Thursday, April 02, 2009

Trendy Faith?

I was surprised to learn that Time Magazine and ABC News both noticed a trend that my wife and I have been pondering lately. Last week, both major news sources dealt with the surprising increase of Christians who are adopting Calvanism (or Neo-Calvanism) as their theological position. One source went as far as to say that this is one of the top trends that will influence thinking in the years to come.
I have seen many friends become more and more convinced of this "reformed" theology but to this point I have not found the need to join in. I am happy to see people taking matters of the faith seriously and I love that many young people want to have a firm grip on their beliefs but I believe history proves that those who come to some opposite conclusions in regards to some "reformed" positions are just as passionate and in love with Christ.
Rather than sharing all of my thoughts, I will direct you HERE for a great post in regards to this issue with equally valuable follow up comments.


Anonymous said...

Curious of a brief summarizing statement or something of where you land theologically?

I'm currently journeying as a quasi-reformed-with-existential freedom-follower of Jesus. I like knowing Someone bigger and better than me is in control, but I relish in the mystery of how, and in the meantime get to love Him and do what I want (Augustine?).

Andrew Michael Wiskus said...

Good post, I enjoyed reading it. At first I found it offensive since I would consider myself "reformed", but more and more I am becoming OK with people putting me in that box. This used to infuriate me, how dare you people try and label me, you don't even know me. However, I have to remember that I am living for an audience of one, a box is only a box if you are stuck in it yourself. If I am labeled as neo-Calvinist, despite knowing hardly anything about Calvin himself, I am OK with that. At one point in my life I shared the author of that posts beliefs, but it was based only upon my encounters with reformed people, particularly one person. This person was a jerk so I thought all calvinists were jerks as well. And, even now I find a lot of people in reformed circles that would fit this stereotype. But, I find a lot of Christians in general that would fit this stereotype as well. If anything I am much more enamored and confused at the mystery of God now that I am reformed then ever before, anyone who thinks that they have arrived has a problem. I find it interesting that the author bags primarily on Calvin for the doctrine of predestination. There were a lot more people before Calvin that wrote on the subject a lot more than Calvin ever did: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Luther to name a few. I think these discussions are good to have. If they don't take place, with charity, no one will ever grow. I would be interested to hear your churches belief on predestination. Thanks for the post. I look forward to hearing other peoples views on this. Here is a link to a Charles Spurgeon quote that I really like on the subject.

Andrew Michael Wiskus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Michael Wiskus said...

Sorry that link didn't work so here is the Spurgeon quote.

"Do not imagine for an instant that I pretend to be able thoroughly to elucidate the great mysteries of predestination. There are some men who claim to know all about the matter. They twist it round their fingers as easily as if it were an everyday thing; but depend upon it, he who thinks he knows all about this mystery, knows but very little . . . I think that if we kept more simply to the teachings of the Bible, we should be wiser than we are; for by turning from the heavenly light of revelation, and trusting to the deceitful will-o'-the-wisps of our own imagination, we thrust ourselves into quags and bogs where there is no sure footing, and we begin to sink; and instead of making progress, we find ourselves sticking fast. The truth is, neither you nor I have any right to want to know more about predestination than what God tells us. That is enough for us. If it were worth while for us to know more, God would have revealed more. What God has told us, we are to believe." - From Charles Spurgeon's sermon Jacob and Esau.

Ryan said...

Derek- I like the way you summarize your position. Definitely a little Augustine in there! As far as this link I included, it is not necessarily my summary position but some valuable thoughts and valuable follow up comments. I think those from strong reformed positions should hear the useful comments from the other side.... not to be convinced to change theological positions, but to understand the perceptions of varying views.

Andrew- I agree that many Calvanists do not help their own cause by their personalities and I also agree that you do not fall into that stereotype.

You are also right to point out that some of these thoughts began to be developed as early as Augustine so it is not like 1500 years went by before people talked about pre-destination, etc.
To the defense of the author of the post, I think he does not actually bag on Calvin as much as he questions, albeit sarcastically, those who so dogmatically hold to this position (which Calvin never actually fully developed).

Scott said...

Rather then repeat what Andrew originally said, I would like to question your defense of the author. In your response to Andrew's comment, you said the following...

"To the defense of the author of the post, I think he does not actually bag on Calvin as much as he questions, albeit sarcastically, those who so dogmatically hold to this position."

I am a bit disappointed and confused why you would think his use of sarcasm is any different then a Calvinist who presents his beliefs in an arrogant or sarcastic manner? As far as I am concerned, an ass is an ass, regardless of whether he is Arminian or Calvinist.

Ryan said...

Scott- Well said, "an ass is an ass". I pray that we never become asses.
On another point, I actually do not defend the author for any of his comments except for the fact that he does not bag on Calvin himself which you will find that he does not.
In fact, it seems this author's main point of contention is the "certainty of the neo-Calvanist" movement and he even affirms many of their convictions. (Editor's note- I am not exactly sure who he classifies as neo-calvanists but I will leave that for now).

I have long believed, and do now more than ever, that God alone knows the hearts and the faith of His followers and many who I might question because of some of their beliefs are just as much followers of Jesus as I am with different beliefs. Essentials of the faith are key, but of course agreeing on what is essential seems just as elusive as everything else.