“The other four adjectives have a somewhat expansive feel to them: ‘total,’His next point is to discuss the sovereignty of God. While maintaining that God ordains/permits everything that comes to pass, he admits, that if we are going to follow Biblical examples, we don’t simply have to accept that fact. “We can complain to God rather vigorously about the things we have a hard time accepting.” Again, this is an energizing approach to the truth of Sovereignty since it avoids emphasizing God’s separateness from us to the detriment of His relationship with us. Mouw goes on to explain how we grow and understand God more through His sovereignty.
‘unconditional,’ ‘irresistible,’ ‘persevering.’ And then right in the middle the
Calvinists plunk down the word ‘limited’…surely there is something wrong with
giving the impression that the one important thing we want to emphasize about
the atoning work of Jesus Christ is that it is ‘limited.’”
“’Elect infants, dying in infancy’ – and thus not having arrived at a conscious
understanding of the claims of the gospel, nonetheless – ‘are regenerated and
saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he
pleaseth’…but the Westminster writers refused to…limit their generosity to
‘elect infants.’ This makes it all the more intriguing when they add this
observation… ‘So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being
outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.’
He notes that this is a pretty wide door for writers of the Confession – not especially known for leaving gray areas in their writing – to leave wide open.
He finishes up by noting some of the weaknesses of Calvinism. This is especially a poignant section since Mouw considers himself to be a Calvinist. He notes the need for humility – not just in the personal approach to these matters but also in how Calvinists approach those who might disagree. He also convincingly shows that Calvinism is not the end all of theological systems. It is an important system in understanding the sovereignty of God. However, there are other areas of both orthodoxy and orthopraxy that Calvinism could learn from.
This book has been a blessing. Being raised in a Reformed family, I was eating TULIP before I was drinking milk! I’ve tried both on my own blog and on other blogs to work through the difficulties that I see within Calvinism. I’ve been met with a variety of responses:
None of this is found in Mouw’s book. Praise the Lord!!! I have only ever met one other Calvinist who I can sit with, have theological conversations with, and not feel as though it is an ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ battle. Instead, we both recognize our shared deep commitment to live our lives in faith to God. I wish I had more Calvinist friends like this.
I get the sense that Mouw is the type of person that I could sit down with and I would be impressed with his humility, spiritual maturity, humor, and flexibility. That would not only make me willing to listen to what he has to say about Calvinism – I might even be drawn to it!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone desiring to figure out a more embracing approach to Calvinism.