Saturday, July 24, 2010

Calvinists, Grow Up! Or Why Calvinists Must Embrace Election and then Keep Going

You can't call my Election Pedigree into question. I've spent almost a decade arguing with any Arminian that would get within ten feet of me. I spent five years in the cage stage (the stage early on where all new Calvinists need to be put in a cage so they do not hurt themselves or others). I wrote an unpublished book destroying Arminian soteriology. I'm the guy who calls you an Arminian, even if you swear you're a four-point Calvinist. I've been that guy for almost ten years.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Geneva (or should I say, after I reached Geneva): I started caring about other stuff. Yeah, I still like poking semi-pelagians. And yeah, I will defend Calvinism until your mom agrees with me. ... If she brings it up.

You see, it took me a long time before I joined a church where I really felt like I belonged, theologically speaking, and then the funny thing happened. I started to love the Church and stopped loving my club. Richard Mouw makes the point in his book Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport that God has elected us, but He elected us to something. The election was merely a step - an all-gracious and free step - but a step nevertheless. It was not the end of the line, the conclusion of the argument. It was the step which made the rest of the journey possible, and which ensures that we will reach our destination. But what happens between "election" and "eternity" is happening right now. And there is an impressive amount of stuff that fits in between those two events.

The fellow whose emphasis is on election is like someone who has just been given a new Corvette and he can't stop playing with the sunroof. You just want to throw a water balloon through the roof and scream, "Drive the car!" To misquote Switchfoot, "we were meant to live for so much more." Election & predestination were an essential part of why God's grace has been expressed towards His people, but if we stop there, then we're almost no better than the broad evangelical who's read The Purpose Driven Life three times and thinks that Max Lucado is "pretty heavy stuff." I'm grateful for the doctrine of election, because it was the springboard that got me really into studying theology in the first place. But after awhile, we have to admit that if you've been a Calvinist for a decade and can't stop thinking about and fighting about election, then you have settled for something just a step above milk, but far from the meat that you should be chewing on.

It needs to get into our blood, and soak into our bones, and come out every time we breathe, but it paradoxically is not to be our focus. This is because once it gets into our blood, then it can stop dancing before our eyes. This is a much better way to live in the grace and knowledge of God.

1 comment:

  1. Yes!!! That's it! What a good description of what happens in believing the beautiful mystery of His election! It "gets into our blood
    and soaks into our bones, and comes out every time we breathe..."

    I'm smiling here because I've actually read "Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport" "on the way to Geneva"! I probably haven't read much of what your mind can wrap around or wrestle with... but Mouw's book I've read and enjoyed, mostly.

    Thanks for this post.
    Press on!


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