Friday, February 18, 2011

Working Out John 3:16 and the Doctrine of Predestination

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (ESV)."

Growing up, all I remember hearing about this verse is that God loves everyone. But then you have the doctrine of predestination. Where exactly does John 3:16 say that God loves everyone in light of predestination? God foreordained everything. He planned who would be His and who would not. He planned on someone losing their hair before age 50 or someone having lots of hair at age 50. He planned every minute detail of every life. He predestined that some would be believers and that some would not. 

Does predestining some to be non-believers mean that God loves any one person any less than another? Not really. He cares about everyone and about everything. But the problem with assuming that John 3:16 means that God loves everyone is that God would have to predestine everyone to be believers. And according to what God says about Himself in Scripture, this just would be not true. God foreordained and predestined some to believe and others to not believe. 

John 3:16 would actually mean that those who do believe in Him will have eternal life. It's the second half of the verse in which you can see where there is a hint at the fact that God predestined some to believe and others to not believe. Because it doesn't say that God loves EVERYone. What I would like to ask is where do the more evangelical people of a certain denomination got the idea that God loves everyone. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Constant Struggle With Sovereignty and Providence

Without getting into too many personal specifics right now, I want to be honest enough to admit that I am in a constant struggle with sovereignty and providence. If God is sovereign, then He knows everything that will happen and when they will happen, but I often wonder why He would let certain things happen because He has the power to stop the bad things from happening, yet He doesn't? And if providence is God working things out for the good of those people He predestined to be His, then where do the bad things come in? Why does He allow them?

Please understand that I am not asking why He let me have an immune deficiency that has no cure or treatment. Grant it, to this day I still say that if only it had been cancer at least I would have SOME choice in the matter because cancer can be treated. But I am not talking about that.

I am talking about, and this is where it starts to get personal, child abuse. If God is sovereign and provident, then why is there any child abuse happening? What good can come out of child abuse? Look at the former victims of child abuse, especially the girls who were abused by their human fathers. A lifetime of scars and brokenness, lack of trust, suspicions, relational difficulties to battle and overcome on top of working out faith and understanding that God is a Father? Where is the providence in that?

I have been reminded many times by the "fatherly" men in my life that for a father to abuse their daughter is to set the daughter up for failure when it comes to understanding men and how they relate to them. This can make things difficult in the love department as the girl wrestles with whether she should tell the prospective suitor about the abuse. It's emotional baggage. And from personal experience, it can lead to the breaking of many a relationship. Not that I have THAT much personal experience, but I have had one guy friend who I got close too and had told. Surprisingly, he did not run away until after a letter he sent me that summer while I was at school and he was at home in which he brought up the word intimate to describe the type of friendship he wanted with me and that word threw me. He called me almost every day. People thought we were dating. I got scared. I called a cooling off for the time period he went on vacation. Toward the end of that summer I told him that I was afraid to continue in the relationship unless we were on the same page about what we both wanted - where we wanted the relationship to go. He couldn't decide. It hurt when he broke off the friendship and then made a professional threat against me, but it was probably the best thing for me. If two people cannot concur on where they want a relationship to go, then it may not be a healthy relationship.

Then again, what exactly is a HEALTHY relationship? When a person comes from a long line of broken relationships, how can they know what a truly healthy relationship is?

It goes back to my struggle with God's sovereignty and providence. Don't misunderstand me when I admit to having that struggle. I'm not saying I don't believe in it. I do believe. But I have a hard time understanding and grasping it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

TobyMac and Theology

Unbelievable as it may seem, one of the most theologically sound singer/songwriters right now is TobyMac. Yes, TobyMac, of DC Talk fame. Presently, I have several of his songs on my playlist, including many from his latest album release, Tonight. So what do songs like "City on Our Knees," "Break Open the Sky," "Get Back Up," and a slightly older song, "Made to Love" all have to do with theology?

Well, "City on Our Knees" has a strong missional message. And missions is not just going to some foreign land. Missions can happen right in our own homes, our neighborhoods, and yes, even in the walls of our church.

"Break Open the Sky" not only has a missional message, but also an anticipatory message. We anticipate the work of Jesus, the work of God to supersede our own human efforts.

"Get Back Up" is a little more personal, but this song has held me up through some of my weakest times over the course of the past year. I don't want this to get too personal on this blog but I am now past the one year mark since I first got tested by my first immunologist who found that I have an incurable, untreatable immune deficiency that makes me more vulnerable to bacterial infections, but really any infection. It's when I first realized the importance of friendships and began to really reach out via Facebook and make connections online so that if God ends up superseding in His own way I can still have my friends. And now I can imagine half of any reader of this post is now going "Aha! So that's why...." But this song reminds me of how grace operates.

"Made to Love." Shorter Catechism Question 1: "What is the chief end of man?" Answer: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." We truly were made to love God, and even though really only the elect were made to find God, we were made to find Him, just for Him, and to be loved by Him.

Amazing how sometimes music really makes theology click.

Welcome to A Journey Through Theology

I have a lot of thoughts and questions as a fairly new believer studying theology at my church. Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism (is it really shorter?), the Bible. All of these sources have me completely baffled at times. So I wanted to open up a new blog where all of those thoughts and questions can land. And who knows? Maybe some wiser, more mature believers might be able to help me through this journey.