Keep your friends close, and your “-ism”s closer


yes, that's Geneva in the background

I’m trying to work on a new post on Calvinism and having a bit of a hard time, so I thought I’d take a break.

I grew up Calvinist but only because that was the only pool I could swim in at the time. During and after seminary I questioned things more but still held on to a lot of it. Now I’m investigating the other side of the fence – that would be the more Arminian traditions including the Anabaptists – and even the contemplative Catholics like Thomas Merton. All of this has been great, and disturbing at the same time.

Which is great. I think we all need to be disturbed from time to time. Questioning our “-isms” keeps us sharp, thinking, and engaged. Too often I think we can choose to read and study things that only reinforce what we already know. I think this is a great problem with Calvinism – not the theology, but the ideology. Calvinists, like most other fundamentalists, can too easily put up walls around competing beliefs and label them as unbiblical. Often in these cases “unbiblical” simply means reading and understanding a text in a way that isn’t square with Calvinism! Also, there is a general sense from the New Reformers (my term for Tim Keller et. al.) that the gospel has been “lost” and that we are here to “recover” it. When I heard this, I had to think “well if it was lost, it certainly didn’t go too far”.

All that said, I do appreciate and admire many of the new Calvinist authors and speakers out there. I listened to a sermon by Kevin DeYoung yesterday on Luke 15 during my commute that was fantastic. But I’m also reading a book by Austin Fischer titled “Young, Restless, no Longer Reformed” that stands in stark contrast to the new Calvinism. It’s more of a personal story than a theological treatise, but hey – Jesus told stories too, and seemed to favor them over long diatribes on unconditional election.

Keep thinking outside your boxes, everyone.

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