INTRODUCTION – Black Holes

INTRODUCTION – A SUMMARY

In this chapter of “Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed”, Austin Fischer  lays out his agenda in writing this book:

“theology and biography belong together. We try to make sense of God as we try to make sense of our own stories, our own lives. As such, theology is meant for participants, not spectators. I write as a participant and not a spectator in the hope it will help you become a better participant in your own theological journey, wherever it takes you.” (p.3)

That “wherever” of course is meant to be swayed by Fischer’s own theological experience and understanding. He makes it very clear where he hopes his perspective will take the reader:

“But I believe we best say yes to God’s glory and sovereignty by saying no to Calvinism. I believe that I— along with many others, past and present— have found an even better option. It’s not new, and it’s not novel; indeed I would argue it is simply the historic consensus of the church. But correctly understood, it offers the greatest hope for a restless church. Unlike Calvinism, it doesn’t replace the black hole of self with the black hole of deity, making both God and the Bible impossible (more on that later); however, it does offer an infinitely glorious God, a crucified Messiah, and a cross-shaped call to follow Jesus. “

Here’s my takeaway from this chapter:

1) GIFT WITH WORDS

The author is a gifted writer and makes reading this book a joy. He has a way with words. For example:

“We are black holes—walking, talking pits of narcissism, self-pity, and loneliness, pillaging the world around us in a desperate attempt to fill the void inside us.”

“The universe-altering message of the gospel becomes a message about me: Jesus died so I can be happy and comfortable forever and ever. While this may pass for gospel in many circles, there is a growing swell of opposition to it in many others—a recognition that such thin, therapeutic, self-centered expressions of Christianity lack the gravitas to hold a human life  together, much less make it thrive.”

“When sin within rises, chaos without descends, confusion all around lays waste to any semblance of comprehension—when I don’t feel like I understand a damn thing— I look up there and I understand enough to say thank you.”

2) A GRACIOUS TONE

In seeking to persuade against a “reformed” or “Calvinistic” theology, I appreciate the tone of grace in his words. This is not common in such hotly disputed debates:

“I feel much the same when I talk to people about Calvinism, because while I think you could put a ring on her and live happily ever after, I also think there’s someone better out there. On top of that, it’s a shame to be known for what you’re against, so for clarity’s sake, I’m not trying to get anyone to not be something (a Calvinist), but to be something.”

3) CALVINISM: INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE CROSS

The ultimate problem Fischer has with what Calvinism teaches is that he finds it incompatible with the message of love, and for Fischer, love is at the center of the cross. He says:

“[Speaking of love] So when someone messes with this picture , adding a cryptic backdrop that threatens to stain the whole thing, I’m against the backdrop only because I’m for the picture I think the backdrop ruins. I’m not against the Calvinist picture of God so much as I am grieved by what that picture does to the picture I love, turning the full-truth of Golgotha into a duplicitous half-truth. The rest of this book is a description of what happened when my Calvinism was subjected to the searing scrutiny of that image, in the hopes you might glimpse the terrifyingly beautiful God of Jesus Christ.”

I’m anxious to read how Calvinism does not give us a “glimpse of the terrifying beautiful God of Jesus Christ” and how a different interpretation of the scripture does. This is especially interesting because those that love the doctrines of grace love it for this very fact – they claim it gives us the clearest beauty of God.

4) AN ECHOED CALL TO CARE

Fischer ends the introduction with a clarion call to care, one that I whole heartedly say “AMEN!” to:

“The most devastating combination of words in the English language form a statement masquerading as a question: who cares? When this “question” is asked, a statement is made. The asker is expressing his apathy and disregard for the issue under discussion. It does not appear to matter, so why waste our breath?”

“Does it really matter if Calvinism is true or false? Does it really matter if we have free will? Does it really matter? Not at all, and yet, more than you could imagine. No, it doesn’t matter because God is who he is and does what he does regardless of what we think of him, in much the same sense that the solar system keeping spinning around the sun even if we’re convinced it spins around the earth. Our opinions about God will not change God; however, they can most certainly change us. And so yes, it does matter because the conversations about Calvinism and free will plunge into the heart of the question the universe asks us at every turn: Who is God? And this is a question that has everything to do with everything.”

(related previous posts)

– Introduction: A Journey In and Out of Calvinism

– Foreward: Strong Words With Strong Thoughts

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