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This thread illustrates what happens when Reformed theology is reduced to divine sovereignty. The premise is that as long was attribute our works to grace, doctrines like “final justification...based on works” are Reformed.
This is one of the many reason I object to the reductionist (re-) definition of Reformed. With it we not only lose the rest of our theology, piety, & practice but our ecclesiastical confessions.
We confess truths and distinctions that are completely ignored here. Those truths & distinctions are much more satisfactory, account for Scripture more adequately, account for the history of the church & theology more carefully than the approach represented in the thread.
E.g., the Reformed churched distinguish between Christ’s righteousness imputed as the only ground (“based on”) of our (one) justification and faith (sola fide) as the only instrument. The latter rests on the former.
To change the ground is to change the instrument. The instrument is what it is & does what it does bec of the ground. The instrument looks away from self (am I sufficiently sanctified? Have I enough works?) to Christ’s perfect righteousness.
The medieval church moved the ground of justification inside of us. The Reformation relocated it outside of us (extra nos)), in Christ for us (pro nobis).
The approach in the thread linked above undoes all this. It was with the preservation of the Reformation doctrine that Calvin wrote:
“When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle” (1548, On Gal 5:6)
Some of my Baptist friends understand why I object to the re-definition of Reformed along minimalist lines. Others, however, (and it seems like a great number) see my objection chiefly in political terms, as if I it is about control, power, & exclusion.
The second interpretation feeds/fits an internal Baptist narrative about suffering and persecution and marginalization. In this narrative, it’s the 17th century again and meany-pants Presbies are oppressing noble Baptists.
The problem is that it’s the 21st century. We’re not in England and now the Baptists are in charge of evangelicalism and the it’s the Presbies (as they think of all ecclesiastically Reformed people, whether actually Presbyterian or European Reformed) who are marginalized.
This is deeply ironic. Did you know that (probably) no fewer than 40,000 (actual) Reformed folk (there were no Baptists yet) were martyred in the 16th century? The other Irony here is that the Baptists who disavow the Anabaptists
(despite the obvious intersection in theology & practice) borrow their narrative, when convenient, to reinforce the internal narrative about how marginalized they are. It really doesn’t work to describe things in N. America in 2020.
There are about 60 million more or less Baptist evangelicals in North America and no more than 500,000 actual P&R folk. We don’t run anything (well, Julius is the new president of TGC but does anyone actually “run” TGC?).
Ironically, when I object to the Baptist re-definition of Reformed, the most frequent reply from the Baptists is, in effect: there are more of us than there are of you (true) and we will it to be. That’s nothing but sheer power politics and marginalization of a minority.😂
Some of those Baptists will read this thread and despite the evidence and arguments (such as they are, it’s Twitter) will conclude, so powerful is the narrative filter through which they see things, that this all about excluding them and privileging the quasi-Roman baby baptizers
They seem incapable of appreciating that to use “Reformed” of Baptist and historically Reformed simultaneously is not only extremely confusing and incoherent (it requires us all to affirm that it signifies x and -x at the same time, about the time thing) but deprives the Reformed
of a signifier they have used since the mid-16th century. They just don’t care. Why not? Because they don’t have any actual sympathy (dare I say empathy?) with actual, historic Reformed theology, piety, & practice. Why not?
One reason is because Baptist is the de facto state religion in large parts of N America, they’ve never actually experienced genuine Reformed theology, piety, & practice. It’s completely theoretical.
There are a lot of Baptists who’ve never attended an actual Reformed Church. They don’t live in our churches. They’ve never actually seen a baby baptized in a confessional Reformed church. They’ve not seen a catechism class.
Most of what they know about Reformed theology is mediated to them not by actual Reformed folk but by Baptists who have appropriate (some) Reformed theology and re-shaped it to serve a rather different context.
It’s funny to say this but it is a kind of colonization and cultural appropriation. How do I know this? Because it takes years for Baptists actually to become Reformed. It’s a culture shock. It’s
not like changing socks. It’s like moving to France.
Think Jon Gruden, “You’re going to move to France...”. (Look it up)
How do I know? Bec I was one. I made the journey from an SBC congregation to the (German Reformed) RCUS. It was a shock. Everything was different. It was a different set of assumptions, a different paradigm. It took years to learn the language & culture.
correction: *as long as*
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