Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Calvinist Verse of the Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Henry Imler @ 11:34 pm

And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…

Acts 17:26-27 (English Standard Version)

The above seems like a mix of determinism and free will, does it not? I am not sure if many of you know this, but Travis and I work together and have had several long conversations about Calvinism and Arminianism. Travis leans heavily towards the Calvinist view and the complete authority of the ruler of the universe and I simply cannot fathom love without choice and thus lean towards Arminianism.

I must admit that the main thrust of my leanings stems from my philosophical views and heavily influences my interpretation of the Bible. Yet, I remain committed to having an open mind on this issue and to seek the truth independent of how I may want it to be.

With that confession out of the way, I must say that many passages give me trouble. Romans 9 and Pharoah of Genesis are a few examples. I have yet to incorporate all my beliefs on the subject into a single workable theory.

The above verses, along with others, such as John 3:16, seem to frame the argument a bit differently than the pro-Calvinist verses do. I want to take a quick look at several phrases in the two above verses and see which side of the fence that they fall on.

having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place

Here Luke makes no bones about God placement of humans on the earth. He planned for me to be born in Missouri in the early 1980’s. This seems to line up very well with the Deterministic philosophy found in Calvinism (and most of Christian Theology for that matter). The catch here is the next phrase:

that they should seek God

Luke lets us humans in on a divine motive: God puts us in our locations and times so that we may seek God. This is the real hard part for any Calvinist to swallow in light of the maintaining of the five points of Calvinism.

Calvinism says that humans are so corrupted by original sin, that they cannot even begin to seek God. While I would agree that Man cannot reach God by his efforts alone, I have a hard time that none seek Him without his election, with all the religions we have had running around throughout the years.

Does God elect all of the saved independent of consent from the saved; or do the people that are saved choose to join in with the universal offering of salvation provided for by God? The next phrase seems to clue us in on what the answer might be:

in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.

This too seems to indicate that God places each person in their own little nick on history’s totem pole in the hope that the causes and conditions might be just right that the person would choose to look for and find God. The last phrase re-enforces this idea :

Yet he is actually not far from each one of us

It is very difficult to substitute “each one of us” with “people who God chooses anyway to find Him” as one must if one takes a Calvinist approach. It would seem that God has made Himself available to all and hopes that we choose to look for Him.

With this said, what are we left with in these two verses? My interpretation is that God is involved with mankind and influences their lives in order to point us in the general direction, yet respects our autonomy and choice so much that he remains hidden and hopes that we choose to look for God.


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