Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

Recently, I have been studying about the history of my beliefs because I am interested in learning more about the religious experiences I have been involved with. I was somewhat aware of calvinist/arminian differences, but it wasn’t until I began reading blogs that I heard of TULIP and reformed theology.

It is obvious in reading various blog discussions that believers can have very different perspectives. This quote demonstrates how these major differences affect our understanding of the nature of God:

“God’s love for His elect does not in any way extend for those that Christ did not die for. Scripture is awfully clear on this, as Christ layed down His live for His church, His people, His sheep.”

Because I grew up in the Reformed Church, I wondered what their connection to reformed theology and calvinism is. Well, lo and behold, they practically invented calvinism. The funny thing is, I never heard anything like this during my first twenty years of church.

My childhood church experience was very ethnic and cultural. I was born to dutch parents, who were children of dutch immigrants. Being Reformed was simply an extension of being dutch.

You might be Dutch if…
*you are often asked at church, “Are you related to….?”
*you think RCA is a denomination, not a television.
*you get a sun burn when you read under a lamp.
*you take off your shoes before entering the house.
*your last name begins with “Van.
*you finish the food on your plate.
*you reuse plastic bags and wash aluminum foil.
*the “V” section of your address book is too full.
*you have a front room but never sit in it.
*you make the bed in a hotel room.
*you are trying to justify owning a diswasher.
*you know what an afghan is.
*you know that ‘klompen’ is the Dutch word for ‘shoe.
*someone mentions John DeVries, and you ask which one.
*a church picnic isn’t the place to find Mr. Right — because everyone’s related.

(from reformed.net and dutchbingo.net)

That’s a pretty descriptive picture of the life and culture of my childhood church. Perhaps they were more liberal in their calvinism. I remember simply being taught the bible and the basics of salvation and loving God. From what I understand, I don’t strictly adhere to either calvinist or arminian beliefs.

While examining my beliefs, I am not interested in ripping apart other doctrines. However it is helpful to understand why we often don’t understand one another. It surprises me how violently people sometimes attack others in the process of defending their doctrine. It is sad when people honestly feel that they are called to be sheriffs in the kingdom.


10 thoughts on “Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

  1. I’ve gotten a point where I steer clear of both Calvinists and Arminians because so many from both camps hold to their ‘doctrine’ more firmly than they do their Bibles — they consider their ideologies a stronger gospel than the Gospel itself. It’s pretty sad, really. I was run off from a ‘Christian’ discussion board not too long ago because I had the audacity to tell both camps that their theology was not the actual Gospel. I’d much rather talk with people who are willing to read what the Bible actually says, rather than what they think it says.

  2. It’s though quotes like Carla’s, that I see clearly how much my faith differs from theirs. The idea that God only loves ‘the elect’ is simply not the gospel I understand. Then it is how they understand it, and God seems to be big enough for the both of us. (even if they are wrong ;-) )

    I do feel dsismayed by those who belive their mission is to watch for hersey and name it with gusto – I agree, it seems like a sad life, however charged with energy.


  3. I’ve discovered that if I really do the job of policing my own life and faith, it keeps me far too busy to police anybody else’s.

  4. Over and over again I see Arminian theology at play in the world, and over and over again I see Calvinism at play in the world, also. And I see a lot of stuff that doesn’t really sit well on either side of the theological divide. I think God operates on multiple levels and in multiple realms simultaneously, and is infinitely more complex than we could ever imagine. As a result, almost nothing in the world is as it first appears. And unless I’m willing to trust God – I mean, head over heels, leap from the bridge kind of trust God – then this is a very, very scary realization to accept.

  5. I have a theory (maybe a dream?):

    One day, when all is said and done, God will address all of us in heaven, where He will line up a representative of each denomination/faith tradition, and solemnly inform all of us:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, you were all…

    “Partly right.”

  6. Once again, Grace, you are dead on. I use to read emergentno and at one time had a link to it on my site. But I got tired of all the negative and “we are the only ones right” attitude.

    Thanks for the thoughts and laughs.


  7. I think any time we put God in a box or think we know how He ordered the universe we are on very shakey ground indeed.

    Cindy…great comment!

  8. Amen, Sister. Everyone has a good point in the comments. I loved the Dutch funnies.
    Our pastor said it well one day. He helped with an auction at a denominational church. At one point he said you know they do things wrong in their church. And then he paused for effect and said You know, so do we!

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