Friday, August 25, 2006

Debating Predestination

I find it a regular occurrence that folks with conversational interests get into debates and discussions of topics on which they have very little knowledge. I have a decent understanding of mathematics, and so do most of my buddies. But it would be foolish for us to debate the volume of space directly underneath the roller-coater track at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. We're just not knowledgeable enough in calculus to have any hope of getting the right answer.

The same holds true in theology. I was guilty upon my conversion to Christianity of debating the topics of which I had no knowledge. Picture me trying to debate with my equally ignorant friends whether or not predestination was true - and if so, how it actually worked from a mechanistic perspective.

I hadn't even read the Bible or studied any theologian's or philosopher's thoughts on the matter. What was I trying to do? Re-invent the wheel?

People engage in this sort of behavior daily. And God must want to pull out His hair. It's frankly silly. Before any debate takes place on a topic of which the debators have little knowledge (real or perceived), argeement on the basics must first be reached. As a Calvinist, it does no good to discuss infra- and supra-lapsarianism with an Arminian who doesn't even know what Calvinism or Arminianism are.

If you find yourself engaging in this type of conversation, begin with the basics. What is the Gospel? Most likely, that will open a conversation related to the substitutionary, propitiatory, atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That's a mouthful. It might take hours to arrive at consensus on the definition of that phrase. It certainly brings up "Limited" Atonement or Particular Redemption.

Then move on. Why do you believe the Gospel? Is it because you're more intelligent than others? Is it because you are more humble? If so, then pat yourself on the back; you deserve some glory! If not, then what's the difference? Could it be that the grace of God worked in you through the power of the Holy Spirit in a more effective way than in those who don't believe? Yes! That's the difference between monergism and synergism. Why don't others believe the Gospel? Could it be because others have not experienced the rebirth of the Holy Spirit? Could it be that people don't believe because they are not Jesus' sheep? That's certainly what John 10 teaches. And now we're closing in on that topic you wanted to start with - predestination. It will soon be on the tip of your tongue.

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