This is something I want to get off my chest, and being that this is my blog, I can say what I wish on here (as long as it draws views).
Let me give you some back story. Tuesday night I got into an argument on Facebook. In reading that sentence, some of you can see where this is going. I’m pretty sure God has considered adding an eleventh commandment that states, “You shall not feed the trolls.”
Anyway, the argument of choice fort he night was the Calvinism vs. Arminian debate. In reading that statement some of you are beginning to see where this is going. Perhaps you’ve taken part in this argument before. For centuries within the Christian church, people has been arguing over man’s free will vs. God’s sovereignty, and the debate continues strong onto today. Churches have split, friendships have broken over this matter. In this case, the talk sparked over a photo the one gentleman had posted, and it turned into me not being “one of God’s elect,” and “deceived by the Arminian heresy.” I find this ironic, because there are a lot of ways in which I consider myself a Calvinist, and a lot of ways in which I consider myself an Arminian. The fact that my faith was called into question so quickly was the source of my irritation, however.
I’m not going to start that debate here; that is exactly the opposite of what I want to do. I have been out of college for going on two years now. I did not go on to graduate school, as some of my friends did, so my knowledge has a limit that falls shorter than theirs, but I’ve had quite enough of frivolous talk that invokes tempers and dissension such as this. God does not seek the division and polarization of the members of his church. Though there are matters so essential to the Gospel we must not waver on them, there are others which I don’t think God gives much of a rip about, or at least has not taken the time to make the picture clear on.
One of my college friends had a wonderful way of discerning matters of doctrine that were vital and those that weren’t: doctrine vital to the Gospel and the Church was called closed-fist theology, as in you don’t ever want to let go of it. Doctrine that was not a salvific matter, such as how you ran your church service, was considered open hand doctrine, or one you not be so rigid about. In this way, the church can hold to one unifying doctrine while allowing the differing of opinions in others.
The open hand is where I place predestination. There are many things about it I appreciate. As another one of my friends has said, nothing has made me appreciate and understand grace more than Calvinism. The day that I realized that I could do absolutely nothing to earn my own salvation and that only God could call me into it was a beautiful day in my life. Of the churches I’ve attended espousing free will, I would say only one has really taught me that, and then not emphasized it well enough anyway. Calvinism taught me that, and has shown me God’s sovereignty and loving perseverance with those who answer His call. However I cannot stand on Calvinism as closed-fist doctrine because no man can place his salvation on either side of this argument.
Why do I call this frivolous talk? Well, it isn’t entirely. The predestination debate gets heated because, though being open-handed, it is perceived to be rooted in our own closed fist, looking at how we understand God and the nature of man. Yet I have met Calvinists whose lifestyle mocks God’s sovereignty, and I’ve met Arminians whose dependence and belief in God is so unshakeable that to consider them reprobate would be foolish. We must ask ourselves, as we do of all things in our words and actions: what fruit is brought forth with this belief? Is the gospel preached in our understanding, or do we seek our own selfish wants?
If you cannot say that the Gospel is preached in your staunch position of either side of any debate, you had best reconsider your view.