Friday, September 20, 2013

The Real Issue in the Calvinist Debate

It is easy, in the midst of a theological debate, to lose sight of the real issue at stake. We state our position, we attack our opponent's position, we marshal the proof texts pro- and con. Yet in the end the issue is not which set of theologians from the past was right and which was wrong. Nor is the issue which abstract intellectual system is correct and which is incorrect. The real issue is our relationship with God.
John Calvin
John Calvin devoted his life and his considerable skill to the study of Scripture, and he probably understood it just about as well as any man in history. On the whole he was a far better theologian than most of his critics. Yet in the end he was a fallible human being much like the rest of us.

    Ultimately it is all about God Himself. God wants us to love Him with all of our hearts, to fear Him, to trust in Him, and to obey Him. He warns us repeatedly against trusting in our own devices, and wants us instead to rely firmly on Him. He calls us to a life of prayer and holiness. Yes, God created us to be morally responsible human beings and He holds us accountable for our actions. Yet this in no way changes the fundamental relationship between us: He is God, and we are not. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. He is infinite, eternal, and self-existent; we are mere creatures of the dust. He is absolutely holy; we are stained and polluted with sin. To Him we owe everything; in ourselves we are nothing. And everything we do, we do in the strength which He supplies, and we do this to His honor and glory, not our own. "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Whom be the glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:36: NKJV).
    Salvation is a matter of God saving us. We do not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Rather, God's work of salvation should lead us to bow before Him in wonder and adoration. God wants our hearts and our minds, and will satisfied with nothing less.
    In short, it is the honor and glory of God which is at issue here. Does our theology lead us to Him?

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