8 of the Best Features of Calvinism (or Christianity)?

Tim Challies, noted author and blogger, wrote a post called “8 Features of the Best Kind of Calvinism“. In this post he examines Ian Hamilton’s new short booklet What Is Experiential Calvinism? (amazon). The answer is that Calvinism is much “deeper and richer” than TULIP. Another reviewer (link) of this work writes:

Calvinism has sadly been reduced to five points and characterized as a cold academic system of thought. Ian Hamilton has set out to recast it in a light that is more true to its heritage and intent.

Challies’ post goes on to list 8 features of experiential Calvinism. Many of these “marks of experiential Calvinism”, listed in Challies’ post, are captured in “Heart-Warming Calvinism”, an article by Ian Hamilton (link).

I offered my thoughts as a comment and repost them, with some additions, here.

I often hear Calvinists express frustration along the lines that Calvinism is a view that means more than TULIP. As someone who does not adhere to Reformed doctrines, I still would heartily agree; Calvinism is much more than TULIP. There is much common ground between Calvinists and non-Reformers. That can be seen in these features, however, because most of them are not exclusively Calvinism. They are Christian. Continue reading

Contemplating Contemplation (Part 2)

Been teaching on discernment and decision making so thought I would repost this, originally written in March 9, 2010. This post was modified from the original.

 In the first post, we examined the discipline of “centering prayer”, which for many is an essential practice for hearing from God.  If we want to hear from God then, according to Richard Foster, we must pursue silence.

This silence of all outward and earthly affection and of human thoughts within us is essential if we are to hear his voice.

In order to hear God’s voice one must practice emptying their mind.

What does it mean to hear from God? Do we need to empty our mind? In this post we look at several different theological areas and how they are connected to the idea that we should seek the voice of God.

Our view of Scripture as the inspired and inerrant Word of God is important. In this collection of books we have the promises, commands, and revelations of God written and preserved for us as objective truth. The Scriptures are given to us so that:

  • we can be made wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:16)
  • we are equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:17)
  • we have examples to instruct us (Romans 15:4; 1 Cor 10:6)
  • we can have our hearts and motives exposed (Heb 4:12)
  • we know what God has promised and commanded

This is a non-exhaustive list, I encourage you to add more in the comment section.

In thinking through centering prayer we must wrestle with how we view Scripture. Is Scripture sufficient for living out the Christian life or do we need more guidance?

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Contemplating Contemplation

Been teaching on discernment and decision making so thought I would repost this, originally written in March 9, 2010

I have been thinking through spiritual formation as I am currently taking a class on that right now in seminary (or was when originally written). In a prior post I have compared the two views of Foster and Wesley regarding the spiritual disciplines and contemplative prayer. Here I hope to examine this mystical side of spiritual formation (SF) from a larger theological perspective.

What is Spiritual Formation?
Before I do that let me back up and define SF. Better yet let me let the main proponents define it. In a CT 2005 article that transcribed an interview with Dallas Willard and Richard Foster SF was defined as follows:

Spiritual formation is character formation. Everyone gets a spiritual formation. It’s like education. Everyone gets an education; it’s just a matter of which one you get.

Spiritual formation in a Christian tradition answers a specific human question: What kind of person am I going to be? It is the process of establishing the character of Christ in the person. That’s all it is. You are taking on the character of Christ in a process of discipleship to him under the direction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It isn’t anything new, because Christians have been in this business forever. They haven’t always called it spiritual formation, but the term itself goes way back.

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