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BAC Sermons

Calvinism For Dummies: Thinking About Theology



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Everyone’s a theologian because everyone has thoughts and beliefs about God and man and how life should be. Believe it or not, we do act in almost perfect accord with our belief system. We just have imperfect belief systems. Some have belief and value systems that are unexamined, inconsistent, and really dumb; others are systematic and Biblical, making life worth living, both here and in the hereafter.  

Theology is way of understanding truth/spiritual reality, which becomes the lens through which we view our world, Scripture and ourselves. If the lens is faulty, we wind up believing things that just aren’t so. When we act in accord with a faulty view of life and God, then we wind up damaging ourselves and others. 

I. A Good Theology would be reflective of Truth = Best Explain All the Facts

Revealed: clearly discernable within in a book or passage (see Ps 1 Gen 1-3) as written/revealed in history;

Explicit everywhere; Emphasize what God emphasizes. Encompass entire Bible  2Tim 3:16-17

Reasonable: Consistent in interpretation (literal/literary rather than spiritualizing/symbolizing what doesn’t fit),

and logical (makes sense); Require no smoke or mirrors (in such a way...mysterious ways) 

Realistic: Easy to understand by all; Applicable (lead to a clear course of action); in accord with the way God made us;

meets human needs and desires while fulfilling God’s plan(s) for life on earth (eg, suffering for glory) 

II. Biblical Theology: What does Psalm 1 teach about God, man, the relationship ‘twn them, life, world, etc

God: blesses differentially, judges, gives law, tends our growth, prospers, defends, knows/loves, motivates, person

Man: can be blessed or not; different types and fates of people (determined by their actions); has choices that determine prosperity and destiny (free will-there are consequences to our actions); can/should delight in God’s revelation or deride it; can grow and bear fruit, will be judged, can triumph over circumstances, gathers with likeminded; can be rightly related to God or not.

Rlshp: God blesses and prospers those who delight in and obey His Revelation; “destroys” those who don’t

World: different approaches to life, conflict good and evil; good/bad times/seasons, ultimately just.

III. Systematic Theology: a synthesis and integration of (sometimes out of context) passages concerning various topics.

Bibliology (Nature of Revelation and What the Bible says about itself); Theology Proper: all about God’s nature, Trinity, attributes (omnis’s); Christology (Person and works of Christ); Pneumatology (Person and works of HS); Angelology (the Good, the Bad and the Ugly); Anthropology (What is man/woman?); Harmartiology (Independence is the essence of sin); Soteriology (Salvation- reversing the effects of the Fall: Justification-forgiveness, Sanctification-holiness, Glorification-reward); Ecclesiology (Church- what believers should do with each other); Eschatology (Things to Come).  

IV. Dispensational Theology: (Eph 1:10 Stewardship/Economy)

 "The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ; the requirement of salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations" (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, p. 123).  At minimum: Distinctions between Israel, and the Church, and the Future Kingdom

Blessing is always through grace-enabled faith in and consequential response (essence of worship) to what God has revealed.  

What did people have to believe to be rightly related to God (righteous) and blessed by Him?  Adam: eat fruit...die; Noah...flood coming; Abraham...be blessed (Gen 15:6); Moses...offer blood sacrifice in specified place and manner; Early NT audience...OT Kingdom coming (Isa 40 Mk 1 Lk 311); Later NT and us...Jesus’ death is the sole and satisfactory payment for our sins {cx works}, HS promise, future reward in kingdom. Cf Eph 2:8-10.

V. Covenant/Reformed Theology: Implied Covenants of Redemption, Works, and Grace (Augustinian/Calvinistic)

The Church now has Israel’s promises as “spiritual blessings”; symbolic (inconsistent) interpretation of prophecy, usually amillennial. Stresses the Sovereignty of God,  T.U.L.I.P. [Total depravity of man (misunderstand dead), Unconditional Election (indiv vs corp), Limited Atonement (cx Rev 22:12,17; 1Jn 2:2), Irresistible Grace (no free will), Perseverance of the Saints (correct re: justification; misses sanctification/glorification], making God’s purpose in history soteriological (saving man) rather than doxological (glorifying Himself).

”Double predestination, is simply the flip side of unconditional election. Just as God chooses whom He will save without regard to any distinctives in the person so also he decides whom He will not save...” John Piper http://www.desiringgod.org/library/theological_qa/calvinism/seven_points.html

Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:

1. Is it more important to study what God has said about man and his ways or what man has said about God and His ways? 

2. Are people’s beliefs consistent? Actions consistent with beliefs? Does what we believe and value always affect what we do?  

3. What do you consider to be the chief value of the OT? How has your life been impacted by reading the OT?  

4. Does it make a difference what you believe as long as you’re going to heaven? What percent of the Bible is about going to heaven? 

5. What must you believe in order to go to heaven? If your sure you’re going to heaven, now what do you do according to the NT? 

Resources: The Other Side of Calvinism -L. Vance "This is the best book exposing the heresies of Calvinism. If you are a Bible believer concerned about TRUTH, this is a "must-read." Mike Pearl  nogreaterjoy.org bookstore.

What Love Is This? Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God- D. Hunt "Calvinism...comes perilously close to blasphemy...This may well be the most important book written in the twenty-first century for all evangelical Christians to read." Tim LaHaye (Left Behind Series and >50 other books)

withchrist.org/MJS/chafonct.htm Dr Chafer on Covenant Theology by M J Stanford