Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Classic Calvinist thinks I need to repent: God's Impersonal Glory V. His Personal, 'In Christ'

*Here is a short post I originally wrote when I was in the midst of battling my cancer. It was given impetus by interaction I had been having, at that point, with a guy who attends The Master's Seminary (John MacArthur's seminary in Southern California). He believed (and probably still does) that I was in sin because I was having an ongoing dialogue with the LORD about my cancer; I told this fellow that at points I was angry with the LORD, and didn't understand why he would let this happen to me. This fellow thought this was a sinful response; i.e. because I was voicing my
frustration and anger with the LORD, in personal discussion with Him (the LORD), as my LORD. This guy from Master's was sure that I was harboring a sinful attitude, and thus in need of repentance. Here's that post (it was supposed to be the beginning of a series of posts, but I never got to those).

As a result of an email I recently received, I am going to do a series of posts on God’s glory and suffering — this will be a slow series, and will depend on my state of mind in the near future (in other words I am processing all kinds of stuff right now). I think it is very important to have an understanding of God’s glory that is shaped by His life of love in Christ by the Spirit. Which means that glory is not a principle outside of love and personal relationship; but in fact it is its inverse. In other words, God’s glory cares about intimate and personal details (like the sparrows or us). I’m afraid that there is thinking out there that sees “God’s glory” as an impersonal force that has nothing to do with “us;” when in fact the Incarnation says just the opposite.

In other words, what’s at stake here is how we correlate something like: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God” with Jesus Christ’s revelation of God’s glory as He ministered His life to those around Him while on earth (or even in His mediation to Israel in salvation history). I think there are competing things going on between the “Westminster Shorter Catechism’s” understanding of “glory and glorify,” and who we see revealed in Jesus Christ in the Incarnation. This will be the jumping off point for the posts ahead . . .


  1. Hi Bobby!
    I never did think Job's response was particularly sinful, and especially, I reject depictions of God's reply to Job as angry and lecturing. I believe Job's humble reaction to God's reply betrays how loving and personal God's reply was toward Job. The Lord probably had much empathy, and a little humor in His "voice". The Lord wants us to come to Him freely and honestly, not stuffing our feelings behind an "Evan Gellical" face.
    "How ya doin' Evan?"
    "Just Gellin'." (I just made that up)
    I can't tell you how many times I've been furious with God. I wrote about a chapter in Job last August, that represents your "friend" the Pyro, here:
    http://www.brandfcoffee.blogspot.com/. It's chapter 13, and Job accuses his friends, of falsely accusing him to defend God. I was surprised when I caught it, because it is exactly what classic Calvinists do: Describing God in terms of His power and glory and creating lies to justify Him, hoping all the while that they are among the chosen. :O)

  2. Duane,

    I think you are spot on in your understanding of Job and the extremes represented within classic Calvinism. I told this guy the same thing in re. to Job's "counselors" ... he didn't see it. Of course not!

  3. If we can't give voice to our angst in prayer with God—from a position of faith and trust in Him—then we might as well rip half the Psalms out of our Bibles, in which David, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did just that very thing.

    He might hear and answer our prayers; He might rebuke or chasten us, or instruct or teach us; but no matter what, praise God that His love, grace, mercy, and forebearance towards us are so much greater than the frailties of our hearts.

    And indeed, God is glorified in the process of His redeeming a people unto Himself, in and through Christ—and not only a body of people, but individual people, blemishes and all.

    1. Amen, Stefan! And since I know you know the crew and company I am referring to; I know that you can appreciate the experience I had with this guy (in fact I'm sure you probably would know who I am referring to ... he's not actually one of the Pyros by the way). It doesn't matter who so much, but what; and the attitude (theologically) that gave rise to this fellows genuine response to me. The most concerning thing to me is that he indeed was genuine in his rebuke of me (I even clarified with him if he understood what he was saying to me, and he did :-( and he meant it!).


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