Don’t Just Stand There. Come On In!

Recovering the Reformed Confession-FeaturedKevin DeYoung writes about a conference just held at his congregation with Collin Hansen. He makes a couple of points to which I want to respond. As a minister who has spent a fair bit of time calling people to Christ and to the Reformed confession, however, I don’t think we should consider this an either/or choice. It isn’t. As I understand the Reformed faith, we confess what we do because we believe it to be biblical. Being Reformed is not a second blessing for the illuminati.

It is worthwhile to contest the Young, Restless, and Reformed appropriation and re-definition of the adjective “Reformed.” Most of the YRR folk are, in fact, Particular Baptists or, as it were, Particular Charismatics. Yes, it’s exciting to see people from outside the tradition (from where I came) coming to embrace the doctrines of grace but there is, as you know, much more to the Reformed faith than simply the Canons of Dort. The Canons were themselves nothing more than a commentary on the Belgic Confession.

We should not settle for a lowest-common-denominator definition of Reformed any more that we should settle for allowing Rome to define “catholic” (William Perkins made this point) or allowing contemporary evangelicals to define “evangelical.” It was baby-baptizing Protestants who defined the “evangelical” faith in the 16th century. Each of these is an important adjective. We are catholic. We are evangelical. We are Reformed. From an historical perspective, of these adjectives, the most precise is Reformed. It has been defined by the Reformed Churches in public, ecclesiastically sanctioned documents (the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Standards to name a few) and it encompasses a theology that is more than the five points, a Word and sacrament piety, and a churchly practice that includes the administration of baptism to covenant children.

It’s truly exciting to see folks from outside the tradition come to appreciate aspects of the Reformed faith but the 5 points are just the vestibule. Let’s not leave our guests in the hall way. Let’s invite them into the rest of the house.

This post first appeared on the HB in 2009

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. One problem is that some “Reformed” people are encouraging charismatics, like Calvary Chapel people, to become “Reformed” by embracing the Five Points and to continue “reforming” those same churches, like Calvary Chapels. Instead of pointing them to churches with a more thoughtful and developed theology, they are essentially encouraging the YRR (or even older people) to be troublemakers with churches who have always been opponents of those same Five Points.

    The right and honorable thing to do would be to quietly leave such churches. They should express their disagreements and reasons for leaving to those who know them personally and to all who ask; they need to have some humility and recognize that they are not great preachers sent by God to bring truth to their errant churches.

    It seems that this has come about in large measure to para-church organizations and “ministries” which operate independently from a church that can restrain the organization.

Comments are closed.