It’s been nearly four years since I’ve posted anything on this blog. In a manner of speaking, things have kind of broken down with respect to my Christian faith. There’re various reasons for this. But so far as I understand, Christian faith has become rather binary wherein it’s either right or it’s wrong. I can no longer incorporate what I’ve come to understand as diametrically opposed perspectives. This post, I hope, will shed some light as to where I find myself.
Suffice it to say, I’ve come to have utter distain for the Doctrines of Grace – aka Reformed Theology – aka Calvinism. From my perspective, those doctrines eviscerate the nature and character of a holy and loving God. And it has been those doctrines which have been a light illuminating the deconstruction of my Christian faith. For many years I’ve been troubled by discordant conclusions from well-meaning people in books, sermons, Bible studies, etc. with everyone reading the same source material – the Bible. It’s become apparent that my “faith-disconnects” aren’t, per se, with Calvin, Piper, MacArthur, Spurgeon, Sproul et al. Rather, these folks, and countless others over thousands of years, have likely wrestled with many of the same questions and dilemmas I’ve experienced. Many have concluded and coalesced around the notion of Reformed Theology as being best able to explain and provide a framework to understand the nature and character of God and the world we live in. Others have come to different conclusions.
That so many people who study the Bible – particularly those who have studied the languages, customs and history of the Bible come to significantly different conclusions would seem to indicate the Bible can be rather difficult to decipher. Hence, various “camps” – be they different denominations or other Christian entities continually pop up.
The logic of Christian living makes sense, and my life has certainly been more pleasant through Christian living. Afterall, it makes perfectly good sense that the wisdom derived from Proverbs work just as well for non-Christians as Christians. Yet, what difference within an eternal scheme does it make? Through Calvinism’s Unconditional Election, I might be one of those on the ‘reprobate side’ of things and doomed to eternal separation from God because, well, God doesn’t want me, and he didn’t choose me from the foundations of the world.
If within Christian faith there was the ability to accurately interpret the Bible, then does it not stand-to-reason that believers would derive the same (or at least very similar) conclusions regarding beliefs and doctrines. Christian faith, however, is replete with the error of false teaching and prophesy over thousands of years coupled with believers (prophetic or otherwise) claiming personal enlightenment from the Bible which, to me, underscores the varied and significant differences amongst the faithful.
Although initially I resisted walking away from Christian faith, I have found it surprisingly easy to deconstruct from my Christian faith because:
- It became apparent that my questions to clergy and lay people alike were viewed as liabilities. Few wished to ‘engage’ with me in discussion. Fewer still seemed willing to follow the logic.
- Christianity almost felt like some kind of cult – or a country club and I wasn’t sure which was worse.
- It seemed that I was the only one troubled by stories of violence, misogyny and genocide found within the Bible.
- I tired of people telling me not to worry about my struggles because, “God’s ways are not our ways” and “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
- The concept of determinism, as viewed through Calvinism, is for me a focal point into theological upheaval within Christianity.
- Fair-minded people arrive at significantly different conclusions as to the nature and character of God.
- I thought it’d be possible to make sense of varying Christian doctrines i.e. Calvinism, Arminianism and Open Theism in particular through personal study and reflection. What I’ve discovered, though, is that there are multitudes of very smart and good-willed people on both sides putting forth persuasive arguments. And these competing doctrines cannot coexist.
- The variance of Calvinist “theologians” including John Piper, John MacArthur, James White, RC Sproul, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Jerry Bridges is completely at odds with “non-Calvinist” theologians including Dave Hunt, Roger Olson, Jerry Walls, and Greg Boyd. All of these individuals (and many more) have delved deep into the Bible and studied the history, culture and the languages. As I see it, there’s little agreement between the “Calvies” and “Armies.”
- Lacking any linguistic, historical and cultural knowledge, I find it necessary to “trust” what others say. Yet, with such wide opinions from learned people, matters of faith devolve into little more than personal opinion. Facts are too often ill-defined and not at all agreed upon. Perhaps it’s best summed up as theology ain’t math or chemistry.
It took forty years to come to a point of deconstruction. It took another five years of significant wrestling with Christian doctrines and trying to resolve inherent differences, tensions and difficulties. In the end, I more or less just gave up. I got tired of arguing. I’ve felt like an outcast for some time now – lacking in my faith and hypocritical in what I espoused if only because I was no longer sure of what I believed. My deconstruction didn’t happen over a short period of time. Rather, events, personal experiences, my own study, observations and the reading of contrary opinions from different Christian authors led to the crumbling of the foundation of my Christian faith. Where is the truth? John 8:32. And how can one know?
I have to wonder; was I ever a Christian? Was I ‘elected’ from the foundations of the world? I’ve been told that the Doctrines of Grace are the center-point of the gospel and that my antipathy therein is indicative of a lack of salvation. Yes, I accepted Christ and understood salvation as a high school sophomore. But have I ever really known God? Throughout my life, I’m hard-pressed to have ever realized a personal or relatable God with any interest in me or, frankly, anyone on this earth. I can only conclude, therefore, that the beliefs espoused by well-meaning Christians are in actuality little more than personal opinion at best or simply a myth at worst.
There is much more to say, of course. But for right now, it’s not clear what this blog is to be or should be. I welcome thoughts, opinions, discussion … even from the ardent Calvinist determined to “prove” the veracity of the tenants of their faith. I rather like the ‘thinking process’, the cobbling of thoughts onto paper and the refinement of those thoughts into a ‘this is what I believe … or at least understand.’ I appreciate your having made it through this little tome and will hopefully be writing more soon.
Regards // Bob