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Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine of Election’

I’m really glad I’m not one of those people,” I thought to myself. The year was, I think, 1978 and I was 12 years old and in the 6th grade.

So what was it I was glad I wasn’t? Just who were those people?

Calvinists. Yes, the dreaded Calvinists

You see, I was reading my history textbook. You know, the kind of big, thick general history textbooks we used to have. The ones that started out talking about the Sumerians and ended somewhere around WWII.

This particular textbook had managed to find room for a paragraph or two on the Protestant Reformation. Part of me is tempted to blast the textbook writers for devoting one or two lousy paragraphs to the greatest Christian movement since the days of the apostles. But when I think about it, I shouldn’t be too harsh on them. After all, at least they mentioned the Reformation. I’m not sure if textbooks today would do even that. Further, the textbook writers managed to get at least one important detail right: the importance the Calvinists laid on of the doctrine of election.

It was the doctrine of election that offended me. It struck me as insufferable arrogant. To me, it sounded as if the Calvinists thought they were God’s chosen people because they were innately better than everyone else. Of course, that’s not what Calvinists taught then or teach now. But that was my assumption. Calvinists believed then and believe now that no one is worthy of God’s grace. That’s why it’s called grace! If sinners were in some way worthy of God’s grace, then grace would no longer be grace.

But I didn’t understand that then and wouldn’t until many years later.

I was a church kid growing up. Looking back on it, I believed many true things about God, but I didn’t know the Gospel of Justification by Faith (Belief) Alone.

One of the points I was confused on, and it’s a very common point of confusion in American evangelicalism, is the relationship between regeneration and faith.

In my 12-year-old self’s understanding, I thought that I first had to believe before I could be regenerated.

I’ll come back to this thought later, but for now, let’s leave it at that.

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