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 ‘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.