Over the past five years, Learner has verbally and literarily ascribed to more of a Reformed perspective when it comes to big issues and looming questions involving sovereignty, justification, and sanctification (as well as the rest of life). And yet in the past 6-8 months, he says he has wondered if any of it really matters, as he’s not sure his Reformed theology is really helping all that much.
It’s not that Learner has fallen off the faith wagon. Not at all. But he does say that he wonders if his four-and-a-half-point Calvinism (really five-point in mind but not always in heart, he says) is helping him walk any closer to and with God. Some of his dissatisfaction, he says, goes back to the whole fatalism mentality that he always struggles with theologically and emotionally – if it’s all planned out anyway, then who really cares (or should)?
Some of it is his own suspicion that, despite his love and desire for total and complete order and answers to all the questions, the Reformed system of theology (along with any and every other system of theology) is nothing but man’s attempt at understanding an un-understandable God. And that seems rather futile (and therefore, in keeping with the aforementioned theme, fatal).
Of all the theological systems, the Reformed perspective seems to make the most sense to Learner logically and theologically (and it certainly has some great men and minds on its side historically and apologetically). But, if it’s the best, it doesn’t seem to be doing much for his sense of relationship with Jesus, and this bothers him. If the theology (and the God of that theology) is so great, why no greater sense of worship, of desire, of love for it (and for him)?
Maybe it’s his semi-whitetrash background, his childhood of growing up in dispensational Methodism, or his early conversion and borderline charismatic exposure at the camp where he came to Christ – he doesn’t know. He does know that he sure seemed and felt closer to God back then than he does now as an experienced Christian worker pursuing a Masters of Divinity at a conservative Reformed seminary.
Whatever became of the times when he would stand in his father’s bean fields, longing for the winds to whip across the plains as a memory and (seemingly) a message of God’s presence? Where, he wonders, has the confidence and courage to pray expectantly and in faith for people, for healing, for plans, and even for rain, gone? If God is sovereign, why does he not “lead” Learner to pray (and then answer) those prayers which used to give him such bold faith? If God is sovereign, why does Learner need to pray for any of that at all?
Sure, he says, they’re all the same old questions, but he’s not the same young Learner he used to be. He wants to grow to know – to really know – God as a person and not just as a personality; to love Jesus’s teachings and not just try to live by them; to walk by the Spirit because the Spirit is noticeably walking next to him. Is that too much, he questions, to ask of a sovereign God? Can God accomodate these request as part of his already-laid-out plans? Or were they ever part of the plan at all? And if not, why not? And if so, what gives?
Learner says he longs for the days when God seemed more exciting than Reformed. He doesn’t think the two are mutually exclusive, but he says he feels (and fears) more and more that they might be.
And he doesn’t necessarily like it.