Monday, September 27, 2010

Label #8: REFORMED

This is the last part in the series on “labels” and will address the “Reformed” label. This is a polarizing label so I want to be clear. By reformed I’m not referring to ex-cons or recovering alcoholics but those who are reformed in doctrine and practice as it concerns the local church (particularly in contrast to the theology of the Roman Catholic church). The label “Reformed” has been so misused and misunderstood that I’ve grown more reluctant to use the label. At its most basic level the “Reformed” label refers to three emphases: 1) An emphasis on the “five solas” of the Protestant Reformation; 2) An emphasis on the regulative principle for worship and church life; and 3) An emphasis on a high view of God’s sovereignty through a high view of the ministry of the Word in worship and church life. These statements beg unpacking.

To be “Reformed” in the proper sense one must at least affirm the “five solas” which are the conviction that 1) Scripture alone as the final and infallible authority for the church in matters of life and practice; 2) Justification from God is by faith alone without any mixture of works; 3) Salvation and the ability to have faith in Christ is a gift of grace alone from God; 4) Christ alone is the mediator between a holy God and sinful man; and 5) The miracle of a sinner’s conversion and adoption is to the glory of God alone. This miracle is helpfully explained in what is known as the five points of Calvinism or the doctrines of grace. These points are a systematic method to explain what Scripture teaches regarding God’s saving work. Those who are “Reformed” also hold (in some degree) to the “regulative principle of worship”- meaning, since Scripture alone is our authority Scripture alone regulates what we do in worship and church life. Those who are “Reformed” follow in the tradition of the 16th century Protestant Reformers in placing a renewed emphasis on the ministry of the Word- particularly through the pulpit which is carried out by Biblically qualified and set apart men (pastors/ elders).

That is a “nutshell” version of the “Reformed” label but there’s more to the story. The “Reformed” label like most labels carries so much variety that like most labels it does not fairly describe the one being labeled. Does one have to affirm everything in the Second London Confession of 1689 to be “Reformed”? Does one have to sing only Puritan-era hymns in a Puritan-era style to be “Reformed”? Does one have to be Amillennial in their eschatology to be “Reformed”? Some might argue that being “Reformed” means you are a Paedobaptist! Can you have an invitational hymn after the sermon and still be “Reformed”? Can you have Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, guitar accompaniment, preach from some Biblical translation other than the KJV or ESV, and aghast… hold anything other than a full Cessationist view of the miraculous gifts and still be “Reformed”? My hope is that Memorial Baptist Church would be distinguished as being “Reformed” in its convictions and its aims but we must be carefully with becoming legalistic in some of the applications.

When I say that I want our church to be “Reformed” what do I mean? Very simply I want my flock to embrace a high view of God’s sovereignty, of God’s Word, and of God’s church. To that end: 1) I’m praying for a renewal of Biblical theology in the life and practice of the church; 2) I’m praying for a renewal of Biblical leadership in the life and practice of the church; 3) I’m praying for a renewal of Biblical evangelism in the life and practice of the church; 4) I’m praying for a renewal of Biblical worship in the life and practice of the church; and 5) I’m praying for a renewal of Biblical hospitality in the life and practice of the church. The old Latin phrase semper reformanda or “always reforming” is true. We should always be submitting ourselves to the authority of Scripture and be conformed to its content.

1 comment:

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Jeremy,

Two Extremely Simple Questions
For Non-Catholics to Answer.

They are about as basic as you can get, and are both extremely important for your salvation. If they are so simple and are so basic, why then do non-Catholics refuse to answer them?

Why don't you be the first to answer them with the truth?

Question #1:

Every church on earth had a founder with a name. Please name the founder of the Catholic Church? No guesses please, or personal opinions just the facts.

Backup your answer with genuine historical documents and/or Bible verse(s).

Question #2:

After studying this page , please show me the Bible verse(s) which gave authority to anyone to found another church other than the one which Jesus Christ founded?
Here are a few hints to make it even easier for anyone to come up with the correct answers:

For Question #1:
Acts 8:1-3,
"And at that time, there was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem.

And they were all dispersed through the countries of Judea, and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men took order for Stephen's funeral and made great mourning over him.

But Saul made havoc of the church, entering in from house to house: and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison."

So here we have Saul making havoc of the Church which Jesus Christ founded.

It is obvious that Saul knew almost nothing about who the founder of that Church really was, or else he would not have been persecuting it.

Acts 9:1-5,
"And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus. And suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.

And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad."

So, Saul thought he was persecuting the Church that Jesus Christ founded, when in fact he was persecuting its founder.

Saul found out the hard way. Do you wish to find out the hard way also?

When you stand before Jesus Christ in judgment, do think He might ask you the same question that He asked Saul? "(substitute your name here) why persecutest thou me?"

I strongly suggest that you who persecute the Catholic Church had better find out who founded it,
that is if you value your salvation at all.

For Question #2:

Read these verses in your Bible:

Psalms 127:1, 1Corinthians 3:11, John 10:1-2, John 10:16, 1Peter 4:17, 2Peter 2:1, 1Corinthians 14:33, Luke 11:23, 2John 1:9, and Romans 10:15.

Now who will be the first non-Catholic to give me truthful answers to these two ever so simple and basic questions?