Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rate Me PG

About six years ago I was exposed to Reformed theology for the first time. In studying the scriptures, I discovered that God is, in fact, sovereign over salvation. I had never been taught this growing up, but was excited to really see it for the first time in the bible.

Since that time, I have considered myself to hold to Reformed theology. A while ago I found the above icon and thought it was funny. I also agreed with it. I suppose my personal rating would have been an "R."

The other day I again read the icon. I now realize that I don't agree with it - at least not all of it. I agree with the above men in their view of salvation. They all believe that God elects some people to salvation while not electing others. He does this according to His own good pleasure. I find this to be biblical; therefore, I believe it.

The above men also believed certain things about the church. This is where my disagreement lies. For the Reformers, while they cried, "Sola Scriptura," they only actually applied this to salvation. When it came to the church, they mixed bible and tradition. Very few of the Reformers (with the exception of the Anabaptists) held to the biblical model of the church.

The wording of the above icon is important. It says, "The form of doctrine and practice set forth by Jesus in the bible..." The stark reality is that the form of Protestant church that came out of the Reformation is not biblical in the sense that the model is nowhere to be found scripturally.

Today we still follow the church model developed by the Reformers. We mix man-made traditions with bible, and then select how we want to "do church." What we find today in this country is church life that is failing to lead to increasing holiness of the saints or salvation of the lost.

The Reformation view on salvation is biblical, and therefore accurate. The Reformation view on the church is unbiblical, inaccurate, and does not work.

Therefore, since I embrace Reformation soteriology but reject its ecclesiology, I'll take a "PG" rating. The PG can stand for "part good," for that is what came out of the Reformation.


Arthur Sido said...

Weird, I just put out a similar post. I came up with a new label for myself "Particular Anabaptist". Coming to a Reformed view of soteriology is not the culmination of Biblical study, it is merely the beginning.

Eric said...

It's strange how we can see the bible so clearly in some areas while being blind in others. It makes me wonder if I'm seriously off the mark in something else. If I am, I trust the Holy Spirit will point that out to me.

Aussie John said...


I grew up in an Arminian church and became a follower of Christ there. Many years later as, a Baptist pastor,I was asked to speak at a theological college on the matter of evangelism.

After the meeting three senior students came to me and asked whom I had read to convince me of Reformed theology. I had never realized that I was Reformed. The truth was that no one, apart from the Scriptures, had formed my theology.

I have learned that labels such as these are not at all helpful, except to please others who bear the same label, and especially in the light of books by both Arminians and Reformed, who very obviously,have an unworthy agenda, and, more importantly, are ignorant of the subject which they seek to oppose in their writings.

These days, if I'm labelled as a faithful follower of Christ, who genuinely demonstrates Christ's great commandment, I am satisfied, because no label separates me from fellowship with any other genuine follower of Christ, but more importantly allows me to teach the Scriptures without what is taught being tainted by something the hearer has heard about a particular position.

In parts of this country,and in one place I visited in yours, I would be ashamed to bear the brand you illustrate.

Eric said...


It is a deep concern to me as well that so many labels work toward division. I agree that we should and must be united in the gospel.

The Wesleyan Church in which I was raised explained away verses that focused upon God's sovereignty. After I could see these verses for what they actually say, I became excited. The problem I made was jumping fully into the Reformed camp. I'm hoping, as I get older, to embrace being biblical in all areas, but at the same time remaining united with other Christians who may disagree with me over secondary issues.

Jeffrey said...

Two examples:
1). If you study the physics of light, you will find that it passes the tests of being particulate in nature. It also passes the tests of having a wave form. This is somewhat of a conundrum because we expect it to be one or the other. Unless some new discoveries have been made about which I am unaware, the scientific community admits that there must be some issue about light which we are unaware, which allows both to be true.
2). My oldest son and I were working on his car. I needed it in a particular position to accomplish the next task. I proceeded to use the floor jack to raise part of the chassis. He stated with great athority, " that will never work! It's physics!". After a few more pumps on the jack, the car tilted to pretty much the slant I wanted. We looked at each other for a silent moment. I informed him that there were variables about which he had no understanding, and that this was a life lesson for him to withhold judgment until all the facts were in.

The reason I'm boring you with these two points is that I can point to scripture that clearly states that God is sovereign over salvation. I can also point to scripture that clearly states that man is responsible to respond to God's universal appeal to be saved. We believe the two concepts to be mutually exclusive.

Are we so bold to announce unequivocally that we are so wise as to have decided which verses are true and which are.....false? I would personally recommend that we jettison the teachings of Calvin and Arminianism, and humbly approach the scriptures as ignorant beggars trying to get to the truth (which we may not have the full capacity to understand in this life).

Just a thought.



Eric said...


I agree that our desire must be to be biblical. Humility in approaching scripture is a key.

I also agree that God is sovereign and that man is responsible. Calvin would agree with both of these statements. However, the Arminian tradition I was raised in would not. Simply put, I like Calvin because he dared to take a stand against Roman Catholicism when he returned to biblical teachings on salvation.

Where Calvin got it wrong, though, was on the church. In fact, we still need a reformation in church life in all of the western world. That is something I would love to see happen.