Monday, May 22, 2006

The Cure for Common Calvinism

To follow up on the last entry "Young Calvinist's Disease", I found a wonderful quote in my textbook for my Counseling course through CCEF. But, first I should set up the "clip". As Kauflin via Watts pointed out, when we first discover grace in its beautiful and unfettered dimensions - - unfettered by all the "free will" objections and the uni-dimensionality of a God ruled only by love, etc - - we start to hunt for the people that had been obscuring this truth. We feel gipped and we want somebody to pay. After the anger subsides we can't wait to tell the amazing news: you don't have free will, your theology isn't consistent, etc. And everyone we talk to looks puzzled, cries, calls you bad names, bars you from teaching, because you're that guy "that just turned Presbyterian or something." (My own wife despaired when she first met me. "Can't marry him, he's a Presbyterian." She's now a Reformed blogger extraordinaire. And she watched me baptize our four boys with tears of joy in her eyes!)

All of that to set the stage for David Powlison's wonderful, warm, beautiful, Christ honouring counsel from Ephesians. In essence he's saying "Now it's personal." In Christ, all of this decree stuff that we love to argue about is now aimed at you and me, in Christ.

Paul points truth toward you and points you toward truth. All along he leaves you with the liveliest impression that all this is for us all. He never lectures or moralizes or nags. The truth is always for the speaker as much as for us who hear. Paul does not give a catalog of divine information in a book of scholastic theology. He does not say, "Predestination means that God chooses some people, not others." Not that it's wrong to say that, but said that way, a warm and personal love sounds chilly and capricious, and people tend to react needlessly. They ask, Is God fair? How does it all work? Is it determinism? Our minds fill with distracted questions - - or dogmatic defensiveness, equally distracted from the pastoral point of the original.But Paul says instead, "He chose us [in Christ] before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:4-5) Hearing this we respond with delight. We might still say that God is "not fair," but accusation has turned to adoration: "You are so spectacularly unfair, because you do not treat us as our sins deserve! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" (cf. Ps. 103:10). Instead of dwelling on picky little questions, we persevere in faith's joy and hope. (Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture, p. 40-41.)

This my friends is a faith on fire, not just a mind on fire. Calvinism isn't head religion calculated to transform bleeding heart evangelicals into icy blooded Puritans! It's the Gospel beating with the fierce and holy love of the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, so we embrace the one who has embraced us. Powlison's exposition, teaching, and manner has called us back to the treasure of the Gospel. It used to be a torch that we waved in the face of the "enemy", but now is a roaring fire in the hearth of the Father's house. We invite people to come in and warm by the fire and eat at Father's table after he washes us clean and renames us and seats us next to him and his Son with the Spirit uniting our hearts in song: To God and to the Lamb I will sing/What wondrous love is this O my soul!!!


Bob said...

Good post, I myself am a budding pastor currently attending a PCA church. I was for about half of my christian walk an Arminian by defaul so the doctrines of grace are really precious to me, although now that it has sunk in the temptation to treat God's soveriegnty and His election as mere doctrines to which I subscribe is very real. John Piper has really influenced me in seeing that truth of God is not merely to be subscribed to but delighted in.

RevGoT said...

I hope we can fight the temptation together. John Piper is a blazing and inviting apologete for what is viewed as cold Calvinism. May his tribe increase.

Grace to you on the journey