Arminian in Theory. Calvinist in Practice.

John Wesley is one of my theological heroes.  Of all the ministers who have arisen out of the Arminian camp, there have probably been few more influential than him.  My Pentecostal heritage owes a lot to the intellectual contributions Wesley made to our own tradition.  

But oddly enough, while my theological beliefs are very much at home with Wesley, I find that my personal life has been lived out as if I were a Calvinist.  A friend aptly pointed out to me recently that I am "Arminian in theory, but a Calvinist in practice."  Looking back at the story of my life and how I tell it, I can't help but feel he is right. 

In light of such, I would like to look at my life out of the from the infamous "TULIP" acronym:

  • Total Depravity:  At a young age, I remember taking God's name in vain.  Then shortly thereafter, I learned about the Ten Commandments, and found out one of them said I shouldn't do that.  I instantly felt condemned, lost, and that hell was designed just for me. 
  • Unmerited Favor:  A few years after hearing the Ten Commandments, I heard the gospel for the first time, and I felt like Jesus Christ was seeking me out and calling me to respond to Him.  Apparently, the Lord didn't care about my taking His name in vain.
  • Limited Atonement: Eventually I felt like Jesus Christ died specifically for me and my sins.
  • Irresistible Grace:  One day I discovered I could no longer run from God.  I felt terrified the first moment I heard the Gospel and understood it.  I truly felt like the Lord Himself was calling me by name.  I resisted at first and ran.  But no matter how hard I ran, I discovered that God could run faster, and eventually, He overtook me.  I don't feel as if I chose God.  I feel like He chose me.
  • Perseverance of the Saints:  Some 15 years later, I'm still a Christian.  I've had my ups and downs in my service to the Lord, and there at times have seemed like in my walk where I felt like I was straying from Him.  I've seen a number of people fall away from the faith.  But no matter how far I feel like I've strayed, He always seems to be bringing me back to Himself.  No matter where I go, all roads seem to lead me back to Christ.

My own conversion even resembles something of a "monogeristic" conversion story.  That is, I don't recall the exact moment in time that I was born again.  While I often like to remember the first time I prayed to the Lord and called on His name one night as I lay in my bedroom as the day I became saved, honestly looking back, I'm not so sure I was saved at that moment in time.  As I grow older and reflect more, sometimes it seems like I just woke up one morning a Christian.  I can't tie my conversion to a specific event.  It just seems like over time, gradually, I simply became one.

I definitely feel like my life has been "predestined."  As I look back at my life and all it's major points, from where I was born, my family background, my education as a kid, formative experiences, moments of triumph, moments of pain, moments of stupidity, the way at which I landed my present career, and the discovery of the woman who recently became my wife... I just can't help but feel that I am where I am today but by Divine providence and the greatness of His grace.  Though I am very conscious of the choices I have made in life, it feels as if the exercise of my will has had very little to do with where I've ended up, and where I am going.

My heart feels strangely warmed... and Calvinistic.

No comments:

Post a Comment