As a professing Christian in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church,
I am interested in your position in reference to Calvin's teachings
on God and man.
We are a team of men and women and it is likely that more than one of
us will respond to your inquiry.
I appreciate the great contribution John Calvin has made in the
history of the church of Jesus Christ. There is much a I agree with
in his writings.
We have been encountering a few Hyper-Calvinists in the last few
months and this is sad-- some are very self-righteous and legalistic.
My complaint about certain people I know (who seem to major in
Calvinism) is that they seldom seem to study other parts of the Bible
after mastering the book of Romans. I have always felt a well-rounded
Christian needs to know the whole counsel of God in order to build a
solid Christian world-view for oneself.
If there are specific points of Calvinism you would like to discuss,
feel free to post an item on our Bulletin Board.
You might take a look at Ray Stedman's book "Authentic Christianity"
which has made a huge difference in my own life,
I'm one of the members the e-mail team, and I thought I would add a
few words. I think one of the key issues in our discussions with hyper
(so-called) Calvinists is that the work of this (then young and later ex-)
Catholic priest is accepted almost as divine revelation, and it, too, is
subject to various interpretations. It is, nevertheless, the work of one
human being. If we've learned anything from the Reformation period, it is
that we have One Mediator, one High Priest, Jesus. As individual members of
the Body of Christ, we all can read and discuss God's revelation of Himself
(the Bible) without superimposing a man-made belief system over the top of
it in order understand what it in fact says. As one of our Messianic Jewish
friends adds, Jeremiah and the Prophets didn't go around with a rabbi
explaining to "normal" people what they'd just said. It could very well be
that people study the interpretations more than the actual message, as many
Jews today have done.
It is also very important that we individually stand before our Creator to
give an account of ourselves and strive to be good servants. If we do the
things that Jesus said, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount, then we
will eventually find that our hearts have been changed and will continue to
change. As we walk humbly with our God, the things we've done for Jesus
should become so automatic that we will not even be aware what we've done or
when we do them.
Following after Jesus is not exclusively an intellectual pursuit, although
we are to love Him with all our minds. Discussing the teachings of gifted
men (directly or indirectly taken from scripture) can be rewarding, but it
is not an end unto itself. We are directly warned by Paul that there are
false teachers out there, who seek to divide the one true Body. Having a
sharp wit and skill in speaking or writing does not guarantee that Truth is
being communicated. That is undoubtedly one reason why we
stress that the entire Bible must be taken into consideration, and
that there is no single person who has the corner on all truth--with the
exception of our High Priest. The study of His words will lead to an
P.S. My own personal enthusiasm for Calvinism is tempered by the historical
context, the man's life, the very regrettable incident with Michael
Servitus, and the wars that divided Europe in the name of Christ. Jesus,
the King of Peace, did come to bring a sword, but that sword was not a
physical one. Symbolically, the Word of the Messiah will divide households,
true enough, but the issue is not the teachings of Calvin. It is belief in
the living God, the King of the Universe, Who sent His Son Jesus to fulfill
prophecy and to die on a cross as divine payment for our sins. The cost was
of infinite value. The choice is to follow (choosing life) or not (choosing
death). I live in utter dependence on the grace of God, for my next breath.
I hope and pray that one day, I, too, will hear those words, "Well done,
thou good and faithful servant."