Random thoughts about God

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 world’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 Martin…Go Martin…Go go.  But then they start explaining Luther’s theology.

Ugh…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 – You are and always will be a dick

Unconditional Election – Heaven is like winning the lotto.

Limited Atonement – Jesus only likes lotto winners

Irresistable Grace – When you win the lotto, you have to cash the check.

Perseverence of the saints – 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 20’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!?)

OK…OK…I am oversimplifying and now I have offended at least 5 denominations.  But followed to its logical conclusion, Calvin and to a lesser extent Luther’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 God’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.)

By Ben Posted in Life

3 comments on “Random thoughts about God

  1. I think the older you get the more Calvinist you get. It absolves you of responsibility. Why witness, why work at it. I had one Calvinist tell me that the reason to witness was basically to confirmation the condemnation of those who are called. That was motivating. Made me want to witness to people I didn’t like.

    I invented my own version of Calvinism, I call it UltraCalvinism. Based on one verse, taken out of context as many of the finer cults and heresies are. Paul says Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. There you go, clear as day. Only one person is getting into heaven. No whining, you know it ain;t gonna be you, so just move on.

    More later

  2. Calivinism still appeals to me. I love it. Want to have its children. I’ve based my life on the security of knowing that All things work together for good, blah blah blah… It helped me survive my Sophomore year of college, when I was, to that point, busily writing the Tech Manual on How To Identify a Lesbian (“Chapter 1. Becuase BrianJane dated her.”). I believe my self unconditionally elected. I AM totally depraved. And so on.

    Yet, I get what you mean. It seems funny that we often set out to “free others” from the yoke of sin and the Law by creating rules and marginalsizing others.

    When we were at Bethany, Brennan Manning spoke in chapel. He casually mentioned to us that wouldn’t we all be surprised if God chose the J/W’s to enter heaven instead of us? Those are ultimately the consequences of grace, and also the challenges of faith in God.

    Hope my theological brain enema didn’t disturb you too much.


  3. Since we’ve moved to Nebraska, I’ve “become” a Baptist…or not really, I just attend a Baptist church because the denomination with which I was previously associated is from HELL here in the midwest. I thought I had seen pew-jumpers in the PAST…I was desperately wrong!!! So, regarding this whole tulip-thingy-ma-bob…the one thing that has set me free is the fact that i no longer need to get “re-saved” weekly. I have not taken on the belief that, over-simplified, says even if I live like the devil I get to go to heaven. But I have realized that at some point….as you so deftly put it…I AM MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!!!! THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT ME!!!!! Although I often struggle with the believing in my heart that I have some good in me because I know me in the dark, logically I have to believe that I am lovable if not only for the reason that God is my maker. So as always with trying to define God in quantitative and qualitative terms, as theology attempts to do…our verbal capacity is naught. For me, it all boils down to one thing….and one thing only….try to live and love like Christ, and hope like hell that’s enough for him to want me in heaven when it’s all said and done!

    Kris Y

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