Who Do You Think You Are?

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he in behavior… — Proverbs 23:7a AMP

In my humble opinion, the two most crucial questions any human being can answer for themselves are these:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What is the purpose of my existence?

The answers to these salient questions are foundational to every one of our other thought processes and resulting behaviors. If we feel — whether consciously or subconsciously — our answers to those two questions are non-existent or inadequate, the likelihood of us sinking into depression — and possibly even resorting to suicide — are stratospherically high.

If our answers do not echo as Truth down into our deepest souls, we vainly embark on endless quests to find ones which do, typically leading to all sorts of addictions and/or other compulsive behaviors. Rather than bringing the peace we so desperately crave, those compulsions result in ever-increasing amounts of guilt and shame. Our incredible propensity to indulge in denial over the root cause(s) usually leads us to a point of despair, thus circling us back to the aforementioned issues of depression/suicide/etc.

That’s the bad news.

The astonishingly Good News is this: Jesus has answered those questions in spades — and truthful spades at that! — so we can have a solid foundation for our lives as we walk them out in a world whose darkness seems to increase exponentially by the day.
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Divine Prosperity: Heresy or What? #7:
General Characteristics of Each Side of the Debate

In this installment, I would like to offer some personal observations contrasting each side of this debate.

Pro-Prosperity

We believe God is a good God and always gives us good gifts and it is Satan — not God — who is stealing, killing, and destroying in the lives of believers and non-believers alike. We are prone to fight back with vigor and elán using the spoken Word of God (aka the Sword of the Spirit) in the power of His grace.
We define “humility” as submission to the Most High while regarding submission to evil is theologically foolish because we have God-given authority over Satan through the grace of God and Jesus’ finished work of the Cross.

We believe all God’s promises are true, His perfect will at all times and in all places, and available to all believers who will stand in faith upon them, regardless of their personal circumstances. In addition to the links just offered, I have taught further on this viewpoint here, here, here, and here which you may read at your leisure.
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General Characteristics of Each Side of the Debate”

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

Historically, one of the most destructive and divisive controversies within Protestantism has been between the followers of reformer John Calvin, a French theologian who lived from 1509-1564, and the followers of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609. The name-calling and propagandizing against one another by these two groups has been damaging our unity of the faith — as well as our reputation among the unsaved — ever since.
Interestingly, the people who so vociferously and aggressively proclaim allegiance to one side or the other generally have little or no clue as to what their own side actually believes, much less their opponents. This is especially true of those who proclaim themselves to be Calvinists, many of whom would be shocked to find out what John Calvin actually taught and believed, were they to bother giving his teachings even a cursory examination.
Many self-proclaimed Calvinists, upon hearing that some folks don’t agree with them, knee-jerk and immediately jump to the conclusion that nay-sayers believe in a “salvation by works” theology when most often those non-Calvinists are actually firm believers in the grace of God — they just don’t believe it the same way the Calvinists do.
Worse still, each side is incredibly hostile and judgmental towards the other, considering their opponents to be evil heretics because they have the temerity to disagree with their position, rather than treating them as their brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot help but imagine Satan nodding approvingly at this kind of behavior.
Some others of you may think that this discussion amounts to something similar to the ancient — and totally worthless, I might add — theological debate concerning the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin. I mean. really, who thought up that nonsense in the first place? What were they actually discussing? Here’s my short list of possibilities:

  • First, about the pin: What size is the pin and what is it made from? Is the head spherical or flat like a nail? What is the ratio between the thickness of the pin’s shaft vs. the diameter of its head? Is the pin in a vertical, horizontal, or inverted (point up) orientation? Is the pin stuck into something or suspended in mid-air? If suspended, what holds it in place?
  • Now, about the angels: Is there gravity in heaven and, if so, is it different from Earth’s? How big are angels, anyway? How much do they weigh? Do angels really dance? If so, why would they want to? Who gives them dance lessons? What kind of dances are involved? Hora? Polka? Charleston? Argentine Tango? Ballet? Viennese Waltz? Quick-step? Cha-cha-cha? Samba? Jive? Hip-hop? Country Line Dance?
  • Etc., etc., reductio ad absurdum!

Inquiring minds want to know! 😀
But, all kidding aside, where we stand on the issues presented by this controversy between the Calvinists and Arminianists has a direct impact upon things like:

  • How we see God and His dealings with mankind.
  • How we see Jesus and His finished work of the Cross
  • How we see ourselves as believers at the foot of that Cross
  • How we interpret God’s Word, the Bible, and integrate its principles into our lives

In this article, I’m going to analyze the tenets of both groups for you so we can see what about each of them is scriptural and what isn’t. I’ll then explain where I believe the Truth actually lies.
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