Wouldnt you just know it!
Just as the January 2002 NOR was arriving in mailboxes, with its New Oxford Note on the Christian Reformed Church (When Old Tics Die Hard), we received the December 31, 2001, issue of The Banner, the biweekly magazine of the Christian Reformed Church, supplying fresh evidence for one of our theses in that Note.
In that New Oxford Note, we said: The Christian Reformed Church started out as a Calvinist body of the most robust sort. Today its basically, judging by The Banner and other sources, a wannabe liberal Protestant entity. Thats not said with derision, but with a certain compassionate understanding. After all, its pretty hard to stick with high Calvinism when its most distinguishing tenet is that God predestined people (probably most people), before the foundations of the world, to the eternal torment of Hell . If youre predestined to Hell, you can repent all you want, you can accept Jesus into your heart a thousand times, you can solemnly profess your adherence to Calvinist theology, but you still go to Hell . Classical Calvinism has historically proved itself to be highly unstable, indeed evanescent. Most converts to Unitarianism historically were people born into Calvinism and horrified by what they were supposed to believe . If youre grossed out by Calvins cruel God, youll likely want to run into the arms of an unconditionally loving and utterly nonthreatening God. Enter Unitarianism. Curiously, one way Calvinist denominations have fended off the Unitarian temptation is by becoming almost Unitarian themselves i.e., by going liberal, which appears to be the trajectory of todays Christian Reformed Church.
The December 31 Banner is most interesting because it has a cover article on predestination (also generally known as election), and, not surprisingly, it repudiates the classical Calvinist understanding of predestination/election.
The author, the Rev. John Timmer, says that election is primarily a story, not a doctrine, and that any doctrine of election is always dispensable. What would a doctrine of election assert? Timmer offers this: a decision God made back in eternity to save some and not others. Thats dispensable, and indeed Timmer gets rid of it.
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