So I had a great cup of coffee this morning with a new friend. Fantastic time of reflecting, talking, and getting some advice on the church plant. And yes, the coffee was good. We ended up having an interesting conversation that was really quite enjoyable. Turns out we are both basically on the same path and agree on most theological topics, but we end up slightly on different sides of the “Calvin vs. Arminian” coin.
He lands on the Calvinist side, I land on the Arminian side. Brief (and unacceptably limited) definition of these is Calvinism = Predestination and Arminianism = Free Will. I say that this is an unacceptably limited definition because it is just that. The predestination vs free will debate may be the root, but which side of the coin you land on will ultimately dictate and change your world view and how you act in certain circumstances. Full disclosure here, there’s not much in depth theological study material that lies in the Arminian “camp.” The more and more I study, the more and more I see and understand things from the Calvinist side. I lean Arminian (free will) because from our vantage point here on earth, it appears that we fully have the choice to accept Christ. God presents Himself to us and we can say yes or no. That is an Arminian stance.
However, I loved how he put it this morning. “Jesus saves, that’s all I care about.” Way to put it! Does it really matter if God chose for me to choose Him, or I chose solely on my own accord? Not really. Even most Calvinists admit that there is a choice to be made, the debate is whether God influenced you into making it or not. Jesus paid the price so that if you accept Him, when God looks upon you He sees His son. You are clean and accepted by God, and that is what truly matters.
Things then shifted slightly to Sanctification. My church upbringing was through the Holiness Movement. The church I was in was not a hard-nosed Holiness church, far from it, but some of the defining characteristics were there. This was a point we were totally in agreement on – Sanctification will not equal perfection in this life. Either Christ will return (or we will rapture out to Him) or you will die before you reach entire sanctification. Christ, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, changes you, you do not change you. I love how C.S. Lewis and J.B. Phillips put it (roughly), you don’t know how much work God has done on someone who only tells you where to stick “it” rather than drop kicking you like they would have in the past. You cannot judge a Christian solely on what they do, because you don’t know what they would have done without the Spirit. I think it’s more inspiring and beneficial to seek what someone’s transformation (sanctification) has been, rather than be concerned with what “wrong” we perceive them doing. Allow Jesus to work in you through the Holy Spirit and accept the grace and mercy that He offers.