For a little over a year, I have leaned toward reformed theology. If you don’t know what reformed theology is, it is what Calvinism falls under, however, I would say that much more is included in it than just Calvinism. If you don’t know what Calvinism is, it deals heavily with the idea of predestination. It hovers around the idea that God chose (or elected) people for salvation before the creation of the world. It includes so much more than that issue, but most people camp out on that issue and never discuss anything else in the theology.
It’s not something I have talked about much because what often happens with this theology is that the theology itself becomes more central to someone’s faith than Jesus and I am not interested in that happening in any way.
I have leaned heavily toward this theology for two reasons:
1. I have admired it’s glorious view of Christ.
2. Most of the preachers I follow today are reformed. (Matt Chandler, David Platt, John Piper, Louie Giglio, etc.)
I am going to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall to pursue education for pastoral ministry. If you know anything about Southern, you probably know that it is famous (or infamous) for being very reformed.
Recently, I went on a pastoral care visit with my pastor, who is not reformed. We had to drive an hour both ways, so we were able to talk a lot. In discussing Southern, we got on the reformed topic. I didn’t voice any beliefs I had. I just listened.
Since, I have not been sure where I stand on a lot of theological views I’ve had for a while. I don’t know how much of reformed theology I still believe. I am on a quest right now to figure that out. There are a lot of questions I have that I can’t find an answer for. It’s not that there isn’t answers that have been put forth for them, but my seeking of an answer is not satisfied by these answers.
Some of my struggles
-Some reformed preachers, like John Piper, teach that God’s greatest goal is to glorify himself. God is completely worthy of all glory and honor forever, however, does the notion that he is self-seeking of his glory fully match the Bible? There are two sides of this, which is what is causing my struggle. In one sense, the image of God’s glory and nature is Jesus (Hebrews 1:3), who did not come in glorious power, but emptied himself of his glory in order to save us, which ultimately made him glorious forever. (Philippians 2:5-11). So, we see this picture of God emptying himself of his glory for our sake, however, Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him. What is that joy? Is it him being glorified or something else? God says in Isaiah 42:8 that he will give his glory to no other. He seems to hold on to it there, but he empties himself of it in Jesus.
-It is completely clear in Scripture that God is in sovereign control of his creation and his people. So, if that is the case, to what extent is God in charge of every action that we undergo? My pastor made an interesting point that God is sovereign over his own sovereignty, so he can therefore grant that humans have free will. However, does that mean that he loses all sovereignty willingly? To what extent did God plan out the events of what would happen beforehand? The Bible seems to suggest that he did plan things out in advance. John Piper has actually made the argument that God can predestine that sin happen and not be sinful himself. I don’t agree with that. I don’t see how God can be just for condemning sinners in their sins if he planned for them to sin.
-The Bible does say that God chose Christians for salvation. Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:3-6 both say that he predestined us. Ephesians say that he chose to make us blameless before the foundation of the world and predestined us in love for adoption. However, what about the other side of that? Did God then choose who would go to hell? Or do the non-Christians simply go to hell because God did not choose them? What do we do with the reprobate who never believes the Gospel?
These are just some of what is going on in my head.
I may not get the answers I am looking for this side of eternity. If in the end, the questions above are answered in the ways that I don’t seem to understand as good, I will understand them then in the presence of Jesus. He is the one who knows all things. I won’t know all things here on earth. If I am wrong or don’t understand something, I can’t get mad at God. I didn’t create the universe. I haven’t set the order of how things are to be.
However, there is one thing we do know for sure in the reformed debate: God know everything. So there had to have been some kind of election before the foundation of the world. If God knows everything, he created the world fully knowing that Adam and Eve were going to sin, so Christ was always the plan to save the world. Revelation calls him the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. If God knows everything, he knows every person in the world who will believe the Gospel and be saved from their sins. Whether he planned to save them before hand is a different debate. But he knows all of his blood-bought children.
So it’s our job to continue preaching the Gospel until all the children of God believe and Christ returns.