My first take is to see the good in people. It’s the lens through which I interact with people. Always.
You might have a different lens that filters how you see people and situations. If you do, your interpretation will always be colored by that lens.
The same thing happens pretty naturally when we set out to interpret the Bible. Every time we read a passage or confront a doctrine, we bring our preconceptions, our beliefs, to the table. It’s natural. It’s human. It’s virtually impossible to remove the filters and look at the words of Scripture without bias.
In spite of my filters, I try to look at the Bible with fresh eyes and openness whenever I study. That has become more true the older I have gotten. The arrogance and superiority of my youth have certainly been replaced with a more genuine and hopefully, more humble, search for truth.
In my formative young adult years, big-name Calvinist preachers and teachers were all over my native SoCal landscape. They were prominently displayed on Christian radio and television. They were the most popular authors and conference speakers. I listened closely and was profoundly challenged by their commitment to the Kingdom and their call to surrender by life to the pursuit of the same.
But I knew of very few loud (legitimate) voices standing in opposition. So I began to study.
I didn’t grow up around Calvinist perspectives. I was raised in a more Arminian theological context…even though I had never heard of the word and had no clue there was even a different point of view. Once confronted with the logical flow and linear thinking associated with Calvinism, not to mention the overwhelming authority booming from their apologists, I was forced to make room for it.
So I adopted a “compromise” position. Since I didn’t have a deep enough understanding of my Arminian theological foundation…and I couldn’t refute the Calvinist theological foundation with any confidence…I concluded they both must be true. They both seemed to make sense. And even though concepts like predestination and freedom of the will, both co-existed in the Bible, my inability to intellectually harmonize them simply proved that God was a lot smarter than me.
For years I quietly accepted some of the core tenets of Calvinism, because I wasn’t taking enough time to really dig in and decide what I really believed. About thirty years ago, I decided to take that study seriously.
I am not a Calvinist.
I’ll start telling you why in my next post.