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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Some Additional Thoughts

I want to provide some additional thoughts and comments on my post from Tuesday.

First of all, while I am concerned and upset by our passion and commitment to divisive pracitices in Christianity, our penchant for labels and other barriers against ecumenism (the promotion of unity), let it be understood that I recognize the potential utility and function of these terms we use. It is easier to encapsulate a teaching, perspective, or doctrine within a handy rubric than having to always detail and explain them. I have no real aversion to terms like 'monergism' or 'dispensationalism' or 'annihilationism'. They help to convey a particular body of thought on the relevant subject. Rather, my contention is against sectarianism and denominationalism, our efforts towards promoting disunity within the body of Christ, as though stating that we are 'Baptist' or 'Presybeterian' is of more importance than recognizing we both are children of God and members of the same body of Christ. Surely the Baptist would not argue that the Presbyterian is not a member of the body of Christ. More important than the name of our particular communities of fellowship or the term which conveys a particular set of doctrines is whether or not the teachings and doctrines these communities and terms convey are derived from and consistent with God's Word. A pastor and friend of mine once said to me, and I've never forgotten it to this day: "What we believe is not nearly as important as why we believe it." And this is true, is it not?

Second of all, I wanted to comment on something that fellow had said (see Tuesday's post): "I'm just curious if you're coming from a TULIP perspective or if you're saying that the salvation of Christ is available to all, and some refuse to accept it." I wanted to bring this to the forefront because he implicitly suggests a dichotomy where none exists. Reformed theology itself teaches that "the salvation of Christ is available to all, and some refuse to accept it." Such a perspective is not denied in Reformed theology. In the Canons of Dordt (from which the acrostic TULIP is derived) we read that the "death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world." It is also affirmed therein that "the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations and to all persons, promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel." From the TULIP perspective, as he put it, among the hosts of man there is none to whom the salvation of Christ is not available. His atonement is sufficient for and available to all, and some refuse to accept it.