A History Lesson

31 days big

Theories aren’t made or learned in a vacuum. Okay, I’d like to think I can be unbiased, but let’s be honest. That’s ridiculous. I’m biased about things I don’t even know about! I regularly find biases in my thinking that I was not even aware of!

Therefore, when trying to be fair, it’s probably a better plan to be aware of our biases so we can counteract them.

Which is to say, you need to know where these theories of theology came from to analyze them correctly. Every time you’ve had the Word preached to you, that pastor approached it with a worldview that colored the sermon, and you may well have subconsciously taken on that view, merely by accepting points on an unrelated topic. You need to be aware of these views so that you can react accordingly.

Therefore, a history lesson!

Not SO very long ago – I mean, compared to the gospel, 530 years ago is not that old – there was one option for Christian faith. It wasn’t that unreasonable; nobody could read, and the rare bird that could read might not have access to a bible, as they were hugely expensive, being unique works of art.  And they were usually in not-English. So if you thought Jesus was the answer (and everyone at least pretended they did), you hied yourself off to the Catholic Church in town and listened to a dude preach at you in a language you didn’t understand (usually the center of town because that’s How Things Were).

Now, that’s not to say that people were totally in the dark about what they were doing. Some of them had a good idea what was going on. There were some definite ideas about theology and who God was, and there were these things called indulgences: financial sacrifices for your sins. Instead of a goat or a dove, you ponied up some cash for your sins and moved on with your life. It was all very levitical, and the Pope got to be really, really rich.

You probably know that a guy named Luther hated indulgences, and in 1517 came up with 95 Theses about why they sucked. This was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The Solas that we will return to someday are a part of that. So Lutheranism, the Solas, and so forth came as an opposition to Catholicism. If you’re studying the scriptural basis of Lutheran theology, you may want to look at Catholic theology also; they are two sides of a coin. (Prima scriptura, as I mentioned here, is the Catholic belief regarding scripture. Oral tradition and papal edict is also important for informing faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons also employ prima scriptura)

Jacob Arminius was 7 when the 95 theses came to pass, a good Dutch Reformed boy, and he would become something of a leader of faith. His followers were called Remonstrants, and they would write the 5 Articles of Remonstrance after Arminius’ death, around 1610. If you’re Baptist or Methodist, these articles are probably a part of your bias.

In 1618, the Dutch Reformed Church held the Synod of Dort, where everyone condemned Arminius’ work and the 5 Articles of Reformation (sometimes called Calvin’s TULIP) were written. Therefore, while we are studying either the scriptural basis of either Arminianism or Calvinism, we’ll examine the other as well, as they contain the best arguments against each other.

As we go through these, I will always study them in pairs like this. Know your own bias! Keep it in mind whenever you are studying theology and challenge it whenever appropriate. Really search Scripture – try to prove the other theory right! You may end up finding that they were both a little (or a lot) off.

See you tomorrow, when we actually start studying theological concepts!

– Strings

Published in: on October 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] If you remember, the next major kerfluffle we’re going to talk about is the  divide between Arminian and Calvinist theology; the Articles of Remonstrance and the Articles of Reformation, respectively. The main ideas thereof are traditionally presented in the following order: Depravity, Election, Atonement, Grace, and Apostasy (The acronym TULIP that you may have heard associated with Calvinism stands for the stances Calvin takes on these five issues.) […]

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