20 06 2008

Last night my wife and I went to Wildfire Churascaria. It was for a friends 21st. We had a great time and as the night wore on we started a good ol Christian discussion. Lucky for us this was not the kind of debate where someone gets so dogmatic about their position that they end up attacking the opposing sides character in a last ditch effort to beef up their position. It was a lot more civilised. If anything I could say the only thing I was really dissappointed in was that I didn’t listen enough and spent too much time talking rather than trying to understand their position.

Such is the case for many people, and this was certainly true of how I had come to learn theology. But a few things became crystal clear for me last night. One is that we need each other even if we hold opposing views. The reason is that inspite of how well you might know your position you cannot possibly know everything. Hearing arguements from someone on the otherside of your position will always challenge you to go deeper and explore more. We need each othe because doing theology in community is the only way we truly learn. Let me give you an illustratrion I came accross in my theology course (thanks Michael Patton). The bank has a particular way of trying to find forged notes. In training their employees to find them they spend countless hours studying the original and never look at any forgeries. That way when the forgery comes along they can spot it a mile away. Whats the problem with that? Well first off banks certainly don’t do that and very regularly look at the latest forgeries and forgery techniques. Secondly it implies that someone can know something perfectly.

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Reformed Theology – Limited Atonement (Part 4 of 6)

6 06 2008

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are inconsistent in their theology. I don’t doubt their salvation or sincerity of their faith, but I think a lot of people are holding beliefs about the gospel that either do not make sense or contradictory. Often these are the people that get emotionally charged about a particular doctrine, or form their doctrines from experiences that have coloured their worldview.
I’ve felt it for a long time but many times have been unable to pinpoint exactly where someones theology goes awry. I remember listening to sermons about how I was not doing enough to honour my parents, or the reason that I kept sinning was that I kept pushing God off the throne of my life.
The same people who then told me Jesus loves me as I am and accepts me fully. It drove me mad, I couldnt understand how these things could exist together. It was only when I started to study theology that I realised they don’t exist together. In effect much of the theology I had learnt, started from the wrong end. I guess a lot of the preachers I listened to were quite biblically illiterate, preaching motivational rather than expository sermons. More likely the case was they were wrestling with the text in light of their emotions and presuppositions. It is hard to give up something you have believed for so long, especially when that belief has been held irrationally.

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Reformed Theology – Unconditional Election (Part 3 of 6)

22 05 2008

It has been said that all of Reformed theology can be summed up in 3 words. Redemption precedes faith. Its a profound statement when think about it. For a long time I was taught to make sure I was walking in faith in my Christian walk, the emphasis always being on my ability to have faith in God.
It wasn’t until recently (ok I mean at least a year or 2 ago) that I began to see this as counter to what the bible taught. If salvation depended on my ability to have faith then what hope did I have? Were my doubts about God an example of a lack of faith? What was all that stuff about predestination?  I was perplexed to say the least, but it motivated me to study more. To search the scriptures to see if what I had been taught was true.

The doctrine of unconditional election is a controversial one, like the rest of the doctrines of Reformed Theology. However that does not mean we should sideline it or ignore it because it causes offense. A good starting point to understand this is Voltaire, the great philosopher, who once said (and again I’m paraphrasing here)

“God has made man in his image, and since the beggining of time man has been trying to return the compliment…”

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