Agonizomai: Calvinism - A Theology of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Calvinism - A Theology of Thanksgiving
This is an excerpt from a post made by the redoubtable Steve Hays over at Triablogue. I regularly read the stuff from the team over there, but I don't interact with them because they are way above my pay grade. But this particular post struck me as something needing to get out to people in the lower reaches of the atmosphere of Reformed Blogdom, so I took this extract and recorded it for the podcast. I hope Hays doesn't mind because, if he does, then I'm dead meat.


Calvinism - A Theology of Thanksgiving - Steve Hays


"Before I delve into the specifics, I want to make a general point. What is Calvinism? Calvinism is a theology of thanksgiving. It’s also a theology of hope.

God wrote the whole story of the world. Brought all his wisdom and goodness to bear in writing the story.

God didn’t outsource the story of the world to hack writers and script doctors. God doesn’t rely on an essay mill for his material.

I don’t trust the devil to write any part of the story. We don’t trust sinners to write any part of the story.

Do you really want Genghis Khan to have a hand in writing part of the story? What if you’re one of his victims? Do you want to be the victim of his authorship? Do you want to be a character in his twisted narrative, where he decides your fate? Where his values dictate the shape of the narrative?

However you cut it, we live in a fallen world. A world with evil men and evil events. Whose values do you want shaping that story?

A Calvinist thanks God even for the villains because we trust God to know what he’s doing. Either way we have evil. It’s not as if the world of the Arminian or open theist or universalist is a painless world.

Now, it’s easy to thank God for the nice things, the pleasant things. It takes an act of faith to thank God for the hard providences.

Still, Calvinism cultivates a spirit of thanksgiving. It fosters an expectation in which we seek, and hope to find, in this life or the next, the good in whatever God has purposed. Sometimes his wisdom is evident, at other times–inevident.

His wisdom is inevident to the degree that you can’t fully appreciate a story until you know the end of the story. And we haven’t read the ending yet. You and I are not at that point in the story. We don’t know how it all comes out.

We know that God wins. And we know that his people win. His win is their win. We know the bad guys lose.

But why any particular thing happens the way it does can only be seen with the benefit of hindsight. The emerging pattern can only be perceived in retrospect.

Like reading a good book. You don’t know, as you read the story, where it’s going. The story raises many questions. It’s only when the novelist ties up all the loose ends that you can look back and appreciate all the preceding events.

So we live in hope. For a theology of thanksgiving is also a theology of hope. They’re two different perspectives on our position in time. Hope looks forward while thanksgiving looks backward.

The alternative to a theology of hope and thanksgiving is a theology of suspicions and recrimination. Someone who’s consistent with this outlook views God the way a juvenile delinquent views his old man. On the one hand, he wants dad to get off his back. Stop meddling in his life. Itches for the freedom to do his own thing.

On the other hand, he likes having dad around just in case he gets in trouble with the law and lands in the paddy wagon. Dad is generally a nuisance, but you should keep him on speed-dial just in case you need him to drive down to the pokey and bail you out.

The delinquent doesn’t love his father. Rather, he loves his freedom. But he loves to have his father available in a pinch."


The above is a partial quote from this post by Steve Hays at Triablogue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly my experience. Before God's sovereign grace teachings filled my head and heart, I was unsure of being saved. One day I would feel OK with God, the next sure i was gonna burn. My life was a roller coaster ride. Then Praise God!!! He set me free. Now, no matter what is going on, I have the deep, abiding joy that Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. I'd read that so many times, yet until I received correct teaching, it didn't sink in. Now i can be truly thankful- every hour of every day.

You played a large part in helping me to understand the true gospel message. Thank you. :-)

OK, I know you're gonna say it was all of God, so I said it for you. (smirk) But you are a vessel to bring good news, through your blog and providing sermons and writings by other Calvinists.

8:19 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...


You leave no wiggle room. Thanks.



8:49 pm  

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