The issue of Calvinism versus Arminianism has come up on various blogs recently, so I've been thinking a lot about the subject. I've always thought of myself as an Arminian, and according to the five points of Calvinism (TULIP), I certainly am. (Arminianism is essentially moderate Calvinism.) But I've never been drawn to the writings of Jacobus Arminius or John Wesley, whose teachings represent what is known as Arminianism. In fact, my all-time favorite author is Andrew Murray, who was reformed (or Calvinist). He has probably influenced my thinking the most. And John Piper, another Calvinist, is one of my favorite living authors.
But I still can't accept TULIP, and I'm beginning to understand why: it confines God's grace to a man-made system that uses terminology not found in the Bible. It uses language like "limited" atonement and "irresistible" grace, making God seem like a small deity who rations grace to a few (because he didn't have to save anyone). He will punish people for being "morally culpable," even though, according to TULIP, they had no choice. TULIP seems like a straitjacket to me, because it leaves no room for human freedom and it restricts grace. And even if it is based on biblical truth, it strips God's word of its paradoxes, so at best it is a half-truth.
Andrew Murray, on the other hand, talks about grace that is vast as an ocean and a God who empowers us to receive everything he wants to give. Nothing except our own resistance can keep him away, because he won't break down the door. But even our resistance needs not be a barrier--God will help us surrender if we ask him.
So I'm empowered because I have a choice, but my will--weak and corrupt as it is--won't keep me down. God will meet me where I am, no matter how low. He will nurture me so that I grow stronger and freer by surrendering my life him. My bondage gives way to perfect freedom when his grace fills every part of my life.
The invitation goes out to all: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20)