TULIP, again. (Or, why I'll never be a Baptist in my Heart)
In sum, here's my problem: I've joined a Baptist Church, but I'm no Baptist.
In detail it goes like this:
In detail it goes like this:
- Baptists come from the Calvinist tradition.
- You may have heard of "free will baptists." These are not those.
- Calvinism is a very well reasoned Protestant doctrine based on Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. It further comes from the sole scrirptura tradition of the Reformation, in that it solely derives from points in the canonical scriptures, especially the New Testament.
- There are 5 major points to Calvinism, encapsulated in the acronym TULIP.
- Total Depravity
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Persistence of the Saints
When I queried the pastor, he reaffirmed he "believes in God's sovereignty," furthermore the sermon that same day had the theme that "God is the Author of History," leaning on the person of God as an omniscient and omnipotent active force in His creation. A follow-up visit from the assistant pastor affirmed that he is a "3 Point Calvinist," denying Limited atonement and (I suppose) something else.
In every logical sense, Calvinism is the most mature, consistent Protestant doctrine. It is the logical conclusion of "Sole Scriptura," the outright rejection of any sort of church tradition above the (inspired) word of scripture. Furthermore, it's a rejection of any "Doctrine of Works," which aligns with the Pauline interpretation of our works being "as filthy rags."
So far, so good? What's the issue?
Well, if you're elect, then it's no big deal. You live your life--it may be great, it may suck--and you go to Heaven. "Free will is an illusion," but in the end, thanks to good old irresistable grace, it's winner, winner, chicken dinner.
The troubling part about it is...what if you're not elect? Well, then, basically, you were damned from the moment your immortal soul was created, whatever (undefined) mechanism that is. Nothing you can do (works) can change that. You were created to burn in Hell. Choice is an illusion, buddy.
From that, I don't really understand Baptists, at least evangelical Baptists. Why in the world would you call the process of salvation "making a decision?"
There was. No. Decision.
You simply followed your destiny.
I've posited this sort of things to pastors for 20 years now, and most wave their hands at it. "If you're asking this question, it's no big deal. You're in the elect. Why worry about it?"
I think Calvinism has a basic misunderstanding of who God is because of its slavish devotion to what "scripture must be saying," similar to the aberrations of the Pharisees in Christ's day.
They, too, tried to put God in a box. That didn't work out well.
For the moment, I'll leave it be (just as I always have). The church we've joined is doctrinally sound, missional, and preaches Truth.
In general, I'll love God. I'll love people.
I'll never be a Baptist.