Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Essence of Being Reformed

I am reading an engaging book by William Cunningham entitled "The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation". I am half way through the book and so far it is exceptional. I came across a wonderful quote that captures the essence of what it is to be Reformed-

"The fundamental position maintained by the Reformers was this, that the views which they had been led to form, as to what should be the doctrine, worship, and government, of the church of Christ, were right, and that the views of the church of Rome upon these points, as opposed to theirs, was wrong. This was the grand position they occupied, and they based their whole procedure upon the ground of the paramount claims of divine truth, its right as coming from God and being invested with His authority, to be listened to, to be obeyed, and to be propagated.

When the papists opposed them in the maintenance of this position, and appealed on their own behalf to tradition, to ecclesiastical authority, to the decisions of popes and councils, the Reformers in reply pushed all this aside, by asserting the supremacy of the written word as the only standard of faith and practice, by denying the legitimacy of submitting to mere human authority in religious matters, and by maintaining that men are entitled and bound to judge for themselves, upon their own responsibility, as to what God in His word has required them to believe and to do.

The primary question with them always was, What is the truth as to the way in which God ought to be worshipped, in which a sinner is saved, and in which the ordinances and arrangements of the church of Christ ought to be regulated? They were bent on answering, and answering aright, this important question, and they brushed aside everything that stood in their way and obstructed their progress."

This portion of Cunningham's work, particularly the last paragraph, strikes a personal chord with me as it resembles my journey out of the Roman Catholic Church and into the fellowship of the Presbyterian Church in America, a part of the Reformed Christian Church.


Rick Calohan said...

Praise God that the Holy Spirit has drawn men such as Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Felich away from Roman Catholicism to lead men and women to Christ by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, as revealed in the Scriptures Alone, to the Glory of God Alone!

When I said this to my 84-year-old Psychic Lebanese Catholic Aunt, she agreed, however she knows that is not the teachings of her church. She asked me why I was not Catholic, so for almost three hours we went full circle.

I mentioned my objection is not with Catholics themselves, because short of climbing on board of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) on social issues such as Abortion we can agree. However, it is the Theology of Rome. Papal Infallibility, Mariology, the Eucharist, the Sacramental System, praying to Mary and the Saints to intercede et cetera, Karl Barth’s classic statement, “That damned Catholic ‘and!’” Scripture and reason, faith and works, Christ and Mary—which always seems to add something to what the Bible says and what Christ has said.

Having both relatives and friends who are Roman Catholic but seem oblivious to what are the Dogmas, Doctrines, and Traditions of Rome. Somehow, they dismiss The Councils of Trent as nothing more than a 16th century counter-Reformation language and not really part of the Roman Catholic Church today. Mostly they are Cafeteria Catholics who select what they reason with to be true to them.

So my aunt who believes that there is a cleansing station but not Purgatory still pays for Masses of her deceased relatives, so I asked is this not an indulgence? She said no I do it out of obligation adding that Luther was right, so I asked why she was not a Lutheran. She said her family has been Catholic since Catholicism was introduced to Lebanon. Her view on the Eucharist classic Zwingli, it is a Symbol.

However, her beliefs in praying to Mary and the Saints to intercede on her behalf, the perpetual virginity of Mary, are classic Romanism. She insisted that Mary remained a virgin otherwise; she would have been just another housewife and not the mother of God. Christ siblings were cousins because in Semite languages brother and sister are interchangeable with cousins. She is still dismayed over her three sons have left Rome Catholicism, the oldest is an atheist, the middle a nominal Christian, and the youngest who is six days older the me became a Born Again Christian whom I call Bill the Baptist.

The Reform faith can be summed up in a verse from The High Priestly Prayer John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. In other words Set them apart (for holy service to God)

Frontier Forest said...

O’ the peace and calming comfort of finally beginning to understand and embrace the fresh breeze of Reformed theology! Throwing off the old grave clothes of 35 years of Armenian theology hasn’t been easy, and I still struggle in several areas. But no doubt, as Brother Rick stated the High Priestly Prayer John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” And “We shall know the TRUTH and the truth shall make us free.” John 8:32

Luke Gilkerson said...

Sounds like a good read! I'll have to take a look at that.

My move into the Reformed tradition began about a year ago.