I was talking with a friend the other day about Theology and life and giving grace for those who differ in Theological beliefs and it struck me that I’m somewhat of a paradox. I grew up in the Charismatic denomination until I was 19, then God moved me into the Baptist world where I was introduced to Reformed Theology. At first, I railed against it, but one day God just broke through my heart and stubbornness and showed me the beauty of His sovereignty in election. So, Theologically, I line up more with Calvinism than the Charismatic roots I grew up with. Yet, when it comes to prayer, as my friend Mike says, “I’m more Pentecostal than I think.” So, I’m this weird collaboration of Pentecostal fervor in prayer and Reformed Theology in how I think about God and understand Scripture. So, I guess I’m a Reformed Pentecostal. Then I thought, though not a perfect picture, maybe that’s more how the Church really is supposed to look.
Ephesians 4:1-7 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
A big part of what led me down this road is writing, because in writing I became exposed to many brilliant writers who are all across the board when it comes to Theology. Catholics and Protestants. Anglicans and Baptists. Reformed and Arminian. And they all point to Christ as King and confess a need for a Savior.
Now, obviously I agree that Theological distinctives are important, because it shapes the way the world sees Christ in us. But, if God is as Sovereign over creation as Scripture leads me to confess, and if Christ is truly building His Church (Matt. 16:18), then all these different denominations exist because He has a purpose for them.
Granted, I don’t agree with all of the differences. I don’t agree with infant baptism, but I understand where Presbyterians see this in Scripture. I don’t agree with confessing to priests, but I can see where Catholics get this from Scripture. And, just because I firmly believe in the doctrines of Grace and that Reformed Theology is right, doesn’t make me any less dependent on God to sustain my faith than any other denomination.
Yes, when I write here, it’s from a Reformed perspective. Whenever God has me lead a small group, it will conform to Reformed Theology, because I see it so clearly in Scripture. If I ever lead a family, then I’ll do my best to teach them to trust completely in God, and trust God to save my kids from the sin nature they were born into and can’t save themselves from.
But, when we interact with each other, how would the Body look to all those who are looking for a picture of hope, love, and grace – a picture of Jesus – if instead of trying to convert someone from one denomination or distinctive to another, we rejoiced in finding another brother or sister in Christ and linked arms to advance the gospel and trusted God to put people where He wants them?
How would the world respond if we interacted with one another with humility, gentleness, and patience? How would new Christians grow in maturity if they saw the spiritually mature pursuing unity and peace across denominations and Theological distinctives?
Yes, we stand for truth. Yes, there are times when debating Theology really is worth it. But what if we did that from a posture of humility instead of arrogance? Yes, fellow Calvinists, I’m talking to you.
Now, some of my Reformed friends may be concerned that I’m taking Calvinism less seriously than I should, or that I’m not certain it’s true. It isn’t that necessarily. I think it’s because I’m finally taking it more seriously. I think it’s because after seeing a Sovereign God work to display His glory through so many different facets, it’s encouraged and strengthened my faith. So, I guess you could say I’ve become a stronger Calvinist, but with that comes the understanding that I didn’t get there on my own, and that piles on humility. At least I hope that’s how all of this came across.
but God is definitely bigger than our understanding of Him.