I’m watching a video interview of Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, and Reformed. At about 21 minutes into the interview I heard a familiar voice: WSC alumnus Jonathan King (MA, HT), now a PhD student at TEDS. You might know JK from his days at Creed or Chaos. JK asked Collin a very interesting question about how he and those whom he interviewed for the article and the book relate the confessions to the adjective “Reformed.” Collin replied that there was some relation inasmuch as some of the folks in the YRR movement hold to Baptist confessions, but none of them hold to the Westminster Standards (or the Three Forms). He noted that Mike Horton has asked him not to use the adjective “Reformed,” and he noted that for most of them the adjective is somewhat arbitrary. It’s not as if those who identify with the movement also have a deep affinity for or profound identity with the historic Reformed tradition. What they want is the Five Points of the Synod of Dort. This strikes me as a sort of theological vandalism.
I wonder if Collin and the fellows whom he interviewed would object if I redefined Baptist?
“From here on out I decree that ‘Baptist’ shall mean, ‘I believe in Baptism.'” “Wait!” They yell, “That’s far too minimalist a definition to be useful. After all, the word ‘Baptist’ has historic roots and historic usage, an ecclesiastical setting, and a widely understood meaning. You can’t simply redefine ‘Baptist’ by fiat and you can’t impose such a minimalist definition on the word ‘Baptist’ because, after all, all Christians believe in Baptism. Defining it that way doesn’t tell us anything about the person using the adjective. It becomes meaningless.”
Quite. So it is with those of us who are identified with the historic Reformed Churches and with their confessions. Our people spilled blood for being called Reformed and for confessing the Reformed theology, piety, and practice. The Synod of Dort did not simply issue five canons against the Remonstrants, they also published a church order and they worked on worship and other ecclesiastical issues. To break into the Armory (where the Synod met) and to steal the Five Points from the ecclesiastical context in which they were formed and in which they were meant to be applied and to use them alone to define the adjective “Reformed” is just vandalism and identity theft.
I’m glad folk want to identify with the Five Points of Dort. I’m glad that folks are interested in the Reformed reformation. Keep coming. The road to Geneva is a nice trip and I think you’ll enjoy the destination. If you’re hungry, we will feed you. You don’t have to steal. It’s okay, we love you. Indeed, we’ll put a Geneva gown on your ministers, we’ll baptize your children in recognition of their status as covenant children and we’ll offer you communion in the body and blood of Christ regularly (the Geneva City Council is dead, long live communion). We have a polity, a piety, and a passion for the lost. You’ll love it.
If this theft continues, however, I’m going to start calling myself and everyone who believes in Baptism “a Baptist.”
Indeed, a whole new meaning to the eighth commandment.
If there can be “(credo) Baptists” why can’t there be “(paedo) Communionists”? The odd tone of the latter makes me wonder about how the former has come to be so acceptable even to those who would that they are “Reformed.”
>I’m glad folk want to identify with the Five Points of Dort. I’m glad that folks are interested in the Reformed reformation. Keep coming. The road to Geneva is a nice trip and I think you’ll enjoy the destination. If you’re hungry, we will feed you. You don’t have to steal. It’s okay, we love you. Indeed, we’ll put a Geneva gown on your ministers, we’ll baptize your children in recognition of their status as covenant children and we’ll offer you communion in the body and blood of Christ regularly (the Geneva City Council is dead, long live communion). We have a polity, a piety, and a passion for the lost. You’ll love it.
Dr. Clark, Reformed Theology is not a Magisterium. There is no ‘we’ who ‘feeds’ people; there is no ‘we’ who puts ‘gowns’ on ministers; there is no ‘we’ who baptize ‘your’ children and offer ‘you’ communion. There is no established magisterium and clerical body or hierarchy attached to Reformed Theology.
Reformed Theology is five solas, doctrines of grace, classical Federal Theology. Issues of ecclesiology and sacramentology have *always* been secondary *from the beginning.* That is because the Word of God makes them secondary. The Word of God *gives warrant* for them to be secondary. Clearly the Word of God *is not dogmatically clear* on those issues because in the different eras of the history of redemption different approaches are necessary and effective. This is why theologians of the caliber of a (pick a name) Gill and a (pick a name) Boston could agree to disagree on such issues, because the Bible gives warrant for it.
And let’s not restrict the martyrs for the Word of God and five solas doctrine to followers of the Westminster Standards or any other confession. Protestant martyrs died for the Word of God and apostolic biblical doctrine and for liberty of conscience to follow where the Holy Spirit leads one’s conscience.
Was the Synod of Dort an ecclesiastical assembly recognized by the churches of the Netherlands, England, and in Germany?
Was the Westminster Assembly an ecclesiastically assembly recognized by the Church of Scotland and the American Presbyterian Churches?
Was the Savoy recognized by the Congregational Churches?
Was the Heidelberg Catechism adopted by churches in Germany and the Netherlands? Was the Belgic adopted by the Netherlands?
Dr. Clark, you need to stop with this hegemonic language game. There are many young people who desire the freedom to be Reformed yet explore how that word can be beautifully expressed in a variety of ways. You need to give them space to explore and to challenge and to be challenged.
Seriously though, it is my opinion that this YRR movement is just another head of the postmodern hydra. I’m glad that there are those who like the doctrines of grace, and I hope that they continue on in their Reformed journey. I hope that these young restless calvinists come all the way and embrace not only TULIP but also the other doctrines, practices and piety of the Reformed Church. Reformed should be seen as a package deal. This picking and choosing type of spirituality is not healthy.
-For some reason Dr. Clark a synapse fired off in my brain, something to do with Baptists and the apostle’s creed…I think concerning the ” a holy catholic Church”. Was that you that wrote something about that baptist’s don’t logically believe in that statement?
-I really despise the spirit which lies behind the question “what does reformed mean?” pitching the term away on account of the multitude of definitions, not to mention the one who is answering’s words with it. So, to use that term “reformed” pertains to the Helvetic, TFU, and the Westminster standards, not the London Baptist Confession of Faith, or Joe Schmoe’s arbitrary definition by what you said?
-On the baptist comment you tossed in at the end of your article, how ought we abbreviate that: Dr. R. Scott Clark, bapt.?
Reformed – from what?
The deformed Roman church.
When? At the Protestant Reformation.
How? In doctrine, worship and government.
Why? Because Christ is the great prophet, priest and king of his church.
Upon what basis? Scripture alone.
But since Scripture is perspicuous or clear, a uniform confession of what Scripture teaches is not only possible, it is also commanded in Scripture (1&2 Tim. Tit.). Like it or not, historically/long before we were around, the high water marks of the Protestant Reformation were determined to be the 3 Forms of Unity on the continent and the Westminster Standards for the British Isles, with the Savoy, London Baptist and Cambridge Platform being variants of the WConfess.
Further those same Scriptures tells us that God is sovereign. Indeed if he were not, he would not be God.
But God is sovereign in how his people will be saved – the doctrines of grace, not synergism or a pelagian works righteousness.
God is sovereign in what doctrine he will have his people taught – sola scriptura again, not popery, an oligarchy or vox populi.
God is sovereign in how many sacraments will be observed and how he will be otherwise worshiped in his church – the regulative principle of worship or the good and necessary consequences of the Second Commandment. It is not enough just to be sincere or make sure a sermon, prayer and maybe the sacraments accompany whatever.
God is sovereign in how his church will be governed – jus divinum presbyterianism – plurality of elders/multitude of counselors, rule of law, representation, wider/higher/ interconnected courts contra independentism and hierarchy, popish or episcopal.
Moreover, in oreder for the church to present each man mature in Christ [Col. 1:28] the church must preach the whole counsel of God rather than the Reader’s Digest version in order to avoid a theological version of the electric chair (Act.20:26,27);
Hence again, “Reformed” is not only restricted to soteriology. It does not only refer to an adherence to the 5 points, with Baptists adding believer’s baptism and deacons to the mix and Presbyterians adding infant baptism, ruling elders and maybe if they are conservative, psalmody.
There’s milk and there’s meat. There are babes in the faith, novices and those that are mature, which is not only the testimony of Scripture, but also that of the historic church. If the young and restless care to argue with them, they can have at it, but they shouldn’t expect others to wait for or think they are going to win the argument.
Bob Suden, your whole enterprise went off the rails with the inclusion of the London Baptist. Now, which is it: milk or meat? Is the London Baptist milk and the WCF meat? If so, you pit individuals with time-vetted, on-the-mark understanding of biblical doctrine against each other.
I notice, by the way, that neither side here mentions the five solas very much if at all. The guy in the video mentioned Tulip an the sovereignty of God.
I’ve noticed a disinterest in other groups of Protestants involved in these definition wars in avoiding (sometimes mocking, in the case of the Reformed-Catholics) the five solas as a defining mark of Reformation Protestant doctrine. It’s too elegant and simple I guess.
Hey Scott, does that mean the Pope’s baptist? 🙂
It has been obvious to me for some time that Hansen’s use of “Reformed” is alliterative. “Young, Restless, and Predestinarian” just doesn’t have the same ring.
It’s interesting that in the book Edwards gets more play than Calvin. Seems like a lot of the people in the book are preaching to the QIRE.
Well put, Dr. Clark. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for all the hard and thoughtful work you’ve been putting in on this front. I read RRC a couple weeks ago, and just finished Dr. Horton’s “People and Place”, and I am very thankful that I decided to read both. I am convinced that those are probably the two most important books for anyone claiming to be “Reformed” in our day to read, and have been commending them at every opportunity to folks in my church.
Really appreciate these posts, Dr. Clark
Thanks for the encouragement!
Ditto Drew. I’m on to the last chapter. It’s taken a while but is well worth the read. My next mission is to get my family and friends from my evangelical church to read it.
Can “we” just stick to their old name–Schwärmer
Well, otoh, they do share a basic Anabaptist conviction obviously. Otoh, the Baptist movement after the turn of the 17th century is a different and more orthodox creature. I’m excited that they are finding aspects of Reformed theology but I want to encourage them to keep coming. I also, of course, don’t want to see the word “Reformed” re-defined to mean only the five points. If we call the YRR folks “fanatics” they’re not likely to be much interested in talking to us about the church order of Dort.
I was surprised, however, at the way Collin described the YRR appropriation of the adjective Reformed. It seemed quite cavalier, careless even.
Reformed as a term, as doctrine, is foundational – bed rock – to Particular Baptist and non-liberal Presbyterian and non-liberal Congregational.
This is why in history John Bunyan, Thomas Boston, and John Owen are all Reformed, all Calvinist, all Reformation doctrine.
Five solas, doctrines of grace, Federal Theology.
When you define the term Reformed by ecclesiology and sacramentology you have left the Reformation as your context.
There’s a yearning for false unity running as a thread in these comments. For all who secretly admire the ‘unity’ of the Roman Catholic Church, it doesn’t exist there either, as you want to see it.
The unity of the Kingdom of God is in the invisible Church of which Christ is King; and it is in the heart of every *born again* believer, regenerated by the *Word and the Spirit.*
That is a very powerful unity, and a real unity.
Soteriology is essential to the Reformation but every single one of the magisterial Reformers disagreed with you about the importance of the church and sacraments. Every single one. As I quoted him in my lecture last Saturday, Calvin said that there were two things essential to Reformation: right worship and justification, and in that order. In other words, Calvin did not think that the Reformation was ONLY about soteriology.
Biblical doctrine is like a solar system. Without the center the planets and satellites drift off into emptiness (vanity).
The Sun of Reformation doctrine is justification by faith alone, summed up roundly as the five solas.
This still goes against the grain of fallen human nature.
Where was a Presbyterian church when Calvin was born again by the Word and the Spirit? Had he received ‘correct’ communion?
How did the Swiss Reformation, arguably earlier than Luther, even get started when it’s founder, Zwingli, was saying baptism is for “stupid people” who “need the visual.”
My goodness, with sacramental issues so central, it is amazing the Reformation was started by such a man with such beliefs. Amazing.
QIESUR: Quest for Illegitimate Ecclesial and Sacramental Unity with regards to the term Reformed.
If ecclesiology and the sacraments were so unimportant to the early Reformers why did Zwingli feel the need to write a treatise against the Anabaptists in defense of paedo-baptism?
Why did either Luther or Zwingli even bother to show up to the Marburg Colloquy, where the big sticking point regarded not the doctrine of justification, but the Lord’s Supper and its underlying Christology?
Jackson, the ” whole enterprise” didn’t go off the rails with the inclusion of the LBaptist. Rather it proved a point.
Nobody forced the Savoy, LB and the NEngland Confession to largely follow the WCF. While they disagreed on govt. and the sacraments, in large part they agreed on more than just the five solas, which refer to the Reformation gospel, not the whole counsel of God.
But just what does a gospel church teach beside the 5 solas of the gospel? Or is that the sum total of what it preaches? (If so, you don’t even follow that rule yourself in this discussion.)
How does it worship? How does it govern itself? Is all that adiaphora and immaterial?
The answers precede the anabaptists, and the modern baptists, of whom Bunyan was not one, who expropriate and redefine the term “Reformed” ahistorically, if not untruthfully. They may be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong. They may hold to a “reformed” gospel, but they are not reformed in doctrine, in that they at least deny the reformed practice in worship and government.
I noticed something that seems quite ironic. Every professor I have heard from West. Sem. CA on the issue of what Reformed means has basically said the kind of things Dr. Clark says. But the funny thing is, they have “The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies” at the same school with Reformed Baptist professors! How can people like me take serious the issue raised by those who call themselves truly Reformed, when they have contributed to the ambiguous definition of Reformed from the past to the present? Why would West. Sem. CA allow the continual presence of a Reformed Baptist institute on their school? Why not tell the Baptist to change their name and stop misusing the adjective “Reformed” if it’s being misused?
Why doesn’t the 1689 (and other particular baptist confessions) fit into the 16th and 17th century reformed tradition? Isn’t choosing the 3FU and WCF just as arbitrary? Why those particular confessions?
Do you really want to say that John Piper and Mark Dever are not reformed? Haven’t you got bigger fish to fry? I mean we have one short life, do you really want to start good Christian folk fighting against each other over this one? Shouldn’t we be banding together to fight issues of greater importance?
Are the people in NAPARC more visibly godly than those from Piper’s and Dever’s fold? I can’t see that they are.
Why go for this speck in Piper’s eye? I’m sure NAPARC isn’t free from planks in their eyes, and it would do some good if they at least wondered if they did.
$ $ $
>If ecclesiology and the sacraments were so unimportant to the early Reformers why did Zwingli feel the need to write a treatise against the Anabaptists in defense of paedo-baptism?
Practical necessities of war. Munster threatened the victories and the cause of the Reformation. Now don’t gloss over my point on Zwingli: this is the man who arguably started the Reformation, and at the time he did it his views of the so-called sacraments were as stated above: not high. Read Calvin in his Sermons on Ephesians to see how he too harbored similar views as early Zwingli. Factor in the practical decisions and necessities of the vicious war, with the overwhelming numbers and forces against them, that the reformers were navigating through. For instance, Calvin believed in liberty of conscience, yet he couldn’t allow Servetus to live because it threatened a whole population and movement. You win the war first, before the ideas being fought for can be realized. Otherwise the you play into the devil’s hands.
>Why did either Luther or Zwingli even bother to show up to the Marburg Colloquy, where the big sticking point regarded not the doctrine of justification, but the Lord’s Supper and its underlying Christology?
This was a good vs. good meeting (as you say they both held to the foundational doctrines); this was not the reformers vs. the Beast church of Rome. You make my point though in showing once again that sacramental issues were not distinctives of Reformation doctrine. Paedo baptism is not a Reformed distinctive, any more than Calvin’s Mariology is.
Re IRBS at WSC, you make an interesting point. But while I think it may fall under a regular Clarkian admonition to NAPARC (hey, we’re pointing people to you—what gives with all the QIRE/QIRC? Knock it off already), I think it also falls under the Clarkian point that all things come in due time; Presbyterians are nothing if not able to endure with a long-suffering patience. Cleaning house might be more a function of Fundamentalists learning to be Presbyterian than Presbyterians behaving like Presbyterians. Like Forest Gump said of shrimping, being Reformed the old-fashioned way “is just plain tough.”
(May I say “Clarkian”?)
To say that the sacraments were not central for Luther would be, in his thinking, equivelent to saying that the Gospel was not central for him, as he would no more separate the Gospel from the sacraments than he would from the Word written and preached. The same goes for Calvin. The same goes for Melanchthon. The same goes for Vermigli. The same goes for Bucer. And on, and on, and on…
As for Zwingli: we should be thankful that the Reformed tradition is formed and defined by the consensus of the Reformed churches as seen in our historic, ecclesiastically sanctioned confessional documents (all of which emphatically reject a “nuda signa” view of the sacraments), and *not* by the views of any one particular theologian.
As a guy who fits the “YRR” bill, I object to the idea that the adjective “Reformed” is arbitrary. It’s true, I don’t subscribe (fully) to the 3 Forms or the Westminster Standards. But I read Calvin, Owen, Watson, Bavinck, Kuyper, and even Horton and Clark. No, I don’t agree with everything 100%. I suppose that doesn’t make me “all caps” REFORMED. But where else in Christianity can I be categorized if I hold to a covenant theology or the real presence of Christ? I sure ain’t a Lutheran, and far too comfortable with God’s sovereignty for broad evangelicalism. So, if I am no allowed to be “Reformed,” just what am I?
Apparently not! I just wrote a book about how to define the adjective Reformed and I’ve written at least 7 (one is just a link to Muller) posts about it:
There wasn’t a single 16th century “Reformed” theologian who accepted those who rejected infant Baptism as “Reformed.” More importantly, the Reformed churches consistently included infant Baptism in their confessions in a way that seems to make it non-negotiable for the reasons I’ve given many times before. I believe that the same relations obtained in the 17th century but I recognize that the Baptist movement of that period was of a different character. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the Reformed changed their views on the centrality of Baptism and my Baptist friends should find that argument from silence persuasive since it is the cornerstone of their argument for infant baptism!
Uh, I don’t know. It makes me queasy. In the 20th-century “Clarkian” referred to followers of Gordon Clark. I’m too wretched to have followers and I’m not a “Clarkian” (inasmuch as he was truly QIRC-y!) . I think “Scottish” is out for obvious reasons. That leaves “R-ish” which is, as the kids say, “gay.” So, nope, my parents set it up so that there could be no movement using my name! Good on ’em.
re: the IRBS at WSC, I’ve written about that many times here. Jim is a terrific guy, a good scholar, and a gentleman. We agree to disagree. He does not think that I am baptized and I don’t recognize his congregation(s) as a true church. He wouldn’t have it any other way. We recognize that one of us must be wrong and we think the other is wrong, but we do it with a smile. I think Baptists have an over-realized eschatology (they want too much of heaven on earth now and thus seek a pure congregation via believer’s baptism) so that they rebel against the covenant command to include children into the visible covenant community and to recognize their status as covenant children with the new covenant sign and seal of initiation.
The IRBS uses our campus the way that churches rent out their facilities to other congregations. If an Episcopal congregations rents their building to a Baptist congregation in the afternoon, does that make the inconsistent? IRBS is not a part of WSC other than it meets on our campus, we teach their students (and try to persuade them of the Reformed view of Baptism) and we accept their credits by transfer and they accept ours. We accept transfer credits from lots of schools (e.g. Fuller) but that doesn’t mean we agree with their theology. We enjoy friendly relations with the ARBCA. They’re fine folks with whom we have much in common and also quite profound disagreements. They appreciate the seminary and they send us usually excellent, highly motivated students. So what?
>To say that the sacraments were not central for Luther
Notice nobody said that. I’m not Lutheran. We’re not talking about Lutheranism. Saying Luther was absolutely Roman Catholic regarding the sacraments if fine with me. Whatever.
>The same goes for Calvin.
No, it most certainly does not. Calvin preached on Ephesians in 1558-9. Read the 40th sermon of that series. It doesn’t contradict Calvin in his Institutes or anywhere else. It does highlight where Calvin came down, from early to late in life (he came down on the apostolic biblical doctrine side). If you see a mirror of Luther there you are reading with glasses similar to what Joseph Smith had.
There is a reason Calvinists are not Lutherans. Some people would like to make them so, then I suppose the hop, skip, and jump would be left to a little ‘jump’ to Rome.
You do realize that is a homophobic slur right?
1. Please read the book. It will help.
2. It wasn’t I who called the YRR use of “Reformed” “arbitrary,” it was the official chronicler of the movement, Collin! Listen to the interview. He said that their use of the adjective was “Reformed.” What he and the the others in the YRR movement appear to have done is arbitrarily to seize on a historic adjective to distinguish themselves from the Emergent/Emerging Movement without much thought as to what that adjective really means or who else was living in the house. If they are not vandals then they are squatters. Either way this house is occupied.
What should they call themselves? Well, there have been “Particular Baptists” for a very long time. If they don’t like that they could call themselves “Sovereign Grace Baptists.” That has a nice ring to it or “Sovereign Grace Evangelicals” or some such. What interests them about Reformed theology is one important aspect of Reformed theology but, contrary to Jackson’s repeated and increasingly bizarre arguments, it’s only a part of what makes Reformed theology what it is. Calvin wrote more than book 3 of the Institutes. He also wrote book 4. The Canons of Dort were an ad hoc response to a particular problem. They were never meant to be taken as a comprehensive statement of Reformed theology, piety, and practice. The same synod that drafted and adopted them continued by adopting a church order that limited communion to those who “profess the Reformed Religion” but which they meant much more than the Five Rules they had adopted against the Remonstrants.
Jackson (Robert K.)
I’m just going to assume from now on either that, 1. we live in two different universes which somehow converge from time to time on the internet, or, 2. that whenever you say the name “Calvin”, you’re talking about someone other than the French-born sixteenth century Reformer of Geneva.
>I’m just going to assume from now on either that, 1. we live in two different universes which somehow converge from time to time on the internet, or, 2. that whenever you say the name “Calvin”, you’re talking about someone other than the French-born sixteenth century Reformer of Geneva.
And I suppose there is someone out there who wants to take a ‘Reformed-Catholic’ as their authority on Calvin and what Calvinism is, but it’s not me.
I am curious as to what these “issues of greater importance” are that we should be “banding together to fight.”
As to the general notion that everything from the adjective “Reformed” to certain confessional formulations are being employed arbitrarily: could one reject papal infallibility and still reasonably call himself Roman Catholic? Could one implore his Baptist pastor to baptize his child and still reasonably call himself a Baptist?
Don’t you recall the linguistic nuances of the playground? The term “gay” has multiple meanings, one of which is to convey “lame.” My homosexual brother-in-law uses it all the time to slur lame things.
If you gravitate towards a Brakel, Witsius, and (I can’t think of another translated Dutch guy in their league, so I’ll say) Dathenus, you are a Calvinist.
If you gravitate towards Boston, John Brown of Haddington, and Edward Fisher, you are a Calvinist.
If you gravitate towards Vos, Berkhof, and Kline, you are a Calvinist.
If you gravitate towards Bunyan, Spurgeon, and Pink, you are a Calvinist.
If you think there is no difference between Calvin and Luther on sacraments and you giggle when the formula known as the five solas is mentioned and you like to complain about ‘TR’s, you’re aren’t a Calvinist, no matter what confession you say you hold to.
“…the Geneva City Council is dead, long live communion.”
Dr. Clark, that made me laugh! Nice wit.
Thank God that we don’t have the city of man regulating when and how often we get to partake of communion!
Long live communion…every week!
I’m sorry, but since when did a belief in “the holy catholic Church”, as that Church is defined by the Reformed Confessions, become something which should engender suspicion? Last I checked confessing such a thing was part of what it means to be Reformed. I assume now you’re going to tell me that Calvin rejected the article in the creed on the holy catholic church, and that he, after all, did not title the fourth book of his Institutes “Of the Holy Catholic Church”.
I’m pretty sure now that the alternate universe thing is more probable.
Going back to your original post, are you suggesting that clerical robes and weekly communion also define what it means to be reformed, or am I misreading your point?
No, I was kidding about the robes and only partly kidding about weekly communion. Calvin wore the “Genevan” gown (created by Luther in ’26 or so! Why it’s not the “Wittenberg Gown” I don’t know) and he wanted weekly communion (which the city fathers refused to allow).
So it was mostly rhetoric but embedded in the rhetoric is a point: the Reformed Churches confess the ministerial office of preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments to be a high and holy office. The “robes and communion” crack is symbolic of the churchly aspect of Reformed theology. See RRC and D G Hart’s, Recovering Mother Kirk.
Thanks, though down here in Texas, “partly kidding” means “I’m not kidding!”
My African-American neighbors use the N-Word all the time. Does that mean I should as well?
Is the “g” word morally equivalent to the “n” word? I don’t think so.
Actually, after I said that I wondered if you weren’t being tongue-in-cheek. I guess you weren’t.
In which case, all I can say is a trip back to the playground might help. (Plus, I’m not all that wild about suggesting to my black neighbors what language they may/not use. Seems pretty racist to me, the same way suggesting to my brother his use of “gay” is homophobic. Morlaism, white guilt and latent homophobia have a weird way of making us forget perfectly legit linguistic rules.)
Gowns and weekly communion may not be definitively Reformed. But they sure are hard to argue against, one being just good practice and the other having no conceivabley good argument against it (and in that order).
Don Quixote is needed elsewhere…
1. I plan on reading the book. I’m looking forward to it.
2. I’ve read Colin’s book and found it unimpressive. It doesn’t surprise me that he would say something like this; much of his book was not careful, and while it was helpful in some respects he is not the most insightful reader of culture and Christianity. And Edwards doesn’t define Reformed theology by any means.
Now, it is true that there are different “degrees” in the “YRR” crowd. For some, it just means they like John Piper. Most of these folks, it seems to me, are coming out of an empty, non-theological non-tradition. I think your read that the YRR are looking for a way to clearly distinguish themselves from the Emergent crowd is a good one. It seems these are the two directions the children of the megachurch generation are going. I pray more will come along for the ride on our (my) side of things. But it also seems to me that if the all caps REFORMED folk were actually interested in us megachurch refugees finding our way into their churches and theology, at least a welcome mat would be in order. There isn’t anything against welcome mats in the RPW, is there?
What I see among many of my REFORMED brothers and sisters is an eagerness to remain the same and a certain disinterestedness toward change of any kind… even if in so doing they may save some. I have no doubt that some of this is somewhat in reaction to the excesses of megachurch evangelicalism, and reacting against that is right. And don’t get me wrong – I am NOT saying you should change the confessions on our account. While I can only subscribe to 90-95% or so of the Heidelberg catechism or WCF, the theology should change to the extent Scripture directs it. I think Scripture does, but that’s a theological debate, and isn’t the main concern here. But if the megachurch aberration is dead or dying, why approach us refugees with a stiff, suit-and-tie, assumed white, tradition-of-man style religiosity that doesn’t itself come from the confessions? Yes, they did it this or that way back in the good old days of the 16th century. And we’re grateful they did – it was the proper form of Christianity for recovering Roman Catholics. But why insist on maintaining the form of Geneva at the risk of losing the heart of it?
Stiff is not sinful per se, but stiff and proud is. Megachurch kids have seen plenty of loose and proud; changing the first adjective while keeping the second doesn’t seem to me to be much of an improvement.
have you been to Oceanside URC, to Exile Presbyterian, to Christ Reformed in Anaheim or Christ Reformed Santee, or All Saints in Brea or to any number of confessional Reformed congregations where I’ve worshiped and preached? “Stiff” is not the adjective I would use for them.
More fundamentally, I agree that too often our theology, piety, and practice has been too identified with a white, middle-class culture, but as I’ve argued here, that’s not necessarily the case. The Reformed Churches in Nigeria, to use one example, are usually very confessional and they are not “stiff” in the least! I think that’s the case in the Congo as well.
The other point is “by what standard?” We have our own piety, that flows organically from our theology. We can’t be held accountable to other standards of piety that come from a different theology.
Read the book and see if it addresses some of your questions.
If you’re curious about the issues of greater importance read the high reformed tradition on the fundamental articles (e.g. start with Witsius).
More importantly read the Bible and see that the gospel is if “first importance” in 1 Cor. 15:3, and the Pharisees neglected the “weightier things of the law” (Matt. 23:23) at the expense of the trivial. Moreover Paul says that the”only thing that counts” (i.e. this is very important) “is faith working by love”.
It is sad fact historically that many in the reformed tradition make just about every issue something to fight about. Look at South Korea, there are over 100 Presbyterian denominations! How tragic.
Blessings my brother.
Muller defines the reformed tradition according to *all* the reformed confessions, which allow for a breadth that you seem unwilling to acknowledge, or at least say that it’s not truly reformed. Indeed, Muller believes that Amyraldianism is compatible with Dort. Hence, Salmurians (according to him) are in the reformed tradition according to him.
Moreover, you haven’t addressed my questions about NAPARC being more empirically godly etc. etc. If right theology leads to right living, why did Piper’s and Dever’s mob display such visible godliness, and why is much of NAPARC spiritually cold? The Christian life is not just head, but head, heart, and hands.
Blessings my brother.
Your argument from Muller is latitudinarian. Richard is entitled to his historical views. I don’t agree with him exactly on that point. There was considerable Reformed opposition to Amyraut and to the Amyraldians, once people figured out what it was and what it implied.
Second, have you visited every NAPARC congregation? I haven’t and I live in the USA and travel a fair bit. I couldn’t possibly be so presumptuous as to pronounce NAPARC cold and dead. That verdict sounds pretty QIRE-ish to me.
I couldn’t possibly defend NAPARC as more empirically godly. It’s a loaded question. How could I possibly do so? On what basis? I’m not God. I don’t have a God’s-eye view of the world. I’m a mere mortal in time and space.
Further, i don’t accept the premise. I don’t think that Mark Dever et al would agree with your analysis at all. They would be shocked to see anyone speaking of them thus.
I have read the tradition and the Bible. I have also read the CRC’s proposed revision to the form of subscription, which is a collosal effort to move away from the confessional moorings as antiquated relics and into broad evangelicalism with an even broader smile. I have to say, the tone of your comments read very similar to the latter. I get that sinking feeling the next appeal will be to the Holy Spirit.
R, Scott Clark responds: “…nope, my parents set it up so that there could be no movement using my name!”
Durell (while recovering from comments concerning candidate names of disciples) finds and suggests:
“Calamarie. a fish, that may bee well called the Sea Clarke, beinge furnished with necessaries for a scribe. Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, Bartas: His Divine Weeks and Works (1605)”
>I’m sorry, but since when did a belief in “the holy catholic Church”, as that Church is defined by the Reformed Confessions, become something which should engender suspicion? Last I checked confessing such a thing was part of what it means to be Reformed. I assume now you’re going to tell me that Calvin rejected the article in the creed on the holy catholic church, and that he, after all, did not title the fourth book of his Institutes “Of the Holy Catholic Church”. I’m pretty sure now that the alternate universe thing is more probable.
Jonathan, you ReformedCatholics not only have a name, but you have a body of blog posts that is quite extensive on your now mostly defunct blogs. And when I was perusing your various web enterprises the ‘Catholic’ in ReformedCatholic very much took on more than ‘universal.’ But you know that.
1. I question your accusation of Latitudinarian. Tillotson et. al. is far from what I believe, and far from my comments. When I say the gospel is central, I don’t mean that it’s the *only* thing to believed. I can’t stand wishy-washy modern (American) evangelicalism with its overly pragmatic ethos at the expense of biblical truth. Believers are to move from milk to solid food (Heb. 5:11-14). But solid food is focused on the deep aspects of the gospel itself. Gospel-centredness means that it takes the focus and never gets assumed. The doctrines that support the gospel are thus of extreme importance. Geneva gowns, exclusive psalmnody, and other such peripheral issues we are free to disagree on, but they shouldn’t splinter us. The fundamental articles theology that arose in the 17th century reformed tradition is something we must recover, not because that’s all we’re to believe, but because that shows us where the emphasis should lie and what battles we should and shouldn’t fight.
2. I happen to agree with Muller on Dort. It seems very clear that the role played by someone like a Davenant, and the folks who ended up signing the canons allows Amyraldians in the tradition even if I disagree with them. The first confession explicitly to deny Amyraldianism was the Helvetic Consensus, which never was accepted by the entire tradition, nor would one want it to be: it also claimed the Hebrew vowel points were inspired.
3. 1 John gives the 3fold test for true Christianity: gospel truth, love, and morals. In other words, true Christianity is head, heart, and hands–all three; not one, not two, but all three. An exclusive focus on truth (or the head) will breed arrogance and in-fighting over trivia. I’m not denying the importance of truth–heck I teach in a seminary. However, being left-brained myself I’m tempted to focus exclusively on truth. But if we’re true to Scripture we need to show the world that we are different by our lives and our love (one for another) as well as truth. Perhaps the culture wars are something we should band together on, but more importantly is our witness of love for each other, the love and prayers for our enemies, our care for the poor and marginalized, our world-wide evangelistic mission, and our defense of the gospel (and those doctrines that particularly support it).
4. Read carefully my comments about NAPARC’s visibility. I *didn’t* make a universal claim about them, neither was that germane to my point. If your narrow understanding of being “reformed” is so obviously right, then it would be obviously evident to fallible humans that NAPARC displays a difference compared to particular baptists. If it isn’t why are you wanting to fight over it? My limited encounter with NAPARC people leaves much to be desired. My encounters with those from Piper’s and Dever’s folds is very positive indeed even if I do disagree with them about credo baptism. They are prayerful, evangelistic, kind, humble, and warm. If this is the case why fight these guys, when we have so much in common? The debate about infant versus believer’s baptism will rage till the Lord’s return. Godly wise people will always be on either side. The two groups need to work together, not against each other.
5. Congratulations on your recent post about ECT. Defending Christ alone, faith alone, and grace alone are central issues. They are critical. You’ll always get a heart AMEN from me on those. We can and should join with particular baptists in defending issues like these. I’ve appreciated your work on justification! Keep it up brother.
Every blessing in Christ,
My confessional Baptist friends agree with me! They don’t think I’m “fighting” about anything with them. The only people who perceive this as a “fight” are folks who have little understanding of what the word “Reformed” has historically meant or who accept the late modern nominalist assumption that words can be made to mean anything they want at any time by any one. I don’t accept that assumption. You can call your garage-car a “Honda” until you’re blue in the face but if it’s not really a Honda, then you may not call it a Honda, not with any credibility.
The Reformed have always confessed a particular view of the history of redemption (covenant theology) which our Baptist friends deny. We’ve always confessed a particular view of the sacraments, which our Baptist friends deny. These two areas (ignoring hermeneutics for the moment) are essential are ESSENTIAL to Reformed theology, piety, and practice. They’ve always been essential. Reformed people see their children as properly regarded as members of the covenant of grace and properly admitted to the administration of the visible covenant community (church). To look at my children and to say, “They’re not members of the covenant of grace and excluded until they make profession of faith” is another covenant theology.
Confessional Reformed folk will and should continue to resist the dumbing down of Reformed theology, piety, and practice merely to the Five Canons of Dort. The Synod of Dort itself, the Westminster Assembly, and the 16th-century synods and assemblies all taught the same theology, piety, and practice.
Sure the culture is a mess, that’s why we need to hang to robust Reformed theology. The early fathers did not water down their theology because the culture was a mess. One of the most important things we have to offer a dying culture is a robust covenant theology.
The 16th and 17th century churches could have made the same argument that you’re making now. They could have said, “Look we have to face the Roman anti-Christ, we need to get over these petty differences” but they didn’t. They didn’t accept predestinarian Baptists into their churches. They didn’t accept predestinarian Baptists into their ministries and it’s manifestly obvious that they didn’t operate on the principles that you advocate.
>Confessional Reformed folk will and should continue to resist the dumbing down of Reformed theology, piety, and practice merely to the Five Canons of Dort. The Synod of Dort itself, the Westminster Assembly, and the 16th-century synods and assemblies all taught the same theology, piety, and practice.
Frankly, when I first encountered Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists the clear impression was that it was the Reformed Baptists who both clearly understood, more highly valued, and more robustly defended the doctrines of grace, the five solas, and Federal Theology overall. This is a fact. The mushiness on the five solas tend to be on the Presbyterian side. The false teachers tend to be over there as well.
While it is certainly true that I have in the past contributed to blogs which had authors who possess a variety of opinions, I am not aware of anything that I personally have written which is in contradiction of the doctrine of the Reformed Confessions. In fact, one of my purposes for continuing to contribute to such sites was to bring a distinctively Reformed understanding of the topics being addressed to the table for consideration. I may have at times been more open to entertaining other positions than what my church confesses than I should have been, but that is all part of learning and growing as a young student who is constantly being exposed to new ideas. But then, if you would have cared to really know anything about me you could have discovered these things quite easily.
Can you provide evidence for your bold assertions about the heterodoxy of my beliefs (from actual statements that I have made compared with the doctrinal standards of my church), or is slandering your brother without cause now also a part of what you consider to be authentic Reformed doctrine?
Why? You have just explained it yourself: “I may have at times been more open to entertaining other positions than what my church confesses than I should have been” Yeah. That’s what I saw. When I commented on those sites I’d get banned. It seemed ‘five solas’ were curse words, for instance. But that’s water under the bridge. Defunct sites.
1. Sorry, I forgot that we live in different universes and that I need to clearly define most words I use because they mean something different where you come from. By “entertaining”, I simply meant “considering the validity of”, not “advocating”, which is what you accused me of doing.
2. The fact that you also got banned from Greenbaggins should be enough to demonstrate that the five solas are not the issue.
If you mean Lane Keister, he’s been nothing but a gentleman and extremely knowledgeable theologian in my interaction with him.
>Frankly, when I first encountered Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists the clear impression was that it was the Reformed Baptists who both clearly understood, more highly valued, and more robustly defended the doctrines of grace, the five solas, and Federal Theology overall. This is a fact. The mushiness on the five solas tend to be on the Presbyterian side. The false teachers tend to be over there as well.
Dear Jackson, this isn’t my experience. TBH, it was from confessional guys that I learned the gospel, and that’s after 20+ years in a ‘reformed’ baptist church.
>Dear Jackson, this isn’t my experience. TBH, it was from confessional guys that I learned the gospel, and that’s after 20+ years in a ‘reformed’ baptist church.
TBH = to be honest (looked it up)
This prompts one to ask you what you consider the gospel to be. Infant baptism? Because Reformed Baptists have their confessions which very much do present the gospel. Actually word for word with the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Norman Shepherd, Federal Visionists, liberal Presbyterians on the other hand…