I am guessing this will be a five-part series of posts. I could obviously go on and on, but I want to lay out a “laymen’s” guide for understanding what it means to be Reformed. My reason for writing this is at least two-fold:
- I want to be able to use that word more often as shorthand for what we are trying to do as a church at Kailua Baptist. So the more people who can wrap their minds around it the better.
- I want others to be able to use that word more often as shorthand for what a healthy church is in our day. And related to that, we should all mean the same thing when we use that word. Granted, “Reformed” is a large umbrella, but I want to define the umbrella, and discourage people not under that umbrella from using that word to describe themselves. Let’s stop confusing people by God’s grace.
Let me begin by sharing what the word “Reformed” does not mean:
- It does not simply mean “Calvinist.”
- It certainly is not to be equated with Presbyterianism.
- It does not mean we only read the Puritans or only sing hymns or do not evangelize or anything silly like that.
- It was not invented by Martin Luther and John Calvin.
- You cannot be personally Reformed and be in a consciously non-Reformed church very long (I always try to word my sentences carefully). That just means you are not Reformed yet.
Here is the first little tidbit of what the word “Reformed” means: it is a humble label. To call myself Reformed is (to at least attempt) to put a humble label upon myself. I would not have come to my theological positions without the help of the Holy Spirit working through the greater Body of Christ in church history. And historically, that label comes down to us today through hard fought theological battles, that we should not try to fight again. I would rather not just say “I believe the Bible on the doctrine of election” (or whatever doctrine we are talking about). I would rather humble myself and say “I believe the Bible on the doctrine of election, and God has used Reformed theologians of the last 500 years to help me big time.” We stand on the shoulders of giants, whether we realize it or not. Why not try to have visible unity even with brothers and sisters of our past?
If you end up agreeing with all the doctrines over the next four posts, but refuse to call yourself Reformed, you are prideful. If you disagree with any of the doctrines over the next four posts, my contention is you are not Reformed. And that’s ok (for now), I just want us to not be confused about the labels anymore.