I've been a Calvinist for 30-some years, since I joined Westminster Presbyterian Church In Muncie, Indiana, and started studying what it was I was supposed to believe.
When you take the 5 foundational points of Calvinism as a package, they make a lot of sense; hence, I had no problem with the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, and haven't, to this very day. But something invaded my brainspace a couple weeks ago that has moved it from a well-reasoned display of how God operates, to a real gut-level conviction.
I'll try to explain:
I had occasion to look at the Baptist Faith And Message last week, and I noticed something that I had never seen before. It was the following statement, under the Statement about Man:
"Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation."
So .... sin, as described in the Baptist Faith and Message, seems to be described something we must do ... that we cannot simply resist ... as irresistible. When that thought hit me, I immediately thought that it must, then, take irresistible grace to pry us away from irresistible sin!
How else could that lost person, when faced with the truth about his lostness, and about the saving grace of Jesus, NOT sin in his decision? How could anything less than a grace which overpowered the irresistible nature of sin, bring us to the point of even being able to choose Jesus?
That thought brought with it, to me, a soul-deep conviction, replacing what I previously saw as the most logical process, scripturally; one which attributed the highest level of sovereignty, to God. Oh, it still is, and does, that, but it has brought to me a new appreciation of the absolute unsearchable love and grace of God, and my complete inability, on my part, to realize and appropriate that short of His miraculous move in my life.
A move I could not resist.
If perchance this is true, if it does take the irresistible draw of God to pry us away from the previously-irresistible draw of sin, then one of three conditions must exist between mankind and God:
- God irresistibly draws everyone. Lots of verses tell me that doesn't happen.
- God irresistibly draws no one. That one isn't true, either.
- God irresistibly draws some.
Like, I wasn't already Calvinistic ENOUGH!
I got to noticing something else about the Baptist Faith and Message: there was a change I had not previously heard about, from the 1925 version, to the 1963 version. Note this:
Whereas the 1925 version says of man, "He was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors." ....
The 1963 version says "Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation."
Somehow, apparently, in the 38 years between the two versions, man was relieved of any condemnation which might result from original sin.
Well, THAT'LL come in real handy, won't it? For one, it'll simplify explaining what happens to children who die before the "age of reason" ... which nobody seems to define, but which I DO see in scripture ... rather than tackling the issue in terms of the truth about Jesus and what the Bible affirms to us, about Him. And, by faith, trusting HIM instead of our reasoning ability.
There's been a lot of banter about getting back to our Baptist roots.. Just look at the plethora of citations of writers from the 1700's and 1800's as evidence of how we ought to be, now.
The condemnation under which we are born, which flows from Original Sin, apparently isn't one of the roots we want to get back to....