All around the world blogs, study groups, conferences, podcasts, and unusual little publishing houses are churning out material on election, justification, covenantalism, ammillennialism, postmillennialism, Christo-centric hermeneutics, Augustine, Calvin, Luther and, yes, even the differences between infra-, supra- and sub-lapsarianism. Frankly, it is indeed cool to be a Calvinist right now, and more resources are available to the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” crowd than ever before. Don’t get me wrong: I celebrate this resurgence and hope to see it flourish. Yet we should be careful to make sure that we are not busy polishing windshields just to mutually admire each other’s techniques.
Loving Calvinism for its own sake, even with all of its rich internal language and traditions, is the fast track to killing it. There is a better way.
Greg Dutcher, Killing Calvinism
Finally, someone who wants me to be employed! In all seriousness, this is worth the read.
If you’ve ever been to an Evangelical church, you’ve probably heard something along these lines:
If you want to get saved, if you want to accept Jesus as your Savior tonight, I want you to bow your heads, close your eyes, and repeat after me:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer and meant it with all your heart, now you’re saved.
Such an invitation is so common that many people would not even give it a second thought. However, there are potential problems with this approach. First, let’s consider a question: what exactly is going on here?
I’ll cut to the chase. I don’t think the doctrines of limited atonement and unlimited atonement are all that different in the end. If you’re not familiar with the controversy, here are the basic ideas of each:
- Jesus paid the price for the sins of all men equally.
- Only believers have their sins completely and finally atoned for, as the atonement is made effective by faith.
- Those who do not believe do not have their sins atoned for in the same way as believers, because the atonement is not made effective in them by faith.
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
God has a wonderful plan. But it’s not for my life.
Well, to be more precise, the primary plan and purpose of God only includes me as a footnote. And I don’t know what my part in His plan actually is. In fact, to be honest, God’s plan for me might be, by all ordinary definitions, horrendous. Maybe in order to accomplish His ultimate plan God will send me to the jungles of Brazil, where I immediately contract a painful, paralyzing disease while my wife gets kidnapped in the woods, and then I die of torture at the hands of savage tribesmen before I even get to mention Jesus. No matter how much grace comes from that when I enter eternity, that is not what anyone would call a wonderful plan under normal circumstances.
This isn’t to say that things won’t work out right someday. After I die, and even more so after I am resurrected, life will be pretty sweet. I can’t wait to see what wonders of grace God has in store for me in the new creation. Even so, I must make a point.
We Christians are a funny bunch.
Continue reading “Let Us Make Merry”