About Irresistible (Dis)Grace
One of the five central points of Calvinism, “Irresistible Grace,” proposes that, in the grand scheme of things, a person who is one of God’s elect will eventually come to a saving faith. This person might resist individual promptings of the spirit, but God’s grace is, as the saying goes, irresistible, to someone truly elect.
I’m not a Calvinist and I don’t pretend to have irresistible grace. I am a cultural Mormon. I recognize that this is the church of my birth and upraising, and though I do not believe in its tenets, it is the tribe, the culture, the socializing agent to which I am irresistibly drawn. And I notice that I am not alone in this. Perhaps for other churches, it’s easy to set and forget, but not quite so for Mormonism. We are (dis)tinctly Mormon through and through.
Whether within or without the church, whether pondered by the believing Mormon, the nonbelieving ex-Mormon or the never Mormon, plenty might think it strange that someone who has left the church is still so drawn to it. What does it mean to leave the church, but not leave it alone?
It shouldn’t make sense. Mormonism isn’t a Calvinist faith. It doesn’t follow predeterminism and, in fact, is fairly strongly opposed to such concepts. Our free will should be well, free, right? If we stick to the church, shouldn’t we just choose to believe? But if we choose not to believe, if we choose to (dis)affect, shouldn’t we (dis)perse and (dis)associate?
But what if choice was always overrated?
I think that the idea of our wills as being independent and unconstrained doesn’t play out. We have personalities, we are affected (but not wholly decided) by our environments and upbringings. Every action is situated in an inclination, and we should not forget whatever set of inclinations and (dis)inclinations with which we are strapped as a limiter of choice.
Something as great as a Mormon upbringing becomes a part of you, like the blood that courses through your vein…Could you “choose” to (dis)engage yourself from your own blood? I think the irresistible attachment is as close to an idea of Irresistible (Dis)Grace as we can imagine…
This isn’t about debating, evangelizing or proclaiming truth or falsity. The real questions are…regardless of truth or falsity, why does such an enduring cultural tradition endure when it is so (dis)tant from the spiritual tradition? What does it mean, especially in a tradition that believes you freely choose to be with us or against us? What is the value of this cultural tradition? How far does this reach down?
I want to (dis)till the irresistible (dis)grace of being a (dis)trusted nonbeliever in a (dis)liked minority faith.