Home > The Doctrines of Grace > The Doctrines of Grace, Final Meditations

The Doctrines of Grace, Final Meditations

Having completed this lengthy series on the doctrines of grace (see sidebar for all posts on this topic), a few minutes of reflection is in order. This series has been quite possibly the most instructive series of posts I have done here on the Silent Holocron. I have been challenged in my posting, and though there has been little online interaction, there has been a good deal of interaction offline with friends and interested observers.

Throughout this whole series, I made a conscious attempt to present each doctrine as it is formulated, not as I myself perceive it nor as others perceive it. As a result of my studies at Southern Seminary, I have been convinced for the better part of the last decade that it is in the greatest interest of the theologian – and indeed the Christian – to understand unfamiliar viewpoints accurately before attempting to dialogue, criticize, reject or adopt those viewpoints. That has been the singular goal of this series.

It was not, as certain people with whom I have personal interaction with seem to think, to articulate myself as a Calvinist. I’ve written and said quite often that I am not a “full” Calvinist, much like Dr. Bruce Ware at Southern. I would not deign to own a label or position that I do not fully ascribe to. To do otherwise would be dishonest and misrepresentative of myself.

Nor was it an attempt to paint differing viewpoints as unorthodox. While I have, in fact, come to think that Arminianism may well be unscriptural and quite possibly heretical in some of its positions, I agree with Roger Olson that to make such a statement is irresponsible without knowing what exactly is taught by the Arminian position. As such, I believe that (though not immediately) a series exploring the Articles of Remonstrance is in order in the sense of fairness to the opposing view. I did threaten to do such a series, you know!

But all that aside, what conclusions have I reached about the TULIP?

The Doctrines of Grace are thoroughly grounded in Scripture and in principles of hermeneutics. Any doctrine or system of doctrine which is considered normative by its adherents must, unavoidably, be rooted in Scripture; and those Scriptures must be properly interpreted. By and large, these doctrines seek to be utterly faithful to Scripture, and do not seek to go beyond what has been articulated in the Bible. This alone ought to be enough for any Christian, and indeed all Christians, to embrace Reformed Baptists and others of a Reformed stripe as brothers and sisters “in good standing” at the very least and as highly esteemed brethren at the very best.

The doctrines of grace are orthodox doctrines. They teach nothing heretical nor anything that would ultimately lead to heresy. A concern for Scriptural correctness permeates the entire movement. The historical and theological trends of this movement are considered secondary to the revelation of the Bible, and no point in time or theological development is considered exempt from the checking influence of God’s Word. In this respect one can robustly declare that Reformed Christianity are semper reformanda, always reforming. Whereas other movements have sought to introduce logic, philosophy, trends, fads, emotions, and etc. to their theology, orthodoxy for the doctrines of grace is defined solely by the bounds of Scripture. And when we get right down to it, that is exactly what orthodoxy must be – faithfulness to Scripture.

The doctrines of grace are thoroughly evangelistic. The greatest surprise and encouragement I discovered throughout this study was the humongous pillars these doctrines place under evangelism. With the Word as its foundation, the TULIP places a tremendous amount of support for the evangelism of its adherents. Calvinists can witness bodly and with assurance that God will do what He has promised in His word – to seek and to save the lost.

The doctrines of grace are thoroughly discipling. Discipleship is also greatly undergirded by the TULIP. With a thorough understanding of our fallenness and redemption, Christians can truly learn to place their trust totally on Christ. Christians also truly learn that trusting in Christ is indeed a lifelong, daily process of sanctification. Christians can truly learn that Scripture is the normative influence in their lives; it is the rule of faith and practice.

If I were to be convinced fully of limited atonement, I would have no reservations with claiming the label “Calvinist.” As it is, none should balk at this label. To balk at this label is an indicator of serious ignorance and misunderstanding. To denigrate and persecute such a Godly, Scriptural worldview and its adherents is to do a disservice to Christ and His church. No thinking Christian can honestly say they would not entertain a viewpoint with the above four qualifications nor fellowship with their adherents. To do so would very clearly be to bring division into the body of Christ, and as such it is a sinful attitude.

I am proud to call my Calvinist friends “brothers,” and so should you. They have greatly enriched my life and my study. The doctrines of grace have influenced me to be staunchly biblical in all I teach, and I find it difficult to want to be anything other than biblical. And on that note, we reach the conclusion of this year-long series with great joy at having learned much and gained greater maturity, and deeper bonds within our Southern Baptist family.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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