I’m currently working back through my book on Paul’s Letters, updating and clarifying some things. A couple of items stick out.
Sovereignty — It’s not Calvinism. Calvin was hardly the first to notice that God is sovereign; Luther wrote a book about it that Lutherans refuse to read. You can find more obscure references from earlier times. The point is that Paul flatly asserts it in Romans 9, and he does not differentiate between eternal destiny and earthly existence. Paul cites several well-known examples of people God destined before birth to face His wrath. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to any of us. I wrote:
We may well argue about what the term "divine sovereignty" means, but trying to dodge the implication is blasphemous — it reduces God from His own lofty revealed self-portrayal. You can’t make Paul say something he didn’t say in this chapter. The key to understanding predestination is embracing it as a personal truth, as the choice of God to reclaim you individually from the flood of damnation rushing down to Hell. To see it as some impersonal principle is blasphemous, just as objectifying the Law was blasphemous. Jesus was the Law personified, and His own nation rejected Him. They rejected the Law as surely as they closed themselves off from its ultimate purpose.
And in the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul completely destroys the very thing most Western churches do today by mimicking the secular “professional standards” for staffing and using similar guidelines for organizing and running the church operations. They insist there has to be something concretely verifying progress and success so humans who care nothing about God can measure it. Why do we care about their opinions; why do we live as though mere human approval mattered at all? Do these religious leaders imagine that somehow those secular standards are something they control?
This is all based on some false assumption that there could even be such a thing as a “Christian nation.” One more time: “My Kingdom is not of this world,” said Christ. All systems of human government in actual existence (forget your pretty theories) are uniformly damned. True, America was at one time an Enlightenment nation, but it was never a Christian nation for even one second, because the Enlightenment was heathen to the very core. When your fundamental assumptions about reality — when your epistemology — starts with human-centered reason, you cannot pretend it arose from revelation.
Today’s Western Christianity stands condemned by the Bible it waves at everyone.