Yesterday was a wonderful day! It started out with a visit our friends which we worshiped with in Mandeville before we moved. It seems like it had been forever since we had seen everyone! There is always great fellowship with these brothers and sisters, but today it was even more interesting because we discussed pado-baptism vs credo-baptism, the New Perspective on Paul and various other "hot topics" surrounding Christianity. It was so rich that we didn't want to leave, and put off our departure for as long as we could. It's funny when you think that you know where someone is coming from and what they believe then WHAM! They say something totally unexpected, especially when you find out that they're thinking the same thing you are. Ah, the sweetness of like-mindedness!
So just as I thought that I'd had my fill of debate and theological thinking for the day, we made a stop through Folsom to our other old fellowship. We had been there a little over an hour when I was standing in the kitchen, talking to my friend Leah about the weather or some such thing. We had been talking quite happily about nothing in particular for a few minutes when someone who I hadn't even seen in five years walked up and after a few minutes looked to me and said "So, are you a Calvinist?" My first response was a blank stare. After I realized that it was a serious question that was awaiting an answer (even though I knew that it was rhetorical) I thought Oh no, here it goes again! and fumbled some sort affirmative reply. So it began. Now, debating Calvinism is nothing new for my sister and me, but I'll have to admit that it had been a very long time since I'd talked about the subject with someone with an opposing view. In fact, as I thought back to the last time I debated it, I realized that it was the last time I was at this fellowship.
So there I was, with no Merisha and no Bible, trying to explain why I believed in total depravity, and trying to understand his point in the analogy of the nature of the coke can (never did figure that out, by the way).
After a while, it came time to leave and it was decided that we'd talk about children being born sinful vs being born a blank slate another day. As we proceeded towards the exit, we entered the dining room where we found Merisha discussing the same topics with another group of people.
Merisha always articulates her thoughts during theological debates much better than I do, and never seems intimidated or ruffled, which continues to amaze me. By the time it was finished, there were 9 or so people all giving their two cents, and it was great! We all stayed for a bit longer and (as usual) ended up agreeing to disagree.
As I tried to discover what it was about debating theology that I liked so much, I realized that there is something wonderful about constantly being challenged to go back to the Bible for your answers. In no conversation during the day was anyone convinced of the other person's views, (in fact, Merisha just walked in and declared "His explanation of Romans 9 is completely implausible! Would you like to hear why?") but they all made me think and challenged my views. It made me go back to the Bible and say "Okay, why do I believe this? Where is it in the Bible?" After all, if my view isn't firmly planted in the Word of God, it needs to be challenged and blown out of the water.
At the end of the day, it isn't about who's right and who's wrong, it's about drawing near to the throne of grace and humbly asking God for wisdom. We're all in the same boat, striving toward the same goal, trying to understand as much as we can with our finite minds.
So next time someone asks "Credo or Pado?", "What about the New Perspective?" or, of course, the ever-popular "How could anyone be a Calvinist?" I'll recall the last time these views were challenged, remember the Scriptures, breathe a prayer for wisdom, and - by God's grace, with confidence and meekness of spirit - will make a defense for the hope which is within me.