A response

 

I think it’s important to read people who are smart and gifted and think differently from you.  And that’s why I read Rachel Held Evans blog.

Her last post was tough.

She described people who believe in God’s absolute sovereignty as cold & unfeeling and hate any kind of doubt or questioning.

Ugh.doubt and faith

I’m not scared of doubt. It does not define me and it does not anger or threaten my God.

Ironically, one of the things that frees me up to take my doubts to God is the very theology that Rachel condemns. I am confident that nothing can threaten my position as God’s child because nothing I did earned me that identity in the first place.

But I won’t join Rachel in smiling at my doubt.  I am not proud of my unbelief any more than an adopted child is proud of the way they smuggle food because they’re terrified they will go hungry.

Sigh.

I wouldn’t have written this post at all, but I got to Romans 9 this morning.

Paul talks about his ‘great sorrow and unceasing anguish’ for the lost right before he launches into one of the most explicit explanations of election in the Bible.

The implication is clear: a right understanding of the nature of salvation will lead us – not to cold and unfeeling hearts (as Rachel believes) – but to brokenness and desperate prayers for the lost.

Reading that this morning, I gotta admit, my first thought was to use the Scripture to write a blog post shutting her down; to use it to prove that I’m right.

But the intention of God’s Word is always to cut into MY soul, and reveal the intentions of MY heart.

Romans 9 was not written so that I could engage in a debate.  It was written to address the defensiveness and judgement in my heart.

Here’s what Romans 9 says:

God picked His kids.  Not because of anything about them.  Not because they had better theology, or bigger hearts; not because they were smarter or more humble.  Not because they had more or less doubts.

He had lumps of clay before the foundation of the world and He made some of them to be His.  And that’s it.

And that truth is designed to lead me to repent for judging today.

Because I’m not better than anyone.

If my theology is ‘better’ than someone else’s it is by His grace.  It’s a gift bought for me by the blood of Jesus.  What a ridiculous thing to boast in!

If Rachel’s heart reflects more compassion than mine, she doesn’t get to boast about it, or judge or condemn those who are weaker. She gets to thank God for that grace and pray for me.

I have no strength or skill, no heart or theology that makes me more of a catch for God

And it’s deep faith in that truth that frees me up to say what I’m about to say:

One of the reasons Rachel thinks that Calvinists are cold-hearted is because of me.

There have been times when I have spoken about truth with arrogance and hardness.  There are times I have fit the devastating description she provides.

And I’m sorry.  I’m sorry to anyone who has ever faced that coldness.  And I’m sorry to God, for misrepresenting Him in that way.

Please don’t determine what’s true about Jesus by my life alone. Or Rachel’s life.

We are a messy sinful bunch, in desperate need of a savior.  There are those of us that have boasted in truth and hardened our hearts; that doesn’t make truth false.  There are those of us who embraced God’s heart for the lost but rejected His truth; that doesn’t make God’s heart less compassionate.

God is a real person.  He is complicated.  My encouragement to you today is that you be like Jacob.  In the midst of your wrestling, take hold of God, and beg Him to bless you with the truth of who He is.

Comments

  1. Fabs,

    I so appreciate this respectful engagement. I have struggled lately because I have convictions, theological ideas and views of God that are different than some of my close friends. And I don’t want to take our disagreements personally, but my sinful heart gets my identity all wrapped up in being right or better. In defending my ideas so they wont think im wrong or naive or dumb. But if I really lived like I believe what I say I believe, I would do what you said – thank god for the grace in my life, pray to know him more and pray for others. And not be proud of my doubt or my questions or my stances but be proud of my God who loves me and paid for my sinful nature in the cross. He certainly knew we would disagree. He certainly knew the Internet would pop up and people would start arguing about everything. And he died and rose again knowing all. Thanks for being part of helping us think about how to honor that sacrifice by clinging to Him!

  2. Great word, Fabs! It’s both challenging and refreshing to read your nuanced response to the discussion of sovereignty over the easier “you’re wrong” approach. Keep up the gracious, biblically-driven work your doing.

  3. Great post. As much as I think it’s fine to civilly give your opinion on your blog and engage in a healthy debate, sometimes it adds fuel to a fire that needs to be put out sooner rather than later.

  4. I really appreciated this. I too read Rachel’s blog and found her post really shook my convictions. Thanks for posting your thougths on this!

  5. Great follow up post. I have a hard time reading her blog as well.
    Thanks for your words. It’s never about MY feelings/thoughts/convictions/theology … but always about GOD and his grace and mercy and love and power and will.

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