Saturday, October 17, 2015
The Man in the Middle
Rising early on this cold, bitter morning, I realized I was late. Though I wanted to and tried, I just could not get going. I had stayed up late vigorously studying the old Calvinist/Arminian debate and was attending a seminar today at a local hotel. I was really hopeful the renowned speaker could help shed some light on this subject.
As I walked into the hotel, I quickly noticed the crowd of people in front of a breakfast table, wonderfully set up with its array of juices and muffins. I walked over. Sure enough, this was the seminar room.
"It's heresy, Chris. I don't know how anyone can't see how destructive that philosophy is."
I didn't need to know which side he was on-it applied to both. I was at the right place.
As I sipped my cranberry juice, I noticed a painfully skinny young waiter nervously scurrying about the table. Moving a bit too fast, he bumped the table and off tumbled the glass of orange juice a person had just poured.
Horrified, he quickly set about cleaning. I could not help but kneel down and help him clean.
"I am going to get fired," he said, distraught. "I am worthless and don't belong anywhere. My dad was right."
"No, no. I saw how meticulously you had everything prepared," I said gently. "Nobody is worthless."
He smiled weakly and then the doors opened. "You need to go in," he said.
I entered the room. The speaker had a good reputation, and I was looking forward to his presentation. He spent the first couple hours going over the rudimentary aspects of each position and then rose and asked the audience to divide. "Calvinists to one side," he said, " and Arminians to the other."
In my studies, Arminianism had always felt like the correct perspective, but Calvinism was so logical and tight. It just seemed to fit together so well. Realizing I was the last person to move, I reluctantly recognized that I needed to make a decision. I walked to the Calvinist side.
Smiling, the Calvinists greeted me warmly. "I saw you hesitating there," one said.
"Yes," I said, "Tough for me but I decided on Calvinism."
"Well," he said, "maybe that was not the best choice of words. You know, you really did not make a decision."
"Well, I did," I said. "I had to."
"It was just an illusion," he said.
"Illusion? Surely that cannot be."
"Great!" one said. "I am happy you chose Arminianism! A little indecision I saw there, but you made the right choice!"
"I actually did not choose Arminianism. I had no choice really."
"Wait, now. You always have a choice. God ensures it."
"But I didn't, you see --"
"No. You don't see. I really think you don't belong on the Arminian side."
Befuddled and feeling out of place, I took a few steps over to the middle. Standing alone there, I knew I just did not belong anywhere.
I saw the skinny waiter with his coat on and trudging slowly out into the bitter cold. I quickly caught up with him.
"Done so soon?" he said. "I thought that seminar went all morning."
"Ah... I don't think that was the right seminar for me." I smiled softly at him. "You know, I could really use a cup of coffee. Missed my usual cup in the rush this morning. Would you like to join me?"
"You know, I think I would. All that preparation this morning, but nothing for myself."
Chatting amiably, we strolled away.