September 7, 2009

Pondering Doctrinal Unity

Don't get me wrong. I love doctrine and I love theology. I do not love when these things become more important than the gospel and create elite clubs that breed pride, division and arrogance. This was written as a way to "vent" my sorrow and frustration. I hope, if nothing else, it can make us all laugh a little at ourselves.

So you say you’re a Calvinist. Are you a 5-point Calvinist or a 4 point Calvinist? Perhaps you are a hyper-Calvinist or a Neo-Calvinist. What about Lapsarianism and Supralapsarianism , not to mention Infralapsarianism (also called postlapsarianism and sublapsarianism). Do you hold to any of those theological positions? Do you even know what they mean? And, if you are a Neo-Calvinist; are you also a Reconstructionist? Forgive me if you happen to be an Amyraldist--it was not my intention to leave you out.

Let’s talk about Eschatology. Are you a Supersessionist? If so, do you hold to Covenantal or Kingdom-Dominion theology? Then again, you may actually be a Preterist and not even know it. Some of you (if we probe a little deeper) may be only a Partial Preterist and others—full Presterists. Of course, most of you are more than likely Historicists even though you don’t know what that means. Of course, there are also a handful of Futurists and a few Idealists remaining.

I’m sure most of you believe in “the rapture” of the Church. But, what do you believe about the rapture of the church? 1) That the whole body of the saved will be raptured before the Great Tribulation; 2) That the whole body of the saved must go through the Great Tribulation before they are raptured; or , 3) That a part of the saved will be raptured before the Great Tribulation and a part of them will be raptured after the Great Tribulation.

Which brings us naturally to the Millennium: So, are you a Supersessionist or a Dispensationalist? Are you really aware that the position that you hold in this area, makes a huge difference in how you view all of scripture. And, if you are Dispensational, are you: Ultra, Classical, Revised or Progressive? Then you may hold to Dispensational Futurism as opposed to Historic or Covenantal Futurism. But then again, many may be Dispensational Premillennialists and don’t even know it.

Of course, in order to know that for sure, we must first know if you are Premillenial, as opposed to Postmillenial or Amillenial. Have you heard of Transmillenialism? Well, maybe you should read up on it. You just might be a Transmillenialist and not even know it, and, of course, that would be important enough to spend at least a full year studying the topic just to make sure.

Now that we have pretty much sorted all of that out with crystal clarity. Let’s talk about where you stand on the “miraculous gifts”. Are you a Cessastionist? You say that you are. If you are, are you a Concentric Cessationist; a Classical Cessationists; a Full Cessationists; or a Consistent Cessationists. You say you are a “Non-Cessationist”. Oh my, that must mean that you are a Charismatic and speak in tongues and think everyone else should? You say, “No, that is not what I mean”. Oh, perhap you are a continuationist who would not call yourself Charismatic or Pentecostal? So then, tell me, do you hold to an “open but cautious” view or a “third wave” view?

Now that we have discussed and completely understand where you stand on the truly important doctrinal positions held by the Church, I still need to know if you are a Complementarian or an Egalitarian. You say you’re not sure, as you see some truth and some error in both positions. Well, have no fear, in time there will be a label just for your personal convictions in this area so that you can call yourself semi-egalitarian; partial complementarian; or trans-egalitarian—whichever shoe happens to fit. Of course, there is also a group that really needs to define themselves as hyper-complementarian, in order to clearly differentiate them from the run of the mill complimentarians.

Phew – let us move on.

Church polity? What are the proper methods of choosing clergy, and what is their role within the context of the Church? Is an ordained clergy necessary? Who are the leaders of a church? Must there be a policy-making board of "leaders" within a church and what are the qualifications for this position, and by what process do these members become official, ordained "leaders"? Must leaders and clergy be "ordained," and is this possibleonly by those who have been ordained by others?

While you are pondering the answers to those questions and formulating the proper names for your positions on such matters – tell me where you stand on baptism. Are you paedobaptistic or credobaptistic and if you are credobaptistic can you tell me your position on “the age of accountability”? O’ let’s save that discussion for another day, I am too busy trying to decide if a professing Christian, who has not yet been baptized, can partake in communion.

In case anyone is wondering, I would best be labeled as a 5 point semi-Neo-Calvinist; historistic, complimentarian, credobaptist; who holds a post-tribulation, premillinial eschatology with an open but cautious view on miraculous gifts. Would I make any attempt to convince you of any of those positions by debate or reasoning. No I would not. I will, and do, trust God, by His Spirit through His Word to convince you of His truths with the realization that some of these things will never be undertsood, with 100% certainity, by any man on this side of Heaven.

Well - wouldn't you know it. I left out Federal and Evangelical Calvinism, respectively; as well as, Affective-Free Grace Calvinism.

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