Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I was having random thoughts about God. Specifically I was thinking about Martin Luther and Calvinism. Why would I be thinking about this you ask yourself? Long story but basically I just read a biography on Martin Luther.
So being the good little mainline protestant that I am, I was expecting to agree with most of what Luther believed. Instead when I finished the book I was left thinking that much of Protestantism is exchanging one extreme point of view for another.
Basically Luther came around when the Catholic Church was doing infomercials. Think of the Pope as Ron Popeil selling salvation and a set of steak knifes for the low low price of $99.99. Act now and you can get that old bitch Aunt Sally out of Hell and own the worldâ€™s best cutlery.
Martin had the good sense to say that this (among other things) is a load of crap. Now in the beginning of the book I am thinking woo hoo. Go Martinâ€¦Go Martinâ€¦Go go. But then they start explaining Lutherâ€™s theology.
Ughâ€¦I never realized how closely his views aligned with Calvin (who was to follow). Calvin who came along later came up with a really rigid way of looking at the world. His views are often summed up with the acronym TULIP.
Total Depravity â€“ You are and always will be a dick
Unconditional Election â€“ Heaven is like winning the lotto.
Limited Atonement â€“ Jesus only likes lotto winners
Irresistable Grace â€“ When you win the lotto, you have to cash the check.
Perseverence of the saints â€“ there is nothing you can do to get rid of your Lotto winnings.
Now when I was in college, this really appealed to me. Why? Because people in their 20â€™s always think they are worthless and it is nice to think that no matter how rotten you are, you have no control of the consequences. (Plus you can drink beer and go to Heaven!?)
OKâ€¦OKâ€¦I am oversimplifying and now I have offended at least 5 denominations. But followed to its logical conclusion, Calvin and to a lesser extent Lutherâ€™s theology leave me thinking that humanity is useless. Nothing I have ever done or will ever do will please God. Now I know this is simplistic thinking, but what is the point of living if nothing I do is of any consequence or value?
Here is the thing. I am not a real literalist when it comes to the creation story, but there is one point that gives me hope. The idea that humanity was created in Godâ€™s image and for his pleasure (stop smirking). If that is true at all or even in part, then what we do does matter. Yes, humanity sinned. Everyone is screwed up, but not disposable. I have to think that if God chose to keep us around, there must be something worth saving.
I really hope I am right. I hope that this is not all in vain.
So I was having random thoughts about God last night.
(Disagree? Send me a comment.)