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Theology at the Pub

06/01/2011

Theology at the Pub

Theology at the Pub

Went to a “Theology at the Pub” event hosted by the Fusion Community at New Hope Church tonight. The event, led by the Fusion pastor, Bryan McWhite, was organized because he correctly identified that most good theological discussion has historically been done in pubs and drinking places where people gather, and in general the church community had a number of theological issues and questions that they wanted to discuss in a more intimate, less authoritative setting than a typical church or bible study setting.

(By the way, the event was held at Claddagh Irish Pub in Maple Grove. My first time there, and they made the absolute best Black Velvet I have ever had. A Black Velvet is half Guinness, half cider, which in this case was StrongBow. Fantastic. Really cool Irish pub, I’d definitely go back there, but I wouldn’t order the Chicken Curry again; about $6 of food and flavor for $12. Not worth it.)

I’m fairly certain I had a good time there, although of course there is always room for improvement (I really could have used a stretching break near the end…nearly 3 hours of sitting on hard wooden chairs!). There was maybe 30-40 people packed into their party room, and I was inwardly rejoicing that so many people my age have a burden for theology and understandings of God and the faith; amen. The discussion became more of a study led by Bryan McWhite, a point he acknowledged he wanted to avoid but didn’t quite succeed at, yet there was still plenty of interruption for discussion, and it seemed quite a few knew what they were talking about, or at least enough to ask good questions.

The topic centered around the Calvinism and Arminianism debate, specifically divine sovereignty. Bryan McWhite, as he’d admit, is a Calvinist, but with a fairly good understanding of the Arminian position (don’t you just love educated pastors?). Many of the questions asked were quite a step above the common ones I’ve heard; for example, does God sovereignly control or micromanage every single aspect on this earth? Bryan McWhite focused on passages from Job and Psalms to argue that he did, but I tend to disagree since genre is hugely important in interpreting Scripture, and where he focused was clearly poetic or romanticized passages. God may ultimately be in control because he set the currents into motion and can halt or move them at will, so they are probably on his mind, but I don’t think he sovereignly directs each eddy and current. He could. I just don’t think he does. It’s not a huge issue, but I am unconcerned about Scripture being rightly interpreted. Still, it’s fun to discuss.

I actually had the last question asked, and I tried to make it a good one: “Looking at the fruits, does Arminianism inevitably lead to Christian Perfection and/or Pelagianism, and does Calvinism inevitably lead to Hyper-Calvinism or higher criticism?” Bryan answered it, but I don’t think fully, or at least didn’t quite grasp what I was asking. I agree with him that Arminianism does not automatically have to lead to Pelagius thinking, but often does, and neither does Calvinism inevitably lead to Hyper-Calvinism (well done bringing Spurgeon into it as an example, by the way), but I still think that Arminianism, as a philosophy and total viewpoint brought to its extremes, will inevitably lead to some form of Christian Perfectionism, because if salvation is a choice, then so is sanctification or the ability to sin. Horrendous heresy, I’m well off to be away from it now.

So it was a good evening. I’m slowly warming to the Fusion Community at New Hope Church, and I’m beginning to appreciate Bryan McWhite a lot more, but I still have some reservations about attending there regularly. I think a few things need to change for me to really embrace it. Until then, glad to have fellowshipped and on occassion worshipped with them.

Legalism Rules!!

Legalism Rules!!

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Grant permalink
    06/02/2011 7:47 am

    Stu, you should start a church. That may get rid of all the reservations you have with other church bodies. At least for a moment or two.

    • stuartblessman permalink*
      06/02/2011 9:59 am

      Why would I want to do that when there are perfectly great churches out there?

      • Grant permalink
        06/02/2011 10:56 am

        It was just a thought. I of course mean it in a good way but also in a challenging way. It’s takes a lot to lead and serve a church body. There are always going to be scabs and scars to deal with on the way. But those should never be the focus of our gaze.

      • stuartblessman permalink*
        06/02/2011 8:57 pm

        Yup. I’d be happy nowadays with just a church I can like to attend. Too bad that includes so much else too…

        But it’s not really up to me.

  2. JSaintM permalink
    06/03/2011 10:50 am

    These are just a few thoughts I had yesterday after reading your post. I hope it’s helpful.

    Grant’s comment seems harsh, but it certainly makes a valid point. Stuart I wonder if the reason it is becoming so difficult for you to find a church is because of your regular following of Discoll/Chandler. It creates a sense that you are part of THEIR church and you have come into unity with a lot of their teachings. The same thing happens with any church body you are part of. You become interested in the same theological topics, worship practice, etc.. and you begin to have a unity with those around you. By not attending anywhere regularily, you’ve found this unity through video and podcasts at distant churches which has created an obsticle. Find a local church that allows you freedom and is “for the most part” in the same camp as you. The unity/agreement will increase over time. It sounds to me that this New Hope Church seems to fit most of your disired traits. You have peers who are interested in theology, the pastor is a Calvinist (and seems reasonable), and it sounds like there is a level a freedom for discussion on theological topics. I doubt U2 will make an appearance during Sunday’s worship set though :-p

    Of course I think you should join http://www.christchurchtc.com/
    But I know that probably won’t happen :-)

    John

    • stuartblessman permalink*
      06/03/2011 11:51 am

      Well said, and I receive it. And actually…that church doesn’t look so bad (Christ Church). I’d definitely be interested in visiting there.

      I agree with finding a local church that allows freedom and is in the same camp for the most part. That’s why I’m looking. And as much as I like Chandler and Driscoll, I still disagree with them on certain points, and would probably chaff quite a bit actually attending their churches.

      I have my reasons for not wanting to attend New Hope Church regularly. Reasons only God can change, unfortunately…I’d tell you more privately, but not here.

  3. B.C. McWhite permalink
    08/09/2011 10:20 pm

    Hey Stu,

    This is a great post, man. I wish I had known about it sooner. Terrific feedback. Would you shoot me an email sometime and let me know what reservations you have about NHC? I’m not going to try to “sell” NHC to you, but I’d definitely be curious. Thanks man.

    PB

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