I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Reformed theology.
Depending on what time in my life you talk to me, I either see St. Augustine and John Calvin as benevolent geniuses or in a dark room with evil snickers on their faces attempting to screw with my mind. And I think that everyone I’ve known or respected over the years in Christian ministry has similar feelings towards those two.
Over the last 5 weeks at my church, we’ve been working through the five points of Calvinism, as summed up in TULIP. But, unlike many CRC churches around the country, this is not review for our people. In fact, for probably 80%+ of them, it is BRAND-NEW. And, if you’ve never met a Texan, let me assure you that the idea of someone else having control of anything you previously thought you had control of is equivalent to kidnapping one of their children. Texans, and to a lesser extent Americans, do not crave the idea of not being in control.
I certainly don’t like the idea of not being in control. And that’s exactly why Reformed theology makes sense to me. If it matched the way I thought, it wouldn’t be worth the weight of the paper it was written on, in my opinion.
It is precisely because Reformed theology grates against my soul that I’m quite sure it’s the best option.
Walking through it with a bunch of first-timers has been a good experience for me, as well. We’re talking about it non-stop around here. I’m having to defend it, having to answer questions about it every day – from the logical ones to the crazy ones. And it’s been fun.
Now, full disclaimer: you should know that I’m a 65%-er, which means that I figure most Christian theologies that are orthodox are probably 65% correct, which means all of us are about 35% wrong. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that our finite brains can’t quite get a handle on the baselines of true, heavenly reality. For instance, I suspect that the who-chooses-who debate will be a non-issue once we have brains with upgraded processors capable of grasping what eternity really means. I suspect it’s similar to the multi-verse theory – where all actions happening simultaneously all the time – or something like that – and we just can’t get our minds around that.
And that’s okay with me – Reformed theology still seems like the best of the options available to me right now.
One of the reasons for that is, while living in an environment of extreme brokenness, I’ve come to realize how much better of a motivator gratitude is than guilt or fear. And, as a religion, we’ve often defaulted to selling cheap motivations of guilt/fear motivations in lieu of the better-and-healthier-though-harder-to-handle motivation of gratitude.
Reformed theology is built on gratitude as a motivator and, in it’s purest form, makes no room for guilt & fear as motivators.
And, while it’s harder to whip people into a frenzy on a Sunday morning with gratitude over against guilt/fear, it’s a much better (and hopefully more accurate) way to live life.