I have been reading a lot of blogs, and I have been reading a lot of opinions on Calvinism, and it seems to me, most people tend to despise what they hear and don’t really get. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I think it’s becoming a prejudice, we all band together to despise something we don’t understand. It’s sort of human nature. I have come to the point that I have stopped describing myself as a Calvinist, because people automatically make assumptions about me. That I don’t do evangelism (I wrote a book of evangelism) and that I don’t want to do church plants. I don’t share the gospel and I am sort of cold and closed off.
I don’t have time to address all the misconceptions I see when it comes to Calvinism, and I don’t wanna get anywhere near TULIP. I want to talk about the main issue I see, that we put God into the human limitation of time, and we get so caught up on “which came first” and “when and where” and “who is responsible” and we make God fit our ideas. Once we take the limitations off God, things begin to open up.
I proposed a theology I called “Woven” because it fits together in intersection of man’s ability to have choice and responsibility and God’s sovereign action and His plan. It all fits together into a grand tapestry that we call Salvation. We have to take into account that God calls and God elects, the scripture is clear on it. The other side of the coin, we have responsibility and choice and we take actions and if we neglect those responsibilities, the consequences are eternity separated from God. The best example of this is found in the book of Genesis. The birth of the nation of Israel is a wonderful example of how man’s will plays right into God’s sovereign and unmovable plan for humanity.
In Genesis chapter 15, God makes a Covenant in Abraham, telling him that his offspring will have possession of the land. He then says something interesting, God tells Abraham his offspring will be afflicted for 400 years and then return, and in verse 16, God tells him it’s because the “iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” God has already decided to use the Israelites to judge the Amorites, even though they had yet to do anything. I know, it’s simply foreknowledge, but stick with me.
To get the whole thing to work, first Jacob has to have a wife, to have decedents (notice I skipped the whole ‘Jacob I loves, Esau I hated thing’). Jacob falls in love, but his uncle tricks him and he marries the wrong girl. Then he marries the right girl, but has children with his first wife and two hand maids before he ever has a child with the favored wife. Why is this important? Because the younger is loved more than the eldest born, so they make a decision to get rid of him. Look at all this human choice that happening. They sell him into slavery into Egypt. He has some people make some choices that land him in jail. Then he ends up as the second most powerful man in Egypt, brings down the whole family and eventually Israel spends 400 years in oppression, then goes to punish the Amorites and take their land.
So, did all of these people have a choice? What is just by the coincidence of their choice that God’s plan played out exactly like He told Abraham it would? Of course these people made choices, and of course they are responsible for their choices, but God’s plan unfolded exactly like He said it would.
Does it work that way with Salvation? A Wovenest would say “yes”, that the Eternal God has an Eternal Plan that we don’t fathom and cannot understand. We know that God has a plan, the He has elected some and shaped their path. That is in God’s eternal plan that is outside of time and space and we have no way to even begin to comprehend how it works. For us, stuck in time, it seems like a contradiction, so we decide that Calvinism must turn us into robots with no choice and no ability for free thinking. I believe we come to this conclusion because our thinking is so limited.
We experience God in time and in our frame of reference. God interacts with us in time and in a way we can have relationship with Him. Lets take Moses for an example. God tells Moses “I’m gonna kill all the Israelites and make a great nation out of you”. Moses says “no, don’t do that”. God then changes His mind. . . but God doesn’t change His mind. God was working with Moses where Moses is to build relationship with Moses. Moses grew in relationship to God, God knew He wasn’t going to wipe out the entire nation, but there is part of God that comes to have a relationship with us. The greatest expression of this is the person of Jesus Christ, who is God, yet left His divine power to the point there are things He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know when the end will come, only the Father know, yet Jesus is still God. Jesus is the embodiment of that nature of God that seeks personal relationship. It’s the aspect of the Father that we cry out Abba Father too. He loves us and meets us where we are and reveals Himself in a way that we connect and grow with. Moses didn’t really talk God into anything from an eternal standpoint, but at that moment in time, at that place in that relationship, God and man talked and man reasoned with God and God relented. It’s an amazing thing.
In Salvation, we share the Good News, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, a sinner confesses, repents and places their faith in Jesus Christ. At that moment, they are touching God at that moment in time, they are reaching to God and God is there and a sinner is redeemed and all of Heaven rejoices. If we step back, in eternity, that moment was predestined to happen, God knew it was going to happen, God set it in motion. He created the person, He took them to the place, He is the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, that moment, this moment and every other moment was set in motion by the will of God. God stands on the outside of time, and He does what He wants without limits and without restraint, aside from those He places on Himself. We are unaware, unable to even interact with God on this level until the day we too exit time for eternity.
My point is, so often with the C word is dropped, we have such narrow thoughts and opinions. I don’t think most Calvinists are as narrow as they are portrayed. Sure there are some, but there are people who picket the funerals of our men and women in uniform, they call themselves Baptists, but I don’t think we want to be lumped into one group with them, do we? The Anti-Calvinist sentiment has some flavor of prejudice to me, maybe we would seek to learn about something we don’t understand instead of just blasting it. That being said, blast away!