Calvinism: So Hot Right Now

To the surprise of many, Time magazine recently listed “The New Calvinism” as the third most important idea changing the world “right now.” What?? 500 years after the birth of John Calvin, is his theological namesake really enjoying resurgence in 2009?

I guess I’m not totally surprised. I’ve noticed the trend myself. I read Collin Hansen’s Young, Restless, Reformed last year. I’ve been to Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I’ve witnessed many young Christian friends getting totally passionate about the Reformation and everything it represents.

But why is it happening now? What is it about Calvinism that is suddenly more appealing than it was just a decade ago? Here are a few of my initial thoughts—as someone who increasingly identifies with Reformed ideas (though not 100%):

Calvinism is about certainty.
In an era in which certainty is hard to come by and ambiguity is frequently championed, more and more young people are longing for something that is rock-solid certain. In Calvinism, there is no second-guessing about whether I’ve done enough or prayed the sinners prayer earnestly enough to be saved, because it has nothing to do with my own powers.

Calvinism emphasizes sin (total depravity) and places it at the starting point, rather than as a footnote. It cuts us humans down to size from the get go, underscoring both our desperate need for redemption and righteousness and our utter inability to achieve it ourselves. I think this really resonates with younger people today, who have grown up in a world that has told them they are good boys and girls who can do whatever they want to in life. They’ve been met with yeses at every turn, but are longing for nos. They recognize that they are far from the angelic harbingers of goodness that their parents, teachers, and advertisers have deemed them. Calvinism tells it like it is.

Calvinism views God in the highest way possible. He is sovereign and fearsome and awesome in ways we can’t begin to understand. While “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” doesn’t sound comforting, many people would still rather be in the hands of an angry God who is sovereign than a buddy God who is only partially sovereign and sometimes surprised (see Open Theism). In times of crisis and tragedy, an all-powerful God who effects everything to his purposes is so much more comforting than a God who isn’t in complete control.

Calvinism has a beautiful picture of grace. It is irresistible and unconditional. When God sets his eyes on us, we can’t escape his pursuit (and who would want a God who couldn’t capture those he sought to save?). As Sufjan Stevens beautifully sings in “Seven Swans”: He will take you / If you run / He will chase you / Because he is the Lord.

It rings true to many young people that nothing they can humanly do could ever achieve salvation—at least more true than the idea that God, the author and perfecter of our faith, saves only on the condition of some action on the part of the saved. On the contrary, the Calvinist view insists that we have no recourse to self-sufficiency or pride. As Paul writes in Galatians, “far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14).

Calvinism fears God. A healthy fear of God is totally lost on contemporary Christianity, which sees him as more of a “buddy/friend/therapist/guru” than the creator and sustainer of the universe. More and more young people are growing dubious of God-lite and prefer thinking of him as a commanding, dominating, dangerous God who deserves our deferential fear.

Calvinism ground itself in the bible rather than sugarcoated feel-goodisms. Consider what J.I. Packer says about this when he contrasts the “new” and “old” gospels in his famous introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ:

“The pitiable Savior and the pathetic God of modern pulpits are unknown to the old gospel. The old gospel tells men that they need God, but not that God needs them (a modern falsehood); it does not exhort them to pity Christ but announces that Christ has pitied them, though pity was the last thing they deserved. It never loses sight of the divine majesty and sovereign power of the Christ whom it proclaims but rejects flatly all representations of him that would obscure his free omnipotence.”

Calvinism is a little bit edgy, dark, and punk rock. It is less about hugs, Sunday School pink lemonade and “God loves you” than it is about discipline, deference and “God hates you in your sin; you are a wretch who needs God’s grace.” It’s not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. Kids like this.

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60 responses to “Calvinism: So Hot Right Now

  1. Calvinism will continually fail to appeal to me theologically as long as it adheres to the notion that a loving God can create people with the specific intention of damning them.

    • Searching For Truth

      God doesn’t damn people to hell, we do that on our own. By sending people to hell He’s simply giving them what they deserve. And while He is a loving God, He’s also just.

  2. Have you read Marilynne Robinson’s The Death of Adam? (I saw Gilead in your quotes…) She sneaks in two chapters on John Calvin, and calls the chapters “Marguerite de Navarre” pts 1 & 2 to throw off anyone who would refuse to read about John Calvin. I wonder if the resurgence of Calvinism will mean more uncovering of the real Calvin, too – I assume it will. (Reading Robinson’s book I was surprised, as a semi-Calvinist, at how little I knew.)

  3. “Calvinism emphasizes sin (total depravity) and places it at the starting point…” Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you here, but my reading of Genesis 1 and 2 makes it pretty clear that sin is in fact NOT the starting point. Is it gravely, deathly serious and deserving of far more than a footnote? Absolutely. But taking sin as the starting point ignores God’s creation design and is one easy step from a truncated vision of the gospel–fall and redemption–rather than the fullness of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. If we’re hoping to avoid the “I’ll fly away” mentality that has dominated much of Christianity in recent years, it’s important to start with the perfect world that God created and will one day recreate rather than a corrupt, broken down world that we’re better off discarding.

  4. pretty great analysis

  5. I love this! Mark Driscoll has had a series of posts on New Calvinism which have been very informative on the men who shaped it.

    I really like the “edgy, dark, and punk rock” piece.

  6. I’m not sure the renewed interest in Calvinism says as much about its validity, as it does the times we live in. The fruits of relativism have finally rotted. Cultures and religions that make the individual the center of the universe are destined to grow rickety. I wonder if the “New Calvinists” aren’t reacting to a culture and a Church that have drifted from the absolutes so intrinsic to their chemistry and survival. With its “claim to certainty,” Calvinism definitely fills that vacuum.

    Secondly, I wonder that the “New Calvinism” isn’t a response to the Emergent Movement. Whereas Emergents tend to be theologically liberal and trace the more mystical roots of Christendom, the New Calvinists provide a stark, much more conservative alternative. Could the New Calvinism be a much-needed reaction to the Emergent Movement? I think so.

    But are the alternatives to Calvinism as variant as you portray them, Brett? Calvinism fears God, but contemporary Christianity sees him as more of a “buddy/friend/therapist/guru”. There’s no in between? Calvinism is about certainty, the alternatives are wishy-washy. Calvinism is about edgy, but non-Calvinists are about hugs? Are the differences between Calvinists and others really that stark? Is it Reformed or bust? Like you, I’m not 100% Calvinist. But what percentage of belief is required to make me a “New Calvinist”?

  7. Pingback: “New Calvinism” « Beside The Queue

  8. How is it gracious if there’s “limited atonement” for the “elect”, who are “irrestibly drawn”?

    If the non-elect are not drawn, and have no hope of being drawn, how can God desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9)

    No, Calvinism is not gracious, (if defined in the strict “TULIP” sense), not at all.

    • Searching For Truth

      It’s completely gracious because you don’t deserved it. At all. The only thing we do deserve is eternal separation from Him. We are unlovable but God still loves us. That’s what makes it beautiful.

  9. Thanks – great analysis. The resurgence of Calvinism took me a little by surprise & I’ve been trying to figure out the appeal to those around me. This really helps.

  10. Becky P, a few comments above, articulated to the “t” what I was going to comment.

  11. I absolutely agree with what Tim Coe said. The more I read about Calvinism, the more I realize that I could never be a Calvinist.

    The idea that Calvinism’s ALMIGHTY, SOVEREIGN, FEARSOME GOD OF THE UNIVERSE created the world with the knowledge that the vast majority of the human race would be damned to hell, and that He, in fact, doesn’t merely realize this but orchestrates this damning Himself; the idea that God could save all men if He wanted to but doesn’t for sum inexplicable reason (other than human freedom, which, of course, we do not have, since we are miserable, depraved little bugs who could never, ever, ever choose God on our own)…these are things which I find impossible to believe in.

    I find Calvinism’s ALMIGHTY, SOVEREIGN, FEARSOME GOD OF THE UNIVERSE is something of a slave master who saves people based on random whims. And people, instead of being thinking beings, are puppets on strings pulled by the ALMIGHTY, SOVEREIGN, FEARSOME GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.

    So why does God save some and damn most, when He could save everyone? This, I find, is Calvinism’s unanswerable question. Every answer I have ever found from a Calvinist has been something along the lines of, “You are a finite human! Don’t presume to try to understand the ALMIGHTY, SOVEREIGN, FEARSOME GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!!!”

    • Searching For Truth

      That’s definitely answerable. He doesn’t save everyone (even though He could) because He is just. To be just means to give people what they deserve. We deserve hell. Therefore, God damns people because that’s what they deserve courtesy of the sins they have committed. If He didn’t act justly on some, He wouldn’t be displaying one of the qualities He’s said to have. If that’s the case, then the Bible is essentially lying.

      Speaking of the Bible lying, how do you excuse verses such as 2 Timothy 1:9. Or what about all of Romans 9? How about Ephesians 1? Or maybe the other 20+ verses that mention God choosing us before we were even born (and no, that does not mean He just foreknew who would choose Him because He exists outside of time)? Just a thought…

  12. LOL, bitter much?

  13. becauseofthecross

    If I had to be lumped into a category, I’d be considered a Calvinist… but honestly, there’s no such thing, there’s just Bible. Good Bible at that not the take-the-scriptures-twist-them-and-water-them-down-so-they-are-more-appealing-to-men-version. Just the truth of the bible in it’s historical and original gramatical context. As for “new calvinism,” well there is nothing new under the sun, only endless repackagings.

  14. Kevin Erickson

    I see no evidence that you understand punk rock.

  15. but honestly, there’s no such thing, there’s just Bible

    I see this sort of thing a lot, and while I admire the sentiment, I have to disagree. The entire notion of being a ‘Bible-believing Christian’ is off. I’m not a Bible-believing Christian: I’m a Christ-believing Christian. Nothing against the Bible, it is, as they say, a good book, but I prefer to follow Christ.

  16. becauseofthecross

    Following the bible doesn’t mean you’re not following Christ. You’re missing the point. What I mean is that the doctrines found in calvinism can be backed up with scripture. Without Christ I would be sunk, that is certain. The scriptures are as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16 “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, for training in righteousness.”

  17. To Tim Coe:

    The Bible should be our final authority of all things. If it contradicts the Bible, then it must be wrong. If you had a dream where Jesus appeared and told you to kill someone, you’d have to weigh that vision with the Bible and conclude that it would be wrong.

    What we know about Christ is from the Bible.

    Therefore, the Bible is our final authority. Christ is our saviour and Lord, but how are we to discern A from B with out an objective standard, like the Bible.

  18. becauseofthecross

    Amen, I totally with jmj.

  19. I agree with jmj on both points.

    Calvinism is not gracious. It cheapens the grace of God by viewing it as “irresistable”. If the grace of God cannot be resisted, then it is a much cheaper gift than if it could be resisted, but is offered anyway.

    Tim, if you are a Christ-believing Christian then you are a Bible-believing Christian as well. As we know from the Apostle John, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” I don’t believe that you can separate the two (Jesus and the Word), and to imply that they are two separate entities and that you can follow one and merely accept the other is dangerous and contrary to Scripture, in my opinion.

  20. I read it, it was very interesting. I also enjoyed reading about Africa’s growing economy.
    I appreciate that you have a well read blog, but don’t seem care about making money by having advertisements posted all over.

  21. Yay, I went to work and now there’s pushback. Which, sure, is expected.

    My point is that we should throw the Bible out the window. My point is that the Bible is not God– as opposed to what Luke says above, ‘you cannot separate the two.’ I would like everyone who is currently shaking their head at me to read very carefully, because I am not saying anything that is not explicitly written here: The Bible is not God. The Bible is a document of divine revelation, as is the natural world, and we are meant to approach this document with our God-given talent for interpreting divine inspiration. But what this means is that I cannot justify a life placing the Bible first, last, and always– that place is reserved for God. Especially because you and I can never agree on exactly what every specific thing in the Bible means, to say you are living with the Bible first, last, and always is really to say that you are living with your own view of the Bible first, last and always. This is a notion that makes people uncomfortable, sometimes. But to claim that otherwise is to means that when the Bible tells me that, for example, pi is exactly 3, or that bats are birds, I either have to put scripture (which, remember, I am putting first, last and always) through convoluted hoops and twist it around in order to say that it isn’t wrong, or I have to disregard the evidence of the natural world which is also a document of divine revelation.

    All of which is to say that it is incorrect to suggest that all we know of Christ is from the Bible. Again, I am not suggesting throwing the Bible out the window, and I am not suggesting relativism or any other postmodern interpretive bogeyman. I am saying that I cling boldly to the cross of Christ, and that, as Luke kindly pointed out, when we as Christians invoke the Word of God (in following the Apostle John), we are invoking Christ, who is the Word of God. The scripture is a testament to that.

  22. All of these and many other points are far better articulated by David Congdon over here.

  23. becauseofthecross

    To jmj and Luke, let me clarify, I only agree with jmj about the statement about the bible. But let me say this I am not here to argue or debate theology because that’s not what it’s about however, I will say this grace by definition is unmerited favor, totally undeserved so how can something a person didn’t deserve in the first place be cheapened? Imagine if you will, if we all got what we deserved…I mean sure we can puff ourselves up and say things like “I’m a good person” but according to Isaiah 64:6 all our righteous deeds are but filthy rags before the Lord. We deserve nothing but the wrath of God yet he shows common grace to all…I mean the sun is shining isn’t it? And you are breathing right? Anyway, God is sovereign and his word tells us in Romans 9:15 and 16 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but on God who has mercy.”

  24. The pendulum swings again. As a society we tend to drift toward the extremes of our writers either shifting to the “edgy” side of calvinism, or the fluffy side of the most recent “contemporary” Christianity, yet never make it quite all the way. I think that’s healthy. Both sides bring something to the table that we need to remember, God is loving, but he is also equal parts fearsome and sovereign. Let’s not forget either.

  25. Tim,
    Your description implies the fallibility of the Scriptures. This is something that I do not believe (and I believe is logically inconsistent for a believer because it invites relativism to the table, something that Christianity is antithetically opposed to).

    Scripture does not describe Pi as 3.00. This is a common fallacy that atheists use to attempt to discredit Holy Writ. Please see this summation by Tektonics Apologetics for a series of refutations.

    because,
    Grace, by definition, is unmerited favor. We agree. I said that if grace is “irresistable” it cheapens God’s grace, I didn’t say that it eradicates it. If the grace given is resistable, then it has been offered with the understanding that it could be refused or even mocked (as Billy Idol famously stated “Christ neededn’t have died for me”). Which is more awe-inspiring? Grace that is forced upon us (saying nothing about the undeservedness of our state, which is undeniable) or grace that is freely offered and can be rejected or accepted? My feeling is that it is so much more awesome, humbling and loving to offer someone something that they don’t deserve with the understanding that they could refuse the gift. That is what I mean when I say that Calvinism “cheapens” God’s grace. It is robbing our Lord of the full measure of recognition for his ultimate sacrifice.

    • Searching For Truth

      Which is more glorifying to God: giving someone a gift even though they did nothing to deserve it? Or giving someone a gift on the condition that they want it?

      The problem I have with Armenianism is that it takes credit away from God. If God puts salvation on the table and you pick it up but others don’t, you deserve at least a little bit of credit for doing your part. That seems to counter the fact that we were made not to be glorified but to glorify Him.

  26. Luke,

    The article you link to proves my point. I agree that the author of Kings is rounding, but that means that we are no longer taking the words of the Scripture at face value: we are interposing our own interpretation, influenced by our scientific understanding of the natural world, to guess at the intention of the author. To take Kings at face value is to read that the molten sea was literally ten cubits around. What you are doing is what I described: not holding Scripture as first, last, and always, even in defiance of logic and basic common sense. You prove my point exactly: This is something that we all do, and thus to accuse of people of doing so merely when they disagree with you is disingenuous. And, more, it conveys to the self that you have a higher notion of the sacrosanctness of Scripture than you actually do.

  27. Kudos to emillikan above for pointing to Marilynne Robinson’s essays on Calvin in Death of Adam. I’m worried the discussion here only confirms Robinson’s point that we mostly know a caricature of Calvin through his later defenders and opponents, rather than the man himself. Witness above the post’s allusions to the TULIP acronym (total depravity, irresistible grace etc) which is due not to Calvin but to his later interpreters, yet seems to play a controlling role in most discussions of him.

    More important, consider the emphasis on sovereignty in the post and more particularly in the discussion. For fun, go to ccel.org’s online version of the Institutes and search ‘sovereignty.’ You’ll find it’s been used in the brief discussion here about as many times as in Calvin’s entire magnum opus! It doesn’t seem to be a controlling theological term for him; he treats God’s power under headings like ‘providence’ instead, which totally recasts one’s understanding (in, I think, a much more productive way).

    In honor of Calvin’s 500th birthday, try reading him. Princeton Theological Seminary has a forum to read through the Institues in a year here. It takes about 15 min a day.

    Does anyone know if the new Calvinism is doing any good work in dealing with the full range and depth of Calvin’s thought, or is the caricature and the ways it can stand over against things we dislike more important than an accounting with Calvin himself?

  28. I posted on the issue of sovereignty and providence here.

  29. Tim,

    Did you really read the whole post that I linked to? You might have missed this point at the bottom:

    The Hebrew Rabbi and writer of the earliest known Hebrew geometry textbook (Mishnat ha-Middot,) Nehemiah, states, “Now it is written: And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and yet its circumference is thirty cubits, for it is written: And a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. What is the meaning of the verse, And a line of thirty cubits, and so forth? Nehemiah says: Since the people of the world say that the circumference of a circle contains three times and one seventh of the thread, take off that one seventh for the thickness of the walls of the sea on the two brims, then there remain, Thirty cubits did compass it round about.”

    I am not saying that we are not to interpret the Bible. We have to. God didn’t write a single word in English. The parables make no sense at all unless we do interpret them. But I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. That is what I stated at the beginning of this conversation and I remain in this position. Do you disagree with me on this point? If so, where do you draw the line between accurate and inaccurate verses? If we are to make of the Bible what we will or what we can, how can you say that you are not arguing relativism?

    I’m also a little confused. The Bible states that the molten sea was 30 cubits around, not 10 as you state in your post.

    I do hold Scripture as first, last, and always. I believe that the molten sea was 30 cubits around and that there is no mistake (indeed I have included 3-4 explanations proving this point). This discussion that we are having is not contradictary to my position on the inerrancy of Scripture. I am explaining the reasons why I believe Scripture is correct and has been misread by skeptics. I am not accusing anyone of doing anything, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with me. I am simply stating my position and asking you to provide justification for yours. You obviously have every right to believe that the Bible is relatively true and I have a right to politely disagree with you.

  30. Luke,

    The explanation that invokes an extratextual notion from Nehemiah is still an explanation, and not a direct reading of the text of Scripture. This is what I am saying. In order to read Scripture, we must have an understanding of the culture in which it was written, an understanding of the people who wrote it, and an understanding of the purpose for which it was written– otherwise we risk being confused by every metaphor, poetic image, and, yes, factual error. Did you know that 2 Chronicles ends in the middle of a sentence? Stories between the four Gospels are contradictory.

    I believe in the authority of Scripture, but I think that the doctrine of inerrancy imbues the Bible, which is a human document, with a notion of Divine perfection that belies the actual content of the book. I must ask: Did you read the article that I linked to? Because I think it already answers all the questions you’ve just asked.

  31. I’m still a Luther guy myself.

  32. Tim, I didn’t read your link earlier because it’s really long.

    I have just read it and remain in my position.

    As 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, all Scripture is “God-breathed”. What this Congdon and Barth are mistaken in is equating proclamation with revelation and incarnation. They are not equal. The Lord Jesus is the Word. We have been given the Word to study, teach, and edify each other. Human proclamation, whether it be in the church or out of the church, is human proclamation and is rooted in the flesh. To insist that proclamation is equivalent to divine revelation as recorded in Holy Scripture is to say that Jeremiah Wright’s buffoonery is equivalent to the Bible. This is simply not true. Can the Holy Spirit work and communicate through humans? Of course. That’s how we have received the Scriptures in the first place. But to categorically place them on the same level as divine incarnation and revelation is absurd.

    I also take issue with Cogdon’s assertion that we cannot “divorce Scripture either from God’s history or human history”. God has no history. He is eternal and outside of time. If this were not so, He could not have created Time.

    I do agree with Cogdon (and you) that we need to be cognizant of the historical context of the Scriptures. This however has no bearing on the in/errancy of the Scriptures and you still haven’t shown how it does. The fact that contextual understanding enriches the study of the Word is undeniable, but is not a requirement for reading or study. I can pick up the Bible and begin learning the Good News without knowing a single thing about the history of Israel and the Middle East, all without invalidating the accuracy of Scripture. If what you are claiming is correct, then we would be unable to pick up a newspaper and read anything without studying the complete contextual fabric of the story and if we did, it would contribute to the fallibility of the news story. This is nice and enhances your understanding of the story, but is by no means neccesary.

    You ask me if I know that 2 Chronicles ends in the middle of a sentence. I’m scratching my head on this one. I’m not sure which translation you are reading, but the end of my 2 Chronicles is: “Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.” That looks like a complete sentence to me.

    Stories between the four Gospels are not contradictory. They complement each other. They do not tell the same story in the same way (what would be the point in that?) but they do not contradict each other. At times, they appear to, but careful reading and study of surrounding verses and chapters can clear up any perceived contradiction.

    I will close with this jaw-dropping statement in the article that you referred me to: “The Bible is not a collection of timeless truths or theological axioms, but is rather the witness to the complex relation between the holy God and sinful humanity.” In my opinion, this is just flat out ridiculous for a professing Christian to say. The Apostle Paul would put his sandal to the back of this guy’s head if he read this today. Certainly the Bible is a witness to the relation between God and man, but you cannot stop there. If the Bible is simply a historical witness “without timeless truths”, then it becomes a more spiritual version of an encyclopedia. In John 10:35, the Lord HIMSELF says that “Scripture cannot be broken”. How do you or Congdon explain that when it comes from the Lord’s mouth? Congdon’s position is untenable and his distinctions are arbitrary without biblical root.

    This is the kind of pseudo-relativism that has the potential to corrupt the minds of Christians who are eager to be intellectually edified, not bogged down in scholastic meanderings that have no root in Scripture.

    As always, just my opinion. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  33. hey y’all.

    my seminary just had a celebration of Calvin and you can listen to some of the stuff here:

    http://www.lancasterseminary.edu/lancasterseminary/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=275740

    you maybe surprised to know that Calvin wasn’t as clear as one might think… the TULIP Calvinism was developed a few generations after Calvin and shows that it is a return to the Rationalist base that Calvin himself was rejecting. I think Lee Barrett’s speech on this really sheds some light on it.

    check it out!

  34. becauseofthecross

    Luke,
    Regarding your statements about irresistible grace being a cheapening of grace. First I think you’re likening the phrase “irresistible grace” to grace that is forced on someone where they have no choice but to accept it. However, I believe “irresistible grace” is is like this: once God has, as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:6, shone in a person’s heart “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” God has revealed himself to that person and they won’t want anything else. They will be drawn to Him and not desire the things they used to because the truth has been graciously revealed to them and in that way it is irresistible because their enlightened hearts won’t desire the things of the world and such but God and His truth. So “irresistible grace” is not like some burden or something trapping a man but rather something beautiful that frees him from his the bondage of sin.

  35. Luke–

    That looks like a complete sentence to me.

    Then I suggest you read the beginning of Ezra. It begins with a word-for-word telling of the same story as the end of 2 Chronicles, but it actually completes the story– and the sentence: Anyone of his people among you—may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. The ending of 2 Chronicles doesn’t actually make any sense because of this.

    I do agree with Cogdon (and you) that we need to be cognizant of the historical context of the Scriptures. This however has no bearing on the in/errancy of the Scriptures and you still haven’t shown how it does.

    Maybe you need to define what you mean by ‘inerrancy,’ because your usage doesn’t seem to match the definition I’m used to. The reason historical context is important is exactly because the Bible is not a newspaper: It’s a series of stories and poems from a culture thousands of years removed from ours, much of it speaking what was until fairly recently a dead language. You say that you can open the Bible and understand the ‘Good News’ without knowing anything about the history of Israel, but for how many of Christ’s parables did you have to have shepherding explained, or the value of a talent?

    More importantly, the historical context, the genre of a given piece of Scripture, and the purpose of same are important because, as Congdon points out, so many Evangelicals tend to read the Bible as a ‘collection of timeless truths [and] theological axioms.’ Congdon’s point is not that there is no timeless truth in Scripture: The point is that the Evangelical tendency to read all of the Bible as a series of (often) unconnected statements belies the nature of the Scripture, which is poems and stories. The Evangelical tendency to pull individual verses out of context for application to whatever purpose suits them is symptomatic of this problem: And, further, as for inerrancy, the idea that something, anything, from the Bible by merit of being from the Bible is not a necessary statement of Truth. Portions of Scripture are metaphorical; portions are fictional, and portions are poetical. Even the nonfiction portions, because they are humanly written, are imperfect and should not be taken for historical facts the way we think about them today– that isn’t the way in which they were written.

    Your cognitive leap to classify contextualization as ‘relativism’ is not at all argued for. I can unequivocally state that when Jesus says, for instance, ‘There were two men working in a field,’ he isn’t telling a true story, and I can say so with certainty because I understand the contextual clues surrounding what Jesus is saying. To do so is not relativistic: it’s simply intelligent reading. And I can make these distinctions without at any point being ‘bogged down in scholastic meanderings.’

  36. because,

    You say that grace “in that way it is irresistible because their enlightened hearts won’t desire the things of the world and such but God and His truth. ” Really? This isn’t my experience. Unfortunately, I am still cursed with my “old man” as Paul calls it and I will struggle with my flesh and it’s impulses, desires, and faults as long as I am here on Earth. I am a flawed and imperfect being and no matter how enthralled and enraptured I am by God’s grace, I will continue to sin throughout my life, turning away from his inestimable gift to fail in my flesh. Paul apparently felt the same way when he describes his struggles with his flesh in Romans 7:21-24 when he describes his struggle with sin. Can you please explain to me the difference between something that is forced upon us and something that we are unable to resist? I don’t see the difference and I don’t see examples of this in Scripture, though there are many, many times that the Lord could have forced people to obey/love Him/turn from sin but did not.

    Tim,

    My definition of inerrancy is the only definition that I am aware of: without error. I believe that the Bible is without error, since it is “God-breathed” and God does not make mistakes.

    You seem to think that a belief in the inerrancy of Scripture neccessitates a 100% literal reading of the Bible. This is absurd, as I already wrote in an earlier post. Of course I don’t think that when Jesus tells a parable he is talking about actual events happening. When have I ever stated that I have a completely literal reading of the Bible? I simply believe that the Bible, being God’s Word, is without mistake.

    You still haven’t answered how the Bible could contain what you deem mistakes when the Lord himself said that the Scripture “cannot be broken”. How can a book that is God-breathed and cannot be broken be “imperfect”, as you say?

  37. Luke,

    You again appear to be missing my point entirely. What I’m saying is that you and I don’t disagree: neither of us takes the Bible as 100% literal. To do so would be, as you say, absurd. However, I don’t think you’re using the term ‘inerrancy’ the way most anyone else uses it: What do you consider to be an error? A book ending in the middle of a sentence? A main character dying in contradictory ways? Mathematical and biological and cosmological inaccuracies?

    Before you respond, let me remind you that we are in agreement that these things can be explained by understanding the historical and sociological context as well as the genre in which a given passage is written; as well, we would do well to remember that what we refer to as ‘The Bible’ is a collection of 66 disparate books by various authors written in multiple languages over thousands of years of time, and then voted on re: inclusion by a group of men several hundred years later.

    I agree, again, that it is foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater: Simply because the Bible contains, say, an assertion that bats are birds does not mean that we must now disregard the Bible. But this cuts both ways: If you wish to explain away a mathematical inaccuracy by drawing on historical context, you cannot then accuse me of relativism for stressing the importance of historical context in discussions of, say, the creation narrative.

    My point being that, typically, people want to call the Bible inerrant and claim that all the truth you need is right there, right on the page, and anyone who tries to nuance that is a heretic or a relativist or something worse, but then these same people, when presented with something in the Scriptures that is incorrect, insist that it really is correct if you only understand A, B, C, and think about it backwards while standing on your head.

    I had a very wise science prof in undergrad who said that, oftentimes, when people say that the Bible’s claims on the physical world are wrong, they’re told that they have no respect for the Bible; however, he says, it’s really the people who say that the Bible must always be correct that have no respect for it, because they have to twist and bend and pervert the plain meaning of the words in front of them to justify their worldview that they could very well make the Bible say whatever they want, as long as it’s still what they believe to be true.

    Lastly, a quibble: When Paul instructs Timothy that ‘all scripture is God-breathed,’ there’s very little reason to believe that he could possibly be referring to what we think of as the Bible.

  38. Tim,

    We do disagree. You believe that the Bible contains errors (“mathmatical, biological, and cosmological errors”). I do not believe that this is so. I do not believe that historical or sociological context is required to understand the Bible, but it can certainly add nuance and provide documentation that what is written is correct. As it’s been said (can’t remember who.. Lewis maybe?): “The Bible is so simple that a child can understand the stories and so deep that scholars can study it their entire lives”. It truly is a miraculous revelation from the Lord to his people. I say this, not worshipping it as an idol (which you seemed to imply earlier) but admiring the genius of the infinite mind behind such a revelation.

    I appreciate your comments and your thoughts, Tim, but I am completely satisfied with my view of the inerrant Word of God. I do not agree with you but I understand that you have your own opinions.

    An answer to your quibble: so what, pray tell, is Paul referring to when he instructs Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed? Is there another book of Holy Writ out there that Paul was referring to, that we don’t know about? Paul was referring to the books of the prophets and the “scripture” that he had studied all of his life, under Gamaliel and after. Of course I realize that Paul wasn’t referring to the translation of the New International Version that I have on my bookshelf. Do you believe that God “breathed” only the Old Testament prophets and stopped there? Paul, the Apostle who was personally chosen by the Lord himself to minister to the Gentiles, is writing letters to early churches, explaining The Way and giving them guidance. Do you really believe that he wasn’t being guided by the Holy Spirit when he was ministering to these early churches?

    Man, for someone who seems to come from a background of faith, you have an unhealthy amount of skepticism, brother. Maybe you do not come from a background of faith and I’m misreading your interpretation of our conversation. Dunno..

  39. I do not believe that this is so.

    Then, Luke, with all due respect, you either haven’t read much of the Bible or you haven’t read much of science.

    An answer to your quibble:

    Paul is not talking about the Bible, because at the time that he was writing to Timothy, there was no such thing as the Bible. The gospels had not yet been written. Many of Paul’s own epistles had not yet been written. And much of what we now refer to as the Old Testament was not considered to be Scripture, and many things that were considered to be Scripture didn’t wind up in your Bible. The Bible that you hold in your hands makes no claim of inerrancy or infallibility. The very doctrine that you believe to be so elementary to your faith didn’t exist two hundred years ago– it was a reaction against the Enlightenment, as David Congdon so ably explains.

    As for skepticism, I believe you have it exactly backwards. As Miguel de Unamuno put it, ‘Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.’

  40. becauseofthecross

    Luke,

    First of all let me say this, you are implying that I am talking about sinless perfection which I AM NOT. We will not be perfect in this life but we (talking about true believers) are being sanctified.

    You said: “I will continue to sin throughout my life, turning away from his inestimable gift to fail in my flesh. Paul apparently felt the same way when he describes his struggles with his flesh in Romans 7:21-24”

    Verses CANNOT be taken out of context and then made to say what you want them to say. Paul is not saying that he is “turning away from his inestimable gift” as you put it but rather that his new nature is at war with the members of his body aka the sin that is still present. Read the verses before that passage starting in Romans 7:14 til the end of the chapter in verse 25. Paul is saying that he desires to obey God’s law and hates his sin.

    His desire to obey God is what I was talking about when I said “in that way it is irresistible because their enlightened hearts won’t desire the things of the world and such but God and His truth. ” The true believer, though still trapped in the flesh package of a body, will desire to obey God and honor him. Sinless perfection will never be attained in this life but the desire to follow God and his Word will be there.

    As for your question, the difference between something that is forced upon us and something that we are unable to resist. Your idea of irresistible seems like this idea of being forced or dragged kicking and screaming against it. As I already said, the enlightened heart will have new desires for God. It’s not forced but it is drawn to Him.

    You also said “though there are many, many times that the Lord could have forced people to obey/love Him/turn from sin but did not.” This my friend is sovereignty, Romans 9:15-16 God does as he chooses. He has the power to save every person in the world Christ but he sovereignly chooses not to. We can rest in the fact that he is in control. If salvation were up to us we would choose sin every time but in His mercy and grace He chooses to reconcile sinners to himself through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21

  41. Tim,

    With all due respect, you have no idea what I have or have not read. I have read the Bible cover to cover and am making my way through it again currently, taking time to study each and every day. I have studied the sciences but would in no way classify myself as an expert in any of them. I am learning more and more on both topics on an ongoing basis and I pray that it will always be so. You and I don’t see eye to eye on this issue and that’s fine, but please don’t make assumptions that you have no way of substantiating. This was a civil discourse. I am not ignorant of science or the Bible simply because I don’t agree with you.

    You are repeatedly ignoring one of my main questions for you. You said “The Bible that you hold in your hands makes no claim of inerrancy or infallibility.” Please explain the Lord’s words in John 10:35.

    As far as skepticism goes, I did not say that any amount of skepticism is bad. It is not. I said that in my opinion, you seem to have an unhealthy amount of skepticism. Very different. Of course we are to weigh what we hear, see, and believe. But there is such a thing as unhealty skepticism. Disbelief for disbelief’s sake.

    because,

    If what you are suggesting is really the truth then we have a horrible God. We have a God who forces His will on other people. This is the definition of Allah, not of our Lord. This is what sets Christianity apart from the other monotheistic religions, we have a God who offers salvation but doesn’t force acceptance of the gift. His grace is resistable and sadly, many people do resist it. As the most famous verse in the Bible tells us, God “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal lifes.” He loved “the world” and whoever believes in him shall not perish. Did you read that? Now, I’m sure you will tell me that the only people who believe are the people that he allows to believe. This implies that our Lord and Savior is meticulously excluding people from his offer of salvation. On the basis of what? So Christ died for me but not for my neighbor? This is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches. He died for us all, so that all might live.

  42. Why argue among believers? Get out and do something productive and good. All of this verbal sparring is time wasted. People obviously are going to have their own beliefs and opinions, formed over countless hours of thought and study…there’s no swaying that. Please, do something that will actually affect something good, like all the shit in this world.

  43. Luke,

    I certainly did not mean to offend you. However, I cannot begin to comprehend how you can suggest that an inerrant view of the Bible is not in conflict with a scientific understanding of the world. You proclaim that the Bible is without error, but you’ve also failed to explain the ending of 2 Chronicles. Could you also explain to me how Judas Iscariot died? Did he return the thirty pieces of silver that was reward for his betrayal, or did he use them to buy a field?

    I ask these questions not because I am skeptical. I ask these questions because they don’t make any sense with regard to what you’re telling me.

    And as far as John 10.35 goes, I’m not sure why you think we ought to interpret Christ’s rebuke to the Jews who accused him of blasphemy as a proclamation that the Bible is inerrant. Again, at the time that Jesus is speaking, there is no such thing as the Bible; books that were contemporaneously referred to as ‘scripture’ are not in our Bible, and many things in our Bible were not at the time considered scripture. I also don’t think it follows that something that cannot be ‘broken’ is inerrant. As before, the Bible is not merely a series of timeless truths. It is a collection of stories, poems, songs, myths, dreams, genealogies, and more. It is not simply an assortment of propositions that can be adjudicated simply as ‘true’ (unbroken) and ‘false’ (broken). To equate the two is to beg the question.

  44. Tim,

    Judas Iscariot hung himself and was buried in the potter’s field which was purchased by the chief priests with the 30 pieces of silver. It seems clear that the verse in Acts 1 describes his decomposing body falling onto the field and splitting open after it was left hanging in the tree. When you compare Acts 1 and Matthew 27, you get to see the pieces coming together. This is part of the nuance that I was talking about earlier. You can get the main information of the story from reading either account, but cross-referencing and correlation really helps to flesh out the events and add another dimension to your understanding.

    This is what I’m talking about with the unhealthy level of skepticism. You seem to be so hung up on this 2 Chronicles “problem”. Here is what my Bible says and I see no problem or truncated sentence:

    End of 2Chron:
    23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
    ” ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.’ ”

    Beginning of Ezra:
    1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing.”

    These are two whole and complete sentences. The writer of Ezra picks up the story where 2Chronicles left off. What is the big deal? How is this a hang up that is causing you to doubt the infallibility of the word of God?

    We started this conversation with you insisting that you follow Christ instead of the Bible (as if the two were mutually exclusive) and yet when the Lord himself says the following words: “and the Scripture cannot be broken”, you dismiss it with very untenable rebuttals. I don’t get it. I understand that there was no Bible when Jesus said this, so it’s a good thing that he didn’t say the word “Bible”. There were the books of the prophets which we still read and study today in our Old Testament and according to the Lord these cannot be broken. Something that cannot be broken is something that is infallible. It has no fault in it therefore it cannot be broken. Are you suggesting that the Old Testament is infallible but the New Testament isn’t? Or only certain books of the Old Testament? Or certain ancient books that were left out of the Old Testament are infallible but the OT isn’t? I don’t understand where you are coming down on this one. The Lord clearly states that Scripture cannot be broken.

    Becca,

    “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” We are not fighting. We are testing our knowledge and ideas about scripture against each other. I have absolutely no animosity towards Tim and I would wager that he has none against me. As believers, we are not to blindly accept something that is contrary to our understanding, but we are to talk and discuss it to further our own and each other’s understanding. There are lots of examples of this in the Bible: Jesus did this frequently, Paul vs. Peter, etc. Obviously, Tim and I aren’t even remotely in the same league as the men that I just mentioned, but they do set an example that we are encouraged to follow.

    How are we to “do something that will actually affect something good, like all the shit in this world” if we do not have our own beliefs straight? Acts of service and working for the betterment of others are just two of many many ways to serve and magnify the Lord. Please don’t dismiss what we are doing as simple argument.

  45. Luke,

    According to Matthew 27, Judas is so disgusted with himself that he tries to return his silver and the chief priests and elders refuse it so he throws it at their feet. In Acts 2, Judas keeps his money and buys a field. To suggest that these two stories fit together neatly like pieces of a puzzle makes no sense: Matthew’s gospel was written for a specific audience, and Luke’s Acts of the Apostles was written for an entirely different audience. How would these two audiences read their separate and disparate narratives and yet come away with the understanding that you say is ‘clear’?

    Regarding 2 Chronicles, you apparently aren’t reading very far into Ezra. Here’s the end of 2 Chronicles, starting in verse 22:

    Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.'”

    Here’s the beginning of Ezra:

    In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

    “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel— he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

    Do you see how these are identical passages except that 2 Chronicles stops in the middle of a sentence? What does ‘let him go up’ mean? Up where? Ezra tells us: up to Jerusalem. The end of 2 Chronicles simply makes no sense.

    Jesus states that Scripture cannot be broken, but you still have not explained why ‘cannot be broken’ means ‘is infallible.’ Some other things that cannot be broken: Steam, soft butter, a threefold cord (at least not easily). Are these things you would describe as ‘infallible’? The only example I can think of in which ‘unbreakable’ is the same as ‘infallible’ is a promise. This is why I remind you that the Bible is not a sequence of proverbs or true/false statements: it is not simply thousands of promises strung together. For this reason I don’t believe there’s any merit to your reading of ‘cannot be broken’ as ‘infallible.’

    There are many things I’d like you to explain to me. The Bible claims that rabbits chew their cud, that Eve was deceived by a talking snake (that’s right: read the story. There’s no demonic activity mentioned, and God explicitly punishes the snake by saying it must forever crawl on its belly– this is no metaphorical serpent), that a rather small boat could contain every living animal, that the planet flooded, that a piece of fruit conveys immortality, etc. etc. etc.

    Personally I have no trouble with any of these questions, because I understand that the Bible is a human document of theological history, written by several disparate people in multiple languages, transcribed and translated many times, argued over, voted on, expanded, and translated again, and I understand that it reflects cultures far removed from mine with unscientific understandings and thought processes, and I have no more expectation of it to hold up to scientific inquiry than I do a hymn, a poem, a novel, a prayer, or a story about my great-grandfather. I am not being skeptical at all– any more than I am when addressed by those things. The only thing I am skeptical of is your view that the Bible must have an answer for every question and every quibble that explains why that question or quibble is wrong. This is exactly what I’m talking about when I talk about twisting Scripture around because you think that’s what it means to respect it. This is what I’m talking about when I talk about leading a Bible-centered life rather than a Christ-centered life.

  46. Tim,

    I could answer each of your points that you’ve listed (and I could answer each of them because they’ve all been addressed at one time or another by minds far better versed in Scripture than ours), but then you would come up with quibbles over the explanations that I provide, as you have done repeatedly.

    I am sorry that you feel the way that you do: “that the Bible is a human document of theological history” and that you hold the Word of God in such little regard that you “have no more expectation of it to hold up to scientific inquiry than I do a hymn, a poem, a novel, a prayer, or a story about my great-grandfather”. I feel that with this low view of Scripture you are missing out on many facets and nuances that Scripture has to offer. It is indeed “living and active” and has much to communicate to those who have faith and are willing to hear.

    I’m not “twisting” Scripture, as you say. I am eagerly seeking out the pieces of the most magnificent puzzle ever created. Believe me, I do understand what you are talking about “when (you) talk about leading a Bible-centered life rather than a Christ-centered life”. I just don’t see the distinction between the two.

    Signing off,
    Luke

  47. Luke
    I am not talking not talking about Allah or Buddha or whoever, I am talking about the God of the Bible. Let me just say this if men do choose or reject grace then salvation is of man and not of God. It becomes man-centered and God becomes something like a pawn that can be played around with that and governed by the will of man. My God is bigger than that He doesn’t answer to men and why should He? He is the One True God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

  48. Anonymous,

    That sort of reasoning doesn’t actually make sense. Man isn’t choosing whether or not faith is salvific. Your logic would seem to suggest that I cannot actually choose whether or not to drop a hammer, because that would make me greater than gravity, therefore gravity ultimately dictates whether I will release the hammer or not.

  49. Pingback: God Knew I Would Blog This « The Search

  50. put my hand over my mouth and say nothing….He is God.

  51. Crimes begotten by Calvin/Calvinism can never be justified.
    Actually, Calvinism has nothing good to offer, only prohibits, threats and promises. All to the glory of Yahweh that neither Calvin nor the great majority of Christians know anything about his real identity or character.

  52. Almost everything you say about calvinism seems incorrect to me. It is true that a recently adopted version of American fundamentalism has adopted the label “Calvinism” for itself, but most of what you say about it does not follow the thought of the reformer of or his authentic followers. Calvin was an Augustinian and therefore held a form of skepticism (as is essential to Augustinianism). If I can’t control my salvation, how do I know I’m one of the elect? This problem is part of the Augustinian heritage, and we see Luther, Aquinas, and Calvin dealing with it in different ways.

    While calvinism may emphasize sin, it doesn’t place it at the start in order to cut us down to size (what a terrible thing to do!), but emphasizes the great dignity of human nature from the beginning. Just read the beginning of the institutes, and you’ll see that the imago dei is conceptually prior to sin, just as, in the end, we only know what it means to be sinful because Christ has died for us.

    About salvation and choice and control: for Calvin, our salvation consists in what calvin called “participation” in God through Christ. This participation consists in a “double grace” of justification (by faith alone) and sanctification (by a cooperation of humans with God). All this is to say, as with Augustine and Thomas, Calvin’s very catholic understanding of salvation gave a lot of room for human works, which are part of our salvation. For Calvin, we are justified by faith alone, but our salvation consists in faith and love, the Holy Spirit who activates the image of God in us to cooperate with God’s bringing us to perfection.

    About viewing God in the highest way possible: Calvin is no different from Augustine or Thomas Aquinas. He is not unique in his doctrine of God by any stretch of the imagination.

    About darkness: one of Calvin’s central metaphors for the divine presence is light. You know a calvinist church building by it’s large, clear windows to let in as much light as possible!

    One thing you do not mention which ought to be central, Calvin’s sacramental theology, in which Calvin emphasized the regenerative nature of baptism and the real, substantial presence of Christ in the eucharist shows how far contemporary american calvinism has fallen from the thought of the reformer, a humanist best understood through the lens of medieval and catholic thought. He placed the sacraments at the very center of Christian practice.

    Calvin was an Augustinian who went into exile. The reason you hear a lot about wretchedness is because his congregation lost their homes and were forced to live in a foreign place. The way in which contemporary, middle class, mostly white male calvinists following pseudo-calvinists like john piper take up this language and use it to try to convince people, especially the women that conservative “calvinists” in this country have spent a lot of time trying to silence, what “wretches” they are is sickening.

  53. That contemporary PhD theologians i.e. John Piper and Greg Boyd can have diametrically opposed perspectives on the same scriptural text is, I think, problematic within Christianity. I say that as one who struggles in my own faith. If indeed the term ‘theology’ means the science of God, are there not “constants” that all Christians can agree on. In essence, I submit we’re discussing the most fundamental tenant of Christianity – salvation. And yet, even on this most fundamental aspect of faith, there is significant disagreement as to whether man is free to choose to accept Christ (Arminianism) or if it is God who predetermines who will (and conversely who will not) be saved (Calvinism).If JP & GB can’t agree on these things, maybe I should just accept that faith may be something that is out of my league.

  54. Calvinism will never appeal to me as long as Calvin’s god has the right to punish people.
    He also excuses his crimes by acting in the name of God. There is no evidence than Calvin’s God is really the entity we like to think of as God.
    http://bit.ly/npHHG

  55. In response to those referring to the Old Testament as if it was facts!

    The God of Calvin is the same as the God of the Hebrews. It would have been better for millions of people if he had stayed in that bit of land between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Besides, he is not God than you and me.

    He is an alien evil man who managed to keep a great part of mankind in mental bondage. Calvin is not one of the millions of victims, Calvin is an elect, a very significant victim!
    http://bit.ly/npHHG

  56. Hi there – thank you for your enlightening article on Calvinism in the world today, and especially with young folks! I enjoyed reading it – it was very to the point.

    I guess my biggest struggle with a “Reformed” viewpoint theologically is that God is seen as being the author of both good and evil, which confused & dismays people when calamities befall them. Our Lord is not the author of evil. Yes, He allows it, but many times this is a progression of our own sinfulness. God is love, and it’s not a gooey weird love, but it is love. We all know when we feel loved or not. He is rooting for every one of us to believe on Jesus & be saved. This viewpoint is essential to loving others into the kingdom of God.

    Also, if we are permanently fixed in our salvation, there would be no race to be won. Confessing that Jesus is Lord, and believing in our hearts that He dies & rose for us is the starting point. MAINTAINING that belief & confession will keep us in the race, and at the end of our days, if we continue to do so, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). All bets are off if we deny Him – that is the only way we can lose our salvation. He is truly so, so merciful.

    Have a wonderful day in Him!

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