As you read this the churches, the theology, piety, and practice represented by confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian Churches is almost statistically invisible. Of the 60 million evangelicals in North America only a tiny fraction actually identify with the confessional Reformed and Presbyterian churches as represented by NAPARC, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. There was a time when the Reformed and Presbyterian theology, piety, and practice was among the more dominant in North America but that all changed in the 19th century. The short story is that we were more or less wiped out in the 19th century by a vicious one-two combination: We were already wobbly in the knees after the so-called First Great Awakening. Then, beginning in the 1820s, we were hit by the so-called Second Great Awakening and we were finished off by the liberals from the late 19th century through the early 20th century. When the fight was over, the evangelicals had the numbers, the liberals had the buildings, and we were meeting in mortuaries and bank basements. This means that if someone wants to become confessionally Reformed they have to work at it. If a congregation wants to become confessionally Reformed they really have to work at it. A group of Reformed pastors was in town recently for a conference and it gave three of us an opportunity to sit down and talk about what it’s like to move from the broadly evangelical world toward the Reformed church. Joining me for this episode are two friends and pastors. One of them has already made the journey and another who is on the way. Chris Gordon is the preaching pastor at Escondido United Reformed Church and the host of Abounding Grace Radio. John Fonville is Preaching and Teaching Elder of Paramount Church, Jacksonville, FL.
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