Anabaptist Lite

August 26, 2008

I spent a couple years in a private college near Tampa, Florida — a small Christian college, the theological leanings of which could be roughly described as Anabaptist Lite.  It is influenced heavily (and operated almost exclusively) by heirs of the Restoration Movement (Stone-Campbell Movement) of the 18th and 19th centuries.  I attended this college because I was raised in this kind of church, as were my parents, my wife, her parents, and so on.  I mention this here because there are certain presuppositions that drive restoration theology, and these presuppositions have an impact on how one approaches the problem of evil.  And since I’m personally familiar with them, I’ll discuss them first.
Back in my restorationist days, if you were to ask me to explain how a good God could preside over a universe in which evil occurred, my answer would have been shallow.  Now this shallowness isn’t the fault of restoration theology — I just hadn’t thought through it as far as I should have.  However, what I’ve since discovered is that the only way I could remain restorationist in my thinking while continuing to affirm biblical attributes of God (omniscience, omnipotence, foreknowledge, etc.) was to stay in the shallow end of the good God/evil world question.  And that is a legitimate criticism of restoration theology.   Those who do drift into the deep end either end up denying some of the attributes of God, or abandoning some of the basic pillars of Anabaptist theology.  This is one reason why we have so many open-theists and pseudo-Calvinists running around.

Let me illustrate.  A drunk driver plows through a red light and t-bones a Geo Metro, killing the two-year-old baby girl inside.  Where is God?  Did He notice?  Did He even try to stop it?  What kind of God lets little girls get killed?  These are all valid questions, and they do come up when something like this happens.  But for the purposes of our discussion now, the important question is this: Can the Anabaptist answer these questions in accordance with his fundamental theological presuppositions without denying one or more of the scriptural attributes of God (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, foreknowledge), and without denying the scriptural doctrine of creation ex nihilo?  I say no, he cannot, and in the next post I intend to show the math.

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One Response to “Anabaptist Lite”

  1. barrywallace Says:

    Hi. I just stumbled over here using the Tag Surfer, and found this to be a thought-provoking post. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it.


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