Molinists, whatever, agree that the context of John 3 agrees with the statement above while maintaining that the passage is not depicting some sort of universal salvation)

            …it does not, by itself, address whom the whosoever are, or how it is that they pass from death and into life and come to belief.

            I have never met a Calvinist who would say that anyone who by grace through faith believes will not be saved…such a statement would be contrary to scripture.

          • John Wylie says

            I have heard and read many times where Calvinists (not all) have made the assertions that God does not love the whole but simply the “world” of the elect. John Gill was a proponent of this view of John 3:16.

          • says

            I agree that we should recognize that often the other guy has a legitimate point.

            But I did not see that in the following statements above:
            “While the Calvinists have a stronger scriptural argument”
            “I see the Traditionalist moving more toward reason and logic, having to explain away more scripture than Calvinist.”

            As I understand it, that is why volfan, John W., and I made our comments.
            Don’t make comments like the ones just quoted, and expect the other side to not defend themselves.
            By the way, one of my favorite preachers is a 5 pointer.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            David B., I get what you’re saying. Seems like both sides of these debates can get riled up pretty easily, at least some can. We have all said things calling into question the other guy’s scripture bonafides.

            For instance, Vol said, “I believe Traditionalists have a stronger scriptural argument.”

            Bill Mac replied, “Don’t we all think that people who hold to what we believe is an incorrect interpretation do so because of faulty reasoning, logic, or hermeneutics? Don’t you think that about Calvinists?”

            And I think that is right. We all hold what we believe is scriptural and that the other guy’s view is un-scriptural. I can’t recall how many times Calvinists have been accused of holding to a philosophy and a man made theology.

            And Calvinists have said that non Cs views are [fill in the blank].

            My point is that we try as best as we can to tone down the rhetoric and bomb sounding statements and try to argue (in a good way) based on exegesis and the totality of scriptural teaching.

            And, we all could use a hefty dose of humility as we hold our respective positions, starting with me.

            Thanks brother.

      • Tyler Cox says

        You probably have never heard the phrase, “context is the key to interpreting Scripture.” have you…

  6. parsonsmike says

    I think one problem is that you want to lump all those of the past that you mentioned under the label “Traditionalist” simply because they were not strict Calvinists or Arminianists. That is unfair to Dan’s statement. For example, there is a certain preacher from Iowa who moderates this site who is not a C or an A or a T.

  7. says

    You lost me, Dan, in the first paragraph with the following introductory clause to a sentence, “While the Calvinists have a stronger scriptural argument . . . .” I would expect a Calvinist to affirm such, but the so-called Traditionalist would also maintain that they have a stronger spiritual argument. Your statement as written presumes that the argument is settled with the weight of the evidence firmly residing on the Calvinists’ side of the scale. That presupposition (which is what is is) needs to be acknowledged as such, rather than merely assuming or affirming that the Calvinists’ interpretive scheme is a more faithful rendering of the biblical theology of salvation than is that of the traditionalist.

    • says

      I am saying the bible clearly calls Christians “elect”. It’s says “predestined”. Romans nine says that He chose some. The word “free will” doesn’t exist in scripture. There is no passage that says “choose to trust Jesus”. You can make reasonable points from scripture, such as John 3:16. It just isn’t clearly as clearly as predestination. That’s my point.

      • Tarheel says

        Right…we can disagree on what predestination and election mean….but no honest student of scripture can deny the doctrines are clearly taught in scripture…

        On the other hand…as you have pointed out….the vernacular used by non Calvinists, while interpretive, is not found specifically taught in scripture at all.

        Dan is saying that Predestination and election are specifically biblical words….the wording “free will” is just not there…sure it can be reasonably inferred (I think in error), but as far as actual biblical wording matching doctrines believed….Calvinists have that one in their favor.

        • John Wylie says

          I have never known a Non Calvinist who would deny the doctrines of election or predestination. Where Calvinists and we diverge is on the mechanism by which one becomes elect.

          • John Wylie says


            I want you to know even when I express disagreement it is not my intention to be disrespectful. If I come across that way, I’m sorry. I just get a little irritated at the choice of words Dan chose (or did he choose?) 😉

            Anyway I think those choice of words sort of took away from his main proposition which I thought was very and even handed.

          • Tarheel says

            Yea, mood and intent are often hard to convey through this medium…

            I was not predestined to take any your comments thus far offensively.


      • says

        Non-Calvinists as John Wylie points out below don’t deny the biblical doctrines of election and predestination. We simply interpret those in light of God’s foreknowledge of whom would respond in faith to the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. The absence of the term “free will” from the pages of Scripture doesn’t render it untruthful or unbiblical any more than the absence of the term “Trinity” renders that foundational Christian doctrine as unbiblical.

        • Tarheel says


          I am with ya, I’m following what you are saying.

          However, I would state that there are differences with regard to your example….

          The term “free will” is interpretive (as you said) and, as just you articulated anyway, is based on what I see as a faulty understanding of foreknowledge. ….its conjecture built upon error, IMO of course.

          Trinity, while also interpretive, is based on specific texts and the whole of scripture that deal with the concept specifically bringing all of orthodoxy to agree to ‘create’ a name for a complex doctrine.

          The biblical concept of the Trinity is considered orthodox and a (the?) dividing line between Christian doctrine and non Christian doctrine, biblical and non biblical teaching…the same is not true with “free will” as there is room in orthodoxy for the interpretive error that you espouse.

          (FYI…that last part was typed with my tongue planted deeply in my cheek)

        • says

          Gary, in post I discuss how foreknowledge is simply a human descriptor, since God is not subject to time, there is no “before” which makes both sides of that argument moot.

  8. Tarheel says

    Food for thought;

    The inscription over the ‘door of salvation’ reads; “whosoever will, may enter in”

    Once the person enters in the door he looks back over the top the same door to read;
    “Because you were elect and predestined by God’s great love and mercy through Christ, you have entered in”.

    I believe that the bible teaches predestination and election…I teach these doctrines as a means of discipleship, encouragement and security for believers;

    “Look! at what God alone in his great love and mercy has sovereign granted you through Christ!”

    not as a means of evangelism;

    “if you are elect, come to Christ.”

  9. says

    Guys and gals, I’m sharing my thoughts on trying to reconcile what I see as a contradiction by going to scripture to find how choice and responsibility fit, or weaves with God’s plan and election. A few of you have chosen to focus on a side point and dismiss me as a Calvinist. I do hold to some Calvinist teachings, but see Traditionalism in God’s interaction with us in time. Let’s not be so quick to try to draw lines and divide. Let’s reason together.

    • Adam G. in NC says

      Dan, I think you have a good view of the “outside time” aspect, but God’s interactions with us IN time isn’t something that’s non-Calvinist.
      God told me to choose.
      God enabled me to make the choice.
      I chose.

  10. says

    Les P.,
    I appreciate your thoughts (now #27).

    Just when I’ve had a load of Calvinists and are ready to forever write them off, they do something I really like.
    I don’t think either side is going away any time soon; and we really do have a lot in common.

    Now, if the Calvinists would just get right with God, they’d see things my way :-).
    David R. Brumbelow