Thursday, May 18, 2006

'Full Fat Calvinist'?

As you may have noticed (if you care at all), I have organised all my 'theology' posts from my archives into a neat little page. I've sub-titled the page 'From Semi-Skimmed Calvinist to Full Fat'. Because I'm bored (or maybe because I'm self-absorbed) I thought I'd look at my most recent 'theology' post to see just how 'full fat' I've become. Oh. My. Goodness, could my last post be any more self-centred?

Let me say this first, in that post's defense - I. Was. Struggling.

OH MY GOODNESS was I struggling. And part of me still can't believe I made it out of that time in my life alive. And I only wrote that in December.

Pretty much since my move to Scotland I'd been struggling. In every possible way. I was at the end of my rope, I was ready to chuck this Christianity thing over my shoulder and never look back. Man.

This isn't to say I'm 100% awesome now. I've still got my questions. I've still got my doubts. But THANK GOD I'm not back there in December 2005 anymore.

It would be impossible to say when and where an emergence occurred. There wasn't one Praise Night At Church That Got Me Down On My Knees, Crying, Repenting And Rededicating My Life. Not at all.

The only thing I can pinpoint was Lent.

I'd never done Lent before. I mean, I think I did it once, gave up chocolate, but I don't know if I managed it, and I certainly didn't know what it was all about. But this year, I did a bit of research into it and discovered what it was all about. Repentence. And boy, did that hit a nerve. It was a time when the church would spend 40 days fasting with repentence at the centre. Many who had been disciplined by the church practiced Lent as a time of repentence before being reinstated into the body.

I knew I needed to repent. Of what? I couldn't even say. Just - everything. I was SO GUILTY. I couldn't even speak to Jesus, I was so guilty.

Lent didn't change my life. I didn't experience radical transformation. I didn't wake up on Easter a different person. I didn't even know Lent had done anything at all. In fact, it seemed pretty... normal. I felt normal. I felt relieved to finally drink alcohol and eat steak again.

Life goes on. I started reading the book in the picture up there, In the Face of God by Michael Horton, which I've mentioned several times on here. It was good. It was really good. I learned a lot, and a lot was confirmed. I was especially encouraged in regards to taking the Lord's Supper, Communion, the Eucharist, the Rememberance, whatever you prefer to call it.

I've always believed that one can only take communion when one is in 'a right standing' with God. If you had been pretty sinful through the week, if you were currently fighting with a friend, if your 'heart hasn't been in the right place', then you shouldn't take communion. I'd passed the bread and the wine many a time, for this reason.

Oh my goodness- if this is the criteria, how have I EVER been able to take communion? When have I ever NOT been sinful throughout the week? When have I, personally, ever NOT been fighting with someone? Furthermore, when has my heart ever 'been in the right place'?

The real issue is, when have I ever been in a 'right standing' with God? The answer? Ever since the Holy Spirit imputed Christ's righteousness and death and resurrection to me. Ever since I was justified by the blood of Jesus. It is because of what Jesus did that I am now in a 'right standing' with God.

I can take communion because I am justified before God because of Christ.

I've realised this for a long time. I've taken communion every Sunday (that I've been to church, that is) out of faith that as a believer, I am co-heirs with Christ, and I am invited to take part in his blood and body. But every Sunday I've struggled with trying to conjure up in my mind the 'right' thoughts. The right 'heart'. And I kept coming up short, unable to get past the guilt, the filfth, the depression, the disgust for my sinfulness.

Two Sundays ago, I took communion just out of grace. I accepted Christ's blood and body with nothing other than grace.

No condemnation. No guilt. Just grace. And that's when it occurred to me - it's not about me.

Let me say that again: It's not about me.

I said in that most recent post that even if God didn't 'keep' me, I'd still be a Christian. I think logically I'd have to take that back. I am too sinful. Left to my own devices, I'm shit. But really, it makes no sense to even ask that, if I would still believe even if God didn't 'keep' me, or rather, continue to lavish me with grace. It's a non sequitur. Because I wouldn't have believed in God in the first place, because I am so sinful (and boy, I don't even know the half of it), had it not been for God actively giving me faith. And if God has actively given me faith, and is actively giving me faith, then does it even make sense to ask what if it were different? How totally un-Calvinist of me! *wink*

So, um, really I don't know where this is going. Kinda like most of my posts on theology. I think I just needed to say something - needed to blog - and needed to talk about grace.

I know this is a muffled way to end something like this - maybe it is just a re-hash of the past few months. I don't know why I wrote it all, maybe I started it just to defend my claim to be 'full fat'. But really - grace. Grace.


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