Anticipating Thanksgiving

This may seem rather arbitrary, but with Veteran’s Day, people in the U. S. get very nostalgic. I read a post by an aunt of mine on Facebook, who thanked God for her Christian heritage from her parents and grandparents.

God's Faithfulness to all generations?

Here’s the problem I think I’ve had with the idea of the Gospel ordinarily being handed down through families: my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were, when I was born, Oneness Pentecostals. Because of the denial of the Trinity, this places them outside of the orthodox Christian faith as articulated in the classic ecumenical creeds. As a result, I’m not convinced that in my life that God worked through the means of family in impartation of the Gospel to my heart and life. By God’s grace, my parents and brother are all professing Trinitarian and growing Christians.

But what of my grandparents who are not terribly interested in truth? What of the members of my extended family who say things like, “Doctrine divides; love unites”? What sort of a misguided “Christian” backgroundis this?

As a Presbyterian, I affirm that God ordinarily works through the agency of bloodline families. I, by the grace of God, am a Christian despite my upbringing. But does anyone else struggle with this idea? I can’t even discuss this sort of thing with anyone in my (extended) family because of the hyper-emotional response it would evoke where I’d simply come off as a jerk (again).

This is an example of a biblical doctrine that my personal experience doesn’t line up with. This doesn’t make it untrue, but it does necessitate a lot of trust in God and His Word.

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9 thoughts on “Anticipating Thanksgiving

  1. Hi Dave, just discovered this blog and your other blog recently. Very interesting stuff.

    In fact, our backgrounds are eerily similar. I was raised in the United Pentecostal Church, a Oneness Pentecostal organization. Now, I have come to the conclusion that the historic doctrine of the Trinity is biblical. I also consider myself Reformed or Calvinistic and am considering a reformed Bible college. I still have a large number of family members in the UPCI, though.

    Also, I’m in my early 20s, and deal with same-sex attraction on a daily basis. Thankfully, the Lord has kept me from pursuing sinful relationships, but the attractions are strong, unremitting, and exclusive.

    Would be interested to communicate with you further if you are interested. You can see my email address from this comment. Thanks and keep writing!

  2. I’d get into heated debates with my family too if I’m not careful, for instance I’m a Calvinist and my Father believes in free will, age of accountability, and traditional baptist-y things. It’s a fine line between not rocking the boat and loving someone enough to confront them on their misguided theology. The bottom line is do they trust in Jesus and his work on the cross on their behalf…if the answer is “yes” then maybe sometimes it’s best to let some things go and there are other issues that we absolutly need to have a correct view of or else we will go off the rails somewhere but you can’t force somone to accept that. The best we can do is pray and let God do His job and we do ours.

    • My in-laws do trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. They are very kind to me – though I will admit that me and my father-in-law could be talking about the World Series and end up talking about “the Baptism of the Holy Spirit” He already knows where I stand and I certainly know where he stands – He enjoys the “discussion”

      He does this with everybody he knows. He lives in a Mayberry like town in Arkansas and will run into people at their post office like “Creepy” Hodges who is a Church of Christ lay pastor – unless of course they see him coming then the run for their cars.

      One thing I can say about my Father-in-law is that he trusts in Jesus alone for salvation – the rest is debatable (and it usually is) I am fairly sure that he thinks I am a Calvinist because “all them people up north are Calviinists

  3. Dave, I think this is a great question, and frankly what you bring up here is part of what brought me to begin to consider infant baptism. In the issue of the household baptisms of the NT and household circumcisions of proselytes under the old covenant you have an original convert from outside of bloodlines, and by the conversion of the original the bloodlines are also brought into the covenant.

    I think this is a case where recognize the “agency of family bloodlines” and affirm that, however to say “ordinarily” certainly does not mean exclusively.

  4. I didn’t realize that all four-pointers came from a Central European country called Armenia…

    I think you mean she’s an Arminian. 🙂

  5. A point of clarification –

    My wife’s mother was raised by her Free-Will Baptist grand parents. My wife was raised in a “traditional” Missionary Baptist home – her father receiving his ordination credentials with the Mission Baptist Union of Arkansas.

    If anyone would ask my wife about her Christian beliefs she would say “Calvinist”, but in reality, it would be a four-point Calvinist – to which I will ask her “What do you call a four-point Calvinist?” and as she is standing there trying think what a four-point Calvinist is called I answer the question for her.

    “You call a four point Calvinist an Armenian!”

    I love my so much – believe it or not doctrinal disagreements and all!

  6. This has been an issue in not only my Family, but in my wife’s as well.

    My mother came from a very strict German-Lutheran Family – to listen to some of her memories you would think that she was speaking of an Independent Baptist background. My father, came from a very lose, cultural, Irish Catholic background and “converted” to Lutheranism. Neither of them were serious about following or loving Jesus Christ – actually, both were quite far from the authentic Christian life.

    My wife on the other hand did come from a wonderful “Christian” heritage. Raised by her grand parents she was raised by very godly Free Will Baptists who were quite serious about maintaining a “Christian” home. Her father was very active in ministry, becoming an ordained deacon (@ 23 yrs) in the First Baptist Church of Clarksville, Arkansas

    My wife’s father had an “experience with the Holy Spirit” and eventually becoming, in his words, a “Bapticostal”. His theology is all-over the map!

    My wife and I have been married nearly 32 years and love each other very much but have agreed to disagree on quite a few things – like she is Armenian and I am a Calvinist. In fact, I have borrowed from her dad and have come to describe myself as a “Baptiterian” (I still hold to Believer’s Baptism)

    Whenever my wife are out visiting friends and I get into doctrinal discussions she will just roll her eyes and go visit with the other wives in the kitchen…

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