The Debate Between Arminians and Calvinists.
I have been reading all of the back and forth about Calvinism, largely on Facebook. Most of the arguments are pretty disgusting. There is no intellectual depth, mostly emoting. As one who holds the Th.D. in systematic theology and have had 26 years since to think about these things, I want to make a few suggestions.
1. Stay out of systematic theology until you learn the Bible. Read the Bible, study it, read commentaries. But don’t get too involved in Theology until you know what the Bible says. Systematic theology is a dangerous thing if you do not know the Bible. You will form a theological grid of interpretation and then force it on the biblical text.
2. Be objective. Stop trying to prove an argument. Read the text for what it says and stop trying to make it fit into your theology. You may not like what the Bible says but you must allow it to say it without your interference.
3. Be rigorous. I see sloppy statements made and the writer acts as if it was deeply profound. Study, use the mind that God has given you, and do good, hard work. Anything less is a poor reflection on God himself by his followers.
4. Read the documents of the historic church. Read the Church Fathers. Read the great Creeds and confessions. We do not do theology in a vacuum. Everyone argues over Calvin, but what did Augustine say? What were the positions of the early church leaders? Have your read Aquinas or Luther? I would even encourage you to read Karl Barth to see what you might learn. It would at least keep your busy for a while. I know it takes time, but rich thought takes time. You will find that some very smart people wrote on these same subjects for the last 2000 years.
5. Be humble. We all are but mere mortals trying to understand an infinite God. All theology is an interim report. If your theology has not changed over the last 20 years, then you have not been thinking and studying and praying to understand.
6. Finally, stop being so dramatic. You are not going to fix the world, but you might make it worse. One writer claimed to be conciliatory, but all he did was to criticize his opponent. No one is going to endear his opponent by smiling through gritted teach and saying, “I love you.” I have yet to meet someone who is so smart that they can take a superior position. Remember, this is not about you, it is about God and his people.
One of the biggest problems that I see is narcissism. Everyone things more highly of himself than he should. Narcissism is so deeply ingrained in us that we don’t recognize it. All of us, you, me, we all think we are way more important that we are.