I try and avoid using the term “Reformed”. Why do I do this?
- There is no consensus on what it means. Which one would you say that it is?
- Believing in the sovereignty of God in salvation.
- Believing in the sovereignty of God in salvation and the five points of Calvinism.
- Believing in the sovereignty of God in salvation, the five points of Calvinism and holding to covenant theology
- Believing in the sovereignty of God in salvation, the five points of Calvinism, holding to covenant theology and being amillenial in eschatology
- Believing in the sovereignty of God in salvation, the five points of Calvinism, holding to covenant theology, being amillenial in eschatology and believing that there is no future for Israel.
So where is the reformed line drawn? And the implication is that when you use the term reformed to different people, they are likely to understand it differently. So communication becomes very difficult.
2. The term is worn like a badge. It is like an in-crowd / out-crowd phenomenon. I remember being at the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference and starting to get myself in a tizz as regards to whether I was reformed or not. Am I a part of this or am I not? Am I reformed? It all became a bit silly. And if point 1 above is true, it is likely impossible to know whether you wear the badge or not because no-one knows what it means.
3. It becomes your frame for dealing with truth. I can still remember being at The School of Theology at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in the early 1990’s and hearing a preacher telling us of the reformed teaching on this and the reformed position on that. I felt like shouting out in the end that I want to know what the Bible says and not what your reformed teaching says!
4. The term alienates. Unnecessarily people can be turned away from a consideration of the truth because it is dressed up as being “reformed”. This is because they have a negative pre-conception of the term. Accordingly, people can be deterred from knowing the truth because an unnecessary garb is placed upon the teaching.
Finally I am reminded to be careful of the use of all non-biblical terms. If they are used, we must be careful to give a precise definition. And never forget it is the truth of God that binds us together and not some nomenclature.