Posts Tagged ‘calvinism


Are You Emerging, Emergent or Neither?

In the comments for my recent post “Who Influences You?”, Steve and I had a brief exchange about the meaning of the “emerging” or “emergent” church.  At the time I used the terms synonomously however I have come to learn differently. Furthermore I have found that I myself may be emerging…a little anyway. I am still very, very evangelical in every other area.

I discovered this through a wonderful study done by C. Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen.  He wrote a very helpful five part series entitled “Will the Real Emerger Please Stand Up?”  In it he defines terms (as best as can be done considering the topic at hand–read it and you will see what I mean), busts up stereotypes and helps folks better understand our emergent brothers in Christ.   He explains that a person may be emerging/emergent ecclesiologically, sociologically, theologically, epistemologically, or politically.  You may be emerging in only one area or two.  You may be emergent in four or all of the areas.

I have never received a straight answer on what being emergent means and that is simply because there is not an easy straightforward answer.  It is a movement or a philosophy or a way of viewing the Christian life.  Calvinism is the same way. You may believe in some tenants of Calvinist doctrine but not others.  I have jokingly said I am a “2.5 Point Calvinist.”  There are some who are all the way Calvinist like there are some (like Doug Pagitt) who are all the way emergent and that determines their worldview and the way they view God, the scriptures, evangelism, sin, faith and a host of other issues.

If you are confused about the emergent church or if you want to better understand “the conversation”, then you should really take time to read Patton’s series. The version I have linked to above has all of the parts on one page so you can read right through the whole thing.  You will find that there are some things about emergents that you were right about and probably some things about them you were wrong about. Either way the article will help you better evaluate this movement.


Who Influences You?

Most Christians who seek to study the Bible and understand proper Christian living tend to have one or a few teachers that they gravitate toward in helping them along the way. I do not mean just their local pastor or Sunday School teacher. I mean that many Christians have a well-known Bible teacher they read or learn from via electronic media and that Bible teacher has great influence on the theology of that believer. And the believer will usually take on some degree of that Bible teacher’s position on nearly every issue.

I can name some now that people tend to gravitate toward. There is John Piper, John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, David Jeremiah, Alistair Begg, and Ravi Zacharias, to name a few. There are also teachers of the past that folks latch on to such as C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine but I am focusing on contemporary teachers here.

Until recently I would have said that C.S. Lewis is the only person I would name as a teacher that I consistently return to (other than my church pastor) in order to answer my difficult questions and the one from whom I continuously seek out understanding of God. Outside of this I pretty much considered myself a free-thinker. But that is not really true.

Over the last year and a half I have noticed that I have come to greatly respect the insight of another contemporary teacher. I am talking about R.C. Sproul.

R.C. Sproul is a Reformed, Five-Point Calvinist, cessationist, Augustinian Amillennialist Bible expositor whose teachings appear in print and audio media. Now if you compare the Sproul-in-a-nutshell list I have just given with my past writings then you will conclude that I do not agree with every jot and tittle of Sproul’s theology and you would be right. However I have come to greatly appreciate his understanding of theology and philosophy and history and the way in which he uses all three to come to a clearer understanding of the context, meaning, and message of the Holy Scripture.

I realized only recently how much I have come to respect Sproul’s interpretations and views when I was wrestling with a particular issue. I do not want to say what the issue was but it is something I have mulled over and over and over. I still have not come to a conclusion but I nevertheless turned to Sproul’s website to seek out his opinion for consideration. That is when I realized how much I respect his viewpoint.

So now I want to hear what contemporary teachers have influenced you in this way. If there are none then tell me someone from the past that you respect and typically refer to when considering the more difficult points of theology. Or if you think Sproul is a total bozo and that I should lean more towards the teaching of ___________, then let me know!

And do not pretend you are not reading. I have seen my stats and I know you are out there so give me some feedback. 😉

Josh H.


Predestination: A Misunderstanding of Jew vs. Gentile In the New Covenant?

This is going to be long, but I will keep it simple.

I have long considered myself to be “pretty much” a Calvinist. Now do not let that word scare you off. I am not about to launch into the deep murky waters of arguing the most minute points of theology. I find such conversations to be divisive and they often miss the point of such discussions, namely to become more familiar with God and His word. Those kinds of conversations turn into a striving to be right. Unfortunately Calvinists/Reformed folks are notoriously confrontational in matters of theology. This is not where I am going.

For those who are not sure exactly what I mean by Calvinism, I am referring to the system of theology which focuses mostly on the topic of soteriology (how we are saved) and can be summed up by the very handy acrostic T.U.L.I.P. Following is an explanation of these five points of Calvinism. After each you will see a number that tells how much I agree with that particular point on a scale of 1 to 10. Continue reading ‘Predestination: A Misunderstanding of Jew vs. Gentile In the New Covenant?’


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