Friday, January 14, 2005

The Great Divide.

While Calvin, my boy; seemed to have made a mockery on his religious principles in a most hilarious way, (I still find him too brilliant for a six-year-old, though), the actual doctrinal battle between a Calvinist and an Arminian is anything but a walk in the green meadows.

(Why do I have a feeling I am digging my own grave as I am writing this?) :)

A most interesting conversation over this divide has somewhat became a catalyst to the brewing of a theological 'storm' (but let us just keep this 'storm' in a teacup for the moment, and not raise a tsunami over this...tehtarik, anyone?)

Tehtarik's Rewind:
Teh : So, how have your knowledge on predestination prosper so far?
Arminian: It went on very well, after I talked to my pastor over this.
Teh : What are the deductions that you have come up with, then?
Arminian: I learnt that by labelling ourselves as either 'Calvinists' or 'Arminians' ,we are dividing our church.
Teh : Ohh? Interesting. But, by choosing not to make a stand would be rather self-
defeating, wouldn't it; because when one says "I choose not to believe is also to say
I choose to believe in not believing?"
Arminian: Well, in order not to be a subject of opposition to my church, I've decided that I am an Arminian. My pastor told me that the Church takes the doctrinal basis of Arminians as her own.
Teh : Ohh... but what is your personal stand on this?
(with gleaming eyes, eager to coax her to speak more of this)
Arminian: My pastor told me that"He that believeth shall be saved: He that believeth not, shall be condemned:" And in order to this, "Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins;" I believe this is true. Of course, I am not at liberty of will (ok, this is imaginery, touching on free-will pulak) to speak on this anymore as I do not want to cause a divide among other Christians as well.
Teh : Ohh...(aiya, thought can explore further.)

Not many that I have come across would be interested to know about the great divide between a Calvinist and an Arminian, let alone debate over it. It is like walking in a land mine field, you don't know when you are going to step into a bomb!

But, do we then discard these beliefs and be 'peace-loving' Christians with contentment?
"Tak syiok lagi lar!" Some might say.

IMHO, just as we would defend our Gospel, right to the point of our deathbeds due to the greatness of our conviction towards the Word of God; we would therefore have every inclination to defend the doctrines that our forefathers have set before us, no?
John Wesley commented this: "Away, then, with all ambiguity! Away with all expressions which only puzzle the cause! Let honest men speak out, and not play with hard words which they do not understand. And how can any man know what Arminius held, who has never read one page of his writings? Let no man bawl against Arminians, till he knows what the term means; and then he will know that Arminians and Calvinists are just upon a level. And Arminians have as much right to be angry at Calvinists, as Calvinists have to be angry at Arminians. John Calvin was a pious, learned, sensible man; and so was James Harmens. Many Calvinists are pious, learned, sensible men; and so are many Arminians. Only the former hold absolute predestination; the latter, conditional."

But, that itself made a world of difference, doesn't it?
Is it not, by saying, "Christ died for all who believed in Him" somehow has diluted His atonement?
We may cry "It's not fair!" all we want, but doesn't every diversed opinion that we have as Calvinists and as Arminians become clearer, if we think of the Sovereignty of God more highly than the rest?
Doesn't it not make sense to anyone of us that, whatsoever one does to win his salvation is crap if His redeeming grace is never bestowed upon him/her? It would then be termed as "working out our salvation", no?

Of course, I am most torn between the Sciptures that both Calvinists and Arminians use to defend their doctrinal basis respectively. How does one justify "Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins" and " I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours" at the same time?

Maybe labelling ouselves as 'Calvinists' or 'Arminians' is not limited to merely name-calling. It is the foundation of truth that our forefathers of the Church has built upon us. But then again, there is no greater joy than to have that delightful conviction that we hold on to; whether or not we are Calvinists and Arminians, that despite the harsh damnation; we find sweet redemption and favour in His eyes.

Perhaps we should see His sovereignty in Uncle Jon Edwards' joyful light of view,- " in respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God's strewing mercy to whom he will shew mercy, and hardening whom he will. God's absolute sovereignty and justice, with respect to salvation and damnation, is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes; at least it is so at times. But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God's sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. Never any words of scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever! This I know not how to express otherwise, than by a calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world; and sometimes a kind of vision, or fixed ideas and imaginations, of being alone in the mountains, or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and wrapt and swallowed up in God. The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul, that I know not how to express.
(By quoting Unc Jon Edwards, I believe I have given away my stand subtly, nonetheless.) :)

What joy, what exceeding joy!


Blogger Jack The LOT{B}R said...

When I was promoted to that Solid Rock,
All other things I could not bring along;
I saw my feeble person upon that Dock,
And beheld that Foundation strong!

O’ what great peace to have such Hope,
To have Jesus to lean upon;
Come on all ye in those feeble boats,
Come up this Rock and abandon your hope-forlorn.

The sovereignty of God is like a great Ground, so unchangeable and so unshakeable; it is like a sturdy Rock in the midst of the raging sea. Alas, when we embrace the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, we will but have to leave behind all those small pebbles and dirt we held previously. We must abandon those petty hopes that once spurred us, in exchange for a surer, nay, the surest Hope. What is man’s freewill? Shall we further rest on that false notion, that Humanist’s lie, that over evaluation of man’s worth? Even if we were allowed to pick between God’s sovereignty and the freedom of man’s will, will we be so self-conceited to choose the latter so that our lust for control and power is satisfied? Are we so deceived as to find comfort in the feebleness of man and refused to allow the Great and Good God to be Sovereign in all things? I echo Spurgeon in proclaiming, “Not the Freedom of Will, but the Freeness of Grace!”

My liberty is to my Master yield,
My joy is, to do His will!

The Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is not compatible with our proud philosophies. Abandon them! Abandon those forlorn hopes! Abandon those small tiny boats! You cannot face the wild storms and the violent seas with all these pitiful things. Come up to Jesus, the King and the Lord of All.

1:18 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Yes, why are we focusing on tiny paper boats when the ship of Grace and Salvation is in front of us?

Let us fix our eyes only on the Cross.

Great one there, Lord of the Flies..oops, Blog.

1:26 PM  
Blogger The Hedonese said...

Hmm... I'm inspired to write something about labels!

10:51 AM  

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