I'm a four and a half point Calvinist and that makes the fact that I've de-prioritized dating in my life an OK thing.
If you're not sure what Calvinism is, well, its a reformed Christian doctrine based on the original insights of a one John Calvin, during the reformation era in Europe. Here's Dave's fast and furious recap of the 5 tenets of Calvinism:
Total Depravity - man is completely dead in his sin, unable to do anything to save himself. Sin has effected all parts of me, the complete essence of my being - I am totally depraved. We all are.
Unconditional Election - God bases his choice of me to be saved on nothing that has anything to do with me. He elects some to be saved and does not elect others. I can't know why, and I can't do anything to affect his choice on that.
Limited Atonement - Jesus' death on the cross was sufficient for all mankind but not effacious for all mankind. He bore the sins of many. This is closely related to UE - I can't know why. It just is - some of us will go to heaven and some of us won't.
Irresistible Grace - When God elects me, I can't say no to the call. There is an internal call, a work of the Holy Spirit, that is at the same time irresitible to me, and yet leads me willingly and even freely to God (this is key to my initial statement above, as you'll see in a minute). I am both free and irreistibly bound.
Perseverance of the Saints - Once saved, always saved. I cannot lose my salvation. Or, more importantly, God can't screw up his election / redemption / salvation of me, or somehow do it insufficiently.
(These five points spell the delightful acronym TULIP, as you may have noticed.)
I'm a 4.5 Calvinist because I agree mostly with all of the above, and can defend it with scripture. I do, however, have a certain amount of humility that I apply broadly to my faith at large, a rather general acceptance that there are some things that I simply cannot know or understand fully in this life time. Some of these things may even be things that no one at all can fully achieve, but who am I to guess at what God may reveal to the minds greater than mine? The point is that I can't know everything, and so sometimes I apply that realization directly to my theology.
I think there's some balance of free will with the predestination. I believe this because I believe my relationship with God is as much a real relationship, perhaps even more real, than any human relationship here on earth. And one of the ncecessities of a relationship is that two independent parties come into it of their own will. I do believe that I was forknown to be elect and to choose God, but at the same time I believe that I had to be the one to be there and make that actual choice before it actually came to be. I realize that these fly in the face of each other, but I am OK with that and don't expect to resolve it in this lifetime.
This, oddly enough, is quite closely related to why I believe that not talking to a certain stranger I run into, not chasing a potential relationship with a close friend, not deciding to make a relationship with one of the fairer sex a priority in my life at this point - this is why I believe that this is an OK thing. I don't think there is anything that I can do or not do that can stop me from winding up in the right relationship at the right time with the right person. If its supposed to happen, its going to happen. I can't stop it. If the stranger is The One, we'll somehow cross paths again. If the friend is the one, the timing will work out at some point. And if there is no relationship out there in my future, that's going to work out just fine too.
It makes it OK to not care.
And yet at the same time it doesn't. I have to think about these things. I have to wrestle with them and make sure I do due diligence on my end. I can't take it lightly and I have to have both a massive amount of trust that God has my best in mind - and I can't screw up His plan, and concurrently a constant motivation to search these things out and not sit back lazily on my haunches waiting for him to drop someone into my life. Even if I've decided that now is not the time for that.
Right now is a time for more Africa. I'm going back for the summer, I'll be working - on my own this time - in Zambia and then Ghana through early August. That just is what it is.
It feels like an escape, after a fashion. I've been talking with Brian since he got back and he feels the same way. We don't know how to cope with such ridiculously comfortable, opulent lives when there's a continent full of people trying not to die on less than 2 dollars a day. People talk about how these people "live" on less than 2 dollars a day, but that's not a life. You don't live on that. You die slowly on that. They are trying to not die.
I'm going back to help, but this time will be shorter, and then I'll be back and I'll finally have to go back to "normal life" as I once knew it.
Problem is, it never will be again.
(Happy June everyone.)
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