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Ever slammed the door in a salesman’s face?

June 16, 2006

Let's suppose for a moment that a vacuum cleaner salesman showed up at your front door, introduced himself, then said,"so what kind of vacuum cleaner do you have?"  Upon answering his question, he says, "What? Are you an idiot?  That brand sucks! (pun intended)  You've got a worthless piece of junk.  I can't believe you were stupid enough to buy that brand to begin with.  Look, you might as well take a straw and suck up the dust particles then spit them in the garbage than use that clunker." 

Your response would probably be to slam the door in his face without further comment unless you had a wittier response than what I could come  up with.  You probably wouldn't even consider letting him in your house let alone buy one of his vacuum cleaners.  You might write off that brand for all time, swearing to never deal with any of their salesmen again.  You would probably tell your friends about the incident and warn them to not deal with that brand again and worst of all, you would probably question your own vacuum cleaner's ability to perform.  Maybe what he said was true.  How could you know?

Now, let's suppose instead of that salesman, a different salesman showed up at your door and also asked what kind of vacuum cleaner you had.  His response, however, is, "yes, I'm familiar with that brand.  They are definitely easy to use and have a good reputation, but would you mind if I came in and showed you how my product has improved upon the things your vacuum cleaner does well, and does things your vacuum was never meant to do?"  Your response, may be the same as with the first salesman anyway, but you would probably be much more inclined to listen to what this salesman had to say and may even refer your friends to him if what he said was true. 

This is the difference I found between Wilson  and Sproul.    While Wilson gave me a good look at his nostrils from my penitent position, Sproul looked me straight in the eye.  Maybe a little cross-eyed, but in the eye none the less.  Sproul approached the subject with humility and a genuine desire to teach what he feels is the truth.  He was able to identify with people of different views and did a much better job of representing their view.  I say better, but not perfectly.  Obviously, one can't try to cover each and every variation of a belief in a book meant for other reasons.  It would be like trying to get a scoop of all 51 flavors of ice-cream on one waffle cone.  Sproul earned my respect.  As a result, I am almost sorry to say that I am still not convinced.  There are some fatal flaws in some of the things he tries to reason out and he reasons out things that should just be read and understood as they were written.  I don't intend this to be a book report on his book, but since most of the things I know about Calvanism come from his book, I will reference it to kick start my topics.

Anyone want to buy a bridge?

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Chosen by choice?

May 24, 2006

  As I have said in my first blog, I am neither a theologian, nor a writer.  As a result, this may lack some of the professional luster that some might be expecting.  I hope, however that it may interest some enough to read. 

   Ah, how I want to skip the prep and get right to the juicy stuff.  I cannot, however, ignore the fact that there was a process to getting to where I am now and that it is relevant and should at least be touched on if not told.  Try to forget I said that as you yawn and wonder when I will get to the point.  Several years ago, I had a discussion with the man who bought the business I was working for and it came up that he believed that God had already chosen who would go to heaven and who wouldn’t and we had absolutely no control over who goes and who sizzles.  I was naiive.  I thought he must belong to some weird cult or something.  I had never heard that before.  Sure, I had heard people talk about “once saved always saved” and had given it as much thought as it took to forget it.  I had never actually thought it through to realize that the only way someone could be “once saved always saved” was for God to insure their salvation and that if some were assured of salvation, then others weren’t, nor could they ever be. 

   For those who have ever jumped aboard the speeding locomotive of this debate before, please continue reading.  Don’t think I will bother you with just the usual ” but it says in Romans that . . .” or “if that were so, why didn’t he just say that?” kind of arguments.  Scholars, ministers, televangelists and their dogs have all been down those tracks before.  I hope to bring new insight that can only come from ignorance and the struggle to turn ignorance into salvation or election, whichever one comes first. 

   Back to the story.  A couple of years passed and nothing more was said about it and I didn’t think too much of it until one night I was in an inter-denominational small group Bible study and I foolishly said something like, “my boss actually believes that God has already chosen who will go to heaven and who won’t and that nothing we can do can change that.”  I’m sure my reaction was just as big as anyone could have hoped for when one of the guys in the group said, “well, I believe that too.  That’s what the Bible says.”  Rudolph’s nose had nothing on my face.  I think I may have actually said the best thing I could have at that moment, “huh.”  That is when I realized my boss wasn’t a freak.  He didn’t belong to some conservative off-the-wall medieval cult after all.  So, I decided to approach him again and talk to him about it.  He was more than happy to talk and we had a couple of good discussions.  Unfortunately, our schedules left little time for us to just sit around debating God’s choices, so he gave me a book to read called “Easy Chairs, Hard Words” by Douglas Wilson. 

    I decided that I needed to really enter into this journey with an open heart and an open mind and really seek the truth.  So, I read the book.  I have never felt so helpless before in my life.  I wanted to talk to this person.  I wanted to ask this conveyer-of-nothing questions that were quite neglected in his book.  I wanted to . . . I didn’t know what, but his book left me more frustrated than anything else.  He spent the first few pages of his book establishing premise A. Dealt with a couple of the common disputes over it and then declared it so.  Premise A is fact.  Therefore, since premise A is true, then premise A sub 1 is true.  Every point he made in his book simply pointed back to Premise A and did not stand on it’s own.  I, however, was not convinced of premise A and as a result, the rest of the book was pointless.  I could have stopped at page six and learned just as much.  Not only that, but he came across as very arrogant and condescending toward people who don’t share his view.  I felt like a little school boy being pitied by the school teacher for not being able to learn long division. 

     I made an attempt to discuss some of these points with my boss but between my inability to properly communicate my questions and his time constraints, little was accomplished.   Much to my surprise, Mr. Wilson wasn’t the only expert on the subject and my boss had another book for me to read.  This one turned out a little differently.  It was “Chosen by God” by RC Sproul.

    Speaking of books, I guess I’d better end this now.  Again, bear with me.  The good stuff is coming. 

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Creation

May 23, 2006

   Creation.  No, not the Biblical "it is good," Creation.  This, what you are reading, creation.  This is my first ever blog.  I've read, oh, maybe three blogs and feel somewhat out of my element.  Are there rules?  Can I offend someone with some casual slip of the fingers and worry about it?  Will anyone even read this?  And, most pressing of all: do I have to use spell-check?  So, why did I enter into this so unprepared?  Simply for one reason.  For years, I have had thoughts.  Well that was profound.  But, seriously, I have done a lot of soul searching and thinking and feel like I have things to share but lack for an audience.  Will that change after this first installment?  We will have to see, but I like the idea of being able to express my ideas in place where they might actually be heard.

   My title, "Contradict this" may seem a bit self-righteous or arrogant.  My intent is not to say that I challenge anyone to a duel who might think themselves worthy.  I am simply trying to relate what has given me cause to do all my soul searching and introspection.  In recent years, I have had at least three of my "from the womb" beliefs challenged by people.  Being a Pastor's kid, I may have been a little sheltered and finding out that my boss actually believes that God has already chosen who will go to heaven and who won't sounded absolutely absurd to me until I found out about this guy named Calvin and that there were lots of people who believed that.  And wait, you mean God might have actually created the earth in six-24 hour days?  I know that's what the Bible SAYS,but, come on, He didn't really do it that quick.  Or did he?  And just when I thought I had enough to chew on, all of a sudden a guy walks into my work-place wearing a construction worker's blind-your-eyes greenish-yellow vest with a big picture of a butchered cow's head on the front and back (just for good measure) with the words "Did your meal have a face?" written on it.  We sat down and had a civilized discussion about veganism and the Bible and then he talked.  Civilized quickly turned to dust as I became "calloused, lying, hypocritical, and hard-hearted" according to him. 

   Well, anyway, I'm not a writer.  I enjoy writing, but pale in comparisson when I read other blogs and the way the authors can wind a word around picture and feed it through my computer so that I can feed on it.  I am not a philosopher.  I am not a theologian.  I don't have kid's to provide me with that revered parental wisdom that comes with the birth of children.  I don't even have a college degree, (though I spent six and a half full-time years trying for one).  What I do have, are my thoughts and the need to communicate and if anyone finds it worthwhile, all the better.  My biggest frustration through all of my digging for the truth has been the lack of anyone to bounce my ideas off of, so, PLEASE, comment, possitively or negatively.  That is my wish.  Good night!