(Today I need to say again that these are just my thoughts and not representative of the churches I serve)
When I was in seminary I only had one professor that I ever butted heads with. This guy was brilliant, I have to give him that. He knew his stuff. He knew his theology. The only problem was...his theology and mine were miles apart. He had the red ink pen...I was just a student...and that class wound up being my only "C" for my entire seminary career.
He had made the statement at the very beginning of the semester that, given the chance, he would convert all of us Methodists to Calvanism. Well, being the hot head I was at the time, you can imagine that didn't sit very well with me, so I tuned him out. That was the only class where I sat and played solitaire the entire time.
Now, in hindsight, I should have been able to set my own defenses aside for 13 weeks so that I could get something out of the class, but I just couldn't. He had hit a nerve, and then this morning, Paul is running in circles again, talking about much the same thing.
Please don't think I'm disrespecting Paul, because I've made a couple comments the last two days about him. I'm not, I promise. It's just that either I'm not reading him right, or we just disagree on some things. (Warning: Heavy Theological Content).
Chapter Eight was the reading for this morning from Romans. Here's what Paul says: "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Now this is just me, but that "P Word" makes me cringe and here's why. (and this is the one question my professor wouldn't answer)... "If there are some that are chosen and some that are not, why should I even try?" Folks have asked me that before.
But Paul tends to talk in circles, so I'm not getting too upset yet. Let's allow him to continue... "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all of us..." Do you see what I'm saying? Either I'm just not getting this one or Paul is contradicting himself. I'm going to have to go back and dig through some of my notes.
For me, it's all about choices. That's why the "P word" grinds my soul. I choose whether or not I'm going to accept Christ. I choose whether or not I will build my faith. I choose whether or not I'm going to live a Christ-like life. I choose whether or not I'm going to attend worship, follow the commandments, give to charities, volunteer, or do anything else that might be considered a good work. I do so not to earn my way, but as a response to what God has done in me.
I could go into the whole idea of original sin, and we could look at what the early church fathers had to say. We could look at the creeds to see what we have affirmed as a church for centuries, but if we just look at Paul in this morning's reading...either God chooses, or God offers the choice to all of us and we choose to accept or not. I may have to shoot an email to one of the professors I actually listened to and get her opinion on this one. I don't think I'm ready to put it to bed yet.
Now I know I might have stirred a hornet's nest with this one, but this is a question that has bugged me for years: Is it God's choice, or is it mine? I also know that I can ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. And I know that this is one topic that, for some, hits very close to home. So I'm not being argumentative in any way. I'm not pushing one theology in favor of another. I'm just saying that I'm a big fan of having a choice.
So, discuss in your circles this week and let me know what you come up with.