If you ever want to induce a headache, I have the means:
1. Go to Christian Book Distributors' website and type, "Calvinism," in the search engine.
2. Pick a book like Debating Calvinism or Chosen But Free.
3. Read the reviews.
4. When your eyeballs start to smoke from the reflective glare of the computer screen and the vitriol hurled thereon, it's time to stop.
I cannot believe how wretched Christians can be toward each other. Come, let us reason together. How important is it, really, to know how little or how much our own faith plays in our salvation? This whole debate reminds me of Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book: The important thing about being saved is that it is only through Jesus's sacrifice on the cross. The only proof of salvation through grace to us is our faith that is alive in Him. Our only proof to the world of His saving grace to us is the good works that we do in Him.
Once we have received the Holy Spirit in our belief, we are saved. Who cares how it came about? It is another paradox of a paradoxical God. God is sovereign. Period. Man has free will. Period. Embracing the mystical dance of mutually exclusive truths gloriously reconciled is one of the great joys of the Christian journey. Why muck it up?
Okay, so I just started reading up on Calvinism vs. Arminianism because of Brendt Waters of the Musings of Two-Sheds Gomer.
He is full of knowledge and interesting opinions, and maybe further reading will convince me that this back and forth of what seems to me now merely sophistry is actually the substantial issue that so many seem to find it. I cannot believe that brothers and sisters in Christ are calling other brethren heretics and unbelievers if they hold a point of view opposite to their own. How can their joy be full with this mindset?
Two-Sheds isn't like that. He mocks the mockers who would try to appropriate the Lord's job and read the hearts of men. But he's pretty passionate and committed to Calvinism. I worked once with a seminary student who was also a committed Calvinist. Predestination seems to me a cruel creed, though. Little babies marked from birth to spend eternity outside the loving arms of the Father? I cannot help but think that far too simplified and linear a way to view God's saving grace.
On the reviews of the books that I listed above, believers seemed unwilling to recognize the paradox of God's sovereignty and man's free will. Yet, I assure you they wholly accept other paradoxes of Christianity. Jesus's being fully man and fully God? God's presence both within and outside of time? One true God who is also triune? These they accept with alacrity, but then they stumble over this compulsive need to assert that divine sovereignty and human free will cannot be reconciled. Why?
I am not learned enough to comment further on this age-old debate of Calvinism vs. Arminianism. All I know is that once I stopped trying to view God through human eyes and logic and embraced the higher logic of the Divine Paradox, my world became -- ironically and paradoxically -- a clearer, more joyful place; my faith was strengthened and my heart was more full of compassion and peace. I will pray for my brothers and sisters who will let the evil one hold sway as they strive against each other in matters best left to Providence.