Why Wovenism isn’t just Calvinism repackaged

by Dan Barnes on August 28, 2012 · 3 comments

As I have written on my theological system, Woven Theology, and I have been asked by some people how it’s different from Calvinism.  There are lot of similarities, but as many differences.  I will try to unpack them, and I realize in doing so I will upset some people.  The reason for this is my first reason for abandoning the current theological labels.  They don’t adequately describe the beliefs held by a group of people.  As soon as you say “Calvinist believe. . . ” someone well say “I’m a Calvinist, and I don’t believe that.”  I am going to make some wide general statements concerning Calvinists, Arminians, Traditionalists, and some of you will disagree.  My point isn’t to argue, define your beliefs or tell you why you are wrong, it’s just a contrast.  This concludes my disclaimer.

What I have discovered about most theologies are they are anthropocentric, to a fault where they begin to put the same limits on God that exist on man, centrally the limit of time.  When we deal with Salvation, we typical deal with our need, our experience and how that is played out in time.  When we include God, it’s often how He made it happen, what His role is, and how He effects man, but the center is usually man.  It’s focus on us.  My first step with Wovenism is to try to look not at man, but at the relationship and interaction between God and man, because Salvation is reconciliation between the Creator and His creation who rebelled and betrayed Him.  Above all, Salvation is a relational alignment, the issue of resolving sin is the mechanics of how the relationship is repaired.  The main component is God’s love for us.  The resulting relationship through Christ is of a much greater power and intimacy than the sacrificial system, and even of Adam and Eve.  They walked with God in the cool of the day, yet we will be in His presence continually.  They had God with them, we have God in us.  God’s sovereignty and our responsibility both take a back seat to the relational aspect.  Sure, they are aspects of how, but I wanted to start with the why.

As I took a step back, looking at Salvation and the interactions between God and man, something became more and more clear to me.  In the aspect of Salvation, we have placed God within the confines of time, which is not the place to put a Universal being.  God created time, He is not bound by time, or anything else for that matter.  Anything that limits God becomes God, making God a servant and I do see how often we worship time, but that’s another blog.  God is in all places and times at once, and removing God from time makes the entire concept of predestination much easier to comprehend.  God is able to ordain a person for salvation and save them at the same moment from His vantage.  Time is only an obstacle for us, yet I see the major argument between Traditionalist and Calvinists focusing on the point in which God decided to bring someone to salvation.  In both systems, Salvation is God’s work, so when is the main concern.  Did He decide when the person was open, or at the foundation of the world?  In Wovenism, those are the same moment.

A huge consideration of mine is the power of prayer.  I heard John Piper share a bit from a youtube video about prayer, that causes things to happen that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t pray.  We are commanded to pray for the salvation of all people, and prayer causes things to happen.  If we can pray for people to get saved and a Sovereign God will heed our prayers, and if people are predestined at the foundation of the world, our prayers change things.  It’s a staggering thought, but with God, all things are possible.

With Woven theology, I have tried to put into words what most of us just call a miracle, something we cannot understand.  In the area of Salvation, there is responsibility beginning with the believer to preach the word.  Paul tells us that faith comes by hearing, they won’t hear unless someone preaches, and they have to be sent.  We have a responsibility.  Further, the hearer has a responsibility to respond to God, yet man is unable to respond to a Holy God because we are flesh.  God must draw the sinful man to Himself, man cannot and will not seek God on his own, yet is completely responsible for his sin and his failure to repent.  This is a mystery, but I think there are some things we can reason.  First, we are to preach the word, to share and to evangelize.  God has chosen His church to be the means of proclamation.  I think there is where Traditionalist are strongest, that desire to share with ALL people.  Second, we must share in such a way that the burden of being lost is felt, which is something we cannot do, only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin, and I think the Calvinists are with me on this one.  There is an interesting action that comes from the word being preached, the flesh being open and the spirit moving that causes salvation to come.  This is why I call it Woven Theology.  God, a believer and an unbeliever are being woven together in a moment to cause the tapestry of Salvation to be created.

Now I know that most of what I have said isn’t new or fresh, many of you hold to that, or at least a very similar theology, some of you call it Calvinism, some call it Traditionalism, some refuse to call it anything because of fear of being judged, labeled and misrepresented.  We fear what our people and churches will say and how they will react and some of that is legitimate.  There are extremest is both camps, and I have found for me that neither system can say what I need it to say.  The relationship has taken a back seat to the process, and the process is nothing without the relationship.

This was just a brief overview, feel free to ask questions, there is much more in Wovenism that just the high notes that I have covered, and this is nothing new.  My desire was to seek how the relationship between God, man, time, the church and evangelism all played together, because all of these things are scriptural, so they must be woven together without anything lacking.

1 Steve Martin August 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I think you did a pretty good job on your “Woven theology”, Dan.

I like how you make it clear that “man cannot and will not…”, but with God drawing him…then he can, and he does.

These are things that many of us wacky Lutheran types have believed for over 500 years. (not me…I’m only 140 years old) :D

Thank you, friend.

2 Dan Barnes August 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I have a great friend who grew up Lutheran and is now an Associate Pastor at a Reformed church, and he likes to point out how my theology is Lutheranisk too. Makes me laugh.

3 Zack August 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Dan:

I appreciate your thoughts on this subject. In particular, I enjoyed reading your position as it relates to the concept of time. I’m not sure I would formulate my thoughts exactly as you do, but your ideas are pretty close to what I’ve thought for a while.

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