Monday, January 23, 2006

The Doctrines of Grace: Prologue

With this post we will enter into the strange and controversial, yet exhilarating and edifying world of the doctrines of grace, widely known for better or for worse as Calvinism. Many of us at Southern Seminary have heard this term (Calvinism) bandied about as if it were the Holy of Holies. We've also heard it used almost as if it were a swear word. I suspect there are also a lot of us who are like me; we are unsure and desire to study the matter further. What I want to do here is take an uncritical (as in I'm not out to tear it down nor to shamelessly promote it) look at these doctrines and determine what exactly each doctrine teaches. The intent here is to be instructional for myself and for any readers I may have out there in cyberspace. This series will be structured thus:
  • Introduction
  • Total Depravity
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the Saints
  • Implications for Life and Ministry
  • Conclusion
If you haven't already figured it out, yes I am following the TULIP acrostic. Each post in the series will follow this format:
  • The doctrine's definition, with a brief commentary on the definition
  • Biblical support for such a definition
  • Implications arising from the definition
  • Summary of the doctrine
  • My take on the doctrine (where I stand or where I am at in my study)
I will try to do no more than one doctrine per week to allow time for review for the next post on my part and discussion of the currently posted doctrine on our part. Now, I feel the need here to set some ground rules. First, this is not the place for "angry Calvinism" nor "angry Arminianism." Anyone indulging in such shameful behavior will have their comments given the unceremonial boot. You do a disservice to your respective theological systems and to Christianity in general, and you will not be tolerated. Also, I reserve the right to determine who exactly is practicing such behavior, so don't bother tattling. This isn't 4th grade. Let's all be mature Christians and speak the truth as we see it in love. Oh dear Lord, that sounded so pomo. Second, the comments section is where all discussion will take place. If I see a point that deserves further posting, it will get posted within a day of me reading the comment. I will make a strong effort to be involved in the dialogue, as this series is primarily for my own education and if I don't participate, I won't really learn anything. Feel free to email me if you so desire, but be warned that rule number 1 will be practiced in regard to email as well. Third, I would appreciate people pointing out things that I may have misunderstood or quite simply missed in the discussion. Please understand that I am in no way trying to be definitive or exhaustive; I'm simply trying to come to a place where I can say, if I was asked by someone in the corridor of the church (or in Sunday school or what have you), "this is what that means." Fourth, I will not be listing and addressing objections to the doctrine being discussed, unless I am stating my personal position on the doctrine. I would like to work on any objections in the course of dialogue in the comments. Unless, of course, enough of you convince me to include objections to the doctrine (which I may before the end of the week decide to do). Fifth, it is my exhortationary command as a brother in Christ to you all to have fun reading and participating in this series! Very often we forget the "enjoying God forever" part of glorifying Him. If all goes well, I will do a sister series on Arminianism. Hey, fair is fair! See you tomorrow with the introduction!

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