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This morning, I did the unthinkable: I downgraded my cable television package. My children watch too much television and I can’t really be bothered with parenting them and keeping track of all that. So, good bye Disney Channel! Goodbye, Nickelodeon! Good bye, Cartoon Network! I’ll miss you most of all. And, good bye, Comedy Central – I’ll enjoy your streaming episodes of the Daily Show.

I suppose this is just proof of Calvin’s total depravity.

Really, this was all too easy. I grabbed my laptop, hit “live chat” and let the destruction ensue. I even did the dishes and wrote a blog post while chatting with Rey Carlo. He was even so polite as to type, “That’s good to know. I’m happy you feel that way.” And, he finished the conversation with, “have a blessed weekend.”

This represents a large change around the Fox household. On Monday, the kids go back to school. Three weeks later, I go back to school. Time to buckle down and do some learning. One other reason for the change – I am a patriot and socialism is sin.

P.S. Here is a picture of Jake handling snakes at the men’s retreat. I would have taken more photos but I was busy drinking poison.

jake models true religion

jake models true religion

Until just a few days ago, I believed dentists were agents of good who only wanted to make the world an easier place to chew. Now, I know better. Now, I know, dentists exist simply to be used as sermon illustrations. Seriously. If you don’t have the Lord on your side I suggest passing on the next “routine checkup” you have scheduled.

I (used to) have pretty good teeth. In fact, I didn’t get my first cavity until my twenties, and that was in one of my wisdom teeth which was pulled 6 years later. So, I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal to go a year, two years, maybe eight between dental visits. I mean, it’s not like Erika and I had dental insurance or anything. Well, Erika has a good job now and we get dental insurance. So, after waiting 14 months, I scheduled an appointment when one of my molars chipped twice in one week. And, according to the x-rays, all those years of 2 packs a day and surviving off the sweet chemical nourishment of Diet Coke had an impact on my teeth.

The dentist of my first appointment only spoke broken English, so I left the office not knowing exactly what was going on in my mouth. All I was sure of was I required to schedule three follow up “emergency” appointments in a 9 day period. In the last two weeks, it seems as if I have gone to see Dr. Yung every other day. Most of the women working there and I are on a first name basis (in fact, I even have a new nickname: “becky” – don’t ask, don’t tell). One unique feature of my mouth is that it doesn’t react well to novacaine. This results in one shot, some drilling, and me leaping out of the chair with tears running down my cheek. Dr. Yung, always so polite, says, “did that one get ya, Becky? Well, let’s give ya another shot.” This additional shot results in my face being numb for (no kidding) four or more hours. The dental assistants kibitz about what a great patient I am, never complaining. They joke about the tough guy with all the tattoos. If I wasn’t busy trying to swallow my own tongue to end the pain once and for all, I would let them know that I am crying on the inside.

My first set of fillings, last Tuesday resulted in a root canal. Thank God, they were able to schedule it for the following day. My tooth was special. It had an extra canal. This resulted in a four hour procedure. By the end of the 3rd hour, Verenda the dental assistant was rubbing my arm, a look of worry in her eye, muttering, “ohhhhh Jesus, let him be ok, just let him be ok.”

Yesterday was my final appointment. Honestly, I’m not sure how many fillings they gave me. It was three appointments of two or more fillings per cavity plus the root canal. I think I ended up with nine; but, after all that drilling into my skull I have lost the ability to count from 1 to 10. My kids now like to play Treasure Chest with all the new “shinies” in my mouth. I look like Jaws from Moonraker. My upper lip on the right side is still tingling. I’ve averaged 12 advil a day for 9 days straight. Sometimes, I cry myself to sleep. But, this will all make a great sermon illustration one day, I’m sure. And what will the lesson be?

The Calvinists were right: God hates you.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week about being a Christ follower. Unfortunately, a lot of this thought was triggered by some unpleasant blog exchanges about whether or not Rob Bell is a heretic. My more conservative brothers and sisters pushed me to a place where I had to ask myself what I consider the very basics (as far as doctrine or theology) and what I consider to be “electives” (not “elected” – I don’t believe in that crap). For instance – can one follow Christ and not believe in Hell? If you answer that question “no” then my question becomes, “what saves – the acts and words of Jesus or belief in Hell?” Then, I ran across this cute lil quote…

There are two views concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. First, there is what we call Calvinism. Then, there are varying degrees of unbelief.

In the end, my answer was that one only need believe that Jesus is both God and human and that He died for our sins.

Does our salvation depend on anything else?

For better or worse, I read a lot of theology. And, I admit it – for the most part, I really enjoy it. Part of the way I express, or make sense of my faith is to think and one of the things that helps me think about God is reading what others have thought. Much of my praxis has been shaped and reshaped by the writings and thoughts of theologians (some great, and some not so great). But, no matter how much I enjoy a good think session, theology does have some problems.

Theology, intrinsically, does not have a lot of comedic value. In fact, I think I might even be less funny after a few hours pondering the humanity of God with Karl Barth. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t deny that “double predestination” will always get a laugh or two – guess what? God knew you in your mother’s womb and decided right then and there you were good for one thing and one thing only: damnation and punishment in hell for all eternity. Ha ha ha. Man, I can’t even type that without chuckling inside. But, aside from Calvin, theology is not funny.

Problem #2: vocabulary. How many “ologies” can one person keep track of? Epistemology, soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, christology, ontology, whocaresology. OK, I get it – you know a bunch of words most people don’t care about. Good for you. And, while I’m here, one more thing – just cuz you can spell “efficacious” and “expiation” doesn’t mean you should use them conversationally.

And, chicks. Aside from mega-churches in Ballard, theology never gets you hot chicks.

I’m open minded. I’m secure in who I am. I don’t care what you think about me. So, I’m not afraid to admit I have friends who identify as Calvinist.

But, I read this and wondered what they would think…

First, it is clear that salvation, like the reign of God consists in human participation in the very life and power of God… Salvation is our human participation in the being, life, freedom, and love which is God.
— Luttenberger from An Introduction to Christology

Hell, I read that and wondered what I thought!

I don’t know, man. Is the reign of God reliant on the participation of humans? Can salvation be defined as my participation with God – instead of 100% the work of God?

Jesuits will jack with your head.