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The short answer is "I don't know." But here's the extended version for any armchair theologians out there (and we all are).

This will be the first of a few posts designed to educate and debate myself out loud. See, I have lots of college aged people in the bible study I teach every Tuesday night. And for some odd reason many of them boil everything down to whether Calvin was right in his T.U.L.I.P. theology or not. I became fascinated with the words "depravity" and "predestination" at their age too. In part I think I was hoping to avoid being proactive in my life. And in part I was hoping to avoid being the only one active in my life. Both hopes are understandable are they not? So my research began. Did God choose me or did I choose God? - I wanted to know.

Now, the students I know who are "certain" Calvinism is the right understanding of God's dealings with man, those who call themselves "Hyper Calvinists", are some of the most brilliant intellectually stimulating people I know. And some of my favorite people. They could make mince meat of my understanding of the topic if they wanted to but they choose to speak slowly and teach me gently. I'm thankful for that. So, upfront I want to make sure those folks know I love them and I respect them but also that I have some questions about their way of thinking still.

So, here's the first part of my understanding of Calvinism and an honest critique of it from what I do understand. We'll start with the "T" in "T.U.L.I.P: Total Depravity. As always I beg you to think for yourself and teach me patiently and kindly if you believe me to be misguided in any way.

Romans 3:10-11 says, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God." I get that. We could also quote Paul again and say that "all have sinned and don't measure up to God's standard for perfection.." I get that too. And then the Calvinist asserts that because we're powerless and "depraved" we also can't "turn to God." We don't have the ability to choose God as the solution to our poverty and wickedness called sin. I get that too. On my own I can't understand God or want God to rescue me from my busted self. Paul, again, says, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them. (1 Corinthians 2:14)" and most clearly Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)"

I was born so weak and wicked that I can't take a step towards God on my own - I'm crippled in that sense.

But then an unsupported leap is made by Calvinism. If I am sinful at birth and powerless to get up and take a step toward God, then I obviously don't take a step toward God. I have, they say, no active role or response to God's drawing and no ability to pull away from it either (I = Irresistible Grace). I hope this doesn't make too light of the subject at hand and offend anyone but the image I think best represents this point in Calvinism is from Star Trek. In Star trek there were tractor beams that could be aimed at a smaller ship, beams that acted as magnets sucking in smaller ships that inevitably were captured by the big ship. In Calvinism I'm the small vessel doing nothing to go to or away from God's tractor beams.

But Jesus said, "...when I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all men to myself. (John 12:32)" He draws all men to God but not all men are "saved." How can this be? How can it be that some men are successfully drawn in and others are not except that some men pull against God's tractor beams and refuse it's magnetism?

The clever way some Calvinists have gotten around this is to say that by "all men" Jesus meant "all elected men." That seems to be interpreting a passage through the lens of Calvinism. Understandable but at the very least it's a stretch right?

We could list all the verses Calvinists use to make their point here but these are the most convincing ones I've encountered and they come close but don't yet convince me. How about you? Specifically what they don't convince me of is that God makes me believe instead of enables me to believe, that God's drawing is more forcing than compelling, that Jesus didn't mean it when he said he was pulling every toward himself.

Bottomline: Jesus said no one comes to God unless that person is drawn by God. He doesn't say that drawing is irresistible and, in fact, he implies that it is by stating that he draws ALL men to Himself. What am I missing? Teach me.


Blogger D.R. said...


Good to see that you are looking into such things. One note, be careful about being educated by young Calvinists. As a calvinist myself, I always says that every new "convert" should be locked in a closet for a year so that he or she doesn't hurt himself/herself or anyone else. Go check out some books by seasoned calvinists like JI Packer, John Piper, RC Sproul, or James R. White. Calvinism is addictive and often people jump on the train before they get all the facts. Some of your statements lead me to believe that you don't have all the facts and while I acknowledge that this is in fact the reason why you are posting on this, I also would like to help you get all those facts by offering this suggestion. Hopefully, regardless of whichever theological view you feel is most Biblical at the end of all this, you will walk away understanding Scripture better and in turn will grow in your walk with Christ. Just remember to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth and don't accept easy answers. John Piper says, "Those who rake the surface get leaves, but those who dig may find gold."

Anonymous Carolyn Long said...

Can't wait for the next lesson. Here the thing. I think sometimes in our quest for intelligence, we overlook the simple part of the plan. The verse says no one comes to the Father....to me, the word "comes" implies action. The number one definition in Webster's says, "to move from a place thought of as 'there' to a place thought of as 'here'". I love that!
Why is there such a desire to make our faith impersonal? Why would we want to take desire out of the picture when we think of God? My God is the God who calls me out by name as He stands on the hill watching and waiting with anticipation for the moment this prodigal comes running back home, content to be in His presence. I believe there is not a prodigal out there in the world that He wouldn't love to see turn from their wicked ways. I believe His heart leaps with overwhelmed joy every time one of His creatures turns in recognition of Him as Creator. I believe in a God that could have created us in a way that took choice out of the picture, but that in someway that would have lessened the joy and love on both of our parts. I don't have it in me to seek Him. It is Him who draws me to seek Him. It is Him who enables me to respond to His seeking those who will worship in spirit and truth, but it is I who must look up and into the wonder that is God. Too many of us don't want to give up the looking in in the wonder that is us. This response is not born out of intelligent study, but out of abiding relationship with the One who give me breath. Carry on!

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

"come" is English. I wonder if that is an active verb, ongoing or one time only, verb in the original language.

D.R., I've read a lot of the Piper stuff, read his sermons on-line at desiringgod.org often as an addition commentary when preparing to teach. I got the things I posted from Reformed websites - not well-known authors admittedly - and from the kinds of sources you're referring to: "putting amazing back into grace", for example.

I worded Calvinism in the most simplistic terms I could realizing that I could never teach all of Calvinism this way. But as a Calvinist, if there's anything you'd like to deepen, correct or add, I hope you feel free to do that, no matter how many words it takes. I truly want to learn from guys like you. I hope you're predestined to teach me ; ) (sorry, couldn't resist a good Calvinist joke. Seriously, I want to learn from more mature Calvinists like you.

I have toured almost exclusively with Calvinists and have mature Calvinist friends. So my only exposure to the ideas isn't youngish people, but there is definitely more to learn. I'm listening. Thanks for joining the conversation.


Blogger cruz-control said...

Hey Shaun,

There are two books you might find helpful: "Why I'm not a Calvinist" by Walls and Dongell and "Why I'm not an Arminian" by Peterson and Williams, both published by IVP in 2004. These outline both stances from theologians respected in their fields.

One comment, I had to work this whole thing out in my theology as well, and I have to admit I don't have it all down yet. But what I'm reminded of is the book of Revelation. In Revelation a paradox is created in 20.12. Here, there are two books mentioned: the Book of Life (cf. 13.8, Ex. 32.32-33, Ps. 69.28, Dan. 12.1, Mal. 3.16, 1 Enoch 104.1, Apoc of Zephaniah 3.7, Luke 10.20, Phil 4.3, Heb. 12.23) and the book of works (cf. Dan. 7.10, 4 Ezra 6.20, 2 Bar. 24.1, Rom 2.6, Cor. 5.10). It is according to these TWO books that people are judged. The two seem to contradict one another. However, when taken in context, the prophet John seems to be reflecting the paradox of our own salvation. It happens (divine election), but we choose it (free will). Think of it this way, a guy falls in love with a girl. Does he choose it, or does it happen to him? The answer: yes. It is, in essence the same paradox, it cannot be labeled as solely one or the other. It happens, but he willingly affirms it. It is the same with us and God... we are chosen, but we must also choose Him: the book of life (our salvation through Jesus the Christ) and book of works (it takes something on our part to choose Him). John is not saying one or the other will be the sole of cause of judgment, rather he is creating the paradox that reflects a relationship with Christ: faith with works, using ancient Jewish and Christian texts his audience would be familiar with (i.e., the two books).

Great discussion,

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like what spurgeon and Eckman say about it. I also have a hard time with God sending anyone to hell. One chooses hell over God, and God allows it. One chooses self over God and God allows it. Did he know you would, of course, does he desire that all come to him?

"When a Calvinist says that all things happen according to the predestination of God, he speaks the truth, and I am willing to be called a Calvinist. But when an Arminian says that when a man sins, the sin is his own, and that if he continues in sin, and perishes, his eternal damnation will lie entirely at his own door, I believe that he speaks the truth, though I am not willing to be called an Arminian." -spurgeon

"God chose certain individuals to salvation, but they freely choose Christ. Both are equally present in the salvation dynamic. To diminish God’s sovereign choice is to go against the teaching of Scripture; likewise, to diminish human responsibility is to deny the teaching of Scripture. The relationship
between the two is likened to a railroad track. The two parts of the track are perfectly parallel. You
need both parts to make a track; one without the other makes travel on the track impossible. When a
person stands on the track and looks into the future, they seem to come together. But as long as a person walks the tracks, they remain parallel. So it is with the interplay between divine sovereignty of choice in salvation and the matter of human responsibility in salvation. Both are equally taught in Scripture. As long as we remain in this world, in our finiteness we cannot reconcile this seeming antinomy. In fact, all attempts to reconcile the two have been unsuccessful. Both the reality of divine sovereignty in God’s choice of those who will be saved and the truth of human responsibility must be held in theological tension." -Dr. James P. Eckman

Of course, like all analogies of the Trinity, they all break down at some point and are not accurate. These things are not incomprehensible but unimaginable. It seems to me to reconcile the two we lack a demnsion or 6. We lack that consciousness of the eternal now of the Living God. What that is like. It is the beautiful and will always be a Mystery to me. In his consciousness lies the answer to God's predestined and our Choice.
We fool ourselves if we think that we have a total free will. I cant just say "i no longer exist" and just vanish. I create and choose withing a system of laws and guidlines, this predefined system so complex and powerful and perfectly planned juxtaposed with humanity moving and choosing is a balence so powerful and mindboggling that my mind simply locks up unaided by revelation. But I cannot settle for the simplified version of it. These versions have always launch me into a judgment seat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ultimate decision for salvation rests with God, not us. No fallen person will ever choose God. Fallen people still have a free will and are able to choose what they desire, but the problem is we have no desire for God and will not choose Christ unless first regenerated. Faith is a gift that comes out of rebirth, and as we know, our salvation is a gift, not something that we have done anything at all to merit. And the reason for this, among others, is so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9)

The elect do choose Christ, but it is only because they were first chosen by God and not on the basis of anything that they have done or will do.

Some of fallen humanity receive the grace and mercy of election. God chooses to leave some in their sin. The nonelect receive justice. The elect receive mercy.

No one receives injustice. (Rom 9:14-15).

Blogger FzxGkJssFrk said...

I like the Spurgeon quote.

So, Anonymous, what do you say to John 3, "For God is not willing that any should perish"?

(FYI, I'm a PCA member who grew up Pentecostal; I wouldn't yet call myself a "five-pointer", although Reformed theology has helped me considerably over the last couple of years. I share a lot of Shaun's questions.)

Blogger FzxGkJssFrk said...

My question was directed to the 2nd Anonymous, not Seth...

Blogger D.R. said...

Shaun, I really like your attitude and your humility in how you approach the subject. I hope I did not insult you when I said that "Some of your statements lead me to believe that you don't have all the facts." I realize now what you were doing, and I am sorry that I took it the wrong way. And I appreciate the honesty of the posters on this site. I think all that commented did so with an open mind and with a secure sense of God's sovereignty in the process of salvation. And in the end that is most important. The saddest thing to me is one who places his or her choice above the grace that has been given them.

And I am glad Shaun that you have met such mature calvinists. I know for a fact this is not always the case, for I was once that immature calvinist trying to nail the 5-points to every church door I could find. But that subsides over time and you start to understand that this mystery is deeper than one can learn in a lifetime and if a calvinist really believes this stuff then he or she will know that only the Spirit can lay open Biblical truth. Even the best arguements fail when the Spirit is not present. Thanks again and I look forward to more posts.

Blogger Matthew Smith said...

Ewww...hyper-Calvinists? The only hyper Calvinists I like are Calvinists on a sugar rush. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) I've never even met someone who would describe themselves as an HC, though I'm sure there are many out there.

On the surface, it seems that you're missing what Calvin, Luther, and others were saying about the nature of our will. The Star Trek analogy is an inaccurate representation of Calvinism in the same way the common "Calvinism makes us all robots" argument is. Our wills are bound (i.e. in slavery) to sin until the Spirit changes our hearts and gives us a desire for God.

Instead of tractor beams, think of Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, and said "come forth." Now, technically, Lazarus could have come back to life and said "No thanks, I think I'll just sit in this tomb for a little while." Jesus did not force him to exit the tomb in a tractor beam-like fashion. But having been given new life, his desire was obviously to get out of the tomb (after all, "it stinketh").

We are dead in our sins, much like Lazarus was physically dead, and when the Spirit makes us alive, we "choose" to come forth from our tombs.

The "all men" issue is interesting. I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say that if "Calvinism" isn't the correct interpretation of this passage, then I think Universalism would have to be.

Blogger Em said...

This article from John Piper and the staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church might shed some more light on the issue for you - it is very well written and easy to read. I hope that it helps.


Anonymous cl said...

I've been thinking on all this all day. Frankly, I'm exhausted. One thing is for sure. My puny little finite mind is not capable of wrapping itself around co-existing predestination and free-will, but I believe that they do co-exist as much as I believe in a 3-in-1 God. One thing has become evident throughout this day though. This subject and the struggle with figuring out where I do or do not stand or wobble has kept my focus from the only One Who gives me peace in not knowing all that He knows. Am i wrong or lazy in wanting to give up the quest for knowledge? I want to know my God fully and intimately. Can I simply be a follower of Christ or do I have to make a choice as to who I follow under Him? While my brain is stretching through this blog and its comments, my heart is feeling constricted. What will part 2 bring...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew M asked about 2 Peter 3:9 which says "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

There is harmony in the scripture. If there is a seeming contradiction, good interpretation says we should look to reconcile the apparent discrepancy rather than simply conclude "my verse negates your verse" (which I am not saying you did, but many do).

As to that verse...I am a father. I am not willing that my children should fail school, become drug addicts, enter into bad marriages, get sick, or many other terrible things. It is entirely true that I am not at all willing that these things should happen. It is equally true that they could still happen.

The first rejoinder is, "But God IS sovereign...He CAN stop bad things from happening". Yes.

But some take His sovereignty to mean that He is obligated to extend the possibility of mercy to every fallen person, and since He is loving this obviously means He would choose to do that, simply because WE believe anything else is unfair.

I don't think it's fair.

But I can't dictate to God what represents "fair". After all, as He asked rhetorically in Job 38, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?"

We know very clearly from Romans 9 that He is never unjust. We also know from Rev 13:8 that those who are in the lamb's book of life were written before the foundation of the world. And looking at Ephesians 2 it's pretty difficult to dismiss that God is the one responsible for our salvation.

As to John 12:32, I am not a greek scholar, but one would have to look there to determine if "all men" is referring to...

"every single living being that has ever been created or ever will be created is offered and equal chance of salvation and it's then up to them to choose"


if Jesus is simply making reference to the fact that He has made salvation possible not just for the Jews, but also the Gentiles, or non-Jews, if you will (add those two up, and you've got "all men").

Regardless, a question about the possible meaning of one part of John 12:32 does not undermine the truth represented well in other places in scripture that God is solely responsible for our salvation, and not us.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some issues that i just cant get over with Calvanism:

Is it: for God so loved the world.

for God so loved the preselected.

Whosoever will, or Whosoever has to.

Come unto me all who are weary, or

Come unto me all who i have chosen


is it not also context to say that he is refering the the early church when talking about the predestined.
Do we use the same criteria for context when we know that Paul and Peter refer to "this generation will not pass" or "obedient slaves." With the early church Paul addresses. Who is to pick and choose when we consider the context. If everyone is so "Soli Scriptura" then why do so many people dig the 5 points and Piper? Do we not still lean upon other's interpretations?

The 5 pointers seem a bit like an attempt at "error correction" to reconcile a mystery. The same thing that arius did when he tried to explain the totally God totally man problem. How could Jesus be fully man and fully God. To Arius he had to be more God than man. It just made sense. (Not saying here that the 5 points are heresy.)

no offense meant to d.r. but doesn't:

" I always says that every new "convert" should be locked in a closet for a year so that he or she doesn't hurt himself/herself or anyone else."

sound a little strange. does this sound like the disciples flying out of the upper room on the day of pentacost with the good news to everyone that was in the street? was the great commission extraneous?

Why is it hard to exept that there is a part of us that chooses and a yet our days are numbered and our steps ordered. and every man has that opportunity not just an few elect. Does He not persue all of us? Is there not a God shaped vaccum in all of us as Augusitne said? Is not the 5 points universalism in different duds? Yes Jesus Raised Lazarus, but was that really to give an example of preselection or rather to reveal his Deity? "So that they may see the Glory of God."

Sin came from one man to all because of choice in the Garden, Grace is available to all through faith because a Savior on a Cross. There is something frightening about something left to us. We say that an act of will is a work, when it is really a Gift of God.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see both in the bible... is that allowed?

"doctrine makes a good servant, but a terrible master"

Blogger introriff said...

The best description I have heard about salvation and the concept of God drawing us to Him was illustrated in a manner of entering a gate with a big banner overhead that reads "choose salvation". Jesus is in the field behind this gate. As we get closer to where Jesus is in the field, we look back to the salvation banner at the gate and find that it reads "chosen by God" on the backside.

Blogger D.R. said...

Seth, by "convert" I thought it was obvious that I meant "one who believe in the doctrines of grace or calvinism." What exactly does the disciples at Pentecost have to do with one obtaining doctrinal knowledge? No one is saved into Calvinism and the experience is obviously not the same. The reason why I said that is because most people who come to this view are changed by it, they see God in a completely different way, but then they begin to see others that they feel "must" understand it as well. The only problem with that is that often, immature calvinists will engage in debates, rather than just pointing people toward Biblical truth. And the opposite side is often offended by this shoving of doctrine at them, thus causing incomplete understandings of calvinism and hurt feelings. I think you would have to actually experience this to get it. But it is most definitely not like conversion to Christ.

Blogger Seth Ward said...

Hey d.r.,

Sorry if that came off as a misrepresentation of your views. Evangelical Protetestant Christians period have a tendency to shove doctrine into the face of non-believers and believers. As far as pentecost goes, I was simply profiling the idea of believers being dangerous to others, with the excitement and fervor of the disciples at pentecost. I dont agree with Calvinists on certain things but that does not mean that I am totally right even if I believe that I am. Free will is still a Mystery, and how predestination and our free will is balanced and reconciled and where they meet is beyond anyone, i feel the awe and mystery of the psalmist in 139 when he says "You hem me in -behind and before, you have laid your hand upon me. Such Knowledge is too wonderful for me, to high to attain."

However, I have also been the protagonist of the same kind of zeal as I was once a Universalist.

Thanks for your response


Blogger D.R. said...

Seth, thanks for clarifying what you were saying. I do want to say one thing because I think often Calvinism is misunderstood mainly because there are many varieties, as there are many varieties of Arminians. Calvinists don't reject free will, we reject libertarian free will, which is the belief that "free will is affected by human nature but retains ability to choose contrary to our nature and desires." Here is an article that shows the difference (though this article is mainly about open theism, it does illustrate the distinction rather well):


Blogger NerdMom said...

My problem with this point of Calvinism is that is says(very indirectly of course) that God created people for hell. Since God is timeless (He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow; He simply is), He knew if he was going to save you before you were concieved. So if God had no intention of allowing you into heaven(versus hell being a consequence of OUR choice) you would be created to suffer. I totallu believe that God chooses you simply because the Scriptures say so. But then I must also believe that we choose Him. It is an antemene but that doesn't release us from doing as we are commanded. If our choice is irrelevant why should we share Christ? According to an old pastor of mine, this actually prevented missions from being important(a long time ago). This is a hard topic and I love the fact we are discussing it. It is so much more important than all lot of the other things I blog on;). I also appreciate that we can disagree and question with out anyone being offended. It isn't about being "right" but finding truth.

Blogger FzxGkJssFrk said...

Yep, it's 2 Peter, not John 3. Next time I'll look it up. Yikes, how embarrassing.

Blogger introriff said...

The principal of "being chosen" is true, because God is who He is. I didn't know, until this week, that some dude quoined a phrase and named it after himself though.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Where I am on all this today:

Did God choose me or did I choose God?


Does God know all?


Do I?


If I have faith, is that a gift from God?


Can I believe the story of Christ is true, that He is who He said He is and still choose not to believe IN Him?

Yes (Hebrews 10:26, Matthew 12:31)

Does God draw people to himself?


Does He draw ALL people to Himself?


Do all respond favorably to this drawing?


Who was predestined to be with God forever?

All those he He knew before they were born - everyone. (Romans 8:29)

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Aout the above comment.

The further down in the comment you read the less certain I am.

And I'm open to learning more about any of it.

Great comments so far. Good stuff.


Blogger Shaun Groves said...

em, suggested I go here to Piper's church's website to read about their understanding of "TULIP" theology. I did. I've not finished the whole thing yet but I had a thought, a question really, about the opening paragraph I wanted to post here for comment by those more knowledgeable than I on this subject.

It reads:

"We love God. He is our great Treasure, and nothing can compare with him. One of the great old catechisms says, "God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth." That is the One we love. We love the whole panorama of his perfections. To know him and to be loved by him is the end of our soul's quest for eternal satisfaction. He is infinite; and that answers to our longing for completeness. He is eternal; and that answers to our longing for permanence He is unchangeable; and that answers to our longing for stability and security. There is none like God. Nothing can compare with him. Money, sex, power, popularity, conquest - nothing can compare with God."

That's beautiful. And I agree whole heartedly with all of it. And that paragraph alone is substance enough to unify the Church and those on this blog even if we don't get the rest of this stuff regarding choice and being chosen worked out.

But my question: This paragraph is beautiful and true to me in part because it asserts what I believe to be true of human longing. There truly is a God-shaped whole in us. On that we'd agree more than likely. But I'd go further to say that we know there's a hole in us. When a man knocks on a bar's door, a brothel's door, or a church's door he's looking for the same thing - God - whether he knows it or not.

I admit that I honestly have little or no basis for believing this other than observation and life experience and a few tenuous scriptural supports at best. But if this is true, that we know we're in trouble and we're seeking a solution, ten how can it be true that we do not seek after God. maybe not by name, but by provision - we seek what it is only God can provide. We just seek in wrong places sometimes. Even Christians do this.

Now it's true that the bible says no one seeks after God. Key words are NO ONE. NO ONE. That would mean that no Christian seeks after God. But that isn't true either because we're told about people who did seek after God. So could it be, and I'm theorizing, that we ALL seek after God but none of us does it apart from God giving us the desire to, propelling us to by revealing to all of us (drawing) our problem for which He alone is the answer? Could it be that He gives us the gracious gift of problem awareness and desire for solution and we choose then to numb ourselves to that awareness and/or consume counterfeit solutions?

So no one seeks God accept those whom God causes to seek Him. This would be part of His drawing referred to already in this post. And He gifts this gift, this drawing, to ALL MEN. But some men blaspheme against this drawing or refuse it. And that sin is unpardonable; it is the sin of rejecting God whom we sense we need.

I'm spit balling here. Does this make sense? I hate to proof text but I'm wondering if there is scripture to back this idea up. I think there is.

Either way, the beauty of that paragraph unites us. God is everything we all need. Hs is worth examining together. Thanks for doing that here.


Anonymous carolyn said...

I found myself this morning back here in thought. I actually came to lead others to the January 29th post on www.wearefred.com The side by side comparison link is what this visual being needed.
These last three comments are well with my soul. And yes, I do think we all on occasion prefer to numb ourselves to the awareness of Him. For in standing face to face with the only One that can truly fill us, we must lose and let go of the parts of ourselves that don't allow Him to fully fill us up, and that is painful.
The "way cool" thing about God is that He doesn't seem to be satisfied with a one-time filling. Once He is allowed inside, He just keeps stretching and letting me know I need to give up more and more and more. Every giving up is just as painful, yet equally as fulfilling. He does want me to know where I stand with Him, for in the knowing my stand becomes more secure. Thank you to all who have commented. We are One Body following One God in the Way of One Truth, and this has been a very meaningful blog journey for this way-faring stranger.

Anonymous Loren said...

2 observations:

1. I was haded a great book by John Piper...Don't waste your life...great book, but for some reason the first chapter was laced with calvinisim...that wasn't the title of the book...I was bummed till I got to chapter 2 and went on with it:

2. So this morning i am leading the congregation in a Caedmons call song, "Before there was time" and in the middle of it i start going off in a tangent in my mind (musicians know what I'm talking about) Man this has a lot of pre destination inflections:

So to sum it up, maybe I am hightened to all this stuff after reading these posts...but really i am interested in the way we view doctrine, and its importance in our spiritual formation.

I want to focus on the things that unify us(jesus) versus the things that seperate us (doctrine).

This is probably just an artist being optimistic...hope not

Blogger DissonanceIsBliss said...


One thing many of us may have in common is the pleasure of having had a conversation with Cliff Young. What I gather from experience and observation is that the typical Cliff conversation goes like this:
1. movie trvia
2. music business (emphasis on business, not music)
3. Calvinism
4. fly fishing.
In that order, almost without fail. Okay, there's not point to that, other than it's funny because it's true.

Seriously though, I've debated this topic with a few of my closest friends. One is a Hyper Calvinist and the other is an Arminian. My Calvinist friend thinks the mechanics of salvation is important, but just so we have proper theology. My Arminian friend is a fan of Dave Hunt and believes the two most evil heresies that have infiltrated the church are Calvinism and Catholicism and that neither can be Christians. I upset them both by saying that I don't care any more. It's not really that I don't care, but it's hard to care when the issue is turned into loveless legalism. However, the discussion here is quite pleasant, so I found myself reading every post.

I suppose I have landed close to where you are. Those of us who love God do so because He first loved us. Because we were ruined by sin, we would always chose ourselves over God. However, the Spirit enables us to chose. Some of us do, some don't. Is this too simplistic of a belief? Perhaps. But for seeing only through a dark glass, I am content with my understanding for now. I'm not saying that I shouldn't continue to study the Word and seek to know God more deeply... I do! But my finite mind doesn't comprehend the infinite. I'm completely fine with not knowing the answers until I get to Heaven. So for now, I am content to preach Christ as the one and only Way.

I took a Sermon on the Mount class recently from a wonderful professor who is about 80 or so. One of the most brilliant minds I've met. The example he gives is what was cited by introriff. It's actually from Pilgrim's Progress. One side of the gate says something like "enter in all ye who chose" and the other says that we who entered were chosen. When Professor Edmund Janzen rhetorically asked "So which is it?", his answer was "Both." It's a bit of a mystery. And I'm okay with that.

Here's my afterward: It frustrates my friends that I refuse to take a side. The funny thing is that many Arminians criticize Calvinists with "There's no reason to witness to people if it doesn't make a difference." I don't understand that logic. Ironically, my Calvinist friends lovingly share the good news quite often. Jesus said "Go," so my friends go... to be obedient. But also for the joy of taking part in someone's coming to Christ. Besides, if you love God, you'll keep His commandments. I always want to defend the Calvinists in this regard.

Anonymous Bobby said...


Hey my brother. I wanted to invite you and your readers back to the Reformed Reader discussion board where you responded to a post that was started in reference to your blog articles on "TULIP".

I have written some conversation starter questions in response to your article found here:

I think this would be a great discussion tool for those who are looking into the Bible's teaching regarding mans condition since the fall.

May God bless us as we seek to understand His word!

In Christ,
Bobby Crenshaw


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