As Christians, we have a very long history of faith, one that even exists well before the “New Testament”. To deny such or be blind to such is a dangerous thing, no doubt. I’ve shared on this before and really don’t need to reiterate a whole lot at this point.
But, at the same time, Christ is still preparing his church, his ekklesia, to be what he called us to be. You can see something of this in an all-important passage like Eph 4:11-16 – certain ministries helping the body of Christ move towards unity and maturity. And so, our lot in life is change, continued transformation. That is our call whether we like it or not.
I’m am always astounded that Jesus did not arrive on the scene to simply maintain the status quo. The people of God at that time held to certain beliefs and dogmas and models that were paradigmatic for them, even part of the faith tradition carried on for centuries, if not millennia. But they were not the end all, be all, do all. A new paradigm was about to be set in motion by God’s anointed Messiah-King. The normal status quo amongst God’s people could not remain if God’s greater purposes were to be accomplished.
And such set a precedence for the rest of this age.
God’s people could not then and cannot now remain where they are. And church history shows us that certain paradigmatic shifts have taken place over the centuries – some quite earth-shattering and some simply consistent change that was definitely called for. Therefore, we need to continue to reevaluate where we (we, not you and I individually) are.
One paradigm that served its purposes in the past, even up to the recent past, but I believe needs to be swallowed up by another paradigm, is that of the age-old Calvinist-Arminian debate. I believe it is simply time to move on from such.
Thankfully, at least as I can tell in what I personally read and within my own context, this debate (or discussion) is not so prominent anymore. But it keeps popping its head up here and there. And I always wonder why. What purpose is it serving today?
You see, this is odd for me, as I was a staunch believer in many things reformed-Calvinist some 8-10 years ago. But that has slowly washed away due to reflection and reading of things wider than a particular vein. And, even though I have come to listen to and respect more Arminian theology, I am not even trying to move towards such a theological view. The reason – it’s time for a whole new paradigm.
And the answer isn’t so much that we need another set of terms (i.e., I’m not saying open theism is the answer). I just simply believe the age-old Calvinist-Arminian debate will not serve the church, nor the world, in this 21st century. For some, there is a desire to bring about a resurgence of these. I must respect that desire and allow for it. I simply share that the church, as a whole, will no longer be polarised by whether one is Calvinist or Arminian. Such, in the bigger picture, is over and done with.
There are other paradigms that must and will change – our understanding of the gospel and the kingdom, our understanding of new creation outside of personal salvation, our understanding of church in a post-modern context, our understanding that Paul cannot be read through a post-reformation lens, etc. And actually, if you have taken notice, you will realise such change has already begun.
But, I think we need to take some time and reflect that one good paradigm has served its purpose and must now be put to rest. That is definitely the one of the Calvinist-Arminian approach to soteriology, our understanding of salvation (and everything else that is connected to such). We can keep holding on to such. But I am not sure it will really serve the church nor the world in the day and age we live in.
It’s time to move from the old paradigm and consider what new paradigm God is stirring.