Thursday, April 22, 2010

Horton on the difference between a movement and a church

Dr. Michael Horton has a great post that speaks of the difference between a movement and a church. I particularly appreciated the way he addressed the recent trend for people who are broadly evangelical calling themselves "Reformed". Read his entire post here.

Here's a helpful quote from his post:

"Reformed” has a specific meaning. It’s not defined by movements, parachurch ministries, or powerful leaders, but by a confession that is lived out in concrete contexts across a variety of times and places. The Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) define what it means to be Reformed. Like Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anabaptism, Reformed Christianity is a particular tradition. It’s not defined by a few fundamentals, but by a whole system of faith and practice. If being Reformed can be reduced to believing in the sovereignty of God and election, then Thomas Aquinas is as Reformed as R. C. Sproul. However, the Reformed confession is a lot more than that. Even the way it talks about these doctrines is framed within a wider context of covenant theology.

It’s intriguing to me that people can call themselves Reformed today when they don’t embrace this covenant theology. This goes to the heart of how we read the Bible, not just a few doctrines here or there.


Michael Lockridge said...

This, of course, talks about an investment in the Church. Ours is an era when people don't really invest in much of anything. We move quickly through a modern technological landscape, touching on many things but engaging in very few.

Great. Now I have a whole new avenue of things to think about. Who has time for this?


Adam said...

Michael says, "It’s intriguing to me that people can call themselves Reformed today when they don’t embrace this covenant theology." I find this so true. With other people in churches that are 'Reformed', most of these being really Baptists' who embrace the Doctrines of Grace; many do not understand covenant theology. This is especially interesting when they try to reject padeo-baptism without understanding the reasoning for it. One major benefit I see is an introduction to the Doctrines of Grace/5 points of Calvinism that many young people are being drawn to from Arminian backgrounds.

John D. Chitty said...

I hope his recommendation sticks to replace the label "Reformed" with "Evangelical Calvinism" by those otherwise non-Reformed members of other traditions in the Evangelical hallway, village green, what have you.

Regarding the nature of movements, one of the books I read about the Word of Faith movement explained that in a movement, all members of it do not necessarily subscribe to all the tenets of that movement to an equal degree. For example, in the case of WoF, Osteen emphasizes certain of the principles that serve his goals, while Copeland and Hinn emphasize others for their unique goals. Apparently, same goes for the Evangelical Calvinists. Just pick the five points, maybe a little elder leadership, maybe use the ESV and share a common fascination with John Piper, but otherwise remain untouched by Reformed emphases.

Rick Calohan said...

Here is what I believe is the crux of the covenant misunderstanding, what we as individuals consider “family.” If I trace back my lineage I could see a maternal great-uncle by marriage named Fred Phelps who I believe is not saved and I am sure he would think those outside of the Westboro Baptist Church are not either. I could see paternal great aunt’s and grandparents and great grandparents who were Christian Scientist. I could see cousins and aunts who are Roman Catholic. If we look at the visible signs how could we discern who is or is not part of the covenant? Especially those outside of our visible church, however understanding the God’s sovereignly chooses those He will save. That His choice is based on His grace, not on any human individual merit, or foreseen faith and therefore, I think a proper understanding of Covenants with His people is regarding those who are in Christ who are truly our family and not necessary our biological family.

I think many who are non-Reformed have issues with this because they rather have a say in who goes where and not allow God to be God.

Woody Woodward said...

I bet you if you ask 100 believers to share what it means to be “reformed” that less than 10 could tell you. I was there, I followed the Lord and breathed His Inerrant word for over 30 years and didn't have a clue as to what being "Reformed" meant. Thanks be unto the Lord, for now I are one!