Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Between recklessly plunging down snow covered slopes and disciplining teenagers for extreme acts of profligation, I somehow found the time to read a book on our ski trip. This feat is due mainly, to an unusual absence of motion sickness on the bus, and also to my handy dandy book light. So, somewhere on the road between Hazlehurst and Augusta I cracked open Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today's World, by Richard J. Mouw.

The title derives its name from the movie Hardcore, in which a minister attempts to explain his faith to an unsuspecting prostitute, using the TULIP acronym. The setting you ask- none other than the Las Vegas Airport. As might be be expected, TULIP comes across rather harsh in the above conversation, and that thought forms the premise for Mouw's work. Although Mouw, who happens to be president of Fuller Theological Seminary, does agree with the the tenants of Calvinism as explained by TULIP, he feels that in certain situations, there may be an easier, more relevant way to explain the doctrines of grace to both believers and non. While I do agree with him up to that point, the book goes on to take a few disturbing turns. The main one being Mouw's idea of "divine generosity." He asserts that most people, regardless of their beliefs, lifestyle or profession of faith, are possibly in the elect. While he does admit that his views could be flawed and that he isn't a universalist, his assumptions land on very shaky ground.

Despite several disagreements with Mouw, he closes the book on a better note. While he doesn't dismiss TULIP, he feels he can better explain Calvinist doctrine through the first question and answer of the Hiedelberg Cathechism, commonly referred to as "Heidelberg One." You can read it here, and should if you're not familiar with it. Mouw's particularly controversial ideas aside, he ends well.
posted by Christie