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Must I Become a Five Point Calvinist to Join Emmaus?

I’m almost saddened to be in position where I need to answer this question, but the reality is that I do need to address this. Some of you who attended the BFC congregational meeting on May 22nd probably left with the impression that I left BFC purely because I am Calvinistic in the area of the Doctrine of Salvation. That is true, but only to an extent.

I acknowledge that Pastor Gil and myself do not see eye to on every point of doctrine, but the truth of the matter is that there were many other issues that contributed to the elders and myself deciding that it was time to move on to start a new work. I think this is important for you to hear; not because I want to throw mud at anyone, but because I want you to have a correct understanding of the importance this doctrine has held, and will continue to hold, in my ministry. The short answer to the question, “must I become a five point Calvinist to join Emmaus?” is, definitely not! I think that a few points of clarification will help you put all of this together.

First, though I personally am convinced that the five points are true to scripture, I do not expect all Christians to agree with me on this. I have held these views for about ten years, but I do acknowledge that understanding this doctrine has been a process. It would be unfair of me to expect that you, especially if this topic is new to you, would agree with me fully and immediately. Some of you might someday come to agree with me fully, and some of you may never see eye to eye with me on all five points, and that’s fine.

Second, though I personally am convinced that the five points are true to scripture, I do not feel that Calvinism should be the only focus or the obsession of the church. Churches need to have balance. We must be theologically sound – otherwise how could we possibly know God or what He requires of us? But we also must fellowship, worship, pray, serve, and evangelize. A healthy church is both deeply concerned with the Word and with deeds. We need to be a people who study God’s Word and live in obedience to it. My hope is that we would be a balanced church; that we would be theologically deep people who love God, love one another, and serve.

Third, it is important for our elders to see eye to eye on this issue to a greater extent than I would expect from the congregation. That said, even amongst elders there needs to be room for disagreement. I think that as elders we should lead by example when it comes to respectfully disagreeing with one another on the “finer points” of theology. I want you to understand that you are welcome to worship, grow, and serve at Emmaus even if you don’t agree with me fully on this issue.

Fourth, I think the fact that I have been a “Calvinist” for ten years is significant. I have worked at BFC as a Jr. High Directer, a Youth Pastor, and as an Associate Pastor, and not until recently did my theology become an issue. It became an issue, not because I decided to make it one, but because a few people in the congregation decided to bring this issue to the forefront. In some ways, I’m glad they did. God has a way of using situations like this for His glory. The point I am trying to make is that my theological view points, though they are important to me, will not be crammed down anyone’s throat from the pulpit. I am as committed to exegetical, Christ centered preaching as I have ever been. We will study the Bible at Emmaus primarily verse by verse, and chapter by chapter in much the same way that I have always preached (though I hope to improve). My passion is preaching and I fully intend to explain the Scriptures every Sunday, nothing less and nothing more.

Long story short, I love 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 point Calvinists (and even Arminians :-)) and hope that we have a variety of folks worshiping and serving together at Emmaus, loving God, loving one another, and serving locally and to the ends of the earth spreading the good news of Jesus Christ all the way.

Blessings,

Joe Anady

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"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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