Reformed Theology

ElderDad's picture

There may have previously been a thread on this subject, but I don't find it high enough in the list to see it. Therefore, I will start a thread and let it take its course. The purpose of this topic is to provide a place other than the Study of the Gospel of John, where it has become a side issue with considerable activity. Unfortunately, it is off-track there, so here it is in the open forum. The purpose is to give a place to post items dealing with traditional Reformed Theology. Because CCEL comes out of the Reformed community, there are many books dealing with Reformed Theology and Preaching in the CCEL library. However, in keeping with the ecumenical effort of the founders and supporters of this site, there are also books in the CCEL library that disagree with Reformed Theology. Sooooo, let me remind all participants in this forum, "Keep it loving, or keep it at home."

bwarddvm's picture

Final thoughts for today

Dear Friends,

Wouldn't you know I have thought of one more topic on which I just must comment! 8) Obviously I have a lot of time on my hands, or more aptly I should say my posterior, today. This post is not directly related to Reformed theology but it is, I believe, certainly related to the Protestant Reformation, which, while certainly necessary, is in my opinion the greatest tragedy to ever afflict the Christian church.

Looking at Protestantism today, I am constantly reminded that the NT does not address any church except The Church of Jesus Christ. The NT does not appear to give any indication of the coming of the Reformation and the splintering of the church into so many hundreds (some say thousands) of denominations and individual independent Christian churches each with at least some nuance of doctrine or practice that separates them from all the others. Yet all churches professing to be Christian do, at least, acknowledge Jesus Christ as head of their church. I find this both interesting and troubling. First of all, this certainly raises the need for us to be particularly discerning during these times in determining what are the essential tenets of the Christian faith and what are the non-essentials. Actually this has been vital at all time in church history. This obviously requires a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the Bible. According to apparently knowledgeable and reliable Christian pollsters, a majority of professing Christians in the US, including those who label themselves as 'evangelical' are woefully uneducated in the the most fundamental teachings of Scripture. Not only that their lifestyles and divorce rates do not differ significantly from the general population. This even includes the clergy, at least in regard to divorce rates. I'm sure I don't have to go into details for most of you to understand the conflicts that can arise over interdenominational differences or those among various independent churches themselves and against denominations. I have known many who are strongly anti-denominational and even anti-institutional thinking somehow they can have a cohesive church body but without any sense of order that is definable as a 'human institution', a term they abhor.
The greatest thing that is lost in those situations I believe is a structure of spiritual authority within the church which I am convinced is clearly biblical. These 'Christians' want to maintain a complete autonomy from any human authority and feel completely free to drift from one church to another at their whim or as they say "as the Spirit leads". Problem is the Holy Spirit does not speak of this type of leading in the NT as regards discontent with preaching, like or dislike of the pastor and/or his spouse, length or style of worship service, or 'programs' offered. If anything has contributed to licentiousness among US professing Christians, I believe this factor is near the top. It is simply in our fallen nature to seek a church that we perceive as non-judgemental, against us in particular, and open minded toward the pleasures to which we are attracted. If we look around enough, we will certainly find such a 'church'. The second factor that has terribly weakened the church is the cultural revolution which began in the '60's which gave rise to the anti-censorship movement of the entertainment media among many other liberal trends. And as more and more explicit sex, violence and profanity became the norm in the late '60's and early '70s entertainment media, where was the church?? I recall well that by the mid seventies R rated movies were the norm even among church goers and network TV as extremely popular shows such as Saturday Night Live displayed blatant vulgarity and medium core pornography the likes of which would never have been permitted in network TV before the early '60's. The mainline churches remained predominantly silent or gave no more than a wink at the changes that were going on right under our noses. It turns out that our restraint of indulging in such 'pleasures' was not because of any biblical convictions, but rather simply because such entertainment was outlawed by our government. Our government held the citizens accountable, not the church!! Our adults of today are products of those years and, I believe, many have truly lost their moral compasses. I have even heard sermons where the preacher recalls a scene from a popular R rate movie to illustrate a point he is making. So what's my great consternation here? The fragmentation of the Protestant church has left us with no cohesive structure of authority in the visible church and church discipline has been all but lost. Discipline them and you're going to lose them seems to be the mantra. And let me be quick to say that, in my opinion, this is as big a problem in non-Reformed churches as it is in Reformed.

Okay, friends, that, I promise, is my last post of the day unless it's to respond to a particular question or comment.