Monday, October 10, 2005

The Virtue of Consistency?

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Glib inconsistency is the excuse of lazy minds - me (in my TR days)


Several items came together for me this morning that led to this post. First, a discussion in the comments on one of Doug Wilson's series on the relationship between theology and salvation...

My Answer Is Right, Darn It
Cooks Who Feed Only Themselves
We Can't Count That High

(I highly recommend all three.) Anyways, the discussion centers around whether one can have fellowship with someone who teaches Arminian/Semi-Pelagian theology out of conviction, since (in the opinion of some) this means they consciously reject the doctrines of grace, which are clear biblical teaching. Logical consistency demands that since they consciously reject a clear biblical teaching, they must be shunned.

Another link (metaphorically and internet-ally) came up in the Boar's Head Tavern - a link to a post by someone who apparently doesn't want to become a hyper-calvinist, but is being driven to it by the logical necessity of his theological premises. (I don't post the direct link here, since I'm not picking on this person directly, but only using the discussion to demonstrate my point below).

Reformed types tend to assume that logical consistency in our theology is an unalloyed virtue. Our theology is better than others because we weave all the threads of our system together in a neat logical package, and so many others are... well... inconsistent. I heard someone on a lecture tape once (sadly, I have long since forgotten who) say that "as nature abhors a vacuum, theologians abhor mysteries." In the case of Calvinism, that is certainly true. But is it *wise*?

Anybody who has followed a Calvinist/Arminian argument for more than 5 minutes can tell you that each side has pet passages to throw in the others' faces, and each side has carefully constructed logical arguments to disarm the desired impact of those verses. The conclusion I have been creeping towards is that we are dealing with a *genuine mystery and paradox* here. That Calvinism and Arminianism polarize into an "either/or" what is actually a "both/and". Of course, logical consistency DEMANDS that either divine sovereignty or human will have the "final say", and you gotta choose one or the 'tother. And, at least in my own observations, the choice one makes is as dependent on the chooser's personality as it is on their exegetical skills.

If God *is* transcendent, if human beings *are* made in His image, it should not surprise us that there are things about God's ways - especially His ways with us concerning our salvation - that ultimately cannot be totally logically quantified. And when our logical consistency leads us to run roughshod over clearly in-context biblical teachings, we need to step back and put our logical consistency in its proper place. One thing that *can* be clearly exegeted from Scripture is that logical consistency in our theology is NOT God's highest priority for His children. It probably *is* a good thing to have a reasoned faith - but a *living* faith in the Risen Lord is the *highest* priority. And you don't have to have an A+ in Systematic Theology to have a living faith.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some really good thoughts here.

Well done.

4:45 AM  

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