Vaneetha Rendall Demski:
“No” was not the answer I wanted. I was looking for miraculous answers to prayer, a return to normalcy, relief from the pain. I wanted the kind of grace that would deliver me from my circumstances.
God, in his mercy, offered his sustaining grace.
At first, I rejected it as insufficient. I wanted deliverance. Not sustenance. I wanted the pain to stop, not to be held up through the pain. I was just like the children of Israel who rejoiced at God’s delivering grace in the parting of the Red Sea, but complained bitterly at his sustaining grace in the provision of manna.
But I do think the response to Frye should not be ‘How dare you blame the Calvinists!?’ so much as ‘If there is a problem, and if true Calvinism should not create such a problem, what is going wrong in our churches?’ Here, the difference between a church’s doctrine and the reception of that doctrine by individual Christians and congregations is crucial. Calvinism, true Calvinism, is not to blame; but sadly there are Calvinists who are less innocent, who do reduce the problem of evil and suffering to tweetable soundbites which inevitably lack the complexity of the Biblical teaching, who do ignore the whole counsel of God in their teaching and preaching and choice of praise songs. And I fear that a failure to reflect the whole counsel of God in our teaching and worship has indeed left individuals conflicted over how — and whether — Christians should lament. The arrival of funerals that are ‘celebrations of life’ even within some Presbyterian circles witnesses to the reality of this problem.
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Drummond, a 19th century evangelical writer and lecturer, originated the term “God of the gaps” while chastising his fellow Christians for their unscriptural view of natural history. Unfortunately, this confusion about “natural” and “supernatural” continues today even though it is, as philosopher Alvin Plantinga explains “at best a kind of anemic and watered-down semideism” that “is worlds apart from serious Christian theism.”
For Christians, though, a “natural” process is just a normal-appearing process which remains the providential design and control of God. The difference between natural-appearing and miraculous-appearing processes is not whether God is acting — his action occurs in both processes — but the way in which he chooses to act.
This is pure speculation, but it seems to me that when the modern worship movement came into town, churches became more and more age segregated. There is probably a doctoral student somewhere in America working on this topic right now, so I’ll wait for that book to come out to tell me more about it. But as a general observation, I do not remember churches in my youth having such radical age divides as they do now. And my guess is that music is one of the main reasons for this change.
This is certainly an oversimplification of a larger problem. But music is one of the main ways that a church shows its stylistic preferences. Thus, music becomes an important way for a church to identify itself. My guess is that many people make the decision about where they will go to church based largely on the style of music. It’s just easy to be around people who like the things we do.