Five Points #1 – Preface

This will be the first post in what is quite likely going to be a very long series…

Over the last couple of months the topic of Calvinism versus Arminianism has become an item in many conversations both in personal as well as church settings. Those that have invested some time in reading up on either of them will quickly come to the conclusion that this has been a hot and debated topic for the last couple hundred years, and still is. And although the seems to be that lately the Calvinists are “winning” (do a Google search on “New Calvinism”) this doesn’t mean they are right (although I am not saying that they are wrong either). In order to get a basic feel for the debate I have read some documents and studies, listened to some teachings, and I can say that from what I have read and heard and from personal knowledge of the Bible you could say I am a Calvinist. But, this doesn’t mean that I am one hundred percent convinced of this, nor that I understand fully why (and/or could argue against). At first I thought I would call this series “Calminianism,” for it is quite certain that neither John Calvin nor Jacob Arminius was one hundred percent right in their statements and so the truth is to some extent a mixture of the two, but I want to avoid the assumption as a starting point.

In any case, it is always good to come to your own convictions on any teaching in the Bible, and thus this is also the case here. But I must admit that I was, and maybe still am, hesitant to study this one for it is a doctrine that is not only spread throughout the whole Bible (which means I have to read through the whole Bible from the angle of this doctrine), but is also often implicit in the text (meaning that many if not all of the verses which are used to defend either side always have to been seen in the context of the Bible as a whole, and cannot be viewed isolated). So, this is quite the study, but I have decided to take it on nonetheless.

My Approach
My approach is going to be a bit unusual maybe, hence my statement that this will be a very long series over a very long time. In my studies and subsequent blogs I am not going to defend or attack either Calvinism or Arminianism. I am also not going to study the verses which are commonly listed in their defense and build my conviction from that. I am also not going to do biographical studies on the two main characters (although maybe I will do that at the end). But here is what I am going to do: I will start off this series with just a generic study on these five points and whether these doctrines are central or peripheral; then I will take a look at the Bible as a whole in light of these five points; then I will study out each individual book of the Bible in light of these five points; and then at the very end I will start drawing conclusions on what the Bible says about these five points.

So, I am looking forward to this series, but please don’t expect a new blog post on this every couple of days as most of this study will take a long time.

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Why I Am Not Blogging?

I went from thirty-one posts in November to three posts in December to now only my second post in January. What’s up?

Well…
– It has been a busy period and so I don’t have much time to write deep theological blogs;
– I wrote a lot in November due to the NaBloPoMo and I think I am still processing that;
– Like my friend Michael, I am thinking deep thoughts
– Although not experiencing a writer’s blog (pun), I do wonder what topic or series to write on next;

And so with this last point, I kinda need your help. I have the following topics on my list, but I would like to hear from you what I should write on.

1. What is Preaching?
An intensive series on what constitutes as biblical preaching. I have had some serious discussion with different people. I have read articles and books on preaching, which tell you a lot about the goal of preaching or the necessity of preaching, but nowhere can I find a definition on preaching. And so this would be a word study in both Hebrew and Greek, going through every verse from Genesis through Revelation that uses the word preaching or any derivative thereof, and analyze my findings in a series of blogs

2. Jesus, Mean and Wild
Based on a book with the same title by Mark Galli, I will take one verse from each chapter of the gospel according to Mark and will write 16 blogs in total in which I will try to portrait Jesus as mean and wild and not like the fluffy, robe-wearing, long-haired halo hippie who never told a joke, never offended anyone, etc, etc. Should be a good challenge and get you fired up.

3. The Blessed Hope
Eschatology. This word alone gives people shivers done their spine. The study of the end times means dealing with concepts like amillenialism, premillenialism, pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation, dispensational premillenialism, rapture, replacement theology, etc etc. It divides people into allegorical and literal teams and the gloves are off and it’s game on. It is one of these topics that I am really interested in and that I think people should know more about because it does relate to their every day walk with God more than they possibly realize.

4. Oh, Martin
A blog telling my experience of my first time visit to a Lutheran church.

5. Calminianism
Another big one that seems to be popping up in random conversations I have with people is predestination and where most don’t really know what to think of. It would make sense to actually turn this into a series on Arminianism versus Calvinism as the question of election (predestination) seems to be at the root of most if not all of each of the five points (free will versus total depravity, conditional versus unconditional election, unlimited versus limited atonement, resistible versus irresistible grace, perseverance of some versus all saints).

6. The Tailgating Principle
A blog about the great American tradition of tailgating and how it relates to Scripture. Ha!

7. The Acts of the Apostles
Yes, a study on the book of Acts, but much more than that, a study on what constitutes a biblical church. I series in which I will go through the whole New Testament and distill a definition of the church based upon the Bible, not upon tradition. What is considered closed-hand and what is considered open-hand?

So, these are my possible topics, and like I said I would love to hear from you what you want. Please leave a comment with your preference and reasoning, and I will adhere to the majority’s choice…