Friday, September 30, 2011

Why so Angry?

In May I walked across the stage, took the pictures and received the congratulations on graduating from Seminary. But I knew I wasn't finished. No diploma resided in the handsomely apportioned case handed me as I confidently strode across that stage. No, inside was a single sheet of paper that read, "Return this case. You will receive one with your diploma when you finish your graduation requirements." This sentiment was underscored when my theology professor whispered, "now remember, you're walking by faith." as I shook his hand before leaving the stage. 

What was left for me to do? Well, I still needed to pass my seminary orals. As part of that process, I've been working in fits and bursts on a 2 final papers for my Seminary degree. The first on Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the second on God's sovereignty (you know, the whole Calvinism/Arminism thing). 
Both of these topics have knowledgeable and thoughtful scholars who disagree on how to interpret scripture. The tenor of the disagreements are quite different from each other. In the timing of the rapture debate, people are civil and their critiques have an attitude of "Well, I probably can't get the other guy (or gal) to change his (or her) position, but I sure can have fun with it by poking a little fun at them." 

On the other hand the sovereignty debate is vicious. Both sides are playing for keeps. throwing down gauntlets as requests for proof and then refusing to accept what proof is offered. (And please note, I did say BOTH sides.) It's hard to even consider entering into a debate where arguers are routinely accused of ignorance and stupidity in interpretation and  misleading Christians in this "most important of all doctrinal issues." 

I find this particularly frustrating in that I hold to parts of both traditions, but adhere to neither in its entirety. So, my question is this: Why is this issue such a contentious one? Why would people say that Arminians and Calvinists shouldn't even work together (as one friend of mine was advised)? I haven't come across this advice over End Times theology or many other theological issues. Why is this the common response for this one?

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