It will be next year and I will have been a “Christian” for forty years. That does not mean the I have the maturity of a disciple that has been in line that long, it simply is a chronological measure. However, I have been a fairly consistent student of scripture for most of that time.
What bothers me is that my mind does not work like it use to work. I don’t hold on to things like I once did. Perhaps it is because I don’t have active dialogue with others regarding what I read. Then again, it could simply be my mind is dulled by years difficulty and countless medications. Nevertheless, I plug away.
In our recent quest to understand a different theological base, that of Calvinism, I have done copious amounts of reading both in and out of scripture. I keep coming to the same conclusion in spite of a clear teaching by the pastor at the local PCA. My conclusion is fairly simple. There is no rational – I did not say logical – reason to find that theology in the NT unless you bring it with you. Every time I read the proof text for the positions of Calvin, I find if one continues to read the context, the proof text falls apart.
Now I know there are great minds on the side of Calvin. There are great minds on opposite side as well. I do not count myself among the “great minds” of either side, simply a student of scripture. In reality that is all any of us can be – students of scripture and we must let the text speak for itself. There is great danger in re-defining words in order to make something fit a belief system.
Besides, if “great minds” are our measure there are great minds that believe in Mormonism, great minds that are atheists, great minds that believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. If were merely basing something on the measure of who is whose side, then we have an even bigger issue.
It could be that I don’t understand because I am not part of their elect. It could be that I do not understand because I am not capable. It could be that I do not understand simply because I do not have that bent. Or it could be that I do not understand merely because the TULIP theory is not a sound position.
How can I say that? Because, as I indicated, we are all students of scripture and capable of understanding the text as it stands. Archeological and biblical scholars have spent years interpreting the text and providing a clear and complete translation of what is there. There is little need for men like me to parse it differently. It can stand on its own. Therefore we should let it stand on its own.
If we are disciples of the Christ, we must be students of his teaching not just is “personality”. And we must be students of his “theology” not just his warm and fuzzy sayings. Christ and his teaching should be our first measure for building a belief system. It is unlikely that we will error when we have that as our foundation.
God bless the reading of His Word!
‘Tis the season, so Merry Christmas!