When I made the decision to write a little bit about my journey through the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, a tactical error was made. A “little” cannot be written.
I have spent over forty years with these two competitors. I have read a dozen books directly related to the topic. I should receive a prize. I’ve attempted to read Calvin’s Institutes. Reading an encyclopedia would have been easier. I’ve even read Edward’s, Sinners in the hands of an Angry God. Whoa!
I’ve listened to dozen’s of sermons by reformed preachers and many more by preachers out of my own heritage on the topic (I miss the days of cassette tapes). I attended a predominantly reformed seminary (Fuller Theological). My current sermon series through Romans has caused me to be re-immersed in the debate this entire year.
Hence my brain cramping dilemma.
I am not flippant about my study of God’s Word. Nor do I take this debate casually. But really, for the free-willer guy like me, the debate produces very little. I have no need to win. I totally believe you can be a Calvinist and be fully Christian (even though my salvation has been called into question by some of the hyper and strong Calvinist authors and preachers I have read and listened to). Just keepin’ it real.
This morning, I‘ve been preparing my sermon out of Romans 9 for this coming Sunday. It contains a whopping 33 verses. After an hour of thinking and re-thinking my outline, I realized I was going to need at least six or seven weeks of sermons to adequately cover the topics of election, pre-determinism and God’s sovereignty…in this chapter alone!
And then I started imagining the looks on the faces of my church family, in my imaginary Lord’s Day pontification. It was there I decided that spending one week on chapter 9 would be plenty…and all of you North Pointers can thank me later.
Whether you believe in true free will, or in one of the many variations of divine determinism, I am still going to call you to real repentance and real obedience. If you believe that only the elect can have absolute assurance of salvation, I will continue to maintain that only those who live in an active, conscious, personal obedience to the Word of God and conformity to the life of Jesus, will experience the assurance of actually being the elect.
So I will continue to believe, preach, and live out the truth that Peter means exactly what he writes in 2 Peter 3:9…
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
For me, everyone will always mean everyone.
If you wish to do some further contemporary reading on the “free will” side of the debate, here are a few links that have been helpful to me recently. I don’t necessarily agree with every word of each, but they certainly do a pretty good job of reflecting where I’m coming from.
As always, I’m always up for a coke and conversation (or an email dialogue). As for my blog, it’s time to move on.