September 10, 2011

Do We Have A Soul?

Filed under: Theology — Bob Gifford @ 2:26 pm

I am finally getting around to posting a term paper I wrote for my Systematic Theology 3: Ecclesiology and Eschatology class at Fuller last year.

Do we have a soul?

© Bob Gifford.. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Calvinism v. Lutheranism

Filed under: Theology — Bob Gifford @ 2:15 pm

My thoughts on this excellent article critiquing Calvinism:

To me the most important refutation of Calvinism is this: A god who willfully creates people whom are foreordained to eternal punishment with no chance to avoid it is a monster, a sadist. This is not a god to be worshiped, but a god to be resisted, rebelled against, and overthrown.

God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenificent. A monster god is not omnibenificent. The only way to square this circle is if God, although omnipotent, out of God’s omnibeneficence chooses to give us free will. God willingly limits God’s power out of love. Love does not compel love in return, but allows the freedom for it to be freely returned. This requires the risk that the love will not be returned. Adam (and Eve…let’s not forget Eve) had free will which allowed them to act against God’s will, i.e. sin, in spite of God’s love. The Fall was not that Adam and Eve sinned, it was that as a result they were kicked out of the Garden, i.e. they were separated from God’s presence, which is always the consequence of sin.

This author sounds very Lutheran when he talks about mystery. Luther did not feel the need to resolve paradox, but embraced paradox. So Jesus is human and divine, salvation is through faith but visible in works, we are in the world but not of it, we are simul justus et peccator, faith is a gift but it requires our response. We are to live the paradoxes, not construct a neat logical resolution to them as Calvin did, thereby missing the whole point. Luther was very zen. Calvin not so much.

Note the name of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s church – very Lutheran. It’s not a House for Sinners, and also a House for Saints. It’s a House for all who are both sinners and saints, i.e. everyone. One of my kids brought home a t shirt from a youth event with a design that, when read right side up by someone looking at it from the front, said “Sinner”. But when the wearer looked down at the front of the shirt, seeing the design upside down, it said “Saint”. For us Lutherans, paradox is a feature, not a bug of our theology.

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