Propitiation. Now there’s a word we don’t hear often enough.
Propitiation. Now there’s a word we don’t hear often enough.
Full disclosure: I am a Calvinist. Yep, all 5 points…. Offended?
Stick around, it will be ok!
Now that we got that out-of-the-way, the point of this post is NOT to make a case or argue for Calvinism. Have you noticed? It has kinda already been done! There are many better places to make a humble argument for or against Calvinism.
So, Let’s dive in!
It is a great day we live in where there has been a resurgence of reading, studying, and learning of theology. 10 years ago you could not pay a guy to read a theology book. So, I begin with gratitude!
I am grateful for those who have taken up big, thick, theology books written by dead guys and living guys. LOVE IT!
I also enjoy the conversations that the reading has stirred.
And, I love, most of all, OUR great God! He is God, the focus, and the reason for all this great theology!
I have this growing concern for my friends in the reformed theology camp. (Oh, Oh… perhaps this post will offend BOTH Arminians and Calvinists? I hope not.)
It is with the reformed brothers that I have the most agreement….. and well, disagreement.
You see, amidst this surge in theology, there seems to be an accompanying surge of pride. Yikes! Not the pride word! How dare I mention it while so MUCH pride is still hanging on to my heart and life? Dare I attempt to write about “Proud Calvinism”?
“Tim, what are you thinking!?!”
Well, I press on and pray for a work of humility in me. Besides, if you think about it, today’s topic falls under the scope of this blog. “Gospel Connections.”
There seems to be a gospel disconnect when it comes to proud Calvinism.
How does one subscribe to reformed theology and do so with a pronounced arrogance??
At the core of Reformed theology is the Sovereign God.
I don’t like to use the term “Calvinist”. Not that I don’t like John Calvin, or have gained from John Calvin. Rather, it’s because I don’t think John Calvin would like the term “Calvinist”! The term immediately takes the glories of Christ off of….. well, Christ. And, it places an emphasis on….. a man. Ugh!
A right understanding of Reformed theology specifically points the attention away from man and seeks to center the attention where it belongs…. God!
Reformed theology is not about Calvin!
Reformed theology is not about you or me!!
Reformed theology is about GOD!!!
Here is what I am getting at…. How is it that there seems to be in this surge of theology an accompanying surge of pride?
It’s in the coffee shop in Anywhere, USA. Two brothers sitting down, sipping their Americano, debating theology. (By the way, I have NO problem with brothers debating theology! Quite the contrary! May there be an increase of humble theological discussions over coffee!)
The Reformed brother believes he is saved by the grace of God, the Arminian brother does too. And, it is in that moment that my Reformed friend kicks into high gear. Feeling the need to unpack everything he learned the night before. Like Barney Fife he has a bullet. This brother knows enough….. to be dangerous.
Arminians…. don’t get overly excited about the above paragraph. The temptations are the same in both camps.
Like the clanging gong Paul references in I Corinthians towards the “we are so proud of our spiritual gifting” Corinthians. I don’t think your friend can hear you over the noisy cymbals and gongs. We must ask, Where is the love for my brother?
I know my Arminian friends are saying…. “yep, I have met the proud Calvinist” Please be kind in the comments section below and don’t try to add to the noisy gongs we Reformed guys are creating.
Isn’t proud Calvinism an oxymoron? You know…..
Consider our salvation: we believe we were “dead in our transgressions and sins….” Ephesians 2. And dead means….. dead. Not almost dead, just….. dead. We believe that in our spiritually dead place, God by His Spirit called / chose / elected us to salvation. And because He did – we then responded to His gospel call.
Praise be to God! We were once dead in our sins and now we are alive in Christ Jesus! (I know the above paragraph is overly simplified! Did I mention, the intent of the post is not an attempt to unpack the reformed view of salvation….)
My point is to simply say – isn’t the above paragraph inconsistent with the accompanying pride we see in the coffee shop?
To my reformed brothers of whom I AGREE…..
Do we really have it ALL figured out? AND, even if we did……(which we don’t!) But, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume we have it all figured out. Does it then become our right to blast our brothers and sisters with the sum total of all our reformed wisdom over a 60 minute coffee? The damage we do in the name of Reformed theology – in the name of Christ!
I believe God is sovereign over my salvation! That said – God is sovereign over my salvation does not equal…..pride. When we rightly understand that God is sovereign over my salvation the accompanying heart response is humility and worship.
God chose me and did so in spite of me… How does my wicked heart bring pride into that equation?
Reformed theology is not a gonging cymbal. God forbid! It is brokeness and humble gratitude. Thanks be to God – I am saved! Praise Him!
We might do well to leave that bullet in our shirt pocket and instead worship and glory in OUR Savior.
Next post: “Signs of Proud Calvinism”
To the Arminian followers of this blog – give us your perspective! How do we Calvinists need to grow? Be honest, humble, and gracious in your thoughts.
To the Calvinist followers of this blog – give us your perspective! How have you been proud? How are you seeking to repent and change?
When we talk Trinity we are entering into…. the deep end of the theological pool! Remember as a small child playing in the shallow end? The deep end was…. scary. It was for the big people. The experienced swimmers! Not me…. I was a shallow end kid! Guys like me were sure to drown in the deep end.
And so, I never ventured out… until the lure of all the fun that was being had in the deep end drew me! It begins by edging your way around the pool while hanging on to the side. And slowly but surely you found yourself…. in the deep end! And, while the deep end should be respected by a little kid – it should also be enjoyed! And enjoy it I did! Almost daily!
Some think: Why venture out into the Trinity. They say: “you can’t fully understand it, so why bother?” Oh friend, we need to bother. Yes, it is the deep end and yes the deep end should be respected, but the deep end is GREAT! It is here that we learn who God is and what He has done for us. The deep end creates worshipers and it stirs passion and love for God. It is in the deep end that we begin to behold the glory of our God.
So, are you ready? The following posts are all: deep end theology. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out! Nobody has God all figured out! Are you kidding me? He is, after all…… GOD!
Ok, here we go – let go of the wall…..
God is both 1 and 3!
If so, your brain is far better than mine! Trinity = 1 God 3 persons. And that is the deep end theology we will be getting into in the posts to come. But before we venture too far out into the deep end, let’s head back to the shallow end and ask: “How are we to think about the deep end?”
4 Ways to Think About Deep End Theology
Pride demands to have it all figured out. Our pride actually thinks that the created should be able to fully grasp – in entirety – the Creator. Think about this for a minute. How silly is that? Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that we should throw up our hands and say – If I can’t figure Him out… why bother. Please…. Bother! Remember the deep end is fun! Humility is not opposed to study and diligence or deep thought. BUT, what do we do when our study brings us to the Infinite, Almighty, Eternal, God? HUMILITY!
Consider…. if you are a Christian, you serve a God who is without limits. He is beyond us. The fancy word for this is transcendence. God transcends us. Here are some good synonyms for the word transcendence: incomparability, matchlessness, peerlessness,magnificence, excellence, supremacy.
Yep – that is God – the 3 in 1
He is beyond us, He is infinite and that fills my heart with joy. Because, if He were not transcendent…… then He would not be much of a God!
What does it mean that the infinite, transcendent God came and dwelled among us? (John 1) That’s right the infinite God took on – human flesh – skin and bones and…. limits to dwell among us! WHY WOULD HE DO THAT? He did that so that he might live a perfect life and die on the cross for our sins and rise from the grave ascending to the Father so that He might send us His Spirit and the Father might adopt us as His children. Deep End Theology stirs my heart to worship Him!
I WANT TO KNOW HIM! It becomes a Psalms 27 moment for me, how about you?
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalm 27:4 ESV)