Monday, April 16, 2012

My Response to Scott Lenke, A Guy Who is Moving Away from Calvinism

I am going to pick on a guy who has moved away from Calvinism (by the way, moving away from classic Calvinism---the kind that has been reduced to the metaphysics of the 5 Point kind---is not
a bad thing, per se; unfortunately this fellow [who I am picking on] has apparently bought the limp wristed critique of Medieval and Reformed theology propounded by someone I 'can' appreciate at points, N.T. Wright). I take the following from a post that this fellow (Scott Lenke) has written as testimony of his exodus from Calvinism towards a more Arminian and what he probably believes to be, Biblicist perspective. He writes:

[...] Now, having said that [he just provided his Wrightian critique of 16th century Protestant theology], I don’t believe the questions and issues that arise in latter centuries is bad or cannot necessarily be addressed by Scripture. Of course they can. But I think that the normative questions of the C[alvinist] & A[rminian] debate are not inherently part of Romans or Galatians or Ephesians. And I am also more and more convinced that the normative debate around the C[alvinist] & A[rminian] paradigm is not going to carry the church forward into the 21st century. It [sic] am not sure it will strongly grip the church nor draw the world to Christ. It has served its purpose, just as a robust debate around other issues or foregone eras. I’m just not seeing it being greatly important to what God is actively looking to do today in planet earth. (see full post here) - Scott Lenke

A couple to a few things in response;

1) Does this seem like a legitimate retort to you (e.g. from Scott)? It seems to me that for one thing, this perspective, the one Lenke is forwarding, fails to appreciate that in fact Scripture itself only works if there is a pre-supposed informing theological paradigm. In other words, we don't have to reject the sitz im leben ('setting in life' like when the Bible was penned) in order to affirm what we must affirm; that indeed, the Apostle Paul, Peter, James et alia (let alone all of the authors of Scripture) presumed that God was a certain way. That is, that there is the Father, there is the Son, and there is the Holy Spirit; and somehow all of these Three are One! I would not want to suggest to Scott, or anyone else that the Scripture authors had the Trinitarian grammar we now have post-ecumenical councils of the church. But I would want to suggest that the theo-logic that gave rise to the grammar we operate with relative to who God is, who Christ is in the Incarnation, and who the Holy Spirit is in Pentecost (from Christ--I'm not endorsing the filioque, I don't!) was most certainly and necessarily present in the minds and hearts of the Apostles and Prophets of God's people the Church! If this is the case, and it is; then we must read even the original historical milieu and occasions that gave rise to Scripture from this kind of 'inner-logic' that holds all of Scripture together. Further, if this is still so, then there are implications about salvation that result from God being Triune and personal; from God incarnating in the Son, in Christ as the God-man; and from God providing union for himself and humanity in and through the adopting work brought about through Christ and in and through the creative "unioning" activity of the Holy Spirit. These are the things that folk like Calvin with his unio mystica, and Luther with his mystical marriage union with Christ theology were dealing with right dab in the middle of the period that Lenke along with Wright reject, seemingly, out of hand (or at least they want to marginalize it with statements like "I don’t believe the questions and issues that arise in latter centuries is bad or cannot necessarily be addressed by Scripture. Of course they can. . . .").

My initial reaction here represents such a substantial response I don't think I need to reflect any further; plus I need to go to bed ;-)! Even though I am leaving with a little levity here, I don't want anyone to mistake that for the seriousness with which I take issue with Lenke's & co. perspective. I think it is unnecessary; uninformed; not thought out with care; and most of all it is gutting the rich heritage of the Christian church that has been provided for through the work of the Holy Spirit and the heritage in Christ's deep and wide body!

Beyond all of the above; there is Evangelical Calvinism after all!

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