Did God intend for me to write this blog post?
I’m not so sure about that, and that partially is what this new series is all about.
Christians have a habit of saying things like:
“It was all just God’s timing…”
“This is his plan, not mine…”
“It just wasn’t God’s will…”
While there are points in my life where I genuinely sensed that God was intervening in my life in order to lead me in a particular direction, there have been plenty of times when I’ve also figured that, simply by default, God must be up to something.
My question is this: what if we’re attributing the wrong things to God?
In other words, I’m not attempting to downgrade God. Rather, I’m concerned that someone like me, who received a heavy dose of Calvinism in his formative years, developed an inaccurate picture of God. Is God literally ordering my every step? Is every situation really just the result of God’s behind the scenes orchestration?
Perhaps those statements sound like overstuffed straw men, but honestly: Christians really talk like this. I talk like this.
There is an assumption I run into among some Calvinists and also among other denominations that goes something like this: the biggest, most powerful God you can imagine, must be the right God. If a sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing deity who must be glorified at all times by his creation is at the center of your theology, that makes sense. If God surpasses our imagination and is indeed all-powerful, we may as well heap it on him.
There are some things that Calvinism has done well, and I’m even going to write about them in my next post (so there!), but folks like me have taken a theme like the sovereignty of God and used it to develop some questionable theology. There’s a kind of deistic fatalism where we shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, what can you do? It’s just God’s will.”
This fatalism affects everything from our personal holiness, to our relationships, to how we make decisions each day. This impacts how we view God during a tragedy.
I am not necessarily setting out to challenge Calvinism. Laying my cards on the table, I am no longer a Calvinist. However, everything I write about has a lot more to do with misapplying Calvinism to our lives rather than taking on the doctrines in a toe to toe theological tussle. When it comes to blogs and theology, I’ve always felt that the short-story based form of a blog is not suited to theology debates that demand context, glossary, history, and careful presentations of complex ideas.
So we’ll look at the ways Calvinism has impacted the way we live each day in relation to God’s sovereignty. We’ll ask the hard question over and over again as we look at stories in the Bible and in life today: Did God do that?
I’ll begin tomorrow by addressing where Calvinism can prove helpful to us as we ask this question.