February 01, 2008

Tightly Knit Packages Tied Up With String; This Is Just One Of My Favorite Things

"…the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes." Daniel 4:25

This phrase occurs four times in the short book of Daniel. If there is a recurring theme in the whole Bible it is that God is God and we are not. I know that comes as a shock to some but truth is TRUE. Never-the-less, the longer I live the more of a Calvinist I become which is not to say that I am a Calvinist. And I am certainly no Arminian in the camp of the Free-willers who place any confidence in the inherent goodness, wisdom, and discernment of mankind. Calvin's first petal of his "t-u-l-i-p"--total depravity--is the most consistently demonstrated characteristic of humanity of any I can enumerate.

True confessions--I find the longer I live, the more I study, and the more I experience and get to know God, the more "complex" He becomes. I often think I "knew God" better as a young Christian than I do today.

The reality of that statement is absurd but it sure seems that way. Everything was pretty cut and dry. That is no longer the case and honestly--I am very comfortable with not having all the answers; not having a perfect theology and not even having a perfect consistency in my understanding.

But for some Christians their theological packages are so neatly jammed with tight little containers of this truth and that truth that anything with a little bit of bulge to it or a corner that isn't exactly square brings out the sweats as anxiety mounts.

I am quite fond of tightly packed packages but I have found they eventually explode under the pressure of their own forced tidiness. For just when you think you have everything in its place, God does something unexpected and there you are trying to fit another container into a box in which there is no room.

So, I have grown to be at peace with a Potter who cannot be fully comprehended by a lump of His clay and at peace with a Potter who sometimes even seems to contradict Himself. But in those moments I have the faith to believe that such contradiction lies in my puny understanding and not in the character of One who is infinite.

So I have no problem believing that sovereignty and free will are two parallel lines that somehow meet in the mind of God. And personally, with that I am very content.

6 Comments:

Blogger Servant said...

While, for the purpose of brevity perhaps, you seem to credit John Calvin as the originator of the acronym T.U.L.I.P. in fact that is historically inaccurate.
John Calvin died in 1564.
The ‘’Five Points of Calvinism’’ was not formulated by Calvin, but rather by the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619.
This Synod was called and attended by many great leaders and teachers of the reformed churches throughout Europe. It was called in response to the heresies of James Arminius and the result of this Synod was the ‘’Cannons of Dort’’ which addressed the five major doctrines then in dispute.
Although Calvin himself never set forth such a system of five points, these teachings are a compendium of what John Calvin and others (such as Martin Luther, Augustine, the Apostle Paul and Christ Himself) taught regarding salvation and are all founded in the Holy Scriptures.
Concerning your comments of not having ‘’all the answers’’ or a ‘’perfect theology’’….
Certainly anyone who has been born of the Spirit of God recognizes that ‘’For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’’ (Isaiah 55:9)
This however does not excuse and/or allow us to use human logic or earthly wisdom in some kind of attempt to explain the Infinite with our finite minds. Nor does it allow us to deny or avoid difficult Biblical doctrinal truth.
If, for example , the Bible teaches the Doctrine of Election then it is your duty as a teacher of God’s Word to teach this doctrine. Do you teach this doctrine? Do you teach the Doctrines of Grace? Or rather do you see these truths as being ‘’divisive’’ and perhaps offensive to the hearer? It appears that you view those that believe these historic truths of the faith as ones who ‘’put God in a box’’ so perhaps I already have my answer.
What is really astounding is that the doctrines that Arminius put forth, that were declared to be heresy at Dort, are the same doctrines that are embraced by the majority of evangelical denominations/associations in the USA today. Yours included.

On a lighter note…..I chuckled as I read your statement:
‘’the longer I live the more of a Calvinist I become which is not to say that I am a Calvinist ‘’
You not only seem to be enamored with politics but that statement reminds me of how a politician speaks. :)

8:04 PM  
Blogger PB said...

Shucks and by-golly I guess I have been put in my place alright. It seems you have a unique gift to be sure; You seem to know all that is in my finite little mind as well as the infinite mind of God.
I am just truly awed by anyone who has determined to solve the scriptural paradox of God's sovereignty and free will; something that the greatest minds of Christendom have not been able to agree on even after centuries of study and debate. I salute you my friend--well done!

1:54 PM  
Blogger Reddogg said...

I agree with you. Personally, the more I learn about our Almighty Savior, the more I learn how little I know.

Your commentary here comes at an interesting time for me. I've been reading Pink's "The Sovereignty of God" and getting into this very discussion. Also RC Sproul has been preaching on this subject on his radio broadcast too. I've been hit on all sides with this topic. Even to the point of having a nice argument with my father-out-law, I mean in-law.

My stance on free will currently... Adam had the choice to sin and the choice not to sin. Since his choice to sin and the fall, we have lost our choice not to sin. If we do not have the choice not to sin, then are we truly free? (Sorry for the double negative, but the english reads much better with it written out like that)

Just my two cents!!

8:41 AM  
Blogger notcon4med said...

Reddogg:
Interestingly, right after I read your comment, I read this at a blog that I read regularly and would highly recommend. I think you will find it worth reading.

http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/having-one-without-the-other.php#comments

As for my thoughts, being a confirmed Calvinist, I think the most important piece in bringing the whole subject together is Federal Headship and how it functions in original sin. That is not to say that understanding this does away with all questions and mystery concerning God's sovereignty. But I think many who reject a reformed/Calvinist view stop short of where scripture both allows and invites, even insists, that we go. No one, to my knowledge, has ever given a biblically defensible explanation for the origin of sin, but the result of it -- our being dead in our sin and unable to desire or do anything pleasing to God -- is quite clear. He must make us alive and open our eyes to see Him. Jesus said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." We cannot choose something we cannot see...we cannot choose anything concerning God if we are dead to Him.
You are doing well to learn from RC. No one can teach reformed doctrine better, IMO. Check out his book Chosen By God. It's short, but thorough. I always say, "If RC can't convince you, you do not want to be convinced!"

9:47 AM  
Blogger Servant said...

"Of all the Doctrines of the Bible, none is so offensive to human nature as the doctrine of GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY."

J. C. RYLE

9:17 AM  
Blogger Reddogg said...

"Of all the ideologies of man, none is so offensive to God and His Sovereignty as the idea that man has sovereignty over God."

- me

9:41 AM  

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