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Catechism Buzz: the Chief End of Man

09 December 2010 by Frank Turk

So why are Calvinists such a dour lot? Why is it that somehow, with our theology and our catechetical moxie plainly starting with joy as a primary virtue, do we have all appearances of being ready for the grave most of the time, and not willing to love in person but only love discipline but not really love the victory of Christ among his people?

I think the answer is obvious: God is a serious matter. God is not like the subject matter of a sitcom, and he’s not the punch-line of a joke. There is something serious and sobering about the creator of all things which is a necessary premise of the Calvinist mindset because this question of God’s glory is tied up with the question of our joy.

So on the one hand, we can and ought to be serious and sober about the fact that there is a God and He is seeking to save sinners because He is also the judge of men, and the one who, in the end, sends the unrepentant to hell. There is something sobering about that as we think about him and our unworthiness before Him to receive the gift of salvation.

But I think we miss something, us Calvinists. We “get it” that the book of Malachi ends with a stern warning to Israel and that God’s warning is that all who do not turn to Him will be mown down and burned up like the stubble from the harvest. But we miss that God then shows us that the remedy for this warning is a baby born to a simple man and woman who, all told, are very humble and uncomplicated people.

I mean: the catechism does say that one of the reasons we can see the “enjoy Him forever” is that in Luke the Angels give us good reason to enjoy God. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God Himself uses the borth of a baby to show us what kind of thing He is doing for us – because the birth of a baby is both a sobering and also a reason to rejoice when it’s just one of our own being born. Imagine (or better yet: remember) when the baby being born is that savior of all men, especially those who believe.

That’s the kind of sober, serious and joyful theology we ought to have. Us Calvinists ought to see it that way because that’s what our theology says about our savior and about our relationship to him. I think if we did this one thing, it would be the first, best step in improving our dialog with other non-reformed people would be to show them that we really enjoy God because of what he has done, rather than sort of begrudge him our affections.

Comments

Reformed and Renewed

This is totally cool, G. I am so into the Westminster Confession of faith Dude.
Not being a Calvinist from birth its kind of new to me. Until God opened my eyes to see, I thought being saved was my idea..

Steve B

I think you make a great point here, Frank. Jesus was born to plain, simple folk. His revelation was proclaimed to a bunch of simple shepherds. In life he hung out with the working class joes, not the elite. Time and again affirming that it is a simple gospel. A basic message. We tend to try and make it too complicated, and thus hard to understand.

A simple joy at what we have been given, at what has been opened to us in his birth, death, and resurrection. I'll bet if more of us lived every day in that simple, awestruck wonder, evangelism would pretty much take care of itself!

Steve Drake

Frank,
Looking forward with anticipation to reading your analysis, learning, and dialoging. May the Lord you humbly serve, bless your efforts here in the advance of His kingdom.

Chris

Why "do we have all appearances of being ready for the grave most of the time"? I've yet to figure this out.

ZSB

Dude, you should post today's pyro entry on this blog as well, not only to create that "crossover" feeling that makes us comic books fans tingle inside, but also to get that graphic on this website.

And because the post was spectactular.

Thomas Louw

Hope u buzz about the seventh point of Calvinsm soon. Nobody talks about it.
Just buzzing.

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