I did not watch last night’s “Calvinism Debate” because, frankly, I had better things to do on a rainy Wednesday evening. Coming up through a Southern Baptist-yet-Reformed seminary for my undergraduate, I’ve heard and held more debates over Calvinism than I care to remember. To the degree that competing theologies disagree over interpretation, historical theology or basic hermeneutic controls, I don’t know how much more debating is really helpful. But that’s just me. Like I said, mostly I just didn’t care to watch.
I did, however, catch one tweet that made me stop in my tracks.
The stunning nature of this sentence is more evident if you just put your thumb over the phrase “of God:” ‘If Calvinism is true, I don’t want to be a Christian.” If Calvinism is true. The condition for Micah Murray’s faith is that Calvinism be false. If it is true, the faith must end. Does this sound like something a Christian would say? “God, if you are really like this, you don’t deserve my worship and I won’t give it.”
Recall for a moment Peter’s reaction to God’s revelation that the Gentiles were to be included in Christ’s gospel. One of the reasons I am convinced of the Bible’s authenticity is that merely human authors would not portray themselves as this weak. Peter has a vision in which God (and he knows that it’s God) tells him to kill and eat a particular animal that was forbidden by Jewish tradition. “Never, Lord, I have never eaten an unclean thing.” Peter is trying to be more religious than God. He is rebuffing God’s message to him on the basis of what he thinks he knows about Him–and more, what he is comfortable with.
God’s response is simple: “Do not call unclean what has been cleaned.” In other words, God says, if your theology doesn’t match what I am truly am and what I truly say, change your theology.
Anyone who has ever read the Bible at all knows it teaches one thing quite clearly, beyond reasonable debate: God is God and we are not. We will continue until the end of the age to debate what the Bible says about Him. But we must never allow ourselves to come to God as his instructor, testing him to see whether our worship is worthily given. It’s not just theologically arrogant to say “If God is X I am out,” it’s plain dishonest. A person coming to Christ to see how their own feelings and beliefs can be justified by him is not coming to Christ at all. Remember, the “expert in the law” sought to justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response was to offend his deeply held sensibilities about race and worship.
Unfortunately, sentiments like the one above are the creation of a Bible-less Christianity. Scripture is the best prevention in the universe for casting God in our image. It is Scripture that brings us outside of ourselves and to the realization that if we cannot save ourselves, we cannot dictate to our Savior. We cannot be more religious than God.