Monday, March 01, 2010

Humility in Action

My problem with hardcore Calvinism is not the theology and logic of of it, I get it. Rather, it's more often than not the people of it, or more accurately, how they present it.

I realize I'm doing an unfair generalization in saying this, but it just seems to happen way too often. Especially in the enviroment where I teach. Well, this is an excellent article from Allen Yeh: A Calvinist Apology. It is a call (and excellent example) to a compassionate understanding and presentation of a difficult biblical truth - and difficult no matter where you stand on the issue. It is something I need to heed.

Here is a part of what he writes (emphasis added by me):

So in light of that, let me say what I should have said:

I know that Romans 9-11 is hard to swallow, because it clashes with our modern sensibilities. And if we’re to take the whole canon of Scripture seriously, this passage necessarily has to be included, especially since Romans is the most heavily doctrinal book of the Bible. But I think we often have a view of God that has a difficult time reconciling his judgment and his mercy, his truth and his love, his exclusivity and his love for all. These seemingly opposing concepts are as difficult to wrap our minds around as the Trinity or the two natures of Christ — after all, how is it possible for Jesus to be fully God and fully man at the same time? How is it possible for God to be totally just and totally merciful at the same time?

Part of the answer is rooted in mystery. I wish that Paul were a little clearer, for our sakes. I struggle with this myself — I’m sure when we all get to heaven we’re going to be asking Paul, “Why did you have to be so confusing with all the details? What did you mean by such-and-such?!” But maybe we have to be content that, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12). But I know that “mystery” isn’t a completely satisfactory answer, and you may even wonder about your own salvation.

So another part of the answer is God’s holistic nature. Rom. 10:9-11 is pretty clear in that, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trust in him will never be put to shame.’” If you think that Romans 9-11 is frightening, here you will find that it is also assuring. God is a both/and God, not an either/or God.

A third part of the answer lies in the Scripture passage I just quoted, which gives the simple yet profound message of the Gospel. If you are wondering about your salvation, and you have confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart that Jesus was crucified, resurrected and is Lord, then you are saved. It’s as easy as that! But at the same time, it’s as difficult as that. That is not an easy thing to believe, and the world sees it as “a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” (Rom. 9:33) It is folly to the world (in the Greek, the word is skandalon — a scandal!), but to us it is the wisdom of God.

Fourthly, if you are a Gentile Christian, this Romans 9-11 passage is for you! Paul calls us a wild olive shoot grafted into the olive tree. We are adopted heirs of the Promise! That is amazingly Good News. But this passage is also a warning: “Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” (Rom. 11:20-21) But it tempers that with this: “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.” (Rom. 11:22) I love the fact that the word “kindness” appears so much in the epistle to the Romans (e.g. 2:4, “God’s kindness leads you towards repentance”). The word “kindness” is like a flower that blossoms after the rain. It dots the landscape and makes everything beautiful.

You can read the entire article here >>

3 John 8
Bill H.

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