So many people have asked me in the past why I won’t talk to them about T.U.L.I.P. So many people have asked why I won’t talk about free will in depth. I usually stay away from these topics, and the reasons I will explain to all of you in this post. So if you do wonder why I clam up when this topic is introduced in any circle of discussion… you are about to find out.
Let me first say what this post isn’t. This isn’t about what view is right. This isn’t about which view is wrong. In case you are wondering, both have right, and both have wrong. That’s all I’m saying in regards to these concepts, as people have talked for centuries until they are blue in the face, and never resolved anything pertaining to this. It will be argued about until Kingdom Come.
Few things in the Christian community have been as divisive, compartmentalized, analyzed, and rationalized as these two topics of Calvinism and Armenianism. I’ve seen friendships broken, read about churches splitting, and heard the world mocking us over these subjects which many of us so gladly bicker about- under the guise of “discussion”.
I’m typing today to voice, maybe alone, my incredible disgust with the treatment these two topics have been given, and how destructive these things have become in the unity of the Christian church as we know it. Why do I reject both of these titles? Because these titles are flawed, divisive, and prideful. So let’s begin.
I am of Calvin, not Christ.
These men’s words often are treated as the only method in which the scripture can possibly be interpreted. These men’s words and thoughts are themselves worshiped and focused upon. Anytime it seems when I am asked by a strong professing Christian if I am a Christian, then I reply “yes”… The follow up is immediately- “So are you Calvinist?”
When people ask me that, I think of this passage. Paul is talking to the Corinthians. Telling them to stop rallying around these people preaching the gospel. These people were dividing the church, as members began to follow these individuals, rather than turning their focus on Christ. He talks about this in two places in the same letter, as it was so important.
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’shousehold, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” s Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. ~1 Corinthians 1: 10-17 ~
I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. ~1 Corinthians 3:1-6 ~
It seems pretty clear to me, we are to identify with no one other than Christ. When people say “I’m a Calvinist” or “I’m a Baptist” or “Insert title” they are exhibiting what Paul calls Carnality. This is where so many of these divisions and strife come from the in the Christian church. And it isn’t even on matters imperative to the christian faith.
The Foolishness of God.
If that alone wasn’t enough, Paul, in the same passages, goes into the futility of man’s wisdom concerning things of God. He also again tells the church not to boast in man and their ideas, but in Christ and that the wisdom of man is utter foolishness to God.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord. ~1 Corinthians 20-31~
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. ~1 Corinthians 3:18-23~
Let me add a note here, I’m not saying we should not pursue the knowledge of who God is and what scripture says. Not at all. If we are to grow in our walk with Him, we must delve into the scripture with hungry souls for His teaching. To desire wholeheartedly the improvement Christ is ready to work in us. The disqualifies comes, when we start using man’s uninspired teachings as the starting point and identifier of what we claim to understand.
The Divided Church
The bottom line is that these two ideas, these concepts, have done much more harm than good in the Christian church. They aren’t unifying, they are divisive. We have let so many things, based solely upon man’s interpretation, tear us apart. Calvinism and Armenianism are just the tip of the iceberg. You can apply similar principles to bible translations, denominations, and more. We have become lost in the depths it the interpretations of interpretations, instead of simply rejoicing in the fact we are indeed saved.
So did I choose to write this article? Or was I predestined to? That’s the question forever argued about isn’t it? The truth is you can interpret scripture one way, and I another as long as it does not explicitly go against other passages. We will never know who is right until we meet together in heaven. Paul says we see in part- as in a mirror. We’ve got to stop spending days and months quarreling and debating these topics. Christ told us to make disciples, not sit in the temple all day discussing the matters of what each person thinks God is.
If we spent more time sharing that joy with others and those who are lost, instead of debating these ideas which have no bearing on the state of our soul eternally and focusing on identifying with labels instead of Christ… We would be better off indeed. I say start showing the world our Joy in Christ’s gift and investing in other’s real lives- instead of professing our divisive foolishness to men.