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Archive for May, 2012

Quantitative Analysis of Unconditional Election

May 24, 2012 1 comment

An interesting blog post asks whether conditional election or unconditional election has more Biblical basis. The author goes on to state,

One of the most persistent and often divisive issues within Christianity is the debate between the doctrine of unconditional election (often called the doctrine of predestination) and the doctrine of unconditional election (often represented as the doctrine of free will).

Provided within the post is a list of verses that each camp uses to justify their respective positions. I don’t know the origin of this list nor do I believe this list is in any way complete. Still, the author wonders whether a greater number of verses (that, at least for this list) in support of unconditional election lend credence that unconditional election is indeed what the Bible teaches? I’m a numbers guy and do some quantitative analysis on the day job so this thought got my attention. 

However, as I scrolled down the list, I noticed that some verses were listed as supporting both predestination and free will. I certainly don’t think it accurate to derive “truth” from just a verse and I don’t think that is necessarily intended here. Context is everything and as such, any given verse must be read within the context of the passage. That said, if something is “truth” in one passage, then doesn’t there have to be commonality of that “truth” throughout all of the Bible?

Jesus says the truth will set me free (John 8:32). Perhaps my struggle regarding unconditional election can only mean that I don’t know the truth. Of course, preceding vs 32 is vs 31 where Jesus says if I hold to his teachings then I am really his disciple. Perhaps therein lies the issue – I’m not his disciple. Therefore, I can’t know the truth. Hence, I struggle in my faith – and not just with unconditional election. Perhaps I’m beginning to overanalyze – time to chill-out.

Anyway, I’ve come across this before – Calvinists and Arminians using the same verses and passages to to defend (or argue against) unconditional election. Romans chapter nine is perhaps the best example I know of. That the likes of John Piper and Greg Boyd have diametrically opposed perspectives of this chapter is troubling to me. But I understand that not all Christians are bothered by, what I can only call, the “variance” of Christian thought at least with respect to unconditional election.

In any event – to the question: does a greater number of verses supporting one perspective help to sway or otherwise bring about resolution within the Calvinist-Arminian argument? Probably not. But, what do I know?

 

Declaring Intangible Religious Benefits

May 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m filing stacks of paper that have surrounded my desk and noticed an odd disclaimer on our church’s quarterly giving statement. It said, 

[This] Church provided no goods or services in return for these contributions except intangible religious benefits.

So, just what is an intangible religious benefit? This phrase was on the last giving statement as well. I didn’t notice it at the time – but that’s not the first time I’ve missed something blatantly in front of my eyes. That said, this phrase nor anything similar was on any giving statements from 2010 or 2011. I’m not aware of any attorneys who attend this church. My mind wonders – who got to the senior pastor and advised him to put such a disclaimer on a giving statement? Is there now a legal requirement for churches to provide such a disclaimer? Are we living in such a screwed-up politically correct separation of church & state et al legalistic society that a church’s giving statement to its congregants must state the obvious? Or, am I missing something? I’m able to apply my church offering towards all charitable giving for tax purposes. Maybe there’s some sort of VAT (value added tax) coming that will offset the deduction?