Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Building Bridges: Southern Baptist and Calvinism

Many of you, like myself, could not make it to this historic conference at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. However, thanks to Lifeway and Ed Stetzer, there are audio files at the Lifeway Podcast here and also some manuscripts of some of the lectures here. Also, I read a comment by Nathan Finn on his own blog that there will be a book to be pulbished by Broadman and Holmann Press with all the lectures present as individual chapters. This will be something to purchase when it comes out. Be Blessed!

1 comment:

sonofjay817 said...

I've been struggling with the whole Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate lately. I've seen convincing scriptures put forth that seems to support the Calvinist view. I also can think of many scriptures that seem to support the notion of free will. One in particular that keeps springing to my mind is when our Lord mourns over the sons of Israel and says that He has longed to gather them around Him like a hen does her chicks but "they would not". It seems that His desire has been frustrated here. In my view this does not diminish His sovereignty because a sovereign God should be able to endow His creatures with the power to choose their own loyalties if this is what He (God) wants to do. However I am troubled also by the passage that speaks of God preparing "vessels of destruction" and Paul anticipating and addressing that people would perceive it as unjust on God's part. I would like to present a possibilty that may seem nonsensical and/or overly simplified on the surface that I haven't yet seen proposed by anyone else to this point.

To preface, I would like to bring up the doctrine of the Trinity. Of course, the actual word is not anywhere in the scriptures. The doctrine was arrived at because two separate realities are implicitly revealed in scripture; that there is one God and that He is revealed in three persons. Scriptures does not even really exert much energy in trying to reconcile for us these seemingly two contradictory realities but simply lays it out there and we have to accept it and deal with it the best we can. I have read different attempts by people to explain how the Trinity works and various analogies. I've heard that part of the beauty of the doctrine of the Trinity is that it doesn't make logical sense to us therefore it must be a "God-thing" because man would never have thought it up. Is it not possible the same thing is going on here with God's sovereignty vs. man's free will? Perhaps the two are harmonized in a way that we can never understand in this life. Maybe that's why you have scripture speaking of a sovereign God not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance yet men perish. You have Christ mourning over those He desires to shelter and love who will not come to Him. But at the same time you have Christ stating that only those who have been given to Him by the Father will come to Him, and the thing about "vessels prepared for destruction". Romans 8:28 states "all things work together for good to those who love God and area called according to His purpose." God is not the author of evil but somehow in His infinite genius He can still bring it back around and use the bad and evil things that happen to achieve His will.

I believe that Calvinism and Arminianism both are presumptious and limited; an attempt to fully understand the things of God. Instead of attempting to lean on our own understanding and create dogma around it, we should just accept what God says and know we just can't work it out with our finite minds; God is completely sovereign, God prepares some vessels for wrath to declare His glory, God wills that none should perish and takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked! There it is. It seems contradictory but so does saying there is one God manifested in three persons. I've seen both camps fall into fallacy and setting up straw men in trying to disprove the other. Maybe you both err and should stop trying to figure everything out rather than simply have faith in God's revelation AND in His character. I can't accept a God with limited power nor do I think I can accept a God who describes Himself as the personification of love who would create beings whom He would allow no chance to choose to follow Him and escape an eternity of unimaginable torture.