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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Problem with Theology

There are two main camps in theology that generally divide the reformed Christian church: those who are in the predestination camp (ie. Calvinists) and those that are in the free-will camp (ie. Armenians). I will refrain from stating my own view and give a sweeping generalization of both to speak more of the effects of each, than of the actual beliefs of both.

One thing I would like to say are that the nature and character of God remain the same in both views. Both free-willers and predestinarians believe that God is all-powerful, all-good, all-loving, all-knowing, and ever-present. They believe that the Bible is the inherent word of God and that Jesus is the salvation for all who place their faith in Him. They also believe that because of sin, the necessary atonement for our sins was a perfect God-man, whom Christ is.

For me, when I look at the predestinarian view, I see a very strategic God with a microscopic perspective. God seems to be very impersonal in many respects because it appears that no matter what I do, all things were predestined before I could even decide on a thing. It seems to give a sense of rest in the fact that I don't have to save myself. However, when I look at the theology of predestination, I find that it can often times lead to laziness, complacency, and apathy because God has already predetermined everything.

When I take a look at the free-will view, I see a very lax God with a telescopic perspective. God seems to be very personal because every choice we make matters, but that places all responsibility on me to do all things. It seems to give a sense of urgency in the fact that choices matter and since I can influence the choices of others, I should do my best to share the Gospel with everyone I can. However, when I look at the theology of free-will, I find that it can often times lead to anxiety, stress, and neuroticism because everything we do on a moment by moment basis might determine our rewards in Him.

I was at a Bible Study at my church and my pastor said something very insightful regarding this very topic. "Theology is the attempt by imperfect people to understand a perfect being," therefore, it leads to flaws, holes, and mysteries that either side, if polarized, cannot answer. There are verses and biblical passages on either side that cannot be explained because they seem to contradict their standpoint. I think this well illustrates that theology, in and of itself, is not enough. This does not mean that we should be intellectually lazy in our pursuits of understanding God, but we should make sure that we don't elevate our standpoint to be above our call to love our neighbors (including those who oppose us) as Christ called us to.

When I look at what happens during an argument, I see a person take one standpoint, and another take the opposing standpoint, and shout at each other until someone either gives up, concedes, or agrees with the other. However, what I see does work is when people rest in the relationship they have with Christ. They don't necessarily give up their theological point of view, but instead, allow it to be worked out in love. The thing is, there are too many people that have elevated their theological perspectives to be more important to them than God is. In other words, "truth" becomes more important than the reality of truth, that is the Gospel. This is often times what leads to arguments and divisions amongst Christians which the world sees as disunity within the church.

When I see the Gospel and the relationship between an individual and God become the defining thing in someones life, I don't see division, but unity. The gospel allows people on both sides to realize that God's sovereignty will reign and that trust in Him will ultimately lead to results that neither party can produce on their own. They return to the nature and character of God and rest in that and nothing more.

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