Thursday, February 18, 2010

grounding election: immediate grief (pt 1)

(If you're just tuning in, here's the intro and part 1)

I'll admit it right up front. I did not feel grief when I learned of election. I felt two things that were not anywhere near grief.

The first was anger. Not anger at God, but anger at the church. I was really, really, unbelievably, seethingly angry at the church. I say it like that because I don't recall any pastors ever trying to hide the doctrine (if I'd have flipped open my Bible for myself I would have found it) but it did seem as though no one had EVER talked about this idea with me. Ever. And that sent me over the edge.

But, underlying my hope that no pastor had ever intentionally avoided the topic is that I found the doctrine of predestination so prevalent in Scripture that one would actually, in my opinion, have to to work at NOT talking about it. I've heard sermons in recent years that were on Ephesians 1, Romans 9, John 6 and several other passages and this was the kind of thing said about election "it's not like the Calvinists say, but we don't have time to get into it here." What a bunch of bologna (or baloney)!

But the real reason I was so upset was that this doctrine, for me, brought an immense sense of Joy. Real Joy. I had "re-committed" my life to Christ so many stinkin' times, promising that I'd do better and that God would have something to be proud of someday that the idea that I was absolutely chosen before the world for the glory of God blew me out of the water!

It was as if someone had been holding out on the most refreshing drink of Christ that could ever be offered that when I drank of it I despised those who had worked to hide it.

And because I was so rapturously in love with the idea of election for myself and other believers and so angry at the church for avoiding it, I didn't have time to really sit back and let my heart do some pondering.

For most people though, those are not the first emotions you feel when you learn of election. Some of you were probably upset just reading my post from a few days ago (or today's post), highlighting the prominence of the doctrine in Scripture (if you're really wondering how immense the topic is, I suggest getting ahold of R.C. Sproul's series on Predestination.)

I think most people's reaction is along these lines:

"That's not Biblical. I've never even heard of this kind of thing before. My pastor has never said anything like this. Oh, you're a 'Calvinist', that explains it. Show me in the Bible where this is true. What about the 'doctrine' of free-will?"

There is almost always a reaction against predestination because it's rarely taught in American churches. So, when someone actually says "we're elect" people get squirmy because, if they've grown up in the church, it sounds foreign. And since they're supposed to test all things, they test it. Since it's never been taught, they have a false sense of wrongness. It's a vicious cycle that can only be broken by diligently and patiently studying the doctrine, whether on your own or with someone who is willing to work through it with you.

The second emotion, sometimes sitting arms-linked with the above, is one of terrible and horrible grief over the 'non-elect.' This can lead to many problems, lack of evangelistic zeal, abandonment of the faith, the ruination of friendships and terrible words evoked toward our great Savior, Jesus Christ.

It's this grief that I'll try and hash out in part two in a few days.


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