Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can Reformed Theology be a Distraction?

Let me say first of all that I love the 5 solas and the Doctrines of Grace. I fully embrace the biblical teachings of God's complete sovereignty over salvation.

When I use the word "Reformed" in this question, I'm referring to salvation, not the church.

So, the question again is, "Can Reformed Theology be a Distraction?"

I'm sad to say that the answer is, "Yes." That does not mean that it is a distraction. Rather, it can be.

Reformed theology is a distraction when people spend so much time talking about things like election, monergism, predestination, supralapsarianism, etc., that they forget to feed the hungry and share the gospel. This does happen with some people. I have seen folks who are so concerned with having every detail of their doctrine correct that they ignore living out their faith. When this is the case, they actually don't have their doctrine correct because living out our faith for the good of others is correct doctrine.

This is a danger on seminary campuses, but it can infect churches as well. When head knowledge doesn't lead to action, there is a significant problem.

Reformed theology ought to have a positive impact on the way we live in the world. It should be that we are so stunned by the manifold grace of God that we want to share Him with everyone we know. We should be so overwhelmed by our completely undeserved predestination that we joyfully live out the commands of Christ to love the lost by caring for their needs and teaching them about Jesus. Let us take our thrill over God's changing our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh and use that to inspire us to holy living.

In the end, Reformed theology, like many others things, can have a positive or a negative impact on our lives as individuals and as the church as a whole. The impact should be extremely positive. Let's act so it will be.


Jason_73 said...

I have such a funny relationship with Calvinism and reformed theology.

I've had a few close friends throughout my life embrace it and become a bit "know it all'ish" and obnoxious. (in my fleshy opinion...)
This turned me off to it, and I swore that I will never become a "calvinist"

But as I get older, when I describe my theology, it most closely lines up in that viewpoint.

Now, I still stay away from obnoxious calvinists, their websites and churches. I'm not really interested in all the finer points of the doctrine either. I just believe the 5 solas, and tulip are the healthiest way for me to understand the gospel and God.

Also, While in essence I do agree with the theology, I have never really been that down with the ecclesiological structure and leadership models of churches that are centered around reformed theology and a healthy view of the gospel. That is why your blog and posts have been an encouragement to me. I get the best of both worlds. Now if you would just show your Charismatic side I'd get the trifecta!

Thanks Eric!

Eric said...


Thanks for your kind words.

I once heard it said that when someone becomes a Calvinist, you have to lock him in a cage for a year because he gets so obnoxious. Sadly, some Calvinists need to stay in that cage. That said, I have also met some wonderful Calvinists.

I used to refer to myself as a "Calvinist," but now I don't because I disagree with Calvin on most things related to the church. However, I consider myself "Reformed" in that I hold to the solas and the Doctrines of Grace.

As for my charismatic side, I certainly do believe all the gifts are still valid. Thank God for that! That'll have to do for now.


Aussie John said...


Very well put!

Strangely, I found out some years after I became a Christian that Scripture had convinced me on those matters of the 5 solas and the Doctrines of Grace, and when I came across the terms I was astounded.

Eric said...


They certainly are wonderful truths. And how sad that some use them to avoid really living them.

Mark and Pam said...


I myself am of reformed theology. Most times today when people think of or speak of Calvin it is hyper calvinism that is being refered to or taught.Sadly, the extreme has become the rule. The doctrines of Grace are nothing with out Grace. God grace should be paramount and man's doctrine should be secondary. We are no better than anyone else, Humbly we need to remember what Christ has done for us and where we came from. The administration of Grace to others should be our thankful and humble response to what the Lord has done for us, not bludgining people with the five points. We need to share the Grace and mercy that Christ showed us with others or we are no better than the pharisees


Eric said...


Well said. I have met many wonderful Reformed folks through the years.

My only concern is when too much discussion gets in the way of service. The two should not get in each other's way.

Thanks for your humble spirit!

Arthur Sido said...

I love me some reformed theology but not many reformed theologians love me. That is why I stick with Particular Anabaptism. Plus it confuses people.

Eric said...


I'm right there with you. It's amazing how right men like Luther and Calvin were about the gospel but how wrong they were about the church. That should keep us all humble.