* This post won’t interest some people, and the point of the post is not to create debate over theological perspectives. Rather, just some “matter of fact” discussion on my personal beliefs.*
Someone recently asked me if my doctrine was more Reformed, Arminian, Lutheran, Dispensational, or what? Oh dear. Not an easy question for me to answer.
I definitely lean towards (note lean towards) Reformed theology, aka Calvinism – but at most I’d be a 4 point Calvinist (disagree with L of TULIP). I appreciate the high and exalted view of God, and the realistic view of human sinfulness that this theology emphasizes. Recently I read through RC Sproul’s book What is Reformed Theology and very much agreed and “connected” with about 75% of the content. The other 25% I disagreed with. For example – the covenant theology aspect – and other random things associated with Reformed theology such as the “order” of salvation and baptizing infants. I’m for baptism by immersion of those old enough to know what they are doing. Etc.
However, I am dispensational but that word can be terribly mis-understood. For instance, using John Hagee as an example of typical dispensationalism is not fair. He is a dispensationalist gone off the deep end. While I am not embarrassed to be dispensational, I often avoid saying it because of the weird and inaccurate things that come to some people’s minds. Dispensationalism has progressed as a system over time (as have other theological systems as well) and some people fail to acknowledge this. It is not what it was 100 yrs ago. I’m definitely more in the Progressive camp (Blaising, Bock).
Being Reformed and Dispensational can sometimes be thought of as contradictory, and I decided to google “reformed and dispensational?” and this great little post came up: A Reformed Dispensationalist? – It is quite good and I agree with the points made and the nuances in belief brought out. Reformed theology/Calvinism is a soteriological system, while Covenant theology and Dispensationalism is a framework for biblical theology. Therefore it is possible to be both Reformed and Dispensational. So…I lean towards Reformed Theology (Calvinism) but not Covenant Theology, and I’m a Dispensationalist of the more Progressive type.
Now to throw in some more bizarreness! In my adult church life I have always felt more a sense of belonging in churches in the Wesleyan/Arminian camp! In churches that we tried attending in the Reformed/Calvinistic camp, we felt like outsiders. We could not seem to assimilate no matter how hard we tried. We found the church environment cold and unfriendly, and the pastors lacking shepherding skills. [This is just our personal experience. Yours may be different.] We spent about 8 years in a Nazarene church and now we attend a Methodist church. We have found both of these churches warm and personal. Instead of feeling like outsiders, we feel like we belong. The pastors have a genuine care for the flock. So…go figure…I lean towards Calvinism but have felt most at home in churches on the Arminian side.
Something I prefer about the Methodist church (over the Nazarene) is that it has a somewhat mediating or moderate position. The Nazarene church is more distinctive and farther along on the Arminian side. Interestingly, attending churches in the Arminian camp has not changed me into an Arminian. In fact, if anything, it has made my Calvinist leanings stronger.
And on another note, while the Reformed camp is complementarian, I am egalitarian.
Again, the point of the post is not to create debate. Please, if you are anti-Calvinist (or whatever), this is not the place to present a defense. I’m just sharing my theological bent…that is all. How would you describe yourself? More distinctly in one camp, or a bit of an oddball like me?
Part 2 with more thoughts here.
*Note to grammar police: I got totally confused over what theological words should be capitalized, so excuse the inconsistency. This isn’t a seminary paper, but a blog so I gave up caring…