Calvinism: What is it Good For?

As my parents got older they started putting away the salt from the table. It wasn’t that they didn’t like the taste it’s that they realized that too much of it was not good for them. They were realizing it was coming out all the time and that their blood pressure was steadily rising. But what I don’t think they noticed is that when they put it away they would slowly, imperceptibly miss it—and even need it back in their bodies. The rise of Calvinism and Charismatic Continuism seems to be doing the same thing.

Every time there’s a major movement in the Church you have to scratch your head and wonder, I mean really wonder “Is God bringing back the salt to the table?” Briefly looking at history, you have to acknowledge that the most growth in the Church came right after times of trouble and dearth. Major problems; boom first ecumenical council. Years of problems; boom the reformation. So when I look back at the Darby movement and its grass roots growth of getting back to New Testament principles I openly acknowledge that it was God’s way of bringing out the salt shaker saying “you guys are forgetting something.”

I’m not a Calvinist. Nor am I a Charismatic. I’ve worked through the literature on both, studied through the Scripture and have come to very different conclusions. I know that both systems have inherent errors and their fair share of ride-along nutters to make any proponent of the system look bad—but who doesn’t? I know my fair share of wild eyed rapture theorists who wax poetic with the many condemnations falling on sinners during the tribulation. I can’t help attribute the odd quaver in their voice not only to faulty brain synapses but also a perverted sense of prophetic glee..

So I have to wonder about this Calvinism and Charismatic growth. Is it years of teaching that no one is important, that man is his own god and able to make it on his own that God decides to bring back a system that teaches man is totally depraved, God is Sovereign and He elects to save people? Is it years of teaching that the world can be explained naturally while painting our churches in the drab colors of deism that God decides to bring back a system that teaches that not only is God here but He’s active?

I do wish there was a way to get rid of the problems in the systems, make a way possible that the systems properly use the Scripture instead of prooftexting their points, but even so maybe this is God’s way of saying “You will always need me…this is what I do…I know what you need before you even realize it.”

We probably should give some berth to the cook in the kitchen. We may be happy (or not) with how the table is set up, but in the end God’s the chef and He’s the one preparing the meal. If he says “here’s some salt” who are we to ask Him how He’s cooking? We might not like Calvinism or Continuism—but maybe, just maybe, we currently need it (Isaiah 45).

Incidentally, here’s Russ’ Calvinism series. Here’s my Romans Issue. Here’s Mark Dever asking the similar questions (HT: Barrett Young)

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1 thought on “Calvinism: What is it Good For?

Calvinism for me has never been an issue…sorry.  I said on Theologica once that my simpletons view of biblical predestination only fit when coupled with God’s foreknowledge…and I was told that this view was as old as Christianity itself.  Well, great.  Because I honestly came up with that from my own logic.  When trying to reconcile TULIP in a basic theology course I took once, I could never get past Total Depravity… I mean to say, logically, if we are totally depraved, then no matter what Christ did for us, we would not be saved…otherwise “total” would not be total!!!  Yes, there is a rise in charismatic style Christianity, but there is also a rise in people seeking mediums, etc.  Is it just that there is a hunger for spirituality like never before?  Pentecostals have long been strong in such areas (and yes, over the top at times) but weak in theology (traditionally speaking); but then, Evangelicals have been strong in scholarship, but reluctant to chance their arm with anything that might be too “wacky” and consequently at times, in my opinion, have dampened genuine moves of God (although, all Christians have been guilty of that one).R.T. Kendall and Paul Cain co-authoured a book once entitled “Word & Spirit” – I have not read it, but the title intrigues me.  Bloesch entitled his first (out of seven) in his foundations of Christian theology “A theology of word and spirit”.  Others, like Karl Barth have also utilised the terminology.  Have any of us actually embodied such a concept?  What I mean to say is I am longing for a ministry that is strong in the Word of God and open to a genuine move of the Holy Spirit.  Anointed excellence!!Okay, I did confess to being a simpleton…lol!

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