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FWIW – My 2014 Top Five Blog Posts

December 31, 2014 Leave a comment

images-1Got my year-end WordPress stats indicating which posts received the most visits during 2014 (listed by popularity):

The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you

Two-Point Calvinism – Is That an Acceptable Alternative?

If God Can Be Surprised by His Creation, Can Calvinists Really Claim Unconditional Election?

A Sleep-Study; It’s a ‘Weird’ Feeling – Feeling ‘Wired’

Is John 3:16 The Most Misunderstood Verse in the Bible?

Interesting, over the last 4 years, these particular posts have attracted the most traffic in 2014. However, none of the ‘top-5’ were written in 2014. Still, I’m humbled to think that people are interested in anything I’ve espoused. On the other hand, it makes me wonder if there are other soul-seekers also experiencing discordance within their own Christian faith? Anyway, for those who seem to stop by periodically, perhaps this list will help direct you to what others on this blog appear most interested in. 

In any event – Best Regards and Happy New Year – especially to my good blogging buddy Tim Elder.

Looking Ahead, Seeing Nothing

December 20, 2014 Leave a comment

IMG_2324It has felt as though the fog on this faith-journey over the last couple of years is so thick that I can’t see ahead, behind or even to either side. I’ve lost my bearings as to where I was much less understand where I’m at now, where I’m going or even if I’m moving in any direction. I was recently asked if the effort figuring out Calvinism/Arminianism is really worth it. Wouldn’t my time be better put towards developing a deeper relationship with Jesus? Sure. I could just decide – yes, I’m firmly in camp “X”. However, the doubts and the confusion would remain if only because the logical disconnect of competing doctrines essentially using the same scriptural references to justify their respective positions is, at least to me, such a dichotomy.

Still, I recently saw this question posed on an Open Theist web site: 

  • If everything has been predetermined before all of us exist, then, would prayer help at all?

That question immediately made me think of the movie Groundhog Day in which TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) was in some sort of time-loop and had to relive the same day numerous times until, I presume, he got it right. I don’t think it was the movie creator’s intention, but it was almost as though there was a predetermined outcome that had to be gotten right before Phil was able to move on.

There were, as one might expect, numerous responses from all perspectives of which one in particular got my attention. I’ve edited it for readability: 

I spent many long years as a Calvinist. I continually shouted at God to help me change the very hard and painful circumstances of my life. However, nothing changed. I knew it was futile anyway because God had apparently decided to leave me in those circumstances. I tried all the pat answers:

  • The C. S. Lewis option – prayer changes us, not God.
  • The faith option – if I express genuine faith – and lots of it i.e. the faith of a mustard seed, then I’ll see changes happen.
  • The Job option – I must have sin somewhere that is stopping God from hearing me.
  • The passive option – God has my best interests at heart.

However, in the end I had to accept the horrible thing that had happened was the best of all possible options. It wasn’t until I really embraced Open Theism that prayer became something dynamic and a means of genuine communication. As it was, my previous prayer life was more of an information dump wherein character X (me) protested as to why the author (God) wrote the story. And, the author (God) explained to character X (me) that it was okay if I never understood why the story was written was written as it was.

Ironically, I think this poor schlep has really hit on something. The ardent Calvinists I know are confident that no matter what happens, God is in control. Perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, these same Calvinists will claim that any and everything that happens to each and every one (elect and non-elect alike) is as a direct result of God’s sovereignty in order to enable a particular outcome that brings about greater glory to God.

If that’s true – that there’s no free will and this poor schlep converts from Calvinism to Open Theism and finds that his prayer life has become dynamic, is this poor schlep wallowing in his own misunderstanding of God’s “plan” and experiencing a sort of “false comfort” based on, perhaps, self-motive? After all, God didn’t change, right? Rather, this poor schlep’s perspective of God changed. So, is this poor schlep feeling better about his faith because he decided to identify with something which apparently was more comfortable? On the other hand, if there is free will and God isn’t sovereignly controlling each and every detail, then is this poor schlep experiencing a newfound joy and sense of freedom because he now understands or otherwise relates to God from a proper perspective?

Honestly, how is one to know?

Caption picture graciously provided by LT. More of his fabulous pictures can be found here.

Merry Calvismas

December 14, 2014 2 comments

Wayne Moran PhotographyToday’s sermon was based on the familiar passage of Luke 2:8-20. Two verses in particular popped out at me (NIV) – emphasis added:

(10) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

(14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

Certainly my faith has diminished over the last few years while trying to make sense of what I can only call the Calvinist divide. And, irrespective of my good buddy Tim, many who hold dear Calvinist doctrines have been ever gracious and patient while I try to work through myCalvinisticals”.

Yet, here’s this particular passage – and with a clear reading (at least from my perspective), there’s obviously a disconnect as to whom the Messiah came for:

– all the people (as stated in vs 10)

– those on whom [God’s] favor rests (as stated in vs 14)

Not sure why I hadn’t noticed this particular text over the past few Christmas seasons. Certainly I’ve come across these verses numerous times before. Still, in my feeble mind, it is impossible for Calvinism and Arminianism to logically coexist. Yet, here within these verses is to me a contradiction of the highest order.

And for me, the struggle continues.

I welcome your thoughts.

BTW – The captioned picture, I think, represents well the two doctrines of Calvinism and Arminianism moving down one’s faith path. To me, there is no intersection. Anyway, some fabulous pictures can be found at http://www.lettherebelightfineart.com/

Christian Clarity Review Lives! But, Does Anybody Care?

December 2, 2014 1 comment


DSC02487It’s been some time since I visited Christian Clarity Review and was surprised that there hasn’t been a posting for the better part of a year. You should know that Tim banished me from his site (scroll towards the end of the comments) and I’ve honored his request. Still, curiosity got the best of me and with a couple of quick Google searches I found an obituary for one Monroe Timothy Elder.

http://www.cljnews.com/20120106monroe-timothy-elder-sr

However, I was confused as the date of death was listed as 1/3/12. Yet, Tim’s last post on the CCR blog was 3/13/13. Perhaps against better judgement, I commented the following on Tim’s last post:

Dear Tim,

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen any blog postings from you. Yes, I’ve been stopping by from time to time since you banished me from this blog. Still, a quick Google search turns up an obituary as to your death on 1/3/12. And yet, your last post was 3/31/13. I’m not sure just what to make of that. Nevertheless, in spite of our sometimes acrimonious responses to each other on our respective blogs, I’m hoping that I only discovered that there’s another Timothy Elder and that you are indeed alive and well.

Sincerely,

Bob

In short order, Tim spat out the characteristic love and affirmation I’ve previously experienced. Note: I’ve incorporated the hyperlinks below for convenience.

Feelin’ the flames already Bob? That lying spirit in your flesh getting itchy?

That was my Dad. I’m a Jr.

2equals5 that’s God through me too, Christian Clarity and the Archives on Blogger. God through me too.

I’ve always posted infrequently. Why speak to the deaf?

Jer 23:17 They say constantly unto them that despise me, Jehovah hath said, Ye shall have peace. And they say unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the council of Jehovah, so that he hath perceived and heard his word? who hath hearkened to his word and listened? Behold, a tempest of Jehovah, fury is gone forth, yea, a whirling storm: it shall whirl down upon the head of the wicked.

You really think you and those of your kind will wash God’s windshield at a stoplight and then demand salvation in payment for your “free willed” charity? The Christmas season makes a difference?

It’s not something else Bob. You’re just a liar. We’re not brothers and not friends.

But do the tradition this year. Again. Sing the songs, do the fake sacrifices in the famine of the Word of the Lord on you. Be Happy..all that.

Hosea 4:18-19 Their drink is sour; they give themselves up to whoredom; her great men passionately love their shame. The wind hath wrapped her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Indeed, Tim is alive and full of vigor and genuine warmth. First of all, my apologies to Tim’s late father for having mistaken him for his son all these years. It never cross my mind that the Tim of Christian Clarity Review was a jr. Oh well, I never did claim to be the sharpest tack in the box.

FWIW, shortly after I began this blog, I discovered Christian Clarity Review and we commented back and forth on a couple of topics. So, why did I engage or otherwise respond to Tim’s posts? Many would say it’s unfair, but I actually find Tim to be the “center-point” of Calvinistic doctrine. He himself states on his home page: “Two languages in total reality mandate the five points of Calvinism”. Furthermore, I believe that his interactions with myself and others who have dared challenge his beliefs (or even to try and understand what he’s talking about) are the natural occurring manifestation of Calvinistic thought.

Tim states his belief in Calvinistic doctrine here.

So then, what is one who struggles with Calvinism in general and the concept of unconditional election in particular to think about all that is contained within Christian Clarity Review? Not much, I suppose. Without exception, ALL of the Calvinists I come into contact with are good and decent people who do their best to help me understand (what they at least believe is) the truth. However, I believe it impossible for Calvinism and Arminianism to logically co-exist. That both sides use many of the same scriptural texts (with much conviction, no less) to support their respective arguments continues to baffle me.

I know that Tim’s opinions, writings and ad hock attacks represent a very small percentage of Calvinists. Unfortunately, as noted above, I believe that Calvinistic doctrine fundamentally breaks down into the likes of one Monroe Timothy Elder Jr.

Yes, Christian Clarity Review lives. But in reality, does anybody really care?