C. Michael Patton from Reclaiming the Mind blog posted an article today wherein he acknowledged that people often ask him about his theological convictions. He also acknowledged that most who read his blog probably understand “where he stands”, but decided to give a brief synopsis of his convictions.
People care where Patton stands, and his many readers can rely on his positions as having been guided by credible theological training. I would dare say that no one cares what my theological convictions are, and mine certainly do not benefit from having been formed by years of study in a seminary. Nevertheless, I have firm theological views, and they color my view of scripture specifically and my worldview in general. So if only for my amusement, I thought I would document my convictions, using Patton’s topics and format.
Note: In presenting his theological positions, Patton used a scale from 1 to 10. In all cases, he indicates that he does not doubt the truthfulness of the doctrine, and the scale is an indication of his conviction, based on his perception of the clarity of scripture’s teaching on the matter. Using this system, 1 indicates a low level of conviction, 10, a conviction based on absolute certainty. Examples of “10’s” would be Christ’s deity, His physical resurrection and His return.
Calvinistic (9) – I am a five point Calvinist. This theological construct just makes absolute sense to me mostly in terms of my own experience. The five points are:
Total Depravity (10) – I am at a loss to understand how anyone could argue with this point, if they rely on scripture to see how God views man. There is a distinction between “total” and “utter” depravity and perhaps that distinction is what many struggle with.
Unconditional Election/Predestination (9) – This doctrine acknowledges the absolute sovereignty of God in its highest form. I do not believe in so-called double predestination, where God not only elects some to salvation, but elects some to damnation. I think double predestination is unnecessary. Based on Adam’s fall, ALL are doomed and destined to damnation. There is no need for any to be elected to that eternity. Election is only required to spare some from that fate.
Limited Atonement (9) – This is a thorny one, but if there is an elect, then Christ’s atonement, while sufficient to save all, will ultimately only be efficacious for the elect. By definition, it is therefore limited to the elect.
Irresistible Grace (9)– If man is totally, (not utterly) depraved, I can’t see how man could ever decide in favor of God. Furthermore, irresistible grace is the only doctrine that circumvents the reality that God would be dependant on man to make a decision in favor of Him, in order for His ends to be met. Also, if man somehow eeks out a decision on his own, he shows up in heaven being able to take some credit for his salvation.
Perserverance of the Saints (9)– The counter position to this seems to suggest that man is more powerful than God and that once God regenerates, man is able to out muscle God and His process of sanctification. Does man interfere with his own progress. Absolutely.
I am a Cessationist (9)– that is, I believe that the supernatural sign gifts such as healing, tongues and working miracles ended with the death of the Apostles. Does God heal and perform miracles? Yes absolutely, but I am unconvinced that God needs man to be the operators of these aside from intercessory prayer. As for tongues, my experience in observing this particular “gift” has uniformly been in circumstances that were in absolute disobedience to the clear scriptural instructions given by Paul in 1 Corinthians. Is it even remotely possible for the giver and operator of this ability, namely the Holy Spirit, to disobey God’s own instructions for its use?
Complimentarian (7)– I believe that the genders are of equal importance to God, but they have been given unique roles and responsibilities.
Premillenial (?) – need to do more study on this one.
Pretribulational (9)– The rapture of the church before the tribulation just seems to make sense when viewed in the light of 1 Thessalonians 4. I also don’t rule out the fact that this is the way I HOPE it is. I want to be out of here!
U2 is the best band that ever was, is or will be (0)– Patton is evidently a U2 groupie and this is a joke. Nevertheless, I’m not there. Beside that, some of Bono’s weird glasses remind me of Rob Bell.
Believer’s baptism (3)– This is one that is so squarely in the category of secondary issues that it is not terribly productive to argue about it. BOTH sides of the debate have really convincing arguments, both use scripture in support of their position although neither concedes any validity to the arguments of the other. I will say that I find many Credo Baptists (believer’s baptism advocates) to be inflexibly dogmatic about this subject, in some cases to the point of excluding believers from their fellowships. For an issue that has nothing to do with salvation and is clearly debatable, this dogmatism is unbecoming their witness. Piper takes a reasonable approach to this subject, all the while holding fast to his Credo position.
Inerrancy (9)– Challies wrote a series of great articles on this subject that covers this for me. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Eternal Hell (10)– Is there really an argument against this that can be supported by scripture?
Jesus was a Republican (0)– Patton was trying to be cute here. But really, Jesus is King! There is no democracy or two party system in God’s KINGDOM! That said, I am reasonably certain He would NOT be a modern day democrat. In the event anyone wonders what my political leanings are, you can surmise them from other posts at this site.
Reformed Protestant (9) – None of the other “forms” of Christian practice make any sense to me. This form acknowledges the sovereignty of God, the depravity of man, and God’s exercise of grace. The importance given to specific men and the presumptions of their authority and infallibility in certain other particular forms of Christian practice, simply leave me scratching my head.
Homosexual practice is Sin (9) – Scripture is clear on this one for me. BUT, it is equally clear that the practice of homosexuality is only A form of sexual immorality and there are plenty of forms of heterosexual immorality that are equally sinful and heterosexuals should not get puffed up with pride, as THAT comes before the fall.
Traducion (?) – What?
Dispensationalist (1)– Sorry, Covenant Theology just makes much more sense to me, while dispensationalism seems unnecessarily complicated and convoluted.