A theology of hope.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Bill Brown, Apr 4, 2006.

  1. Bill Brown

    Bill Brown
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    I am interested in reviewing a different side of the Calvinism debate, namely that it is a theology of hope. The criticisms of Calvinism are not secret. I have resisted posting in many of these threads because there is nothing new that I was able to offer to the debate. People are often talking past each other, not taking the time to digest the opposing argument. When this happens rhetoric becomes inflammed and feelings are hurt. The result? A "circle the wagons" mentality and a very poor attempt at debate.

    So for those who you who do not already know, yes...I am a Calvinist. I am not going to lay out my reasons why I am a Calvinist. I truly do not want to hijack this thread with a personal littany. Each of us has a story about our theological position. To be honest, does anyone really care? How many of us really want to know why the other person believes what they do? There are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking it seems that posters on this board really want to "hear" their own arguments. Shall I indict myself as well? Sure.

    So back to the question: is Calvinism a theology of hope? Now before you Arminians sink your teeth into that question, I am going to ask you to stop and think for a moment. What do Calvinists claim about their theology? Not what do you Arminians claim, but what do Calvinists say about themselves? For the sake of brevity Calvinists would say that God is completely sovereign in all things. Now Arminians would claim that also. They would say that God is sovereign in all things. The problem is that Arminians and Calvinists interpret "sovereign in all things" differently. So I find it necessary to attach a definition to "sovereign in all things." To the Calvinist, God's sovereignty is not just His will of desire but also His will of decree. God not only has dominion over all things, He orders all things. God brings all things to pass. ALL things. From the ocean tide, the path a bird takes to fly across the street to the leaves that fall of a tree in autumn. These things do not happen of their own accord, they are ordered by God Himself. Predestination? No way to ignore this bedrock of Calvinist belief, is there? Well for the Calvinist, God orders that too. The opponents of Calvinism have a problem with that one. In truth, that is the part of Calvinism that causes most of the debate. Now we know the accusations...right? "God did not make us robots...we have a free will...God will not force someone to believe in Him..." I could go on, but that is the gist of it, isn't it? So in the face of that type of criticism, why do I suggest that Calvinism is a theology of hope?

    Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

    For me, this passage sums up the great hope of God's sovereignty in all things. Paul was confident that He (God) would complete the work that He (God) began in the believers in Philippi. Paul was not saying that the Philippians believers were not to act in accordance with their faith or that they did not have responsibility. No honest Calvinist would ever say that, and if they did they would be towards the hyper-Calvinist minority. No, we must "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). But we have the promise of scripture that God will complete His work in us. And why will God complete it? Because it is HIS work, not ours. It is God's master symphony and we are but notes on the page that have been written in by the Composer. We have hope that the whole will fit together to create a masterpiece.

    Now, this thread was NOT created to convince Arminians to become Calvinists. Please do not even repond as though that was my intent. I am not so naive as to think that my well-intentioned thread is going to end the Calvinist-Arminian debate. No, I suspect someone will take exception to my post and flame me. No problem. I am a big boy and can take it. BUT...it IS my intention that opponents of Calvinism understand that the majority of us see our theology as one of hope. Many of us see ourselves in the hands of a loving and merciful God who put us on the journey and will see us safely to the end (actually the beginning!).

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    Bill
     
  2. npetreley

    npetreley
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    Good call. You don't want to contaminate a thread called "A Theology of Hope" with something that is clearly hopeless. ;)
     
  3. Bill Brown

    Bill Brown
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    npetreley - I just want them to read it and understand. God IS sovereign and can change whom He desires. But I suppose I am a realist too. Remembering back to my Arminian days (which were only seven years ago), there was NO WAY that I was going to change. All the rhetoric and biblical proof in the world was not going to change my views.
     
  4. Bluefalcon

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    Hope is nice, but love is better.
     
  5. webdog

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    BB you claim that in your arminian days, no "biblical proof" was going to change your mind. Well I hate to break it to you, but calvinism cannot be proven biblically. Certain aspects...yes, but as a whole system of TULIP, no. If this were the case calvinists would outnumber arminians, free grace theologians, and other non calvinists. There is too much that relies on redefinition of terms to claim anything taught under that system is truly "biblical".

    Another flaw is you claim "He can change whom He desires". True. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us "whom He desires", John 12:32 and Romans 10:13 tell us how, and John 3:16 tells us why.
     
  6. Timtoolman

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    This I am coming to grips with as the biggest problem in dealing with the calvinist, non calvinist position. The redefining of terms and then the miss applying of them AFTER THEY DEFINE THEM!!

    I go back and forth but here in lies the problem I have agreeing with them.
     
  7. Bill Brown

    Bill Brown
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    It sure is and I probably should change the title of the thread to, "A theology of hope AND love."
     
  8. Bill Brown

    Bill Brown
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    BB you claim that in your arminian days, no "biblical proof" was going to change your mind. Well I hate to break it to you, but calvinism cannot be proven biblically. Certain aspects...yes, but as a whole system of TULIP, no. If this were the case calvinists would outnumber arminians, free grace theologians, and other non calvinists. There is too much that relies on redefinition of terms to claim anything taught under that system is truly "biblical".

    Another flaw is you claim "He can change whom He desires". True. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us "whom He desires", John 12:32 and Romans 10:13 tell us how, and John 3:16 tells us why.
    </font>[/QUOTE]I am going to grit my teeth and not respond to your assertions in this thread (I'll have no such reservation in other threads). The purpose of this thread was simply to provide an understanding, NOT to seek agreement.
     

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