Point #2

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calvinI truly hope that my previous post wasn’t too harsh. I still feel that I am a part of the church and that I am responsible along with them for the decision to meet in the future at this establishment owned by this organization. As I had said previously, I truly love the people there and enjoy their fellowship. Perhaps I shouldn’t make such a big deal out of meeting in such a place but when you’ve been an apologist then you understand the need for consistency and testimony.

The second issue I’ve been having as of late is probably a little more difficult to deal with. The issue of meeting place will eventually be dealt with when we move into our new building hence there is an end in sight to my contention. Unfortunately, this next issue is doctrinal and I can’t see any true resolution in sight. The Church I frequent is basically one that is what I would refer to as a traditional evangelical church in their soteriology. In other words they are far more Arminian than Calvinistic. I’m not going to expand on the definitions of these two theologies and trust that the reader will do the searching for him or herself. I should probably mention that the church I frequent are definetly not entirely Arminian but would be more of a 4 point Arminianism where they would still hold to the doctrine of eternal security. I, on the other hand, am a 5 point Calvinist. I have embraced this soteriological position probably about 3 years ago and even though it has been a tremendous blessing all around, I have kept these beautiful truths to myself. Why you might ask? Well, it’s pretty simple, the doctrines of grace tend to cause this strange emotionalism in those who don’t hold to them. In other words whenever I have discussed these issues with others, there has been more heat than light that has surfaced. I have no problem in agreeing to disagree yet the other side has always been more particular about their condemnation of this biblical view. I had decided to simply let it go and if someone actually asked me I would certainly be happy to share what I believe. Recently, during a bible study at our church, the text of 1 Peter 1:1-2 was presented. It reads as followed:

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Generally the issue of election is skipped because it is felt that no one has a really good understanding of it. This night however it was spoken upon believe it or not. During the discussion one brother spoke about election meaning that God has chosen Christ as His elect and when we choose Christ, we become the elect. He argued that we are chosen unto blessings but never unto salvation. Of course this is the view of “corporate election” to which the Lord Jesus becomes a “corporate entity” or the body of the church. When we believe in Christ, we enter into Him or the body and because He is elect then we become elect. Interestingly enough the entire argument went into Ephesians 1 rather than 1 Peter 1. The principle statement was that we are chosen “in Christ” and not “to be in Christ”. I couldn’t hold myself back any longer since the tone that was used was less than respectful hence I finally spoke up. I pointed out to him that in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 we read that “we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginningfor salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” I then pointed out that part of the blessings we are chosen unto is the election and predestination. These things were purchased at the cross as well. I pointed out to him also that even though the text doesn’t say we were chosen “to be in Christ”, it also doesn’t say that we were chosen “because we chose to be in Christ”. The outflow of Christ are the blessings found in Ephesians 1:4-14. I pointed out as well that in 1 Peter1 the only reason that any of them would have had any hope in persevering as commanded by Peter was that they would have known they were the elect, sprinkled by the blood and sanctified by the Spirit. This would have given them much encouragement!

Needless to say, most didn’t agree with me and caused a few people to look down on me. Things have calmed down a little but there is still this unfortunate ambiance that surrounds me now. I feel that I’m being defined as a Calvinist rather than a Christian bought by the precious blood of Christ. Regardless, it did feel good to get these points off my chest.

The question now is can I continue to fellowship there? I know that I must bury this issue and continue on however it is tremendously difficult. When we believe in the Sovereignty of God the way a Calvinist does, then we understand that it affects every part of the person. From their theology, gospel presentation, worship, prayer, worldview and even the way we perceive God, all of what we believe falls back upon this point: soteriology! As I keep mentionning, I love these people greatly and honestly care about them. They are good Christians and I have appreciated their zeal and concern for one another. The problem lies in the question: Can we walk together if we are not “like-minded”? I guess only time will tell. I will address the third point hopefully very shortly!


Written by shawnkjmcgrath

July 4, 2009 at 4:15 pm

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