Monday, January 11, 2010
Lectionary Thoughts: Mark 4
Biblical Theology must always drive Systematic Theology. We Christians must be committed to let the Bible say what it says, even (or especially) when a plain reading of a text messes up the neatly coiffed hair of our systematized formulations of doctrine. The parable of the sower in the fourth chapter of Mark's Gospel is a good test of a Reformed Christian's interpretive priorities.
Before I continue I would like to reaffirm my love and admiration for what is known as the Reformed, or Calvinistic way of interpreting the Bible. If you cut me I bleed Westminster and Three Forms of Unity. If there were (as a pastor friend of mine once noted) six points of Calvinism I would happily believe and preach all six. I believe in what the Canons of Dordt called "The Perseverance of the Saints"; the doctrine that the elect of God will persevere in their faith and consequently in their salvation. Yes, and amen.
However, we go too far if we maintain that is is impossible for someone to have the word of God sown in their hearts, for them to receive that word with gladness and then to fall away. For that is exactly what Jesus warns of in verses 14-17.
Some Reformed types, in an effort to protect their system of doctrine maintain that the word was never really sown in, nor received by, the one who falls away. But the problem is that the exact same words (sown and received) are used to describe the person who bears the godly fruit of saving faith in verse 20. It would be more accurate to say that all the sowing/receiving in Mark 4 is genuine sowing/receiving, but not all the sowing/receiving in Mark 4 is unto salvation. I'm just sayin'...