Last night was the end of our church mid-week FISH (Fellowship In Someone’s Home) group for the summer. It was slightly sad to see our time come to a close, but in a way it is better for us as Wednesday nights are super swamped usually for Sam. There have been many nights that we’d come home after 9:00 p.m. and he’d have to sit in the office and work for two or three more hours.
Our discussion last night was one of interest to me though – Calvinism vs. Armenianism. If I had to pigeon hole myself I’d have to say I’m an Armenianist (a free will thinker), but that wasn’t always the case. I was raised in a denomination that is very rooted in Calvinism (eternal predestination). When Sam and I first married we had some majorly fun and heated debates about who’s theology was correct. And as it turns out, I was wrong!
As I’ve matured in my faith and as I’ve read through the Bible several times over the years I see a common thread of free will and free thinking throughout the Scriptures. All the way from the time of Adam and Eve through Christ and beyond. Even though I was a die hard Calvinist for many years, for me that theology crashed and burned at the realization of what Jesus chose to do for us at the cross.
You see, if Calvin was right and we are eternally predestined then there would have been absolutely no reason for Jesus to come to earth and die for our sins. There would be no need for a plan of salvation as God would have just manipulated everything from the very beginning and he would have saved us from ourselves – he would not have ever allowed sin to enter into the picture. But what makes God god is his amazing ability to remain in self-control. The moment he begins to manipulate us and our free will in any way, shape, or form is the moment he stops being God. As much as it breaks his heart to see his creation turning our backs on him he refuses to jump in and take control – he will allow us to make our own choices – to exercise our free will in our lives. He wants us to make right choices – His choices – but he’ll never force himself upon us. Salvation is truly a gift – freely given – and freely accepted.