Though in many ways I consider myself a Calvinist, I often prefer the label “Reformed”. You see, I find my grounding as a Reformed believer far more in line with Richard Mouw’s “Kuyperian Calvinism”, than folks like R.C. Sproul & John McAurther. That is to say, the center of my “Calvinism” isn’t so much the 5 points, but rather the Biblical concept that Abraham Kuyper summarized so perfectly: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Also, with John Piper, I affirm “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” That is to say, I am ‘reformed’ because I don’t believe the story is really about US: we were made by Him and for Him, and I think that Biblical concept is best brought to the forefront by a ‘reformed/calvinist’ reading of the Word. That said, I’m very uncomfortable with most Calvinist’s emphasis on the 5 points, and even most interpretations of what each of those points actually MEANS.
Well, recently Jared Hanley, an e-friend I met some time back over myspace, re-worded the 5 points in a way that I could affirm 100%, and I can’t help but share these with you:
1. We’re so messed up that we need a miracle to restore our broken fellowship with God.
2. God chooses us, not based on what He knew that we would do, but simply out of love.
3. Christ gave Himself for the church.
4. When the light of the gospel fully shines in our hearts, we find God’s love to be irresistible.
5. Those who truly belong to Christ are able to stand strong only by the grace of God.
He’s stripped away, at least for me, all of the primary areas of debate, and left behind a simple, modern phrasing which succinctly summarizes some powerful Biblical truths. Re-reading these, I was reminded of another, more famous author, who had also summarized the 5 points in a way that really made sense to me.
John Piper organized the 5 points below as we subjectively experience them, which seems to make a whole lot more sense than the traditional TULIP formation:
- We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
- Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
- Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
- Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
- And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.
Gives one much to ponder, indeed. God is the star in our story – we are the supporting actors. So very glad to be in a movie with such a big name, aren’t you? 😉