Excitement & Alarm with Today’s Reformed Camp

14 09 2006

An exciting and alarming by-product over the increased excitement in reformed theology is the intense individual identification with the reformed theological framework. Of course this is exciting because reformed theology is by in large biblical. However, there are some contemporary trends that are alarming.

For example, when I hear a sermon by a well known contemporary preacher quoting Calvin, Luther & Spurgeon more than the Bible I become concerned. I listen to a guy referring to what Calvin said as if it is authoritative and binding in my life. I need to listen to what Calvin (or anyone for that matter) says because it reflects what God says.

Reformed heroes are not our authority the Bible is. I know that guys do not intend to do this but they end up elevating the dead guys with nice lettuce (hair) to a position of authority, thereby circumventing one of the great Solas of the reformation (Sola Scriptura). And in so doing we create our own little protestant Magisterium. Again I know this is not the intention but what else am I to conclude when guys repeatedly appeal to men as their authority to make their homiletical points?

The preacher is called to β€˜preach the word’ (2 Tim. 4.2). This is done by giving the meaning of the text (according to God) to the hearer with personal application. This is not accomplished by quoting and interacting with theologians for 45 minutes while giving a courteous tip of the hat to the text by simply reading the passage.

So to preachers: are you primarily providing and reinforcing theology or are you primarily there to operate on hearts by giving your hearers the word of God?

And to those who sit under the preaching ministry of another: Are you primarily there to learn more about the reformed heritage and concepts or are you primarily there to have your heart operated on by the sacred scalpel of truth (Heb. 4.12)?

The faithfully preached word will provide and reinforce theology and illicit passion in the life of the Christian. My fear is that, even with good motives, some today are not being clear and faithful with the Bible as their ultimate authority and means by which we are sanctified. So I challenge myself and others to ensure that our theology and emotions are derived from the text and not the other way around.

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4 responses

15 09 2006
Pastor Steve

Erik,
I totally agree with your assessment about hero worship of reformation theologians. In the SBC reformed circles, I have gotten a newsletter that devotes itself to quoting more of these theologians than the Bible. The question is…. What if the quote is talking about a point that is not really rooted in Scripture. Seems to me that 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us where to look for that inerrancy. I like to read and hear things from these reformation theologians. However, what should inspire a movement must be the Lord Jesus Christ not a group of men that have no authority in your life!! Besides, John 17:17 tells us that the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word in Sanctifying the Christian. Not to mention that there are probably some people who enjoy studying and reading about Martin Luther or John Calvin but have never been redeemed by Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Steve Thompson

p.s. tell Pat that his bike won’t get him through his old age πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

16 09 2006
The Highland Host

Thank you for the warning. I have felt the same thing listening to some preachers. But we are, as you say, called the preach the WORD. Which is what Luther, Spurgeon, Calvin and the Puritans actually DID.

16 09 2006
erik

Steve: good to hear from you. We have been praying for you and your ministry.

Highland Host: that is a great point. This is why we love these guys, the were Biblically saturated. I am definitely not saying that I do not like these guys, they are my heroes. But just becoming concerned with the apparent subtle shift in authority.

28 09 2006
Semper

Hi Erik (you spell your name the wrong way like I do :-)),

In the UK it is – if anything – worse and so many of the reformed baptists endlessly quote this and that book or authority. The quality of preaching is going down while every says how important good preaching is. The trouble with reading those guys and many more modern books too is that you end up inhabiting a world of theological symbols and concepts which you are endlessly rearranging while life passes by.

Calvinism is the great theology of the Spirit but you might not guess it sometimes.

semper reformandum (another Erik)

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