Friday, November 15, 2013

Calvinism and Arminianism Reloaded

Several years ago, I wrote a trilogy of posts on the rudimentary difference between Calvinism and Arminianism, two significant schools of thought within Christian theology. In its purest sense, the former results in a "once saved, always saved" view of salvation, by grace alone, ignoring works altogether. The latter is often misinterpreted as salvation through works alone, ignoring grace altogether. These are, of course, exaggerations of the teachings of these two men, both of whom must have understood that the Bible, particularly the NT, tells us that salvation is a synergy of both grace and works. If you have not read those posts yet, I strongly recommend that you do that first, because whether you know it or not, if you claim to be a Christian, your worldview has been influenced by these two theologies.

Our church's bulletin this week contained this pithy saying: "Salvation is not a reward for the righteous; it's a gift for the guilty!"

This, of course, immediately brought to mind the grace vs. works debate. I get that they're trying to remind us that we cannot earn our way into Heaven, and that is true, but in the effort to sound clever, the writer ignores God's call to righteousness and holiness, "without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Or how does it stand against the claim that God "is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6b)?

And if salvation is solely a gift, requiring no effort on our part, why, then, did Paul feel pressed to write the following?

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

Salvation is indeed a gift, offered to us through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ crucified, not by the will of man, but that of God. But let us not rest easy, falsely believing that no heart-change and no "fruits of the Spirit" are necessary, lest we find ourselves before the Lord on that Last Day, counted among the goats, and we hear Jesus say to us, "I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity" (Luke 13:27).

Therefore, since we are indeed called to be holy, we all must stand with Paul and say, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ninja Insanity 2012

Despite my lack of posts over the past few years, one constant is my annual tradition of posting about our Halloween.  That's more than a little odd, since we are devout followers of Christ, and this is a Christian blog.  But we shun its satanic undertones, and instead use it as an opportunity to dress up (which we love doing, anyway) and host like-minded friends and family at our house.

We usually do something creative with our pumpkins, and I often go the extra mile to turn mine into a piece of art.  Unfortunately, we were totally uninspired last year (yeah, I'm actually a whole year behind!).  We had decided to just put them out as-is and try to come up with something cool for next year.  But while I was at work, my wife and son decided that really wouldn't do, so they stuck faces onto the pumpkins, for a comical effect.

We also could not decide what costumes to wear.  Kylen wanted something with lots of weapons, while Farrah was torn between Lord of the Rings and Legend of Zelda characters.  She wanted us all to match, but she also wanted our son to be happy with the choice.  In the end, he opted for being a ninja... FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW!!!!  Ugh!  What's the matter with the boy???  So we caved.  Farrah got a ninja outfit that matched his.

I combined my Wraith King of Agmar robe with my Street Fighter pants from 2011, and custom-made wooden sandals, to become a fearsome samurai.  The bulk of my costume work was sewing together a sache and making the sandals, which were surprisingly comfortable.

So, what did we do THIS year??? Check out my wife's latest posts!