Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beloved Spear Bible Puzzler: The Chosen

My discarded sermon concept for this week came in my reflections on Luke's story of the teaching of the Lord's Prayer. In keeping my message nice and simple and straightforward with a memorable takeaway, I neglected to pitch out this little Calvinist puzzler:

In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus presents his approach to prayer. That involves an attenuated Lord's Prayer, followed by a statement on the value of persistence, followed by the assertion that the thing we are to seek in prayer isn't bling or success, but the Holy Spirit. It's clear that what matters is the intent underlying prayer, a desire for connection and meaning that stirs an individual to seek after and pursue relationship with God.

As I reflected on that desire for the Holy Spirit during my sermon prep, I found myself wondering about the theological tautology that seems implied in this section. Desire for God is, I would hold, a gift of the Spirit. But if only those who are stirred by the Spirit seek the Spirit, and it is the seeking of the Spirit that is necessary for humankind to be in right relationship with God and one another, that seems to create a closed circle of engagement with the Creator. Almost, it seems, to the point of necessitating the use of terms like the "elect."

My Bible study on Sunday wrassled with this one for a bit, and folks came up with several interesting responses and reactions. I managed to avoid the use of the term prevenient, despite having spent seven years at a Methodist seminary.

What thinkest thou?