Text Message Theology

The other night I received a series of text messages from my 19 year old son Riley, a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Riley: What verses dominate Calvinism? (Meaning, what verses best answer or refute Calvinism.)

Dad: I Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9

Riley: And how do you interpret Ephesians 1:4-5?

Dad: Collective not individual. God predestined that he he’d have a PEOPLE but not the individuals in it. God wants his chosen PEOPLE to be an open & growing group not closed and fixed.

Riley: What about Romans 9?

Dad: Romans 9 is the same as Ephesians 1. All of Romans 9-11 is about the people of Israel not about the eternal salvation of individuals. You are wrestling with all the same verses I did when I was your age and I’m proud of you …

I have two main thoughts on the exchange:

1. Think of all the text messages I could have received from a college freshman:

I’ve been arrested … can you bail me out?

I failed my exam, what should I do now?

I’m at the hospital after a car wreck, how do I pay?

So I’m pretty grateful.

2. The texts stemmed from a conversation Riley was having with a hallmate who is a Calvinist. With John Piper and others, Calvinism has a star power these days that we Wesleyan-Arminians lack.

While a subject as complex as Calvinism vs. Arminianism (predestination vs. free will) merits more than text message conversation, I found it’s not a bad place to start with a 19-year-old.