November 17, 2007

The Arbuckle Association, Calvinism, and Christian Attitudes

There's been much said in Reformed circles about the recent resolution condemning Calvinism that was passed by the Arbuckle Baptist Association in Oklahoma. I've held off, simply because so much has been said elsewhere that I figured my comments would get lost in the clamor. But I really think that we need to look at this resolution as an opportunity to learn for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists, because there seems to be more to this issue than just a misunderstanding about what Calvinism is, and the differences between Calvinism and hyperCalvinism.

Wes Kenney has a bit of an insider's view of the issue, and makes some good points in his article about the controversy. One thing that he writes was very telling, to me, anyway.

The pastor who was the driving force behind this move, Dr. Joe Elam of First Baptist Church in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, had until about eighteen months ago a Calvinist staff member who did much, both before and after he separated from the church, to undermine Dr. ElamÂ’s leadership of that church.

Someone seems to have been creating division in that church in the name of Calvinism. And if you read many "cage-stage" Calvinists, you can understand why people might react in just this way. So what's the solution?

Charity. Disagree with people, but don't undermine their authority or ministry because of that disagreement. If you find that you cannot work with someone else because of their theology, then don't work with them. Leave -- don't try to tear apart a church or tear down a ministry because of it. If you've ever wondered why so many Southern Baptists don't seem to want to work with Calvinists, maybe it's because so many Southern Baptists encounter Calvinists that won't work with anyone else.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 11:46 AM | Comments (75) | Add Comment
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November 05, 2007

The Theology of Abortion

Al Mohler quotes Garry Wills today concerning abortion. According to Wills, abortion is not a theological issue, since the Bible doesn't mention it, and the church councils never address it. Mohler reminds us that while the councils don't address the issue, it is addressed by the Didache -- in the very second chapter, in fact. So it would seem that the early church at least thought it was an important issue for the Church to recognize.

But I really think that theology, and theological disagreement, is at the heart of the abortion issue. Christians believe in the imago Dei -- the image of God, and the idea that we are all created in that image. Rejection of the imago Dei leads to a low opinion of human life -- the idea that we're all expendable, especially if there's a possibility that we're unwanted, or will be less than the ideal child. Too many abortions are matters of convenience -- kids will just "cramp our style." And unfortunately, too many of those abortions are insisted upon by the father, who lacks the emotional ability to actually be a Daddy. The child isn't even seen as a choice -- it's an inconvenience, and embarrassment. We see it as getting rid of a bit of tissue. We don't look at this child as a being that is created in the very image of God -- a gift to us.

I've gotten a few bad gifts in my life -- and I've given a few, too. But I would never simply throw the gift away -- I express my appreciation to the giver, and I find a way to make that gift a part of my life. I've worn ugly sweaters, read terrible books, and eaten nasty food, simply because it was a gift, and I don't want to offend or upset the giver.

Unfortunately, we've forgotten the Giver. We think of our unborn as simply biological byproducts, something that's disposable (we can always make another one, right?), rather than a gift given to us by our Creator. A gift that is made in the very image of the One who gave it.

As Christians, our motivation to end abortion is theological. Abortion is a theological issue -- it goes to the very heart of who God is, and what we are.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:40 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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