Jennifer: You would have thought I had said I was pregnant by the way my parents reacted. But no, all I said was that they weren't in control of their own salvation. That night my thoroughly Presbyterian youth leader had introduced his charges to the splendors of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Though at first I was outraged by my leader's arguments, I was eventually convinced after he pointed out verses from Romans, like 9:18: "Therefore God has mercy upon whom he wants to have mercy, and hardens whom he wants to harden." As far as I could tell, the leader had the Bible on his side. And that's what I argued with my frustrated father well into the night (my mom had to leave the table).Of course, many Baptists believe that God has revealed otherwise, as I unmistakably learned during my four years at Baylor University, where the word predestination met with either a chuckle of contempt or a look of surprise from students. They were pretty confident of having the Bible on their side, too. Much like Erasmus, I decided that assertions about doubtful matters are better left unresolved.Sarah: I, on the other hand, was never plagued by rumors of simple-minded predestinarianism. I was a Lutheran, after all, and Lutherans never talk about what is so obviously a Calvinist affliction. There was plenty about grace alone, plenty about faith alone, plenty about Christ alone—but these notions never got translated into that particular and much-abhorred term. If you asked me who was in control of the universe, I would have said God the Father Almighty. If you asked who had won my salvation, I would have said Jesus Christ. If you asked who had given faith to me, I would have said the Holy Spirit.But if you then asked me if I believed ...

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October 23, 2000

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