Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's About Christ

I love reformed theology. To me, it is the highest and most God glorifying system of theology there is. If you want to worship God to the highest then you want to be reformed. in my humble opinion.

It is no secret that there are many opposed to reformed theology. They come from a different mindset. They read the Bible and draw entirely different conclusions about God and his work than reformed Christians do. Some come to conclusions that put them outside the scope of the Christian religion. Most do not. But they do come different conclusions and God and salvation.

Let me back up and make a few things clear. I am speaking of theology within an American (and sometimes British and Canadian) evangelical framework. Lutheranism is something else. It is a different branch of Protestantism than Evangelicalism. Pelagianism is a heresy and I am not speaking of them here. I am speaking of, what is normally called, Evangelical Protestantism in the United States. On one side stands the Calvinists, the Reformed Christians. On the other, the Arminians, the non-reformed Christians. What divides them is the very nature of the world, of God, and God's work in the world. They understand it from two totally different worldviews.

And oftentimes these two sides debate. Sometimes civilly, sometimes not. I confess, a lot of times there is more heat than light generated by these arguments. My point for this blog post is to remind my readers of one (very often overlooked) point. It is all about Jesus.

It is important to discuss and come to an understand of who God is, what the world system is, and how God is at work in the world and in the hearts of men. How we view these affects how we worship, pray, evangelize, and live as Christians. There is a baptist saying that goes "Right belief leads to right living." What you believe makes a difference in how you live it out. So it is good and right to study these issues and debate and argue them. Iron sharpens iron the Bible says.

But we must not forget that these debates are in-house debates, that is, Christian on Christian debates. Arminian Christians argue against Calvinist Christians with each side trying to deepen their understanding of God and his work. Our goal is not to understand Calvin better or Arminius better unless such study and understanding leads us to understand Christ better. I pray sincerely that none of us who engage in such arguments ever hope to lift up John Calvin or Jacob Arminius. May it never be said that I glorified Calvin or Knox or Spurgeon or any one of the reformed saints whose writings I read and learn from. Any teacher, no matter who they are, are only as useful as they are biblical. Because every argument we have, every debate, every discussion is never, ever about Calvin or Arminius or Knox or any one else ... it is only Christ.

It is Christ who is our God. Christ is our savior. He is our Shepherd. Our Bright and Morning Star. He is the Fairest of 10,000. He is the One whose blood cleanses us from our sins. He is our Advocate. It is Christ and it is always Christ. All our study and debate has it's goal to bring us closer to Christ. Arminian Christians and Calvinist Christians must not ever think to lift up or exalt any man or even any system of theology but there is One who is worthy to be exalted. Christ Alone.

On a side note, may we ever conduct ourselves as befitting the high theology we each claim to hold. Amen.


Anonymous James said...

Thanks for posting this, Dr. Sneed and although I agree with much of what you say, I would respectfully ask for a little clarification on your statement "Right belief leads to right living." Doesn't that imply that Christians, such as Arminians, with which you disagree are automatically endorsing wrong or immoral living?

9:39 AM  
Blogger John said...

Brother james,

Thank you for letting me clairy my comment. I have heard this phrase "Right belief leads to right living" for many years in different churches I had been in. I had heard it long before i fully embraced Calvinism or pastored a church. I went to college at Liberty University (no friend to reformed theology), and I heard it there.

I have always taken it to mean that good theology and doctrine will lead to holiness of life. The more biblical your doctrine, the more you can be conformed to Christ. I think that is a sentiment that both Calvinists and Arminians can embrace. I have always believed the more we conform ourselves to scripture, the more Christlike we are.

In no way did I have the idea that theological systems other than Calvinism embraced loose or sinful living. At the same time, in the context of my post, I would say that Calvinistic theology, if properly lived out, would lead to the most God-glorifying Christian lifestyle. I have no doubt my Arminian friends would argue the same for their theological system when correctly lived out.

In the end, let us all be students of scripture and let us all try to be good examples of the theological system we hold to. My goal, and I know it is yours too, is not to be a good Calvinist (or you a good Arminian, if that is what you are), but our goal is to be Christlike.

I hope this helps. Thanks for your response and for reading my blog. May God bless you.

1:05 PM  

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