IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
It comes from Naomi Broach, who won a free copy of my three-book set called “Complete Bible Discovery Set.”
OK, actually it’s called “Stephen M. Miller’s Complete Bible Discovery Set,” but that’s embarrassing. Though my mother would approve. Not sure about the wife and kids.
Here’s Naomi’s question:
I have recently been discussing Calvinism [teachings from John Calvin, 1509-1564, theological father of many Baptists and Presbyterians] with a group of my friends. I believe as it says in John 3:16 that whoever believes will be in heaven. They [Calvinists] on the other hand believe in the elect [people chosen ahead of time by God] going to heaven. What are your opinions on this? Also where do you stand on tattoos?
The Bible doesn’t say much about them, though I certainly did when my daughter came home with one the moment she turned 18.
To see what the Bible says, go to the flip book on my website page for Complete Guide to the Bible, Student Edition. If you have the book, turn to page 99.
You can also check out my blog post “The Bible says what about tattoos?”
Naomi, it sounds like you already have a truckload of arguments supporting the Calvinist side. So let me give you the flip side. It’s based on how other Christians read the Bible and the sense they get of who God is, from the picture the Bible paints of Jesus.
To these Christians, the idea that God would create some of us so he could damn us to hell, whatever hell is, sounds a little odd. As though God sold them a computer with a virus.
I know the Calvinist crowd that rolls this way has plenty of Bible verses to draw from. But so do pro-choice Christians—the Christians who say God lets us make our own choice about damnation or about finding our happy place.
You can read a few of those key Bible verses from both sides of the argument on my blog post, “Once saved always saved?” and in the sequel by the same title, “Once saved, always saved?” but this time with a comma.
Here’s the thing about the Bible.
If you’ve made up your mind on a topic, or if you’ve allowed someone else to do your thinking for you—leaving you brainwashed or brainflushed, with not much left to call your own—you can find sentences in the Bible to support just about anything.
- A hubby who wants kids pronto, though his wife isn’t ready: “Woman will be saved through bearing children,” (1 Timothy 2:15 New International Version).
- A dad so fed up with a misbehaving kid that he wants to beat the blisters out of it (Yeah, I called the kid an it): “A spanking won’t kill them” (Proverbs 23:13 The Message).
Naomi, when you’re reading the Bible think with your own brain and feel with your own heart.
Not your momma’s.
Not your preacher’s.
And not mine, though I’m probably right most of the time when my kids aren’t around.
God’s Spirit is inside you somewhere, somehow, some way.
“I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16 The Message).
God will speak to you. He’ll tell you the truth about everyday stuff like tattoos and about eternal stuff like heaven and hell.
When he does, many Christians would argue, you’re probably not going to come away saying, “Well I’ll be damned.”