I have to admit that my heart sank upon seeing it.
In case you don’t know, Calvinism
is a stream in the larger river of Christian thought that emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the sinfulness of humanity, and the predestination of our eternity. Calvinism’s roots stem both from Scripture and from John Calvin
, a 16th Century European theologican and pastor. The signature doctrine of Calvism is predestination
— the notion that from eternity in the past God has elected and determined who is going to heaven . . . and who is going to hell.
Calvinism is intellectually rigorous, highly logical, and deeply faithful.
I happen to believe that in many of its most basic tenets, it is also quite wrong.
Now: this is a discussion between Christian friends. There is no “you’re not a Christian” in any of these conversations.
In fact, some of my best friends . . .
Well, you know how we use that phrase in other areas, don’t you? But the very first church I ever attended
as a new follower of Jesus was not just Calvinist, by its own definition it was super
Yet somewhere in the weekly drumbeat of predistination/election/Calvinism that I heard as a new Christian, I grew a longing to find a group of Jesus’ followers who were smart, biblical, and believed that God gave us free will. I started a journey in search of a people who did not believe that God elected some to heaven and some to hell, but believed instead that God’s heart longing is for all to come to salvation.
That journey led me to Methodism.
Methodism has always stood in a different stream in that river of Christian thought than does Calvinism. A stream with roots in Scripture, in the thinking of 16th Century Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius
, and in the rhetoric of John Wesley
You can read a reasonably good comparison of the two points of view here.
So one of the reasons I’m glad to be a Methodist is that I identify so strongly with the Wesleyan-Arminian understanding of the desire of God and the free will of people. As I Timothy 2:3-4 says it: ” . . . this is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” How could God want all to be saved yet set up a world that by his design frustrates his own longing? Anyway.
But back to my theological jealousy.
It’s Calvinism on the cover of Time and with a highly complimentary essay on the inside.
And Arminianism is on the outside looking in.
Maybe I’m just predestined not to believe in predestination.