By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort
Looking Beyond the Bucket List
Ecclesiastes (Selected Scriptures)
“What do you want to do before you die?” Someone posed this question on The Today Show (03/26/12) followed by a segment on a group of men who were checking off things on their bucket list. After viewing this segment, it occurred to me that the movie became a movement. The phrase “kick the bucket” means to die. Therefore, the bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die. Dr. Ray Pritchard notes, “John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, used to say about his people, ‘Our people die well.’” [I wonder if he could say that today about Christians in general.] Dr. Pritchard observes, “In earlier generations Christians talked about death a lot more than we do now. The Puritans actually wrote books to help one another learn how to die well. Dying well was considered to be a Christian virtue.”
Peggy Noonan states, “Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generation of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth and our search for it has caused such unhappiness.” If Solomon could read Peggy’s statement he would likely say, “Tell me about it.” Remember, Solomon wrote a book about this very thing called Ecclesiastes. In it, he reveals the findings of his grand experiment. Continue reading
John MacArthur says that the book contains the names of all “those chosen for salvation.” As a Calvinist, this means that God unconditionally elected them to salvation, and they will receive the internal efficacious call, irresistible grace, resulting in regeneration followed by an inevitable free choice to believe. Immediately following these words he says, “Unbelievers, those whose names are not recorded in the book of life, will ‘perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Scripture also teaches that the faithless will be judged because they ‘did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness’ (2 Thessalonians 2:12). While the eternally elect are saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 13:39; 16:31; Romans 3:22–30; 4:5; 10:9–10; Galatians 3:22-26; Ephesians 2:8–9), the nonelect are lost because they refuse to believe the gospel (John 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9; 1 Peter 2:8; 4:17). Unbelief and rejection always indicate those persons whose names were not written … in the book of life.”[i]
Why the double-talk? As mentioned on several occasions throughout the book, within Calvinism there is a problem of what I call double-talk. By the use of this term, I am not implying immoral or clandestine trickery. Nor am I suggesting conspiratorial deceit. I must admit that upon reflection on my time of being a Calvinist, I did the same thing. I did not do so out of ill motive, intent to deceive, or because of a lack of desire to be faithful to the Scripture—nor do I so impugn my Calvinist brothers and sisters.
As a matter of fact, upon reflection, I did it because I believed in Calvinism and the Scripture. This brought about conflicts that required unconscious or at least unthoughtful responses to the conflicts, which I now see as double-talk. This double-talk obscured the harsh realities of Calvinism and the inconsistencies between Scripture and Calvinism; what I have now come to describe as disquieting realities of Calvinism. Either there was an unconsciousness of the serious gap between Calvinism and the simple reading of Scripture, or I was simply unwilling to face these disparities directly. At times, a lack of thoughtfulness may have been easier than embarking on the quite disconcerting and uncertain journey that I have been on for the past thirteen years. Also, I did not have the knowledge and ability to see them as clearly then as I do now. By double-talk, I am referring to the inconsistencies between the irreducible tenets and logic of Calvinism, and the speech, writings, prayers, etc., of some Calvinists. This is particularly pronounced in areas like missions, prayers, preaching, and written and spoken comments that seem to ameliorate or soften the harsh realities of Calvinism. Actually, it is this double-talk, which I found myself tolerating, that I read and heard Calvinists reciting, all of whom I esteem as godly men and women, that stimulated my disenchantment. Continue reading