Time to Clear the Air
The last few years have been interesting, to say the least, as I have done ministry here in Canada. I’ve met some incredible people and have grown in my own theological positions. Many of these positions are not recent, but I’ve been forced to dive deeper into them over the last few years. For the most part though, I have been quiet on these positions in order to accommodate those around me and not make such a stir. Today, I think it’s about time that I cleared the air a bit.
I’m a Calvinist. (and everybody clicked away)
Yes, I said a Calvinist, not biblicist, not believer in election, Calvinist. While many choose to either avoid the topic of election or only speak in Scripture verses in order to avoid having to explain their own opinions about election, I have studied the doctrine of election over the last 10 years and have firmly landed as a Calvinist. While I have some minor nuances regarding limited atonement, to put it in common jargon, I would consider myself a 4.5-5 point Calvinist.
I’m not a Fundamentalist. (Nor have I ever been)
History shows us that what was once called fundamentalism helped defend Biblical inerrancy and other major doctrines early on in the 20th century. Although some might be offended by this statement, I believe that movement died long ago, having served its purpose. As a general rule, today “fundamentalist” entails a completely different set of ideals than those written in the Fundamentals (of which 5 Calvinists were authors, by the way). Bible versions, music and dress preferences, separation, and even some form of easy believism seem to be the main tenants of modern “fundamentalism.” That is why I have never claimed, nor will I ever claim to be a “fundamentalist.”
I’m reformed. (You probably already knew this one)
I grew up in a reformed baptist church. Yet, I did not become reformed until much later in my ministry. Today, I firmly hold to the solas and while many evangelicals would be able to say the same, I also hold to the implications of the solas (I’m looking at you sola gratia!), which I believe make me reformed.
I’m confessional. (1689, Baby!)
A major flaw with modern evangelicals is that many have no confessional statement that properly articulates and informs their faith. They might have a doctrinal statement that they crafted and would be the first to say that they believe the Bible, but they would not look to historical confessions or creeds in order to inform those beliefs. During my time as an associate pastor, I remember being caught off guard by my senior pastor who asked about the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I literally had no idea what he was talking about, after all it wasn’t something my school ever taught me. I went straight to my office afterward and read so that I would never be embarrassed like that again. Reading that catechism led me down the road that eventually led to the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession. Having studied it extensively, I would consider myself confessional to the 1689. It accurately and beautifully describes what I believe about God and His Word. As Spurgeon said, “[The 1689] is a most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us.”
I’m a Dispensationalist. (For Now)
My reformed baptist church growing up was dispensational. So was my college, seminary, and most of my friends. While I’ve always had some concerns here and there, for the most part I’ve comfortably stated that I was a classic dispensationalist. That is until a few years ago, as I preached through the parables of Luke, I realized something – I didn’t understand the Kingdom of God. Yes, I was a pastor, I went to school, I read a lot of books, but I was still confused by Jesus’ words on the Kingdom of God. I asked my dispensational pastor friends about it, they either didn’t understand my concerns or were just as confused as me. So I studied, I studied harder on this subject than probably any other. Today, I believe I have a firm understanding of the Kingdom. The problem is that it’s left me with a lot of questions about classic dispensationalism. I feel a shift happening in this aspect of my theology. So I think I would agree with John MacArthur when he calls himself a “leaky dispensationalist,” although my dispensationalism seems to be leaking faster than his.
I’m Gospel-Centered. (And no, not everyone who preaches the Gospel is)
This last ones sounds like a prideful statement when I read it back, but what I mean is that I view all of life through the lens of the Gospel. I live my life not just because of the Gospel, but through the Gospel. I talk a lot about the Gospel. I expect every sermon, every song of worship, every ministry of the local church to be focused on that same Gospel to the glory of Jesus Christ my Lord.