THEOLOGY FROM BELOW

Doctrinal Position

In addition to this Doctrinal Position, you may also wish to go take a look at my personal qualifications,

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I hold to classical Reformed Theology as often expressed by the acronym TULIP:

T stands for total depravity. This does not mean that all persons are as bad as they could possibly be. It means rather that all human beings are affected by sin in every area of thought and conduct so that nothing that comes out of anyone apart from the regenerating grace of God can please God. As far as our relationships to God are concerned, we are all so ruined by sin that no one can properly understand either God or God's ways. Nor do we seek God, unless He is first at work within us to lead us to do so.

U stands for unconditional election. An emphasis on election bothers many people, but the problem they feel is not actually with election; it is with depravity. If sinners are as helpless in their depravity as the Bible says they are, unable to know and unwilling to seek God, then the only way they could possibly be saved is for God to take the initiative to change and save them. This is what election means. It is God choosing to save those who, apart from His sovereign choice and subsequent action, certainly would perish.

L stands for limited atonement. The name is potentially misleading, for it seems to suggest that reformed people want somehow to restrict the value of Christ's death. This is not the case. The value of Jesus' death is infinite. The question rather is what is the purpose of Christ's death, and what He accomplished in it. Did Christ intend to make salvation no more than possible? Or did He actually save those for whom He died? Reformed theology stresses that Jesus actually atoned for the sins of those the Father had chosen. He actually propitiated the wrath of God toward His people by taking their judgment upon Himself, actually redeemed them, and actually reconciled those specific persons to God. A better name for "limited" atonement would be "particular" or "specific" redemption.

I stands for irresistible grace. Left to ourselves we resist the grace of God. But when God works in our hearts, regenerating us and creating a renewed will within, then what was undesirable before becomes highly desirable, and we run to Jesus just as previously we ran away from Him. Fallen sinners do resist God's grace, but His regenerating grace is effectual. It overcomes sin and accomplishes God's purpose.

P stands for perseverance of the saints. A better name might be "the perseverance of God with the saints," but both ideas are actually involved. God perseveres with us, keeping us from falling away, as we would certainly do if He were not with us. But because He perseveres we also persevere. In fact, perseverance is the ultimate proof of election. We persevere because God preserves us from full and final falling away from Him.

                    from http://www.reformedreader.org/t.u.l.i.p.htm

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I also hold to the "Five Solas" of the Reformation:

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). Psalm 19:7; II Timothy 3:14-17.

Sola Fide (Faith Alone). Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9.

Sola Gratia (Grace Alone). Titus 3:7; Romans 5:15.

Solus Christus (Christ Alone). Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5-6.

Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory). I Chronicles 16:23-31; Romans 11:33-36.

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I also hold to the Statement of Faith of the Orchard Evangelical Free Church of Arlington Heights, Illinois; a member church of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA).

The Ninth Article of that Statement of Faith reads:

Christ's Return - We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believers to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.

Within the boundaries of that Article, I hold the position that the premillenial return of our Lord Jesus Christ will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation. That is, I believe the church will continue on the earth throughout the Great Tribulation and will be protected during that period in much the same way that the Children of Israel were protected in the Land of Goshen during the plagues which fell on Egypt in the days of Moses. This is often called the Post-Tribulation Rapture position, i.e. that the Rapture of the Church will occur at the same point of time as Christ's return in judgment.

Others who hold this position include:

     Robert H. Gundry, Professor of New Testament and Greek at Westmont College,
     George Eldon Ladd, Professor of New Testament and Theology
               at Fuller Theological Seminary, and
     Douglas J. Moo, Blanchard Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.

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M. David Johnson
mdj@theologyfrombelow.org