This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.
Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on Chapter 4! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on this subject matter.
My main takeaways were:
- our “isms” are not infallible
- we all have blind spots in our theology
- once a paradigm is in place, it is hard to question
- Dr. Lennox is okay if we disagree with him and is not intending to make any form of adhominem attack
Questions for Discussion
- What is the danger of mistaking our systematic theology for the Bible itself? What is the risk of viewing our “isms” as infallible?
- Why is it so hard to question theological paradigms once they are in place?
- Can you share one experience when you recognized a blind spot in your own theology? How does that help you stay humble in your approach to theology now?
for many people it really boils down to deciding whether one takes the label of Calvinist or Arminian (or Molinist or Reformed, or…). However, I would like to suggest that the very labels themselves are a big part of the problem, and this needs to be faced sooner rather than later if reasonable and productive discussion is to be at all possible.
were I to survey the long list of eminent people to whom I am indebted and decide to call myself after one of them, I would actually be inclined to choose either Paul or Peter. I don’t think either Luther or Calvin would regard that choice as insulting.
Suppose I said to you that I was a Calvinist, how would you react? Would you have fellowship with me on that basis? If you did, I would have to ask you the question suggested by Paul’s argument: was Calvin crucified for you?
What I am more than willing to do, however, is to discuss what the Bible has to say on particular points of common interest, and then we all might learn something.”
Charles Simeon once wrote: Calvinism is a system. God has not revealed his truth in a system; the Bible has no system as such. Lay aside system and fly to the Bible; receive its words with simple submission, and without an eye to any system. Be Bible Christians and not system Christians.
genetic fallacy, perhaps encountered more frequently in statements like, “You believe that because you are a… The error lies in assuming that, if you can give some kind of causal explanation for a person holding a specific belief, you have thereby emptied that belief of any validity.
they detract people’s attention from the preaching of the cross of Christ. They focus on natural thinking rather than on the Holy Spirit, and they cause people to have their confidence and boast in human leaders rather than in God.
this does not mean that I do not value systematic theology. Indeed, my academic background is in the mathematical sciences, and the essence of science is systematisation.
Experience shows that it is often very hard to question a paradigm.
All of us are grateful – or should be – to theologians who have over the centuries systematised their knowledge in order to help us get a grasp of it. Yet, as in science, theological systems or paradigms can sometimes become so powerful that they end up defining what Scripture is or is not allowed to mean, so that “taking Scripture seriously” means accepting a particular theological system
Our “isms” with their systems and paradigms are not infallible.
We must, therefore, be prepared to ask ourselves: do I read the text in this way because of what it says, or because of the colour of the spectacles (the nature of the paradigm) through which I am looking at it?
We all, imperfect sinful men and women as we are, inevitably have blind spots in our theology
Really valuable interchange can only occur where there is mutual respect, and an acknowledgment that people with different views are very likely to be motivated by the same concern for the reputation of God, so that they seek to uphold and promote his glory and holiness.
Indeed, I recall with pleasure how, during my student days at Cambridge, I used to spend time with a friend reading and discussing Calvin’s sermons in their original French.
I also lament the loss of that sense of glory, holiness, and dignity of God in far too much of superficial, contemporary, feel-good preaching.
Indeed, I am sure that some of my readers will be persuaded that I am the one who has got it wrong. God is gracious and merciful, and sometimes even getting it wrong can serve to enrich the discussion and refine our understanding.
I simply offer to a wider audience what I have found useful in my own searching of Scripture, in the hope that it might prove of similar value to others – whether or not they agree with me in the end.
in no case should my discussion of an idea, especially one with which I take issue, be construed as an attack on the person…