I can’t systemize God

I’ve been reading some new things and surfing a lot of Christian blogs because I have this blog and I figure I should try to fit into some kind of community. I have to admit something: I hate most of it. I’m honestly not proud of it, it is more of a confession. Half the time I can’t understand what they’re talking about, or I find it completely useless and tedious. Some of them I disagree quite a bit with, and some of them I just find quietly and subtly graceless. I’m trying to find things about grace, and instead I find debates about Calvinism and Reformed theology and the Emergent Church and such. God only knows what the Emergent Church people are talking about, and I think that is probably literally true. I can’t emphasize enough how uninterested I am in Calvinism. If you start trying to explain it to me I will throw something at you. I’ve read stuff. Books and articles about grace don’t really seem like they end up being about grace at all. I confess that I absolutely do not care about all of these things. Maybe I should. I have perhaps spent too long sequestered. I’m like the guy who is talented at music but never learned to read music or understand music theory.

I have found myself getting sullen and feeling isolated and useless and out of touch. Maybe grace is wrong! Maybe I have to understand the deep logical roots of all the implications of predestination and free will before I can pontificate about grace. I have heard sermons explaining how God planned and used Judas’ betrayal. I have heard sermons that our assurance is based on the fact that God predestined us for salvation. I wonder where that leaves unbelievers and how God is just; does He predestine some to hell? I have read blogs about things that were so technical and deep that I can’t even remember what they were about. I myself have gotten caught up in this swirl of nonsense and written things that are beyond me.


I don’t care about these things. I really don’t. I’m not proud of it, I mean it. My emphasis on grace is so much simpler than all of this. I am not going to come out with some bold statement that I understand the motives or boundaries of God’s behavior, and I am not going to pretend to understand how free will and predestination work. I am not interested in settling any points of Calvinism or Arminianism or Flatulism or whatever. I’m just not interested. I don’t care about the 5 points of Calvinism; I can’t remember what they are and I find I am profoundly uninterested in them.

I am very sad about this. I can’t really put my finger on it. Mine is a simple message. I am a simple guy. When I talk about grace, it means I think God just loves us. I am very passionate about this point – God really loves us. It seems so simple and I am always shocked when it breaks into controversy or seems hard for people to grasp. I think Jesus’ death for us is all about love. I think theology is probably involved, but I think you very quickly get into waters where God simply cannot be systemized. Maybe I should try to do this, and I’m sure all of these people would instantly write me off if they read this or talked to me, but I don’t really care about it, it doesn’t float my boat. None of them are going to read this anyway, that is as sure as death and taxes. I’m one of those armchair stupid lay people who think they know about God but really don’t. And I really do fear that I am not qualified, not equipped, not ready for all of this. All of this controversy and debate about subtle points of the trinity, where everyone thinks so strongly that small differences mean heresy, it really just wearies me. It really does. AS IF! They are often as bad as the scientists who pretend to know how the universe got started because of a math equation. The one thing I know is that they are probably all wrong to some extent.

Honestly, can you imagine that the tax-gatherers and sinners and prostitutes all gathered around Jesus like moths to a flame because He constantly preached systematic theology with technical precision? Why DID they flock to Him? Maybe we should be asking that question a little harder.

I think that God isn’t an object, a thing to be discussed and proven or disproven. I don’t want to prove the existence of my wife; I already know she exists. I just want to be with her, talk to her, have … you know … FUN with her. It isn’t that I don’t think about God, study the word, but some of this stuff is so academic that it is difficult for me to understand how it is of value even to those who teach it.

Then we have the pastor training kinds of ministries. The full stops come out here; this stuff is for the serious professional, don’t try it at home. I have never seen anything so graceless, so in your face, so harsh. I don’t ever want to live that way, I think it makes me physically nauseous. I’m not on board. If ministry means this, I want out now. No wonder so many pastors fall off the wagon.

It leaves me wondering, God, does ANYONE OUT THERE believe that You just love us? What is so stinking hard about this? How can this be so rare, so difficult a belief? Am I wrong? God truly help us and truly have mercy on us!

I am a one trick pony. I don’t have any other message than this: Jesus died for my sins. I actually believe this. I actually believe that He loves me, that justice is satisfied, that I am truly and forever and once and for all forgiven, the object of His desire purchased at a great cost. I have seriously camped out and staked my claim on this land. I don’t get all the rest of this stuff. I have studied Revelations, but I am not going to talk to anyone about eschatology or pre or mid or post trib theology; I have found that it is not there, it is not trying to say anything about this. I’m not going to spend my time trying to piece together Daniel and Revelations and Thessalonians and form some crazy opinion about it. I’m willing to leave it ambiguous because what’s coming down is what’s coming down, and it only divides people for no good reason. I confess that I can’t stand those discussions. I’m not proud of this either, I’m so dumb about this stuff.

I’m going to stop now, and I’m leaving the resolution of all of this up to Him. Somehow I think it is all in better hands that way anyway. I’ll never get any of this right no matter how hard I think it through. I’m not anti-academic either, I hold scholarship and intelligence in the highest regard. I now see that I have not really been invited to that party, and I have no honor in those circles. If you want to read about Calvinism or the Emergent Church or eschatology, there are thousands and thousands of web sites and books and such – knock yourself out. If you want assurance that you are loved by God, and you want help working that out in your mind and in your life, I might be of assistance. I might say something brash and just make you mad, which is wrong. The real point is, it isn’t me who is saying He loves you; HE is saying it. I’m just pointing that out and giving you permission to really believe that it is OK to listen to that kind voice.

Posted in Scandalous Grace and tagged , .


  1. Great post Jim.
    Psa 70:4 “Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.” ”

    I wouldn’t want to visit a Flatulist monastery by the way – unless it was on top of a hill with a good breeze.

    Hang in there.


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