A Calvinist and a Pentecostal walk into a bar….
What happens, you ask?
The punch line usually ends with someone jumping out of an airplane or getting a black eye, but not this joke. The Calvinist and Pentecostal begin to talk about theology, and – before you know it – they become great friends and start a blog together.
I know what you’re thinking – “Yeah, right! Good one!”
Okay. Maybe Sam and I didn’t meet in a bar. But the rest is true – I swear!
If you’re not familiar with the various traditions within Christianity, Calvinists and Pentecostals have a few theological differences– to put it lightly. When they talk about these differences, it’s anything but a light discussion.
Take apostasy. Apostasy is no joke, of course, since it has to do with eternal salvation or damnation. In spring 2016, Sam and I were studying for our upcoming theology final at a small boba café in Rowland Heights. We ordered our drinks and – carrying our many books – took a seat at the corner table and sat across from one another. We had recently done research related to the question of apostasy – is it possible for Christians to “lose” their salvation? This was an important question for both of us – an immensely personal one, mainly because it confronted our deepest theological convictions and the way we view our own relationships with God. With honesty and humility, expressing our thoughts and struggles related to the matter, we conversed back and forth until our boba drinks were long gone. I have to be honest; it was an uncomfortable conversation to have, particularly when we addressed our points of disagreement. Nonetheless, we wrestled through the question together. We ultimately arrived at different conclusions. But the point is this: rather than ignore our differences we made the hard choice to work through them.
And that’s not the only time we’ve disagreed at the end of a long theological discussion. We’ve duked it out over the issue of women in ministry. We’ve argued about the nature of faith. We even debated the topic of election. At the end of one conversation, we found ourselves completely at odds as to whether or not Starbucks is real coffee.
And yet here we are, a Pentecostal and a Calvinist starting a blog together. Some readers might find this odd. After all, why would we share a platform with someone we disagree with? Let’s be clear: We didn’t create this blog because we agree on everything.
Sam and I made this blog because we are two good friends who share a common passion: theology. More importantly, we both have a burden to help people in their pursuit of Jesus – this is our greatest common denominator and what this blog is ultimately all about. One day Sam proposed the idea over text and, after giving it much thought and prayer, we became certain that others would benefit from us making some of our insights and discussions public.
I see a unique opportunity in our writing endeavor.
Have you been on Facebook lately? Did you follow the 2016 Election? If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that people don’t know how to disagree anymore – both in the world and in the church. More and more, it is becoming normal to block, un-follow, and disown friends and family you disagree with. For Christians, specifically, it is easy to hide within our theological tribes and write-off Christians we disagree with as ignorant or evil. It is difficult to give honest consideration to opposing theological viewpoints.
Civil discourse between two disagreeing parties is becoming increasingly rare.
In a society that is becoming more and more polarized, and hostile toward opposing groups, Sam and I have a unique opportunity to model what it looks like to have a civil, edifying dialogue amid disagreement. That means we’re going to ask hard questions that we might not always have clear answers for. But we would rather wrestle through the tough questions and try to get some answers together, rather than apart.
That is why our blog is called “Always Pursuing.” Like an exciting car chase, we are choosing to pursue Jesus and his truth rather than sit complacently and think we have all the answers. We have youth and friendship on the plus side, and in the debt column maybe experience and a little bit of fear. But it’s not fear of failure, because we cannot fail as long as we keep pursuing. We hope, as Christ admonished us in Matthew 6:33, to “Seek first his kingdom” – a kingdom in which with Christ at the center there are no differences too large to lose love over.
Several of our posts will focus on topics that can relate to any follower of Jesus – regardless of his or her theological background. But, for the sake of pursuing Christ, we will explore our areas of disagreement as well, and my hope and our desire is – as iron sharpens iron – we may also sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17).
One faith, different perspectives – all are worth talking about. So feel free to join the conversation, and let’s pursue Jesus together.