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Calvinism and the Rest of It: Introducing Reformed Theology

I’ve decided to write a series of posts as an introduction to Reformed Theology. This is in large part because of the misconceptions about Calvinism that seem to be more common than fleas on a stray dog—and just as troublesome too. It seems some people’s idea of defending doctrine is playing the role of bully in the playground of biblical interpretation. There are more straw men in this debate than can typically be found in a scarecrow factory.

I’m aware that many of my readers come, for various and sundry reasons, with the baggage of hefty prejudices against reformed theology. I’d ask that you please check the larger prejudices and stow the smaller ones in the seat below you for the duration of this series. You may have seven organized pieces of dispensational luggage against covenant theology or a more freely stored Arminian bias, but I’ll kindly ask you to put them away and try to honestly listen to this series.

An important battle cry in the reformation was Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone. Whether you’re a dispensational Arminian or a covenant Calvinist, you should recognize the importance of that phrase. I don’t want to contend for a philosophical position here; the charge that Calvinists love philosophy more than the Bible is a weighty and warrantless accusation. We genuinely believe that we have come to our positions not in spite of Scripture, but precisely because of it. Many doctrines within reformed theology are hard to accept. We hold these doctrines not because we like telling others that they’re wrong, but because Scripture has told us that we were wrong.

As I write this introduction, I’m aware that there are some of you in the back who are wondering whether this topic is even worth the minute and an half you’ve already put into reading about it. That’s a fair question. If Scripture were silent on the matters of God’s sovereignty, His covenants, and man’s responsibility then I would say that it’s probably not worth our time. But if Scripture has things to say about all this, then it commands our attention to know precisely what it’s saying.

More than that, I would also argue that the doctrines of grace, though they have some rough edges, are a tremendous source of encouragement to the Christian as he lives out his life. The sovereignty and grace of God as they are presented within reformed theology are incredibly practical doctrines that will lead you into neither legalism nor lawlessness (antinomianism) if understood aright. They are faith building and not faith destroying, aids to your walk and not stumbling blocks.

I’m not expecting to prove anything to anyone through this series. Proofs for these doctrines are better given in person over several discussions or in longer works than this introduction. Better men than I have attempted such works, so I’ll leave that to them. My goal is simply to present reformed theology accurately and reasonably, then to let the reader decide if it’s worth further study.

Stay tuned for the first post next week when we’ll be discussing the purpose for which God made the universe.

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This article was posted on 08/13/2014 . It relates to these topics:
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