Sleepless nights, part II

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted…

In my spiritual journey, if it wasn’t the Rapture, it was predestination/election that kept me up at night, and that only got worse the older I got.

When I hit college, I learned all about the TULIP of my faith, which I had been hearing all along, but not really in such a helpful acrostic. For those of different persuasions, or unlearned about the wisdom of John Calvin, it goes something like this:

T-total depravity

U-unconditional election

L-limited atonement

I-irresistable grace

P-perseverence of the saints

It was the second point that I found particularly troubling. If we are totally incapable of turning toward God on our own and unable to desire spiritually good things (as the T demands) then only God Himself can turn our heads toward Him. So we have the “U”–which says that He softens the hearts of those whom He has chosen, on those He has elected to serve Him/join Him. And if your heart is never softened, well, sorry.

So, if I desire to know Him more, is that from Him? According to JC (John Calvin) it has to be. But if I’m raised in a Christian home, in church every time the double-doors were open, could I NOT want to know Him? It would be impossible, unless I plugged my ears, closed my eyes and howled through every Sunday School lesson not to absorb the lesson of my need for a Savior. So, in my little brain, if I have always been exposed to the need for Christ, I could, in theory, not be one of the elect, and just desire it out of exposure. (You follow?) In this warped little world, it didn’t matter how many times I walked the aisle, raised my hand, read the Wordless Book and prayed the Sinner’s Prayer, if He didn’t choose me to go, I WASN’T GOING.

I know, I know, if I wasn’t elect I wouldn’t want God, but I’m sorry, I never saw a 5-year-old that didn’t want to know Jesus. (So…are you only predestined if you are above that age of accountability?)

If that all wasn’t terribly confusing, you then throw in the whole “doctrine” of double-predestination–that some are predestined for Heaven and others are predestined for Hell–and you have nothing more than a recipe for insomnia.

And I saw so many people around me walking the aisle with the frequency of trips to the fridge, and then they would behave completely “unregenerately” the rest of the time. I wondered about the efficacy of Calvin’s definition of salvation and regeneration (though again, not by name, since I hadn’t yet seen the beauty of the TULIP, but in speculation about Salvation in general). Maybe these poor souls were just not EVER going to get it.

I know in Calvinism the TULIP provides for humility and thankfulness, that those that know God have been chosen by Him, in spite of anything they want/do to the contrary. But to me it seemed to create an arrogance–“Gee, aren’t you glad that we’re the elect? I wouldn’t want to be a reprobate. ”

I guess I don’t believe God sorts souls like beans going into the soup. While Calvinists distill the faith to a TULIP, it seems God’s viewing it more like a daisy–this one’s in, this one’s not.

My God says that He wants all to be saved. Period. Will all be saved? I don’t know. I have enough to do worrying about myself. But I guess I worry a lot less since I know He loves me, and wants me to know Him. I know I want to know Him, and I think that is that thing He has instilled in all of us. Sure, that divine image has been marred by the fall, but a dirty/distorted mirror is still a mirror. The race of men didn’t lose that desire to know Him when Eve plucked that fruit off the tree.

Wow, we’re not even into eternal security yet…


Author: Rebecca

Orthodox Christian. Journalist. SAR K9 handler. All three of those are deeply related.

4 thoughts on “Sleepless nights, part II”

  1. Ugggh! I can’t believe I was ever a calvinist. In my case I pretty much had to stop reading most of the Bible in order to protect the system. Calvinism is a logical system, given its presuppositions. But the system crumbles when confronted with the Gospel. God is not defined by logic, or anything else He created.

  2. yep, systems of thinking have holes. And it seems particularly true of the way we think about God – that the tighter you try to make the system, the more holes appear. It’s like trying to put a small blanket over a large person. Just as you try to cover a spot that is exposed, another part juts out of the blanket.

  3. I have always been amazed at the mental gymnastics needed by more modern theologies to bend themselves around passages that seem to conflict. (Calvinism is no different, and it’s something I’ll continue to explore here.) One of the things that has been unbelievable about Orthodoxy is how much more sense those passages make in light of the commentary of the ancient Fathers.

    Paul, it reminds me to a degree of the Cat-in-the-Hat spot…he spills and in the attempt to clean up the mess makes a much bigger disaster than could have been thought possible. The more and more men use their very finite minds to explain the infinite, the more ridiculous it becomes.

  4. To me, Calvinism is cold, like my 21st century view of the pilgrims, in their starched white aprons, blah black dresses and day-long services on hard benches. It seems depressing and a bit hopeless.
    (Btw, this is not my view of off-shoots of Calvinism, like Presbyterianism, but I’ve only been to a Presbyterian church a handful of times and that’s with my strict grandmother, so I’m probably warped in that view anyway.)
    But I’m with Bec. In my world, God welcomes anyone who wants to listen… even if at times they forget to. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

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