Restless and Reforming

The Aquila Report | 4/23/2019 | Staff
When Reformed churches created a separate identity from Lutherans and Anglicans, they originally understood that Christianity involved much more than doctrines of original sin, justification by faith, or predestination. And if twenty-first-century Reformed churches in the United States have trouble differentiating themselves from the New Calvinism as they attempt to retrieve the past, that challenge actually first surfaced during the middle decades of the nineteenth century.

What does it mean to be a Reformed Protestant in the United States? A certain flower probably comes to mind—namely Calvinism’s five points of TULIP fame: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. Today many people first meet Reformed Protestantism through the “New Calvinism” made popular by organizations like the Gospel Coalition, pastors like John Piper and Tim Keller, and movements like the YRR (“young, restless, and Reformed”), all of whom emphasize a clarity on these doctrinal points as a counter to creeping modernism in the church.

Reformed - Protestant - Communions - TULIP - Bumper

However many confessional Reformed Protestant communions feel that TULIP’s five points—a bumper sticker rendition of the 1619 Synod of Dort’s major declarations—fail to capture the depth and subtlety of what it means to be Reformed. In its zeal to recover the Reformation, New Calvinism has been criticized for stressing Dort’s declarative doctrines over the way that, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Reformed churches practiced pastoral ministry and worship. Indeed when Reformed churches created a separate identity from Lutherans and Anglicans, they originally understood that Christianity involved much more than doctrines of original sin, justification by faith, or predestination. And if twenty-first-century Reformed churches in the United States have trouble differentiating themselves from the New Calvinism as they attempt to retrieve the past, that challenge actually first surfaced during the middle decades of the nineteenth century.

During Charles Finney’s (1792–1875) famous revivals,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Aquila Report
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