Saturday, September 6, 2008

One Take on Calvinism

The difficulty with Calvinism is that people cannot conclude that they are loved based on the promises of God in the Gospel. So Calvinists tend to look somewhere outside the gospel for their assurance of God’s love and his call.

Calvinists over the years have attempted to respond to this difficulty in a number of ways. Some have said that you cannot really know. Others have said that you can know by the way in which God blesses your life. Others have pointed to their effectiveness as preachers or evangelists as proof that the Gospel be working in them. Still others have sited their church involvement as their source of hope. Still others point to the joy in their hearts as the “Blessed Assurance” of God’s election. Others still have said that “the hour you first believe” must be a mountain top spiritual experience for you to be certain. In all these explanations it is not purely the gospel and Sacraments which give you the assurance of God’s favor and love in Christ. Rather it is something about your response to the Gospel that counts.

The most popular type of Protestant Christianity in America today – American Evangelicalism - finds in your feelings about Jesus the assurance that you are loved by God and elect of Him. Even among those groups which have long since discarded Calvin’s theology there is still a strong tendency to rely on “the palpable presence of God in the Worship” as a sign of God’s love and favor. And that is why the worship services of so many have the goal to get you to have some type of emotional response to the service. (Steadfast Lutherans)