Friday, March 20, 2009

The New Calvinism- Picking Up Where I Left Off

Back in November of 2006, I began writing a series examining Arminianism vs Calvinism (Reformed) theology. At the time, I had already become convinced that the Calvinistic position was the more biblically accurate, but I was still working through all its theological implications, as well as trying to answer from scripture the Arminian objections.

So as I began writing the series, my purpose was multifold. First, I wanted to study through to solid answers and put my conclusions in writing, as I have found that putting thoughts down in words brings about greater clarity and insight. Second, I wanted to present a strong, biblical argument and to answer objections biblically. My foundation for bible study is the conviction that the Bible contains the answers to these all-important questions, it being the true revelation of God to man. Third, I hoped my writings on the topic would be helpful and even educational to others who might also be wrestling with the serious theological questions brought out by the ongoing debate between Arminians and Calvinists.

I had also come to recognize that one’s answers to these profound theological questions, in other words, one’s theology, plays a vital role in determining how one lives out their Christian faith. For myself and my family, I wanted to be convinced I had come to sound, biblical conclusions. And as one wanting to be a guide and a help to others in these matters, I knew I would need to have solid convictions, anchored in a confidence that I had come to accurate conclusions based on correct biblical interpretation. Of course I recognized that sincere and godly people have come to different conclusions on many of the questions raised in this ancient debate, nonetheless I proceeded, based on the conviction that embarking on this type of study would bear good fruit. It would challenge me to my best thinking and digging into the Bible would undoubtedly bring more light to my understanding of these things.

Yet I found the challenge of writing on these matters while answering many objections was very consuming, and about midway through the series, I set it aside. Now, 2 and ½ years have passed since I first began writing and I feel compelled again to complete it. I have read and thought more on reformed theology. I am now attending a church that is solidly reformed in its preaching emphasis. My convictions about the accuracy of the reformed theological perspective has continued to grow.

A recent article in Time magazine has also provided new inspiration, since it lists “The New Calvinism” as one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. In fact, the new Calvinism is at #3 on the list, though I’m not sure whether the list is in order of priority. I’m challenged by this that the biblical truths Calvin and others pointed to have fresh relevance in these troubled times.

As the world economy faces monumental challenges, wars continue to rage, and famine and natural disasters plague, religious questions are naturally raised. Does God really exist? What is the nature of God— is He the personal God of the Bible or the impersonal divine force that many religions describe? If He is indeed a personal God who is completely sovereign over all things, then why does He allow such pain and suffering? These are the challenging and profound questions that thinking people have always asked. Perhaps in these tremulous days the answers presented by the great Reformed thinkers are growing attractive to many. But more important, does the reformed picture comport with the Bible, or is it merely a man-made theological system? This being also the 500 year anniversary of Calvin’s birth, I feel it is fitting to take up such questions again, and to re-post my series comparing and contrasting the answers provided by Arminian vs Calvinistic (Reformed) theology. My plan then is to re-post the original articles (with perhaps some editing), then pick up in the series where I had left off. Stay tuned for more.

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