While I realize my writing here has tended toward a more existential bent of late, I’ve decided to dive back into discussing some doctrinal issues here as well. A good friend of mine has recently decided to work through the five points of Calvinism on his blog and give some reflections on how he understands them. While I have neither the time nor ability to mimic the insightfully literate approach he’s taking here, I figured I’d throw in my two cents.
I often run into shocked expressions and the occasional brandishing of a holy symbol to ward off the demons when people find out that I would describe myself theologically as a Calvinist (or at least Calvin-ish). This is often the result of either misunderstanding or a past encounter with a Krazy Kalvinist ™. I’m hoping to work through the first issue a bit. As to the second, well, the sad truth is I’d be a rich man if I really owned the intellectual property to Christian nutjobs. I pray I’m not one of them, despite the voices in my head and occasional psychotic episode. I should also state up front that while I do willingly wear labels like Reformed, Calvinistic and Presbyterian, they’re not the banners I want to die under. I love Jesus and the gospel. I think the above labels summarize true assessments of some things His Word teaches us. I do my best not to confuse the two categories. I’d appreciate it if you returned the favor.
One of the strange accidents of history is that we’ve been left with an acrostic by which Calvinism is typically explained. This is unfortunate not just because the letters spell TULIP (which makes me feel like a pansy – although that’s actually a type of violet), but also because acrostics tend to have an inverse pithiness-to-clarity ratio. Still, that history is the one I find myself in, so I’m going to try working out the way I understand each of the five points, both in their original intention and their modern application. I don’t have time or space to give an in-depth biblical defense of the five points at the moment, although I’m not unwilling to. I simply think the way a lot of people I know understand them is a bit skewed, and would like to offer my corrective thoughts. As always, if you don’t think I’m a very good theologian, its because I’m not one. I’m a guy with a blog and 2/3 of a seminary degree. I’m not putting on a pointy white hat and speaking infallible truth from on high; I’m just offering my thoughts.
But without further ado: on to the first point. Continue reading