Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dream a Little Dream

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."
Romans 4:18-22 NIV

Arminians and Calvinists incessantly argue about the role of faith and why it is what it is. Calvinists (for the supposed glory of God) blame faith in its entirety on God, exchange election for faith as the issue of consequence in salvation (despite the entirety of both the Old and New Testament's testimony on the matter), all the while never truly admitting that if God is solely to blame for its appearance, than he's also fully to blame for its absence. Since I don't believe God is self-loathing in the least, what does that say about his scathing judgments on unbelief?

Arminians believe faith rises out of the human in response to God's grace. It doesn't have to, some resist grace just like they do compassion as they swallow hard and whiz by the car on the shoulder, four way flashers broadcasting an urgent need for help. God's grace rustles up some awareness within the soul, that then can be followed through on or ignored. To call that response a work is like saying the PENNDOT crew leaning on shovels have honestly earned their wages. In this era of intellectual property one would think the distinction between inspiring impetus and actual production wouldn't be so hard to understand.

Positive Confessionists emphasize faith, but not in the pattern of Abraham. Abraham was a realist. He may have gazed at the stars on a chilly night and dreamed, but he never lied to himself about what he was experiencing or his current condition. He faced reality squarely, openly admitted the facts of it, but he did not let those facts dissuade him concerning God's impossible promise. Faith is never about how persistently we can mentally fixate on a fantasy, or vainly repeat it mantra like with our tongues; it's about our estimation of the character and power of God who's made some promises to us.

We change in so many ways as we age. Not just our bodies, but our hearts and minds, our thinking and attitudes. We get weary, we get jaded, the older one gets, the less likely that one is to still have dreams. Look at the stars tonight, my friend. They're not gaseous orbs hopelessly far away, they're signs and symbols that a mighty God has hung in the dark to inspire us. Though we may seem light years away from graping them, those promises are ours. God is able, which means we can face the facts of the present unshaken, and dream a little dream from him.

2 comments:

  1. I love the definition of faith being a response to God. The power of the gospel is that when we hear it, it is so glorious and wonderful and good that it would be unnatural for faith not to rise up in us. Yet for some, they will not allow faith to arise.

    There is so much truth in both doctrinal perspectives (and I have been a dogmatic supporter of both at different times) but it's so great to come out of systematic structures of theology and have the freedom to enjoy the rich truths of all of them while not having to beat yourself into intellectual agreement with the parts that just plain don't make sense in light of Scripture.

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  2. jul,
    According to my understanding of God and his word, faith is THE issue in regard to our relationship with him. God is, God speaks, God breaths (inspires), God initiates, God loves, faith responds. It's the only thing God really looks for from mankind.

    I, of course, believe there's a lot more truth in one theological perspective than the other! ;-)

    What makes sense about Calvinism (and really, the only thing to me) is its understanding of God's sovereignty determining that the elect get saved. As far as who the elect are, and why they're elect, and how they get saved, Armininianism holds the trump cards. As far as Kenneth Copeland is concerned, if there was ever someone I would call a heretic, he'd be that one.

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