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Reformed Theology’s Titanics, Briefly Reformed Theology and today’s New Puritanism

Overview

A brief review of the materials covered in Reformed Theology's Titanics.

 

  • Five Point Generalization of Reformed Theology (There are variations) 
    • This summarizes the Reformed tradition "position" held by their theologians and students of theology. Most of the "people in the pews" in Reformed tradition churches are not aware of most of this, nor do they think about it, and if asked if they believed it, they probably would say that they do not know.
      • The five points of Calvinism (Synod of Dort, 1619), TULIP.
      • Covenant Theology.
      • Amillennialism or Postmillennialism against Premillennialism and Dispensationalism
      • Lordship Salvation.
      • Creedal and Philosophical.
  • Five Points of Calvinism T U L I P.
    • They resulted from the synod of Dort, a meeting held at Dordrecht, the Netherlands, in 1618. Jacob Arminius, a Dutch theologian had rejected Calvin's doctrine of irresistible grace. The Reformed church forced the Arminians out.
      • Total depravity of man.
      • Unconditional divine election.
      • Limited atonement.
      • Irresistible grace.
      • Perseverance of the elect.
  • Reformed Theology Dramatically Influences Church Doctrine
    • Salvation
    • View of Israel and the Church
    • Christian way of life
    • Prophecy and the future
    • Political action
    • Resurrection and judgment
    • Rewards
  • Historical Background
    • The Reformation began with Martin Luther in 1517, but the theology draws heavily from Augustine. The present Reformed theology movement began with the theology of Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), of Zurich, Switzerland, and John Calvin (1509-1564), of Geneva, Switzerland. Calvin drew from Augustine (354-430). Strains of the Reformed tradition developed with different leaders and in different areas—northwest Europe, central Europe, British Isles, America. ("The Reformed Tradition," W. S. Reid, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Ewell, editor. Baker, 1984. 921-924).
    • The reformers’ theology was very dependent upon Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Augustine was more of a philosopher than a Bible expositor. He used the allegorical method of Bible interpretation. He thought that Satan was bound during the church and will be released at the end of the world; that God elected some to salvation and the others to damnation and that man does not have free will. Along with this he said that faith is God’s gift to the elect. He held to infant baptism and baptismal regeneration, sacraments, prayers to saints, and purgatory. Furthermore, Augustine pushed for persecution of those Christians of independent churches, as illustrated by his persecution of the Donatists, a fourth century Christian movement in North Africa. This is only a sampling of Augustine’s views. John Calvin drew heavily from him.  In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, reformed theology has become more popular due to books, conferences, and radio ministries. Yet, many of those attracted to it do not know its theological roots or its fundamental beliefs.
    • Reformed theology has a strong emphasis on theology, philosophy, education, and political theory. The theology centers around God's sovereignty; the philosophy centers around determinism; the education, when it is emphasized today, often centers around a classical education, for example the Trivium of medieval education; the political theory centers around Old Testament law and amillennialism or postmillennialism; the study method (especially post-Reformation) centers around its presuppositions (I would say its creeds) and logic.
  • Practical influences or “so what?”
    • Salvation: adherents to Reformed theology tend toward Lordship salvation, introspection, lack of assurance, and depend on human works for assurance of salvation. The heart of the problem is that they redefine grace and faith. As much as they emphasize grace, they believe in works.
    • View of Israel and the Church: they believe the church now possesses the promises made to Israel. The church, therefore, lives under the Old Testament law and finds fulfillment of the biblical covenants to Israel in herself.  Israel does not have a unique future, but has simply merged with the church.
    • Christian way of life: they confuse the distinctions between justification, sanctification, and spirituality; they tend toward self-righteousness and judging of others. The Christian life, which does have responsibility, becomes for them a duty instead of an opportunity and privilege.
    • Prophecy and the future: they believe that the church must work to get the world ready for Christ to return; they reject the rapture of the church and do not believe that Israel has a future. The unconditional covenants no longer belong to Israel, but to them. There is no way for them to look for the "blessed hope." They are about the business of "Christianizing" the world so that Christ may then return.
    • Political action: because they think it is their job to Christianize the world before Christ returns, they crusade for political and social causes under the Christian banner. Some present-day Reformed people adhere to Christian Reconstructionism, also called Theonomy; Reconstructionists want America, and the other nations of the world, to make the Old Testament Law civil code their national law code. The goal of Christian Reconstructionism is to turn nations into theocracies.
    • Resurrection and Judgment: Reformed theology has one simultaneous resurrection and one simultaneous judgment of believers and unbelievers, called the final judgment. The Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne are the same.
    • Rewards: The reformed view of rewards is very limited. You will search their writings and not find a clear presentation of rewards to believers for their service during the Christian life. Heaven is the reward for persevering in the faith by the elect.

Last Update

Sunday, January 1, 2006