Something that I have been thinking about and I want to know what others think about ... DEBATING CALVINISM
... Is it worth the time?
In the first year I was saved, I read through the Bible once, and started it a second time when I latched onto a certain radio Bible teacher that helped me a lot. There was one subject that he brought up that I hadn’t really thought about while studying the Bible on my own: the Bible's teaching on predestination. He talked about the differing ideas of freewill and election (while never mentioning the acrostic TULIP) and then he said that his conclusion was simple: BOTH predestination and free will are true … we just can’t understand completely how they work together. He used the illustration of walking through a door that says “whosoever will” on one side, and then after you walk through, looking back at the same door from the inside and above it, you read “chosen from the foundation of the world”. I guess he implied it was a mystery. (Having been so turned off by the many “mysteries” in the church I grew up in), I’m surprised I did, but I accepted this viewpoint. I never really thought about it much after that. If I came to a verse that suggested predestination, I would surrender myself to being too feeble of mind (as a human being) to grasp so great a perplexity. Don't get me wrong, I am not afraid of doctrine, I really enjoy digging deep into the Word of God and finding His treasures.
THEN CAME TULIP.
A friend of my husband brought it up to us and was stressing its importance. My husband, John, told me he had thought about it a lot before, and was ready and willing to help me understand. He hadn’t placed much importance on it, and in all of our discussions we had never dealt with this subject extensively. We had never debated it. John then told me how he was a four-point Calvinist. I was a little confused about what this all meant, so he gave me the small paperback simply entitled “TULIP”. I read this book and it completely floored me. How could people really believe this? I had been studying the Bible and was sure that Christ had died for all of mankind ... and that His invitation had gone out to all ... and that they would all be responsible to respond ... which they were completely able to do ... so therefore would be without excuse … and on and on.
The only two points I could accept were the first and last because I do believe that people have nothing good to offer God and because I could see, in scripture, that Christ would not lose one saved one (I’m simplifying a little here). I thought of all my lost loved ones that seemed so defiant toward the true gospel and I was quite disturbed … were they unable to repent and be saved … would God create these people with no chance of redemption? What kind of a person was He? I was so pale over this…it even caused me to doubt the goodness of God, which is a sickening thing for a child of God to do.
I talked to my husband about this nightly for months as I tried to reason through it. I never became convinced because of the verses on the other side that were contradicting this teaching that was so new to me. I cannot stress enough how disturbing this was to my soul because of the truth that I feared might be there, and what it implied about my loving God. (I wonder if other people have experienced anything like that).
Then I read a book…Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom by Samuel Fisk. It really helped me to, once again, put this thing in the “mystery” column while understanding that predestination is for the Christian (Romans 8:29). I began to see the predestinated ones as more of a group that was open, not individuals predestined to join that group. It seemed like once a person was born-again (by responding to the drawing of the HS, he would then be predestined for all that God had in store for His church). Anyways, I was content with this understanding and put it all back to bed.
Then I found the blogosphere.
Dave Mullins posted some articles about it and I found Jeremy (who is a very patient person) with his series on TULIP. This brought me to a new concern over TULIP. I am not deeply disturbed as before, but I just don’t understand why this is so important to so many people that they have embraced it with such abandon. So I guess you could say…I am open to some more scriptural reasoning.
Someone suggested a book, “Debating Calvinism”. But I am a little torn…is this worth my time and energy? My brother, Pat, recently was saved and we were talking about doctrine and how Christians sometimes disagree … I told him I was in the disagreement last summer with Dave Mullins (who had been meeting with my brother when he was born again) over TULIP. My brother didn’t know what TULIP was, so I briefly explained the debate. Pat is very much evangelism-minded as a new Christian, wanting to tell the world of the joy of salvation and the deliverance from sin's penalty. His response got me thinking … he told me he thought this was a great distraction which Satan was using to draw our eyes off of what is important in our Christian lives. Hmmm … out of the mouth of babes … what do you think?