Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I, Calvinist?

Afraid I ain't.

Beside the Beloved Himself, the man most responsible for the shape of my faith - living or dead - is my earthly father.

My ancestors were Appalachian folk primarily, and still are. "The quintessential mountain family," said one mid-twentieth century newspaper of my great-great-grandfather's homestead. Clergymen, doctors, statesmen, and lawyers are scarce in my direct bloodline. We were far better at farming, birthing babies, avoiding politics, and - true to our Scotch heritage - imbibing copious amounts of moonshine.

My father was different. When he at last left his rascally behavior at the foot of the cross, he was ready to sink his teeth into something more substantial - more dogmatic - than the superfluous [yet sincere] mountain religion of his forefathers which still lived in the Second Great Awakening. Their worship, I'm convinced, was and remains a delight to the Beloved. I was raised on a good deal of it myself. But my father had questions - real questions, not mere doubts or insecurities - about God, the church, and the faith which a simplistic mountain Christianity could not satiate.

When I was eight, my family - for centuries clapping to That Ol' Time Religion - underwent a shift in thinking. We had become Calvinists. We had gone from mountains which had never heard the echo of "ism" to becoming an ism ourselves.

I cannot express the good this did me. Introduction to strange new ideas colored my mind with inquiries and forced my brain to turn inward on itself. Who is God? Who are you? Are you saved? How can you become so, if you are not?

These questions would run me into a hellish three-year period of doubt and God-hating during the teen years. Really, the ugliest days of my life. Nonetheless, the very spirit which brought me to ask would in time bring me to the Answer. Sometimes I think atheists are inquirers who stop inquiring too soon. The trouble is not that they keep asking questions; it's that they stop. They let go before God blesses them. If they could learn to wait on the Lord...

But moving on...

My father - due, no doubt, to acting in the fear of the Almighty - maintains an exemplary relationship with his father, my grandfather, despite diverging profoundly [though perhaps not essentially] on core Christian doctrines.

It is in that same spirit that I write this series of blog posts expressing my concerns with Calvinistic Christianity. It is not that I find these teachings untrue, per se, but misleading and oversimplified. I come before you a humble Anglican, fearful of what I am saying and imploring the Beloved's help.

It is also in the same spirit as my father that I depart from Calvinism: thirst for Diviner substance. This is the result of three years' experience, culminating the past six months into a galloping departure from the staples of Calvinistic thought.

Frankly, I am more interested in maintaining fellowship than being right on peripheral issues. And it is in that interest for fellowship - to grow and be enriched as a single church Body - that I write these....criticisms. This blog is meant for the good of the church catholic; God help me if it is not!

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