Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
~ John 7:17
One of the great divisions in Christianity is between the doctrines of Calvinism and Arminianism. You actually probably follow one of these, even if you don't know it! Calvinism is easier because it is better known, as it stands for the doctrine of predestination. God chose those whom He intended to save; our destiny is preordained, as to whether we have been elected by God for salvation and heaven, or will reject Christ and live in eternal torment. “Armenian” describes what most people believe, who don't spend a lot of time reading or thinking about theological concepts. We have free will and, whether or not God chooses to know how we will decide, we can either follow Christ and be saved, choosing God's grace, or we can voluntarily reject it and pay the consequences for our decision.
This great and hugely heated debate frames the greatest fault in the Western church. Answer this question: What difference does it make to you, whether your fate is predestined or not? I'm going to tell you that the answer is actually “zero”. What would you do different if you changed your opinion? There is not one word in the Bible that tells us that our salvation is in any way, shape, or form dependent on whether we believe in predestination or free will.
What the Bible definitely does tell us is that we must live in harmony with one another. In fact, it is almost a sign of whether we are true Christians. 1 John 1:7 tells us, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” It is our relationship with other believers, not our theology, which demonstrates our obedience to Christ and the presence of the Spirit within us. And if a meaningless theological doctrine drives us apart and leaves us angry with each other, theology becomes the tool of Satan, not God.
We do not believe in predestination. We do not believe in free will. We believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. So let us always choose to love one another and throw away any intellectual argument that interferes with the clear duty Christ gave us to love one another! If Mr. X believes in baptism by immersion and Mrs. Y believes that sprinkling is satisfactory, what is more important: that they love each other as fellow Christians, or the kind of ritual they choose for baptism?
Lord God, let me avoid the pride of intellect and let my opinions never interfere with my love of my fellow Christians. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer