I’m not a Greek scholar or a great theologian. I read the Bible and discover ways to apply what God says, and I encourage others to do likewise and to use the Biblical story to bring joy into people’s lives. I have more than thin grasp of the Bible.
I gladly embrace and proclaim the Gospel: He died on the Cross for our sins, according to the Scriptures, was buried, and God raised Him on the third day, according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3-4). It’s the Gospel for everyone. It is the Gospel of Jesus, not John the Apostle’s, John the Baptizer’s, or John Calvin’s.
I am not reformed, thank you very much. I am transformed, as is the more Biblical way of God doing things. And I choose to not have my Biblical theology defined by a man, even if his name bears the same initials as Jesus Christ Himself.
It has occurred to me that there’s a connection with the 21st century’s reformation pushers and the 1st century’s foreskin cutters. Egads! Yes, I dare to say it. I can hear it now (and actually, have heard it): “If you’re not reformed (or not a Calvinist), you’re not in the kingdom.” The Apostle Paul battled that similar false teaching: “If you’re not circumcised (or not Lawed up), you’re not in the kingdom.”
It seems to me that Calvinism is the new circumcision! And since the Calvinist title seems to be interchangeable with the phrase “reformed theology,” I too shall interchange the words.
Here’s what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1-15:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
The requirement of circumcision for all believers was a yoke of bondage, as were other matters of the Law that Paul had to sort out. Understand that I do not suggest that the words “Calvinism” or “reformed” be substituted in the Scripture. But circumcision does stand out as the premiere burden; and Calvinism, likewise, is, today, a premiere entanglement, another hindrance and a distracting persuasion for saving faith. To be just as sarcastic as Paul: I could wish that those who trouble us so would even “unelect” themselves!
According to God, by the prophet Ezekiel, all souls are His (Ezekiel 18:4). Obviously, the prophet Ezekiel was speaking to the house of Israel. Yet the statement that all souls belong to God and the proverbial parable that follows those words, encompasses the whole of humanity, the Jew and the stranger among them (the Gentiles) – the chosen and the unchosen. He gives all – then and now – their own choice to repent and believe or reject Him and die; and He takes “no pleasure in the death of the one who dies” (v. 32). That soul is His soul and methinks He wants them all.
This is clear in Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) where the Savior teaches an evangelistic lesson on how to populate the kingdom of heaven. Verse 26 reads: …You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. God has commissioned His servants with the task of reaping all souls. He sends us out after everyone, even to those who some consider do not belong to Him. There’s great danger in putting all of one’s theological eggs into Calvin’s basket, just as there was great danger and judgment for the one who buried his single talent. Personally, I’d rather not be known as a wicked and lazy servant.
Yes, the words are used in Scripture: adopted, called, chosen, elect, predestined. The greater theology, though, is in God sending His Seed after all seed. Perhaps He sends His chosen after the unchosen? His elect after the adoptable? The called after the unresponsive? The predestined after the undestined?
There’s another concept that I can’t avoid: God does not limit His glory. He does not share it, nor does He confine it or ignore it. He always has it in view. He fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24), and still His glory cannot be contained. His glory is always intact. His glory never changes. It is perfectly fulfilled in the Man of men, Jesus Christ. Yet mere men are His glory, too, His image and glory according to Paul (I Corinthians 11:7). If (and because) God’s glory cannot be limited, then election cannot be limited since we are the image and glory of God.
For God to choose at some point even one soul to perish takes a chunk out of His glory and imperfects that which has been perfect from the beginning, and always will be. This cannot be. For man to choose for himself to unglorify God and to perish is unpardonable. That can be, and was. Only through the unlimited power of the blood of Jesus does God’s glory – men – glorify God. And He cannot be glorified enough; therefore He glorifies Himself, and yet still is glorified through His image-bearers.
I am not trying to explain why Calvinism or reformed theology is wrong. I’m simply explaining why I do not agree with it. And that brings me back to my first point: I am not a theologian. But I am a seed of many seeds that belongs to God.