Note: This was written before the author’s conversion to Orthodoxy.
Now that I got all my pro-Calvinists posts out of the way, let me just post a casual observation. Calvinists put too much emphasis on predestination.
Believe me, I get it. Predestination serves God’s sovereign purpose, it magnifies the true depths of His grace, and it reflects His awesome power. Furthermore, there is a certain level of annoyance that comes with realizing how inconsistent one’s reading of Scripture is without understanding how predestination fits into God’s sovereign purpose. It makes you want to talk about it all the time and let others know about it too. R.C. Sproul calls this the “cage stage” of Calvinism, meaning you need to learn to keep your mouth shut for a while (i.e. in the cage)!
My main concern is that the Bible talks about other things too!
I remember going to the reformed baptist church in my town for the first time. My pastor did a chapter of Isaiah every week. Every single sermon was about the same stuff, especially predestination.
Part of me was happy; at least I found the right church. But, even early on, I realized there are drawbacks to this too.
As I wrote in my post about proper biblical interpretation, one principle that is especially important is to emphasize things in proportion that they are emphasized in Scripture. So, what we should be talking about and thinking about should be in proportion to what we see in the Bible. After all, God tells us what to emphasize.
When the Gospel is preached, we don’t add caveats. We spread out our fishers net by speaking the Good News of Christ, and when the fish come exactly how this occurred is less important that why it occurred: God loves us and is exceedingly merciful.
This is by far the largest emphasis in the Scriptures. The Bible dwells more on how men are saved (faith) than the reason why these men have faith to begin with.
Granted, those who reject God’s sovereignty over man’s will not only contradict clear passages of Scripture (Pharaoh’s hardened heart, Nebuchadnezzar being turned into a beast, God giving men new hearts and causing them to walk in his ways, etcetera), they insert into the Bible a concern over “free will” which the Bible is silent about. Simply put, the concept of “free will” does not appear in the Bible at all, and it seems to me that those who are in love with the idea sometimes can love it more than the Christian religion itself.
However, that’s is not to say that Calvinists focus so much on election, that they forget about that most of the time the Bible talks about other stuff.
Just as Paul preached the unqualified good news of Christ crucified to unbelievers, let us speak of the good news as unqualified. Whoever has an ear, let him hear.
I cannot seem to reconcile Sovereign election and salvation through faith. We are part of The Village Church which has a strong Calvanistic core and I still cannot wrap my brain around it – despite the great teaching on it. I’m am currently studying it in Mock’s bible doctrine survey book and find myself getting very frustrated.
Can’t say that I know that book, but I don’t think there is a hard to reconcile contradiction there. We still have to have faith in Christ. It (often times) won’t overtly feel like an outside force is acting upon you causing you to have faith in Christ. So, while Predestination is true and necessary (because, in retrospect, with God setting up things in your life and in your heart a certain way you won’t have faith), it is not the most important thing. Men could have faith while at the same time God predestinates.