Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Still Think It's About Us, Apparently...

And it shows up in different ways, too.

We view things, particularly things God does, from our perspective. When we see Him doing something WE wouldn't do, we object. By questioning whether He's in that or not. I had some Jehovah's Witnesses visiting here one time, and they cited WW2 as an instance in which both sides were praying to the same God, for help in winning the war (which one does by killing one's enemy), as an example that God wasn't with either side in that conflict.

I had a lot of fun with that statement.

Then there's the tendency to "Humanize" God. God can't do this or that. After a lot of years, I finally concluded .. "WHAT???" God can do anything He wants to do, any time, any place, to anybody. Without needing to explain. But we say God can't save you if you won't accept Jesus and other stuff like that. But, IMO, that's wrong. God says He WON'T ... not that He CAN'T. But we like the "can't" deal better because when Worthless Brother-In-Law wants to borrow money, we'd rather tell him we CAN'T, than just to tell him we WON'T. Which we would have to explain, make excuses for, etc, which is not all that comfortable.

I doubt comfort plays a big part in God's decisions. Surely it didn't, at Calvary.

But what really made this thing pop up now, is the minor set-to about Calvinism, over at Wade Burleson's blog. Don't get me wrong .. I think that sort of thing is part & parcel of the sharpening of iron, mentioned in the bible. But folks seem to think that their own opinion is right, others must have less of a biblical basis, for what they believe, than they do. And I can tell you, from having been on all sides of that issue, that the Baptist Faith and Message, and the Westminster Confession of Faith, are both securely grounded in the bible.

I don't think either side of that discussion likes to think about that. But it's true.

Anyway.

Why the big differences? I don't know much for sure, but I have some opinions, which follow:

First of all, denominations aren't our deal. As far as I'm concerned, God thought them up, then led people to go their own ways as Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, etc. He did that, IMO, as part of His plan to appeal to as many people ... "natural-man-type" people .. as is possible. Without coercion. Look....
  • Want to be happy-clappy? Step right this way......
  • Favor an educated approach .. analytical and all .. to this religion thing? Look over here!
  • Care to be highly liturgical, see guys in robes, etc, go to that corner over there..
  • Is speaking in tongues, falling over, etc attractive? Here's the address...
  • Have a desire to go to church on Saturday? Have we got a spot for you!
So if you're lost, but God yanks your chain and says come hither, doesn't it make sense that God would provide lots of choices .. one of which would appeal to your still-lost but now-curious state?

It does, to me. And in any one of a myriad of denominations, you can hear John 3:16 and maybe Romans 10:9-10, and get saved. Then you get the Holy Ghost, and He is pretty good at directing you where you want to go.

So all you guys arguing about TULIPs and the like, cut it out! Down in my soul, I am as convinced as can be that NEITHER the Baptists nor the Presbyterians are wrong in their theology. They both are yay far from the absolute (and infinite) truth, but then that's the best any of us can do.

Christianity isn't about you and your preferences, or your interpretations. It's about this man Jesus. So let's not make it about infant baptism (when others want to do it) .. we don't say it's necessary for SALVATION, and I'd think we'd be for more of THAT and not more baptisms, anyway. So if the other guys want to baptize infants as a sign of something-or-other, let's leave them alone about it. In fact, it might be interesting to go back in their records and see if the persistency of their youth, when they grow up, is better than the 16%, or whatever the number, of those 6 year olds we baptize, that come back from college, still faithful.

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6 Comments:

At 5:17 AM, November 23, 2008, Blogger Ken Hearn said...

CHRISTIANS firsts, denominations second. We need to show the world who God is, not what our denomination is about.

 
At 12:14 PM, November 23, 2008, Blogger Alan Paul said...

I see what you mean about denominations maybe being part of God's overall plan, but not sure I agree. Denominations to me stand as a monument to man's sin and inability to unite under Christ's Lordship in unity as a people.

Now how that plays out is a different story because of the various reasons why denominations began (some had valid reason and some had invalid reasons I am sure). And that is where I see your hypothesis could make sense.

But in the end, I do know a couple of things: 1. sin is at the heart of any kind of disunity or breakup and 2. Any attempt to figure out some "good" reason that denominations might be a part of God's plan is nothing more than just a human attempt to understand what the divine is doing. Not necessarily a pointless pursuit, but one that will never come to a satisfactory conclusion this side of heaven.

 
At 1:12 PM, November 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We must remember that Christ prayed for unity before he died on the cross: 'that they all might be one'; but God does bring good out of difficulties, so the different denominations just might be 'casting a larger net'.

So you have made sense to me.

 
At 3:11 PM, November 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Calvinists believe that the Fall did remove from man the ability to respond in faith to the Gospel , and that any time a person comes to salvation it is because God has renewed that person's heart to respond positively in faith."

Is this a true statement.

 
At 4:10 PM, November 25, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Anonymous #1: Thanks. I sure had no idea where I was going when I started writing.

Anonymous #2: 1 Corinthians 2:14 says: But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (NAS)

That says to me that man can't see any of it unless God does something via His Spirit which enables that. Methinks the Baptists etc think He enables everybody so they have a shot at it, but the Presbyterians say He only illuminates the elect. I don't suppose we ever really get to know, but I DO know that everyone I've talked to who recalls their salvation, remembers is as a compelling experience, and less like a casual decision than "irresistible grace". But we seem reluctant to say it's that way for everyone who gets saved.

 
At 4:12 PM, November 25, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Alan,

Your observations are correct, if you look at this "religion thing" as being OUR efforts to do something for God. If you view it as God's attempt .. His plan .. His program .. to reach lost mankind, bring them to faith, make them disciples, then I think my theory holds a lot more water.

And I want to give God as much credit as I can, and as little to man as possible.

 

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