Tension: one of the reasons I love studying theology

I recently read a well thought out post by a Calvinistic friend who’s posts I read often about Calvinism relating to unconditional election. He explained how Arminians try to solve tension. Arminians’ quest to solve tension is one of their main problems/mistakes. There are a lot of tensions in Scripture and in theology. We do not have to solve these tensions. For example the Trinity, it does not make sense, but we do not find reason to resolve the tension created. The Trinity is not Irrational but it is difficult. Yet we understand that there is a certain amount of mystery involved in theology. Somethings that we humans cannot quite understand fully. One of the main points in Micheal’s post is that Calvinists and Arminians take a different perspective. Both see that God is Sovereign, but in different ways. They both believe in predestination but the difference is in the basis of predestining.

“The Calvinist says that God’s predestination has no founding in the predestined in any sense. God did not choose people based on any merit, intrinsic or foreseen. This is called unconditional predestination because there are no conditions in man that need to be met. It does not mean that God did not have any reason for choosing some and not others, but that the reason is not found in us.

The Arminian says that God’s predestination has a founding in the faith of the predestined. In other words, God looks ahead in time and discovers who will believe and who will not and chooses people based on their prior free-will choice of him.”

Michael brought a real interesting argument to the table. It is a good read and I suggest you take a look for yourself.

Scripture teaches both of God’s Sovereignty and Man’s responsibility. The Arminians found a solution to the conflict. Calvinists are left wanting more.
“To the Calvinists, man is fully responsible for his choice, yet God’s election is unconditional. Therefore, there is a tension that is created between human responsibility and God’s election.”

Man may not know how to understand how it works. The balance and tension of man’s responsibility and God’s unconditional election…it is amazing to think about. It is amazing how God lets it all happen but yet is in control either way. It is great stuff.

This post really was great for me because of my stance on unconditional election and predestination. The more I study it the more I feel like I have no idea what I am talking about. But I do not feel satisfied with the extreme arguments of the two sides, in the false dichotomy of Calvinism and Arminianism.

It was refreshing to see others alongside of Michael in the comments section of his post reflecting on it and realizing that there is a tension and mystery to some issues like this topic. And there is a balance to the arguments. And that the truth is ultimately in God’s hands.

Well anyways, thanks Michael for getting me exciting about theology again. This is one of the main reasons I love studying it…some of these things that I cannot get my brain around are fun to think about. The tension and mystery is like an adrenaline rush and a puzzle to piece all at the same time.

Top ten reasons why the emerger didn’t cross the road?

This was a post by~ Michael Patton ~ on his blog before it was hacked. This post is no longer found on his blog but it is still some funny stuff!

The Kruse Kronicle wrote a brilliantly funny post about why the emerging chicken did cross the road, so I thought that I would write why the emerger did not cross the road.

10. Because he did not want to be labeled.

9. Because he was not absolutely certain that he could cross since in order to get to the other side, you would have to go half way, and in order to go half way, you would have to go half way to the half way, and in order to go half way to the half way, you would have to go half way, ad infinitum.

8. Because it was not a labyrinth shaped road.

7. Because only arrogant people cross roads.

6. The liquor store was on his side. ( 🙂 Come on, lighten up!)

5. Because they don’t ordain women or homosexuals to street preaching on the other side.

4. Because everyone crosses the road, it must be wrong.

3. Because to cross the road you have to go West.

2. Because it was a one-way street.

1. Because he did not want to be accused of J-Mac-ing.

Blogs I check almost everyday

MoreThanDodgeball.com– Josh Griffin, Saddleback High School Pastor


Parchment and Pen
-Michael Patton ounder and president of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries along with others.

Youth Culture Watch – Jim Liebelt’s blog as a part of Jim Burn’s HomeWord Ministry.

Boundless – A part of Focus on the Family: made by and for college and young-adult / career-aged people

College Ministry Thoughts – Journal of Student Ministries, along with Simply Youth (for College Aged Ministry), along with others with college-ministry experience.

Blogs I check, every once in a while or whenever they FINALLY post:

Off The Record – Paul Matson, a good friend blogs about good stuff relating to PR, HR, Marketing, social media and trends.

Greg Stier
– President of Dare 2 Share Ministries.

Learning my Lines… – Walt Mueller, President of CPYU.org. Youth Culture expert.

evangelism coach – Practical Personal and Church Evangelism Training

Baptist/Calvinistic/Evangelistic?

one of my friends had this label on Facebook for his “religious beliefs”:

Baptist/ Calvinistic /Evangelistic.

At first I just laughed and smiled. It is interesting that he choose three categories to classify his beliefs. But then the more I thought about it the more I admired his classification and his beliefs. In fact, I think that Baptist/Calvinistic/Evangelistic fits me quite well.
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I recently read another Michael Patton article called “Evangelical for a Reason.”In this article Michael tells us why he is Evangelical. He discusses the flaws with Evangelicalism but then he also suggests that Evangelicalism is probably the best answer,

“I am an evangelical. I am not an ignorant evangelical. I am a learning evangelical. But over the last ten years, as I have studied Scripture, history, the enlightenment, and the early church, as I have traveled to other countries, engaged in gracious reflective dialogue with Evolutionists, Arminians, Egalitarians, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Emergers, mystics, new-agers, the New Atheists, and those who know no labels, I have become more of a Reformed Evangelical than ever. True, I would not die for every aspect of my theology like I once would. True, I don’t think “the other side” is as ignorant as I once did. But I am more convinced based upon my studies than I ever was.”

I suggest reading some of his posts and watching some of the free theology classes on his website, there is a lot of great stuff there!

Personally I am still learning so much about these things and can’t make such a confident claim as Michael does. I am not quick to jump on the latest and newest theology bus or trend. I like to do research before putting belief in anything.

As far as the emergent church, I also agree with Michael: I honestly think the heart of the majority of the emergent is right. They are after souls for Christ. They want to engage culture and display Christ to people in this culture. They want to be relevant. And in some ways this is great. But we have to be careful and draw a line somewhere. I personally am agianst “flexible theology and doctrines” the you hear about in Velvet Elvis.

And also we need to be careful when engaging the culture. We cannot let ourselves be so engaged that we are invisible, of the world, and no different than the useless Hellenistic Jews. (No offense to any Jews who are still celebrating Alexander the Great out there…)

In general, I still have lots to learn…I am also trying not to classify all of my beliefs. The most important things I am learning right now is deciding what is essential to my faith and what is not. I still have a lot to learn. I agree whole-heatedly that we need to have critical minds when studying these things.

free will?

As usual, I am loving Michael Patton’s Parchment and Pen Theology Blog and have been reading it a lot. Here is an excerpt from his blog entitled “What do you mean by Free Will?” Some of these ideas I have personally dealt with and have continued to ask these questions. Free Will vs. Predestinati0on has been one of the most interesting issues that I have dealt with and continue to deal with in my life…

“Do you mean:

  1. That a person is not forced from the outside to make a choice?
  2. That a person is responsible for his or her choices?
  3. That a person is the active agent in a choice made?
  4. That a person is free to do whatever they desire?
  5. That a person has the ability to choose contrary to their nature (who they are)?”

Michael explains what he believes and what many other Calvinists believe. I have to agree with him on the matter. I agree that the first three are true and that the fourth and fifth I do not agree with.

QUESTIONS:
“Does Free Will mena you choice agianst nature? If “free will” means that we can choose against our nature (the power of contrary choice), if “free will” means that we can choose against who we are, what does this mean? What does this look like? How does a free person make a choice that is contrary to who they are? Who is making the choice? What is “free will” in this paradigm?”

“…even if this were not the case,—even if total depravity were a false doctrine—libertarian freedom would still be untenable. Not only are you who you are because of your identification with a fallen human race, but notice all these factors that you did not choose that go into the set up for any given “free will” decision made:

  • You did not choose when you were to be born.
  • You did not choose where you were to be born.
  • You did not choose your parents.
  • You did not choose your influences early in your life.
  • You did not choose whether you were to be male or female.
  • You did not choose your genetics.
  • You did not choose your temperament.
  • You did not choose your looks.
  • You did not choose your body type.
  • You did not choose your physical abilities.”

Anyways there is more to this post…but it got me thinking and I really enjoyed reading it….I am still deciding on which theory I completely agree with.

postmodern sympathies





Michael Patton in his Reclaiming the Mind Ministries blog, Parchment and Pen, wrote a very intriguing blog recently called “My Heretical Postmodern Sympathies”. I wanted to share with you. And as usual, I have added some of my own commentary below:

“I believe that the internet will be seen as the catalyst to postmodernism in the same way the printing press was to modernism.”
“The age of communication has changed everything.”
“The sheltered reality that prevented postmodernism is no longer a luxury of any community.”
“My postmodern sympathies do not affect reality, but they may cause me to approach things differently. My postmodern sympathies do not change the Gospel, but they do affect the way I present it.”

Even I, as young as I am can testify to the fact that our society and culture has changed a lot due to the power of communicating via the Internet. I grew up on a dial-up connection in a VERY small town of WV. The only people I really knew where at church and school I had a few friends that were neighbors, but most of them were too old for me. The dial-up connection was slow. I did not get on it much really. it was neat to look at Yahoo and play games or check email every once in a while.
But today I live in a suburban neighborhood with a high speed cable connection. I access Y! more than once a day. I check my email compulsively. And I like to blog, IM, and stay connected to my friends through a ton of means online whether email, messaging, blogging, instant messaging, twittering, or other ways. I feel like I know a lot of people pretty well simply through my online interactions with them. Not to mention how much these websites and interactions online increase and benefit my already existing real-life relationships. It is extremely different from my childhood dial-up connection before Facebook, MySpace, and all the other sites I visit regularly.

Culture is changing a lot. I have an interest in studying the changing culture. and I also have similar convictions that Michael speaks about in his blog. We are no longer naive and sheltered to “all of those people ‘out there.’ ” We know that they exist and we all know and have relationships with them. I sympathize this way too.

irenic, respect


Today I am looking at C Michael Patton’s Parchment and Pen blog again.
And the topic of on of his recent posts: irenic. (Really the post is about more than the word: irenic. But I am focusing on the word irenic and not throughly looking at Michael’s post, because I am intrigued by it.)

Irenic- “adj.

Promoting peace; conciliatory.

[Greek eirēnikos, from eirēnē, peace.]”

Michael says “This does not involve compromise, but a willingness to engage issues fairly.” He goes on to talk about how we should conduct ourselves online (and off line) when dealing with theological beliefs and issues. Basically how to be assertive and respectful at the same time.

Here is an excerpt from Michael’s blog post:
“Here are some of the characteristics to being irenic in theological conversation and controversy:

  • You accurately represent all theological positions, even when you strongly oppose them.
  • Your tone of engagement comes from a humble respectful attitude.
  • Your primary goal is not to win an argument, but to contribute to understanding.
  • Your defense of your position recognizes that strengths of the opposing side.
  • You are gentle.

Here are two important Scripture references concerning how we are to engage in theological discussion irenically:

2 Timothy 2:24 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” “

This is great advise. I agree with what he is saying. I think a lot of it is derived from personal experience, dealing with theology and controversial topics on a regular basis.

Synonyms for Irenic are :

Mollifying – To calm in temper or feeling; soothe, lessen the temper, soothe.

Appeasing – To bring peace, quiet, or calm to; soothe. Satisfy, pacify.

Pacifying – To ease the anger or agitation of. End war, bring peace.

Peace-making – settling disputes.

Assuaging – To make (something burdensome or painful) less intense or severe. To satisfy, calm.

Conciliatory – Tending to conciliate; pacific; mollifying; propitiating

Placatory – To allay the anger of, especially by making concessions; appease. Ease the anger.

Soothing – To calm or placate, ease, relieve, bring comfort.

Gentle – considerate or kindly in disposition; amiable and tender. Not harsh or severe.

Not hostile

Not aggressive

Not pro-active

I think Michael is saying we should be fair and balanced. Show all angles of an argument even if we do not agree, contribute to the understanding, and not being aggressive about our arguments. He is not suggesting that we are too be so gentle and Placate that our arguments are not there at all. We should be assertive enough to make stand our ground on an issue, but we need to do it gently and be fair.