Since this is the greatest commandment, and since this represents God's value system, I think that we should consider this, in light of our theology. There's just no point in being right theologically, while being wrong on either of these two verses. In other words, if becoming a Calvinist brings you closer to the Lord (which is great), but simultaneously makes you into an egomaniacal idolater, and hateful towards non-Calvinist Christians (including consigning them to Hell, for merely forsaking your theological persuasion), and even bitter towards fellow Calvinists, simply because they don't think exactly like you do (i.e. "not Reformed enough"), then what have you really gained, after all? Were you not better off in the simplicity of the Gospel? Of course, that argument cuts both ways, in that if Arminians also develop an "us vs. them" attitude, or become haughty and arrogant in our thinking, then what have we gained? Sometimes I think that I need to just take heed to Peter's words at 1st Peter 3:15 (always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence) and trespass no further. Instead of engaging in a "Battle of the Bible," why not just give a defense, in gentleness and reverence, and let that be that, instead of engaging in dissension and debating? I can't seem to find a precedent in Scripture where Christians are called, charged and encouraged to engage in Councils & Synods. (I think that Acts 15 was something that the elders were reluctantly dragged into, desiring to resolve quickly and move on.) I'm not opposed to "standing up for the truth." Far from it. I'm simply not sure whether "debates" have surpassed what Peter had intended. I know that my biggest weakness is when someone (Calvinist or Arminian), mocks and ridicules the "Sinner's Prayer" or "Gospel Invitation" or "Alter Call," I can, and have, become self-righteous, indignant and outright hostile. Just about anything else I can deal with, but when it comes to those things, I have, at times, criticized such people as being of the anti-Christ. It happens. I know my limits. I also know what is edifying, and what is not. At some point, I think that I just need to rein it in, and try to remember what God values most in us "being a Christian," and focus on that. (Honestly, I don't want to debate, and my prior post was not an encouragement to have a theological chess match, but rather an illustration to expose what I had elsewhere perceived as a "heads I win; tails you lose" type discussion.) I suppose that I've engaged in one contentious discussion too many, and realized that I need to reevaluate my own behavior, and determine whether or not theological "debates" are really from the Lord or merely from the flesh. Sharing the truth is one thing, but the sheer ugliness of some theological confrontations is another. Everyone will have their own perspective, but for me, I am going to try a different approach.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
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I completely understand where you are coming from, and this particular debate has probably generated more heat than any other amongst Christians. I used to debate in online forums but it stirred me up too much, and I got fed up of the cockiness and arrogance on both sides. I continue writing about this on my own blog because I think it's healthy to look into it and to examine what the Scriptures teach. After all, it is about how you view God and his character. We need to be wise in what we say and on what sites we express our views.
Thanks for writing. Those are exactly my sentiments, and I appreciate the encouragement.
(By the way, you had written to me a while back regarding Jacob and Esau, relative to the love of God, and I hadn't responded. I do have some thoughts, and I'll post it now.)
Here were my thoughts:
I believe that God does get very angry at man's rebellion, but as Jonah believed, and which was confirmed to him, God will relent from His anger, when people sincerely tell Him that they are sorry, and ultimately, Jonah was shown to be the one who was really angry, whereas God was really compassionate at heart.
In the case of Israel & Edom (Jacob & Esau), Israel had rebelled, and God sent the Babylonians, even after many warnings (especially through the prophet Jeremiah), and in the process of the invasion, as recorded in the book of Obadiah, the Edomites betrayed Israel: "On the day that you [Edom] stood aloof, on the day that strangers [the Babylonians] carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem--
you too were as one of them. Do not gloat over your brother's day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah
in the day of their destruction;
Yes, do not boast in the day of their distress." (Obadiah 1:11-12)
God was very angry for what Edom had done, and pronounced judgments upon them, but as we know from the story of Jonah, God would quickly had changed His mind, should they have repented. Compare with Jeremiah 18:8: "If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it."
So I think that for God's part, He stands ready and willing to forgive, and that's how you can reconcile the love of God.
That's my take. What do you think?
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