The day God changed was the day I discovered that John Calvin wasn’t a TULIP.
Calvin Gets lot of flack on the Christian fora I read and contribute to. It is said that he portrays a God that is cruel. But that is a misconception by people who can’t see beyond the TULIP.
Let me explain what I mean by TULIP. Some say they describe what Calvin was all about, an acronym about the main points of Calvin’s teaching, But they are not. They don’t even come close. Calvin didn’t come up with five theological points, Arminius did. Then some Calvinists replied to those points which can be summarised as this:
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)
Let me say now that I find it a bit negative. Total Depravity is total in that it reaches into every part of our lives. Not only is it negative, it focusses on us – we are depraved. But it isn’t about us, it’s about God. Focus on God and you find that God’s grace is total, it can shine into every part of our lives. God’s grace is healing. God’s grace is forgiveness. God’s grace is love.
I have problems with the L bit. I can’t really see God’s grace as being limited. But I’m not sure Calvin did either. You see Calvin spoke a lot about freedom. The more conservative churches impose rules on their members which go beyond what is in the Bible. Even Calvinistic ones, This goes against what Calvin taught, that the only limits on our freedom should be love.
Things I like about Calvin.
He was an environmentalist. His commentary on Genesis says the things about caring for the planet that the environmentalist are saying now, we should be using the resources of this planet in ways that do not harm our world.
Theology is about people and their relationship with God. Calvin came up with his theology because he wanted an answer to why some people respond to the the Gospel while others don’t. And he did it without the insights of modern psychology. It may be flawed in the light of what we now know about psychology, but it was a big step in the right direction.
Progressive Revelation. Calvin was shocked by the violence of parts of the Old Testament. Why would a good God who loved mankind order thousands to be slaughtered? Calvin’s answer is that God reveals himself progressively. What God revealed about himself was more loving than the previous revelation, and always more loving than that what people at that time believed that gods were like.
That was the time when I discovered that you can believe in a loving God and still have a high view of the inspiration of the Bible. even the gory bits. God changed for me.