This blog has been empty for a while. I “started” it some time ago in the hopes of joining the tens-of-thousands of people around the world who blog about the topics about which they are passionate. Of course, my passion is theology. That is what I intend to write about here.
However, my first order of business before beginning any “formal” blog posts, I believe, is just to come right out with the perspective from which I will be writing.
Let me preface by saying that my theological position is the result of years of thinking, studying, asking, and praying about the subject. While, yes, there are a lot of people from whom I have read and to whom I have listened that have greatly influenced me, my convictions ultimately come down to how I see and read Scripture. I am not simply following blindly theologians whom I enjoy to read. I am writing from a calvinistic (Particular) Baptist perspective (à la Charles Spurgeon and John Piper). For those of you who are not familiar with calvinistic theology, also called Reformed theology, this good and concise article will help define it.
Now, this confession is no doubt one that will put me in an awkward position. My entire upbringing is markedly non-calvinistic. I’m sure some (if not most) of my theological distinctive will rub folks the wrong way. With this in mind, I feel there are many things I need to clear up on this first blog post, because misunderstandings will likely emerge:
- I do not worship John Calvin. I have hardly read anything from the man. The most I have read from him was to do some research for a paper on the evangelical doctrine of Scripture. Truth be told, nowadays it is practically impossible to have a personal system of beliefs that is not rooted in some tradition and cannot be traced back to some individual—Arminius, Joseph Smith, Pelagius, Martin Luther (if you call yourself a Protestant, you belong to the tradition of Martin Luther whether you like it or not), and others. Tradition is not inherently a bad thing, and subscribing to one by name is simply a way of quickly identifying your basic beliefs. However, my doctrinal positions, although certainly influenced by earthly men such as Calvin, comes from Scripture and Scripture alone, as everyone’s should be. I try my best to test all things and hold fast to that which is true (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
- I do affirm all five points of the “Five Points of Calvinism”. While I understand that this announcement alone might stir some pots, I cannot and should not be dishonest or timid in what I actually believe and draw from Scripture. Though I used to be apprehensive about admitting it, I unashamedly confess to the fact that I hold to all of them without reservation or apprehension.
- I believe God is sovereign over all things everywhere. This includes the wills of men (Proverbs 21:1), the unfolding of history, both in the general and in the particulars (Isaiah 46:10), and, yes, even evil (Genesis 50:20, Job 2:10, Isaiah 45:7, Romans 8:28). I do not in any way affirm that God is the author of sin. I do affirm, however, that God intends (not “uses”—there is a difference) evil to bring about his good purpose (Genesis 50:20).
- I believe that my non-calvinistic brothers and sisters are indeed saved if they have put their whole trust and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I am no longer one of these that condemns every whisper of opposition. Those days, especially after studying for a year now at TEDS, a broadly evangelical seminary, are long gone. In fact, some of the most faithful and inspiring servants of Christ I personally know are not calvinistic. However, this does not mean that I hold any less firmly to these doctrinal distinctives or that my convictions are any less powerful.
- I believe human beings are actual moral agents that make actual choices with their actual wills. Every Calvinist I have ever heard or read has affirmed this, which is quite contrary to popular belief. I affirm this, too.
- I am not a cessationist. This one has been a long, hard internal (and sometimes external) battle for me. One of the misunderstandings in the 21st Century about calvinistic believers is their assumed propensity to cessationism. For those of you who do not know what cessationism is, it is the belief that the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit such as healing (this is not the same thing as praying for healing), prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues have ceased to be active. Now, in the defense of cessationists, they do not believe that the Holy Spirit has no power or influence on the Christian life. They simply believe, to put it very briefly, that the sign gifts served a significant purpose in the early Church, have since fulfilled that purpose, and have thus ceased from activity. One of the things that is thankfully being corrected nowadays is this assumption that calvinistic believers are by definition cessationist. Hopefully people like C.J. Mahaney, D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Matt Chandler and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones are proof that this simply isn’t true. While I believe that the modern Church suffers many terrible abuses (I will certainly blog on this later), I do believe (based on my reading of Scripture, not my experience) that the Holy Spirit has the desire and certainly the ability to equip believers for whatever ministry he has for them. I believe he sometimes uses and bestows upon certain people miraculous gifts for the accomplishment whatever good purpose his will sees fit. However, like I said, I will blog more on this touchy subject later. For now, suffice it to say that, although I am a continuationist (the opposite of a cessationist), I am not a practicing Charismatic, hence my official position is “open but cautious”.
Again, I post this not to alienate myself or anyone else I may know. I simply make this post as a disclaimer and preface, just in case I post something in the future that leaves people scratching their heads (which will probably happen). Knowing from the outset where I stand will most certainly foster better conversation, quicker understanding and less confusion. Again, know that my convictions are based only upon my reading of Scripture and nothing else.
I hope and pray that this blog will help me write more and better about what I love. I also hope that it will invite discussion from identical, similar, and opposing positions. Also, whether on FaceBook or in this forum, please feel free to suggest new topics or challenge my approach to current ones. I want this because it will force me to defend my positions and to think critically about new ones.
These are the purposes of this blog. I hope to see it accomplished. Please feel free to share, follow, or comment!