November 20, 2017

Pete Enns: God, the Helicopter Parent. Not.

28808101756_88cd2d39ef_k

Note from CM: Thanks to Pete for allowing us to re-post this good article. I continue to be refreshed by his perspectives on the Bible and how it teaches us.

• • •

God Isn’t the Great Helicopter Parent in the Sky (at least that’s what the Bible says)
by Peter Enns

Although my three children are now (dear God, please) well-adjusted 20-somethings, mine was the generation of parents who hovered over their children to insulate them from failure and ensure their “success” in life (good grades, sports, avoiding drugs, learning violin, whatever).

But, as any decent child psychologist (not to mention previous generations of parents) will tell us, good parenting isn’t about plugging in the right coordinates to ensure children arrive at the right spot, or protecting them from failure and pain that come with growth, or arranging their environment so that it all works out for them.

Good parenting is preparing children to figure things out for themselves as they go along in life, i.e., hovering early on but then looking for ways to stop hovering as soon as possible.

The more I look at the Bible as a whole, the more I see that God is not a helicopter parent. 

Now, you can focus in on some portions of the Bible in isolation—say the exodus period with all its strict laws—and it sure looks like God is hovering and micromanaging Israel’s every move to make sure they “turn out O.K.”: Don’t worship idols, sacrifice this and that at certain days and times, be sure to eat foods only from column A, not from column B, etc.

But when I look at the Bible as a whole—not individual stages on the journey—I see a very different picture.

The Bible gives diverse information on even some of the most basic questions of faith. This diverse information really can’t be—and I feel shouldn’t be—harmonized to yield “one lesson” or any such thing. Rather, I feel the presence of this diversity brings us to a different conclusion.

Take God, for instance.

If you look to the Bible to find out what God is like, you won’t find a handy information packet. You see varying portraits of God. Depending on where you read,

  • God either knows everything or and is surprised and reacts accordingly (like in the story of Noah and the Flood in Genesis 6);
  • God is either set in his ways as a sovereign ruler or he changes his mind when pressed (as with Moses in Exodus 33);
  • God gives one law in one place and later adjusts it or lays down another law someplace else (compare the slave laws in exodus 21 and Deuteronomy 15);
  • sometimes God is overflowing with compassion (Book of Jonah) and at others times he is quick to pull the trigger (Sodom and Gomorrah).

I think the reason the Bible exhibits such diversity of information concerning God’s behaviors (just one example) is that the Bible reflects different moments in Israel’s spiritual journey. Israel’s understanding of God grows, shifts, changes, etc., over time, thus reflecting “where they are” at the moment.

The Bible records a journey.

A great place to see in a nutshell how the Bible isn’t set up to micromanage our process of growth is Proverbs, Israel’s book of wisdom. Proverbs 26:4 and 5 summarize the entire issue, as I see it;

  • Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you will be a fool yourself.
  • Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.

“OK, God, which is it? Which one do I do now? Tell me! The first or the second?” Deafening silence.

What you do depends on the situation you are in, and guess what: you get
to figure that out God giving you hints to make sure you get the right answer. 

God doesn’t hand it to you. God doesn’t micromanage. We aren’t on a leash to keep us from making mistakes.

Wisdom is the goal of the maturation process, and it can’t be scripted with assured success. It’s about learning how to negotiate life’s moments when they come up.

Personally, I think that is a great way of summarizing the process of parenting and of spiritual growth.

A Bible that exhibits such diversity does not do well as a script to ensure success. I think the Bible functions very differently, on what I feel is a deeper and more profound level.

If I may rephrase all of this: the Bible’s theological diversity (which is unmistakable) alerts me that treating it as a hovering index of “what to do” sells the Bible short.

If we reflect on it for a moment, common experience demonstrates that the answers to what confronts our day-to-day lives of faith are most often not found in “Bible verses.” Rather, the Bible models for us a spiritual journey of failure, success, adaptation, growth, change—which is far more immediately relevant for God’s people, then and now.

I think the point of the life of faith is to become wise over time, and not to be trained to know which page to flip to to find a one-size-fits-all answer.

• • •

Pete writes more about how the Bible works in the life of faith in his books, The Sin of Certainty (HarperOne, 2016) and The Bible Tells Me So (HarperOne, 2014). He blogs at The Bible for Normal People.

Comments

  1. We aren’t on a leash to keep us from making mistakes.

    And when mistakes have eternal consequences… THAT IS SCARY.

    Wanna know why I’m a Calvinist? This is why! If it’s ultimately in my hands whether I end up in heaven or hell, I am ######. I am not equipped or capable of being that faithful.

    Either God IS sovereign in the ultimate fate of my soul, or I will burn.

    • I was predestined to be an Arminian….

    • Christiane says:

      the way I see it, it doesn’t take Calvin to provide people with a complex logic system that requires ‘assurance’ of God’s power in order to trust Christ . . . . . we have the story of the Roman centurion who came to Our Lord looking for help for his servant and said, this:

      “When he entered Capernaum,* a centurion approached him and appealed to him, 6saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” 7He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 8The centurion said in reply,* “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel* have I found such faith. . . . .

      . . . . 13And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.”

      The problem with the Calvin thing is that, in order for one part of the logic system to work for you, you have to buy into the OTHER stuff, some of it bizarre and not representative of what occurred in the simple story of the Roman’s faith in the Holy Gospels. Another problem is that ‘faith’ like that of a small child is needed in order to enter into the Kingdom of God . . . . . Calvin’s ‘system’ is way too complicated for chilldren to grasp. It’s like a kind of ‘special knowledge’ you need to have in order to join in under Calvin’s tent. I’ll pass on it, except for the part that sees God as THE beginning and source of all goodness in our lives . . . . . that was believed long before the advent of John Calvin, yes. Some thoughts . . . .

      • Christiane says:

        excerpt is from the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 8

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        For me “The problem with the Calvin thing is that” it is unnecessary. At least for me, nothing I find their is especially helpful. The fruit of Calvanism, demonstrably, appears to be nearly ceaseless argumentation.

        On the other hand the “‘faith’ like that of a small child” meme makes me uneasy; I’m doubtful that meant “be a simpleton” [as Christ elsewhere requests people be like accountants and investors]. Like our passage from James yesterday, that is a passage that needs to dealt with [ironically] very deftly, as it is prone to running into strange alleys.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Calvin’s ‘system’ is way too complicated for chilldren to grasp. It’s like a kind of ‘special knowledge’ you need to have in order to join in under Calvin’s tent.

        Speshul Sekrit Knowledge understood by only the Illuminated Inner Ring?
        (No wonder Calvinists are organized as top-down theocratic dictatorships…)
        Sekrit Knowledge = Occult Gnosis.
        Illuminated Inner Ring = Illuminati.

    • “Either God IS sovereign in the ultimate fate of my soul, or I will burn.”

      This has never been very helpful to me. I have no way of knowing if I am a sheep or a goat. Seems so arbitrary. Yet, my actions won’t get me much. My Faith? – meh – that always seems to be lacking as well.

      Faith like the centurion? I wish.
      Faith like a child? An illustration – a 2 month old starts responding to his mother’s voice with such elation and when picked up they usually (except when hungry) have a look that says – “all is right with the world as I am in your loving arms…” A look that says – I am right where I am susposed to be and nothing compares with the joy and awe of looking at you.
      If faith like a child is anything like this, I am in deep trouble. I don’t have this look in my eyes very often and I find that too many things distract me.

      So, for me this reads more like “God IS sovereign in the ultimate fate of my soul, so maybe I am part of the elect and maybe not. I have no way of knowing.”

      Yet – I do have faith that God is faithful. How I came to have that faith – I wish I knew.

      • If Calvinism states that some are predestined to be saved and that there is nothing they can do about it then it follows that the rest are predestined for hell and there is nothing that THEY can do about THAT!

        I’ve heard plenty of verbal gymnastics that try to make that sound more like those bound for damnation chose it on their own, but none of it convinces me.

        On the other hand, the standard Arminian teaching that you can throw away your salvation at any time ALSO sounds scary.

        My best reckoning is that the truth lays somewhere in the middle and, like a lot of speculation about things divine, remains a mystery. All theology rests on man’s idea that the bible is like a hard and fast rule book and that its rules and regulations can be lined up for a hard and fast tutorial on existence.

        My solution is to hold onto the Savior’s hand as tightly as I can and to fall at His feet when I fall short. And, just as any parent, I HOPE that He never loses faith in my memory of His gift of grace.

        That is the best that I can do…

        • Ronald Avra says:

          I am totally with you on this one, Oscar.

        • If Calvinism states that some are predestined to be saved and that there is nothing they can do about it then it follows that the rest are predestined for hell and there is nothing that THEY can do about THAT!

          It’s like the perfect slave owner’s theology. We are in due to birth. You are out due to birth.

          That’s just the way it is. If you disagree, take it up with God.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Come to think of it, the Southern Baptists (Southern as in Confederate States of America) started out as Calvinists…

          • No, Stuart. That is how MAN has perceived it to be. There is no real way of knowing that the system theologians have come up with is really what God intends. Do we REALLY know what the writer meant when he used the word “predestined”? Sure, experts and theologians will say they DO know, but on what evidence?

            Anyone who says they have a “lock down” understanding is not leaving room for human error in understanding. I just don’t trust them…

          • Stuart, my apologies if I misunderstood your meaning…see how easy it is to get it wrong? 🙂

        • I keep coming back to…

          No parent would birth a child with the intention of throwing them into a fiery furnace for eternity. No parent would say, “The first two are IN, the next two are OUT.”

          Now…aren’t we told in the Bible that if our EARTHLY parents know how to treat their children, certainly God the Father is even BETTER? So why would ANYONE who’s had children think God the Father would predestine ANY of His children to Hell???

          • Exactly, God would NEVER create a soul that He would condemn to Hell with no possibility for salvation. Jesus talked about love. That would no one’s definition of love.

        • There are scriptures that support Calvinism. There are scriptures that support Arminianism. The tension is human created, though, in trying to build a theology around conflicting notions.

          I like the way Peter Enns says it in the title of his book, “The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our ‘Correct’ Beliefs.” I don’t think God cares whether I sign up for Calvinism or Arminianism or whatever other theology someone has created based upon certain chunks scripture.

          • Is it so much that there are Scriptures that support those positions, or that those positions started using Scripture to support themselves.

            Wonder which came first.

      • –> “How I came to have that faith – I wish I knew.”

        Oh, I bet you could chart out a testimony that shows how you came to have faith. If it’s anything like mine, it’ll look like a jigsaw puzzle of about 1000 pieces, all of which were necessary to complete the picture.

        And to me, God knew all the pieces it would take, it just took Him (and me, along with others) several SEVERAL years to put the pieces together and then for me to stand back and say, “Oh, NOW I get it! Yes, I believe!”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “Either God IS sovereign in the ultimate fate of my soul, or I will burn.”

        This has never been very helpful to me. I have no way of knowing if I am a sheep or a goat. Seems so arbitrary. Yet, my actions won’t get me much. My Faith? – meh – that always seems to be lacking as well.

        “In’shal’lah… Eh, Kismet?”

    • If it’s ultimately in my hands whether I end up in heaven or hell, I am ######. I am not equipped or capable of being that faithful.

      Light pushback. Yes, you are equipped. Yes, you are capable. By God’s grace. By God’s DESIGN. And absolute faithfulness is neither required nor expected.

      God doesn’t choose you for heaven or hell. You choose yourself.

    • This only works as long as you are not one of the ones predestined for hell, which is clearly spelled out in the doctrine of double-predestination.

  2. Christiane says:

    “God doesn’t micromanage.”

    but there ARE those times when you are aware, without ‘knowing’, that ‘something’s up’ and it’s not all ‘coincidental’:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWzIpxB94DI

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “God doesn’t micromanage.”

      But a lot of Pastors DO.

      • And remember, he gave Peter the keys, so if your leader casts you out…so does your Father.

        • But in all theological seriousness, YHWH of the Old Testament was as easily manipulated as any other late bronze age deity. Talismanism, cult, and lex talionis were part and parcel of his worship. So the cultic tendencies of Christianity – such as pastors or priests as having special persuasive or communicative powers with god – is a natural evolution. We can debate whether it fits with the words of Jesus, but it does fit.

  3. When raising our children, while all of our Christian friends were ‘Raising Kids God’s Way’ (remember that…??), I turned to the bible to see how God ‘parented’ His children. Quite simply, was my first thought. He gives a lot of IF-THEN’s. If you do/don’t do this…such and such will/won’t happen. It’s really quite brilliant. Started in the garden of Eden — and still continues to this day. We have choices…they are our choices, we enjoy or suffer the consequences accordingly.

    Peter Enns is correct–God is not a helicopter parent; I didn’t want to be one either. Failure is often THE best teacher, more than anything I could say or do or teach or model. To this day, we still tell our children (all grown, almost all married) that we don’t love them for what they do, or have accomplished, etc….but because of who they are and are maturing into, even if ‘failure’ is in the mix.

    The kids, separately, when in college and came to the realization of how differently they were raised, thanked us for allowing them to learn to be independent, thinkers, and to realize any successes/failures were their’s to own–and for not ‘protecting’ them. We weren’t going to rescue them on homework, a school project, what they forgot, etc.

    We realized early on that what most parents were doing and are still doing as their kids grow up and still live with their parents…is actually crippling them. This is NOT how God treats His kids;He knows that it is often in our sin/failures that we find God to be the one we turn to, the one we realize we want –the unconditional loving parent–no matter how we screwed up at any given time…or for a period of time. God waits patiently, He loves with open arms.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > …thanked us for allowing them to learn…

      Congratulations.

      > We realized early on that what most parents

      It is really more a particular demographic, not “most”; “most” cannot materially afford to be helicopters. More than 1 in 4 children have only one parent and ~52% of single mothers work ‘full-time’ or more hours, it is over 82% for single fathers. 44% of US children live in low-income / finanically-at-risk households. Little room for helicoptering in those configurations.

      • brianthedad says:

        yes. my experience with helicopter parents and their little snowflakes have been upper middle class, married, usually white, but not always, oftentimes Evangelical. they inevitably show up at little league baseball games wanting to customize the uniforms with names at additional cost, organize all the drink and snack schedules, and photograph every move of said snowflake for permanent archival on Instagram.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The proper term is “Speshul WIddle Snowflakes”.

          Who usually go completely, destructively crazy (booze, drugs, sex, life-threatening daredevil) the instant they are well away from Mommy and on their own.

  4. God has absolute freedom, he is sovereign; human beings, and indeed the whole creation, have real freedom, and are not programmed automatons. God’s wedding feast is full of many people, good and bad alike, dragged in from the streets; yet many are called, but few are chosen. It is more difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven than to pass through the eye of a needle; the kingdom of God is for those who have faith like a child’s. Narrow is the path that leads to salvation; it is God’s will that all be saved. God’s will shall be done on earth as in heaven; there shall be much gnashing of teeth.

    Enns is so obviously right about the plurality of theologies in the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, that for me it goes without saying. No system can tame and harmonize all these different strands into a coherent theological whole, especially not the sayings of Jesus as given in the Gospels; I’m more and more inclined to believe that he did not intend for them to be harmonized. This is a theological assertion too, but I’m willing to risk it, because I’ve got nothing to lose: the living God of Jesus is not a God of theological systems, nor is he in competition with our theologies.

    • –> “God’s wedding feast is full of many people, good and bad alike, dragged in from the streets; yet many are called, but few are chosen.”

      The funny thing is, NONE of those initially called (invited) attended the wedding! They first refused, and then, when the second invitation went out, they found excuses not to attend.

      I feel sorry for the poor chap who gets pulled in from off the street, then gets tied hand to foot and tossed into the darkness where there is gnashing of teeth because he wasn’t wearing the right clothes. What was Jesus thinking when he added that little twist?

      • It really doesn’t make sense. I mean, many were chosen, and the room was full of revelers; only one was rejected. Could he have meant that many are called to party at the feast, and only a few of those are chosen for the outer darkness?

        Maybe Jesus was having a moment of cognitive weakness (which stressed-out human beings are prone to do) when he said this, and, as a result, what he said didn’t make sense.

        Is it heretical to say that?

  5. Still pondering CM’s remark from yesterday that ‘Bible reading is, in its essence, more of a “church” thing than a “personal” thing.’ In combination with this morning’s post, a question occurs. I’m assuming here that liturgy as it developed early on had Scripture readings much as today. In the east these were in Greek and in the west in Latin, and early on people could understand what was being read. But as the church expanded, it would have included people that didn’t understand Greek or Latin. Yes, there was a church that used Syriac, but what about the French, the Germans, the Celts, the Russians? One of the main benefits of the so called Reformation was vernacular Bibles and liturgy. What happened before then in places where Greek and Latin were not understood by the congregation? When did the Roman church switch to vernacular readings? For all I know Orthodox churches are still reading Scripture in Greek, but if not, when did they change?

    • Orthodox churches still read in Greek, in Greece. The Greek from the Liturgy is not street-Greek, but it’s no harder to understand for an educated Greek than Elizabethan English is for us. Old Church Slavonic was used to evangelize the Slavs from Constantinople, when Rome insisted on Latin. OCS has the same level of intelligibility for Slavs as New Testament Greek has for modern day Greeks; you can puzzle it out but nobody speaks like that anymore. The Arabic and Aramaic speaking churches (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria) won their linguistic independence from Greek rather late, after the Crusades. I think language was one of the causes of the Chalcedonian schism.

      Attempts to replace the traditional liturgies with Good News For Modern Man-style modern-language versions always fail. If you don’t want to go, Russian liturgies wont be the reason you decide to go. If you want to go, the language is easy enough to pick up, and it sounds “holy”.

      The Alaskan and Siberian indigenes who converted to Orthodoxy have the Bible and services in their own languages. Right now, the Greeks are busy as bees translating everything into Mayan and Spanish for the 300,000 Guatemalans who converted en-masse to Orthodoxy in 2008.

      The problem with the Western church was that you had Latin edging into the Romance languages very gradually in the early Middle Ages and not really picking up speed towards mutual un-intelligibility until post-Schism times. I don’t know the Roman justification for imposing Latin on the Celts, on the Germans, or on the Catholic Slavs, but it didn’t turn out well, except maybe in Poland.

    • Charley,

      my understanding is that the structure of the first part of the ancient liturgy, Catholic and Orthodox both, is that of a Jewish prayer service, consisting of prayers, hymns and Scripture readings. This makes sense, since the first Christians were Jews. The Eucharist was added by Christians to reflect their understand of who Jesus was and what he accomplished. As time went on, many of the prayers in RC were different than in EO, but the most important elements – the Scripture readings, the sermon, the Creed, the Sanctus, the Consecration, the Our Father and Communion, along with their places in the order of things – have remained the same.

      I’m not sure when RC began reading the Scriptures in the vernacular at Mass – my guess would be some time after the Council of Trent, and depended on the Bishop in any one place. In some parishes in the US, the readings were in Latin right up to Vatican II, but often also in English following the Latin. In the British Isles (and elsewhere), there were non-Latin Liturgies before the Synod of Whitby, including the Sarum Rite, which still has some popularity, also among “high church” Anglicans.

      I do know that Orthodox have always read the Scriptures and celebrated Liturgy in the language of whatever people group they were. When Orthodoxy came to the Slavic lands, Ss Kyril and Methodius developed the alphabet, Cyrillic, by means of which the vast treasure of Greek could be translated into the Slavic languages. That translation happened pretty much right away, as has been the case everywhere Orthodoxy has gone. Orthodox Christians in the Levant celebrate the Liturgy in Arabic. A friend of mine, who did some Orthodox education work in Uganda for a time, translated the daily Liturgical Hours into Baganda (I think). St Nicholas of Japan was a Russian who was the first real Orthodox missionary to Japan, and studied Japanese for many years so he could translate. The first Orthodox missionaries to Alaska learned *all* of the major Alaskan Native languages so they could translate Scripture and the Liturgy, and did it within 50 years. It’s a great blessing to be able to read Scripture in Greek, but it’s not done in the Liturgy in Greek anywhere but in Greece, or some expat congregations.

      By the way, an interesting example of Orthodox missionary activity is Alaska. The Orthodox missionaries there treated the Alaskan Natives like human beings. There were no forced conversions; the first missionaries simply lived like the monks they were, eking out their subsistence punctuated by their prayer services, and learning the languages. As the Natives grew curious about their religious practice, the missionaries simply answered their questions. The monks were constantly standing up to the fur trade bosses on behalf of the natives, and wrote letters back to the fur trade companies in Russia, exhorting them to tell the bosses in Alaska to treat the natives right. Many fur traders married Native women, as opposed to simply living with them, but in both cases their offspring were in no way viewed as second-class by the missionaries. The Orthodox missionaries built schools in the communities and taught the people in their languages, as well as Russian. They encouraged the people to keep their customs that did not conflict with Christianity – one is the beautiful Star Ceremony at Christmas, a thoroughly Alaskan Native contribution to the celebration. The Orthodox missionaries did not ship all the children off to boarding schools, forbid the children from speaking their native languages or impose “white” dress and hair styles on them. The majority of Orthodox clergy in Alaska is Alaskan Native, and Orthodoxy in Alaska is thoroughly enculturated.

      Dana

      • Dana, and also Mule, the great freedom and assistance given various peoples in seeking their own truth within the Orthodox tradition is going to count mightily in my view when all is said and done.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    When did the Roman church switch to vernacular readings?

    Vatican II in the early 1960s.
    And it caused another schism — to this day, Trad Catholics (and especially their Lunatic Fringe) rally round the Tridentine Latin Mass of 1560(?), itself formalized as a pushback against the Lutherans.

    • HUG, I understand that the liturgy itself retained Latin until Vatican Two, but I’m asking about the lectionary Scripture readings in particular. Catholics had English Bibles nearly as soon as English Protestants. Are you saying that even so, English speaking Catholics heard the weekly changing Scriptures in Latin every Sunday until recently? My sniff detector is making noises. Can any Catholics here confirm this?

  7. Well, whether or not Rome had folks listening to Scripture in Latin up until our lifetimes, and I doubt it, what sparked my thinking was CM’s comment yesterday, which struck me as a softened version of what Luther fought and overcame. Here is what CM said:

    >>That’s why I think that Bible reading is, in its essence, more of a “church” thing than a “personal” thing. We hear scripture together and with wise teachers and the tradition of the church to guide us.

    I’ve been in Bible studies where there were some wacky or ignorant ideas put forth by participants, and this is behind the former proscription against vernacular translations of the Bible in the western world. But it was also a means of controlling people. The first task I set myself after consciously committing myself to Jesus was to read the whole Bible from beginning to end, every last word. Looking back 47 years I think that was a smart move and one I would do over again and recommend. I continued reading it in various translations and I’m working my way thru the Modern English Version today. The principal benefit I have derived from this has been to protect myself from various supposedly wise teachers and church traditions. You might be able to fool me for awhile, but you would have your work cut out for you and you better be better than good at it.

    In a lifetime, off and on, of church attendance and listening to sermons, I do not recall a single instance of any teaching in church that was memorable or new or that made any difference in how I lived or what I thought or understood. None. Nada. Almost all of my Christian education has come thru books, and now also online. You might say these authors and writers were my wise teachers and church tradition, but it has been a continual process of three steps forward and two back, winnowing out a bushel of chaff to get a cup of grain. If I had not read the Bible for myself, I might well find myself today lying in a ditch somewhere with Augustine and Calvin and Scofield and other esteemed worthies too numerous to mention.

    So I tend to get a little upset when someone suggests that I leave the understanding of the Bible up to those more qualified and certified and ordained and approved. It’s not that I don’t recognize such teachers when I run across them. Certainly Pete Enns would qualify for me, as would our good Chaplain Mike, as would Tom Wright and Richard Rohr and a shelf of others. But I’m the one doing the qualifying here, and that isn’t as accurate as saying that God’s Spirit is authenticating them for me and helping set up my course schedule for next semester.

    CM goes on to say, ‘Most of the time we don’t need to get caught up in all the details of the Bible. “God loves us, has redeemed us and set us free to love God and our neighbors” is about any of us need to know on any given day.’ Wholehearted agreement, but as for me I feel like I can stand with that statement because I have read the other 99.9% of the Bible and find it in agreement as well, underneath all the contradictions and paradoxes and mysteries. I’m not the kind of person that agrees and believes because someone tells me that’s what I should believe and agree with. Yes, we have Pete Enns, but we also have a bunch of unintentional and intentional nitwits, and even with Pete I’m applying the sniff test. Only Jesus gets a free pass.

    • Don’t forget that Luther saw himself as one of those authoritative teachers trying to get people to accept a purer version of tradition and teaching more in line with the apostles and Fathers of the church. He spent as much time countering and berating enthusiasts who were practicing private interpretation and Spirit-given wisdom.

      • >> Don’t forget that Luther saw himself as one of those authoritative teachers . . .

        Not forgotten at all. I would have fared badly in Luther’s Germany, even worse in Geneva, very glad to be living in this day and age, where chances are I will not end up burned alive at the stake. Luther died of an apoplectic stroke.

  8. senecagriggs says:

    “Calvinism does not teach and never has taught that God bring people kicking and screaming into the kingdom or has ever excluded anyone who wanted to be there. Remember that the cardinal point of the Reformed doctrine of predestination rests on the biblical teaching of man’s spiritual death. Natural man does not want Christ. He will only want Christ if God plants a desire for Christ in his heart. Once that desire is planted, those who come to Christ do not come kicking and screaming against their wills. They come because they want to come. They now desire Jesus. They rush to the Saviour. The whole point of irresistible grace is that rebirth quickens someone to spiritual life in such a way that Jesus is now seen n his irresistible sweetness. Jesus is irresistible to those who have been made alive to the things of God. Every soul whose heart beats with the life of God within it longs for the living Christ. All whom the Father gives to Christ come to Christ (John 6:37).” R.C. Sproul

  9. Snohomish parent says:

    When did it become a bad thing to protect your children and parent them? I’m so sick and tired of defending my right to be my children’s mom. The teachers are not parents. It is every parents responsibility to be your child’s number one advocate. If you’re not ready to do this, don’t be a parent.

  10. “God either knows everything or is surprised and reacts accordingly.”

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately myself.

    Some verses of the bible sound like something a Calvinist would say. Others sound like something an Arminian would say. Still others sound like something an Open Theist would say.

    Which is why any theological system (at least any claiming to be based on the bible) is going to have problems somewhere.

    Could also mention that some scriptures sound Premil and others sound Amil. Differences in creation account in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 also.