He’s Not Young or Restless, But He is Reformed!

Stephen Ley has an interesting review and comparison between Colin Hanson’s “Restless” and Bob Godfrey’s Unexpected Journey. I’m glad that people are becoming enthused about elements (mainly soteriology) of the Reformed faith. One problem with the “Restless and Reformed” approach is that it is inexperienced and churchless (i.e., it’s not associated with any particular church tradition or confession).

Godfrey is neither of these. He was young and Reformed a long time ago. He was in seminary when I was in grade school and he began teaching at WTS (PA) when I was still in Jr High. Did I mention that, even though he’s remarkably well preserved, he’s really pretty antique? Anyway, the point is that unlike the “restless” cats Godfrey settled remarkably early into a visible, institutional church. He got married, as it were, to a tradition and he’s remained married to that tradition ever since. Indeed, now a minister in the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) president of Westminster Seminary California, and professor of church history, there have been times in Bob’s life and ministry when, in certain respects, he was one of a very few voices calling us all back to Reformed basics such as justification sola gratia et sola fide and to worship according to the Word of God alone (sola scriptura). As I’ve said before in this space, if you like Horton, Hart, VanDrunen, or Clark, you’ll love Godfrey. Much of what we have learned and taught we’ve learned from Godfrey.

When Bob says “Reformed” he doesn’t simply mean “predestinarian.” Rather, he means “The Christian faith Reformed according to God’s Word and as confessed by the Reformed churches.” That’s a different, more full-blooded definition of the adjective. It includes a view of Scripture, a hermeneutic, a doctrine of God, man, Christ, salvation, church, sacraments, last things, and an ethic. In short it entails a theology, piety, and practice. The adjective “Reformed” was fundamentally defined a long time ago. Read Restless and Reformed, and with all due respect to Colin, I hope you’ll remain restless long enough to keep going and read Godfrey and to follow him toward and into the confessional Reformed tradition and churches.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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7 comments

  1. “Read Restless and Reformed, and with all due respect to Colin, I hope you’ll remain restless long enough to keep going and read Godfrey and to follow him toward and into the confessional Reformed tradition and churches.”

    Amen!

    Reducing the Reformed faith to five points is way too simplistic.

  2. Speaking as one who was a Young, Restless, and Reformed type in my first years of college, it has been such a great blessing to embrace Confessionalism with respect to the historical Reformed Confessions. The 5 points aren’t enough, and when isolated from the broader Reformed doctrines, produce all kinds of doctrinal instability and inconsistency.

  3. So does someone who does not hold to every point of doctrine in the Reformed confessions be considered “Reformed”. More to the point, can a credobaptist not be truly Reformed?

  4. Dave, I have read Muller’s argument and found it to be both arrogant and inaccurate. The idea that we can reform this far, and no further, seem counter-Reformational but that is exactly what Muller and others who are dogmatic about infant baptism seem to be declaring.

  5. Hi Dr. Clark,
    Thanks for your blog. As a novice to reformed theology from broader evangelicalism, I look forward to reading Godfrey’s book. Like many others, I’ve been introduced to reformed theology through excellent parachurch ministries like the White Horse Inn and Ligonier Ministries. And I suspect like many other people, I find myself in a spiritual limbo where I no longer find my local evangelical church to be acceptable but haven’t yet been convinced of all the broader reformed doctrines and so haven’t integrated into a local reformed church. I pray that you and your fellow reformed ministers continue to help us, “young, restless, trying-to-reform” folks. Perhaps your next book could be entitled: “So I Believe the Doctrines of Grace…Now What?”
    Sincerely, Alex

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