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Reformed or Not

The topic of what it means to be Reformed in doctrine came up in another post .Β  At the request of Gomarus (thanks for the nomination), this is a new post to discuss that matter specifically.

So, here are some things to kick us off…

To be Reformed one must hold to the five solas…

  • Faith Alone
  • Scripture Alone
  • Christ Alone
  • Grace Alone
  • Glory to God Alone

To be Reformed one must hold to the Regulative principle of worship…
The Regulative principle of worship in Christian theology teaches that the public worship of God should include those and only those elements that are instituted, commanded, or appointed by command or example in the Bible. (From Theopedia )

To be Reformed one must hold to Covenant Theology (no dispensationalism)

To be Reformed one believes that the marks of a true church are…

  • Rightly preaching the Gospel
  • Rightly administrating the sacraments
  • Rightly exercising church discipline

Can one be considered reformed if adheres to any of the following…

  • Premil eschatology. Must one be amil or postmil to be considered Reformed?
  • Adult-only covenant community membership. Can one be considered Reformed if they don’t believe children of believers are admitted into the Covenant community?
  • Charismatic gifts. Can one be considered Reformed if they believe the charismatic gifts are still working in believers today?

This may get interesting πŸ™‚

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About theologian

I'm a child of the King, my Father who is in Heaven, by the precious blood of His eternal Son, Jesus Christ. I am married with children and currently reside in Pennsylvania. I am a Pastor with the Association of Charismatic Reformed Churches (ACRC) working as an Urban Missionary in Chester, PA. Throughout my time in ministry God has also blessed me with opportunities for formal education by which I earned my terminal degree (Doctor of Theology) from New Geneva Theological Seminary in 2013.

Discussion

56 thoughts on “Reformed or Not

  1. You might add the Reformed Faith is a confessional faith. The Westminister Confession of Faith, The Three Forms of Unity and various non-dipsy Baptist confessions are usually considered your “reformed” confessions. By far though, the WCF has been recognized as the most eloquent, concise and theologically astute summary of Christian doctrine ever written by uninspired men.

    Posted by David McCrory | December 11, 2006, 8:20 pm
  2. Thanks for taking up the challenge, Larry. I will second David’s question/comment. Would it indeed be a prerequisite to be confessional to be considered Reformed? I am thinking, yes.

    Having said that, I too would include the Baptist Confessions such as the 1646 and 1689 London Confessions to be an acceptable part of a list headed most likely by the WCF. Comments?

    Posted by Gomarus | December 11, 2006, 8:26 pm
  3. Good point guys. Let’s add the confessions that the World Reformed Fellowship allows members to adhere to…

    Gallican Confession
    Heidelberg Catechism
    Belgic Confession
    Savoy Declaration
    Thirty Nine Articles
    Canons of Dort
    Second Helvetic Confession
    London Confession of 1689
    Westminster Confession of Faith

    I would also like to clarify to say that one can not reject all of the confessions and be Reformed. We must leave room for folks who may not ever have the opportunity to know these confessions, and therefore not commit themselves to them. But if they were to reject them all it would imply they knew of their content.

    Posted by theologian | December 11, 2006, 8:35 pm
  4. Gomarus said: Thanks for taking up the challenge, Larry.

    My middle name is challenge! Oh wait, it’s Edward, nevermind.

    Posted by theologian | December 11, 2006, 8:38 pm
  5. and Creeds while were at it?

    Posted by David McCrory | December 11, 2006, 9:25 pm
  6. Would the Creeds be needed or would the Confessions be sufficient? Do the Creeds contain anything that the Confessions do not?

    Posted by theologian | December 11, 2006, 9:29 pm
  7. Not really. But while we may not recite the Confession during worship, we often times might profess our faith by way of a Creed. But they’re really the same in substance.

    Posted by David McCrory | December 11, 2006, 9:42 pm
  8. I know the OPC and ARP accept Hist. Premil. view I’m not sure about the PCA or other Pres. Demon.

    I don’t see how belief in the continuation of charismatic gift is consonate with Reformed teaching. No historic Reformer I’m away of helf this view & all the Confessions seem to speak to cessation.

    And I believe Baptist can be Reformed yet define the nature of the covenant differently.

    Posted by David McCrory | December 11, 2006, 10:21 pm
  9. Great post and comments. The reason I do not hold that I am reformed is because of the position on eschatology which to my knowledge most, if not all, reformers are amills…correct?

    We would agree on most other aspects, then you have to talk about paedo-communion and paedo-baptism, which are not an a=b scenario as pointed out by another commentor.

    I hold to the five solas, I hold to even loving some of the confessions and creeds, I also hold to the three “rightly” list, we would have some differences in how worship is to adhered as I believe that just cause a hymn is old doesn’t mean it is the only thing to be sung, I believe we can use new hymns and songs in worship as long as they are theologically correct and exalt Christ.

    I do know that I have a friend who is a reformed baptist preacher so I do know that we have some other minor differences elsewhere as well…no need to list all of them off…

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 11, 2006, 10:44 pm
  10. How about pre-trib premil, would that be acceptable?

    Sovereign Grace is probably the only group that i know of that claims belief in the charismatic gifts and claims to be Reformed…
    http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/

    Posted by theologian | December 11, 2006, 10:44 pm
  11. theologian.
    I am pretrib; premil and would consider myself to be progressive dispensational.

    I am a mut…I know this…

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 11, 2006, 11:01 pm
  12. Naturally I want to protect Reformed Theology from Charasmatic beliefs, but in the framework of Covenental Theology is there a reason that it cannot exist within Reformed Denominations? I dont think there is.

    I like the confessions. I can agree with confesional theology.

    Did you guys know there have been pre-trib Presbyterians?

    Posted by Josh | December 11, 2006, 11:04 pm
  13. Oh, I was gonna ask: Where in Covenental Theology does the Regulative Principle come from? I know what it is, but is it foundational to Covenental or Reformed Theology?

    Posted by Josh | December 11, 2006, 11:15 pm
  14. The regulative principle may be found generally stated in WCF XXI.1, in the LBCF XXII.1, and in Calvin’s The Necessity of Reforming the Church.

    John Knox stated it this way:
    “All worshipping, honoring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without His own express commandment, is idolatry.” (Works, Vol. III, pg. 34).

    Posted by Gomarus | December 11, 2006, 11:54 pm
  15. I like that, and it defends well against the Church Marketing movements, pragmatism, and the like. I would think that while it is a mark of Reformed Theology, it is more a reclaiming of proper worship that should mark all denominations.

    I could use some history lessons on the Regulative Principle.

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 12:08 am
  16. See my recent short series under the category:worship at my blog. I give some general background in the process of commenting as an “outsider.”

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 1:19 am
  17. That is a great series. I am drawn to RP, I do not agree with Larry’s premise of “To be Reformed one must hold to the Regulative principle of worship…” I am looking for the tying bind that connects the two.

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 1:54 am
  18. David McCrory is doing some stuff on the Regulative Principle on his blog as well…
    http://covenantcorner.blogspot.com/index.html

    I guess the reason that i look at the RP as being important in Reformed doctrine is that it hits at the core of how we worship. Can we be truly reformed if we persist in inventing our own ways of worshiping God instead of following His prescribed ways?

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 2:26 am
  19. Was that small “r” on purpose πŸ™‚ ?

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 2:31 am
  20. not really. you may notice that i am not all that consistent with my capitAls πŸ™‚

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 2:40 am
  21. yA me EItheR. Or punctuation forthat matter πŸ™‚

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 2:48 am
  22. Are other’s inventing new ways to worship God if they are worshiping Him through song that is theologically sound and asthetically pleasing?

    Again, Isaac Watts was not welcomed when he first started writing hymns even by his friends…Jonathan Edwards would be an example.

    what is the measure? We cannot just say because it is new it is wrong. I am with you in not wanting to go overboard on worship songs but we can’t go “legalistic” on this either.

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 12, 2006, 3:54 am
  23. For me legalistic is binding someone’s conscience with something other than Scripture.

    I think if we follow how God tells us in the Scriptures we are to worship, then we are following the Regulative principle.

    Some may disagree with me, but the Scriptures tell us that we can sing more than only the Psalms (eph 5:19; col 3:16). I think the key has to be that they are theologically sound.

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 4:25 am
  24. theologian…I couldn’t agree with your sentiment more…

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 12, 2006, 4:31 am
  25. Interesting post; for one to be Reformed in my opinion, one must hold to the five solas of the reformation, the five points of Calvinism and the regulative principle. Baptists (who adhere to the above), should be considered Reformed, however, Pentecostalists have denied Sola Scriptura, and should be termed Calvinistic Charismatics.

    Posted by reformedcovenanter | December 12, 2006, 12:06 pm
  26. I may be off here, but I see the link between “Reformed” and “Regulative Principle” coming form the Confessions. If Refomed = Confessional, and the Confessions specify Regulative worship, then Reformed = Regulative. This holds for the WCF and LBCF, but I haven’t checked the Belgic or Helvetic.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 12:41 pm
  27. Reformedcovenanter,

    Thanks for putting in the five points of Calvinism. I can’t believe i missed that 😳

    I would agree that one must be Calvinist to be Reformed.

    Gomarus,

    Good point.

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 1:19 pm
  28. I think Gomarus just exposed the tie that binds Reformed and Regulative Principle.

    I liked Gomarus’ blogging on Regulative Princ. Especially because I was raised in an IFCA Bible Church, we were normative principle, but you would not have known it. Conservative Normative was no difference than Regulative in my experience…..until I went to a Southern Baptist Church..thats for a diff story πŸ™‚

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 1:37 pm
  29. I am guessing you guys wouldn’t consider me reformed but I could be wrong…here it is again…what do you think?

    5 point Calvinist
    adhere to the 5 Solas
    Credo Baptist/Credo Communion
    Do not formally believe in the regulative principle (but do agree with it in concept)
    Do agree with the marks of a true church
    Pre Mill/Pre trib/Progressive Dispensationalist
    oh yeah…I really like watching the King of Queens

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 12, 2006, 3:07 pm
  30. Seth,

    Does that mean that you reject the confessions listed above? If you outrightly reject every confession i would have to say that you are not Reformed. Although, we may be able to give you an honorary status since you like the King of Queens πŸ™‚

    Theopedia has some help on what it means to be Reformed. From http://www.theopedia.com/Reformed_theology

    * It means to affirm the great “Sola’s” of the Reformation.
    * It means to affirm and promote a profoundly high view of the sovereignty of God.
    * It means to affirm the doctrines of grace. . . to see God as the author of salvation from beginning to end.
    * It means to be creedal. . . to affirm the great creeds of the historic, orthodox church.
    * It means to be confessional. . . to affirm one or more of the great confessions of the historic orthodox church.
    * It means to be covenantal. . . to affirm the great covenants of Scripture and see those covenants as the means by which God interacts with and accomplishes His purposes in His creation, with mankind.
    * It means to take seriously the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20. . . to affirm the primacy of mission and understand that mission.
    * It means to have a distinctly Christian worldview that permeates all of life.

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 3:40 pm
  31. I do not “reject” the creeds or the confessions, but I also do not defend my position based on them. I might quote them or look at them to glean Scriptural truths, but we, as a church, do not use them in our “Statement of Faith” but our statement of faith sounds a lot like them.

    I would definitely adhere to 1689 Baptist Confession, but I would not adhere to covenantalism…as I stated before this is the reason I usually don’t say that I am reformed: because of my eschatology…

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 12, 2006, 3:48 pm
  32. Seth,
    Watching the King of Queens offsets other potential concerns, so you’re in.

    Seriously though, I believe most would say there is a basic incompatibilty between dispensational theology and Reformed theology. While there is much to agree on, the twain shall never meet.

    It seems to me that every movement made by recent “Progressive” dispensationalists has been in the right direction, that is more toward Reformed theology and away from classic dispensationalism. But this does not put them in the Reformed camp — because they are not confessional nor do they accept the basics of Covenant Theology. I see these as defining features of the term Reformed, but others may see it differently.

    BTW, I like the list Larry brought in from Theopedia.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 4:01 pm
  33. Gomarus…that is what I always thought…just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t looking at it wrong…

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 12, 2006, 4:06 pm
  34. Here’s another question: Does Reformation theology = Reformed theology? In other words, is Reformed theology defined by the “theology of the Reformers” or is it defined by the Confessions that followed?

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 4:15 pm
  35. Yes

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 4:51 pm
  36. Good question Gomarus.
    Luther was a big Reformer, but if we believe the Regulative Principle is part of Reformed Theology, then he would have to be excluded. From what i remember he did not hold to the RP.

    Since we also discussed rightly administering the sacraments, perhaps Luther’s view on the Lord’s Supper would not be allowed either.

    His view on the Lord’s Supper can be found here…
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/largecatechism/7_sacrament.html

    I also have my doubts on his view on confession…
    http://www.ctsfw.edu/etext/boc/sc/SC05.txt

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 5:01 pm
  37. Interesting discussion… yet “reformed” is a very broad label these days.

    I see it this way… as one who is a Reformed Christian… the Five Sola’s are like my foundation. All the other things such as eschatology, covenant theology, beliefs concerning gifts, which creed/confession best defines me, etc. are the funny looking house that I build on top of those Sola’s.

    Of course, it’s an imperfect analogy. But it expresses the different levels of importance I put of certain areas of belief and practice.

    Posted by Jeff Fuller | December 12, 2006, 5:49 pm
  38. I think we can say that the Confessions were a considered distillation of Reformation theology, so they are related; but once the Confessions were in place, Reformed theology “proper” became defined by the Confessions. In other words there is more diversity seen among the Reformers (and in Reformation theology) than is seen in the Confessions.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 5:49 pm
  39. I made my last comment without seeing Jeff’s input. Welcome to the discussion. I think we can say the Five Solas are a summary of Reformation theology, but not sufficient to define “Reformed theology.”

    This may be an issue of the broader sense vs. the narrow sense Jeff alluded to. But I am suggesting a difference between Reformation theology and Reformed theology (in the technical sense). I’m thinking out loud here.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 6:01 pm
  40. Here’s another point. I know Arminians and Dispensationalists who hold to the Five Solas. I rejoice that they do, but there is no sense (broad or narrow) they should considered Reformed.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 6:30 pm
  41. In a technical sense i can’t see how Arminians hold to the five solas. Grace alone would seem to negate the synergistic ideas that they have.

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 7:17 pm
  42. You have a point. But many of them will argue that they are not synergistic. Arminians can (and many do) agree with the idea of grace alone, for they see God’s universal prevenient grace as that which restores man’s free will. So they smile and nod yes to “grace alone” still clinging to their free willism.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 7:56 pm
  43. Following from the above comment. Here is a quote from Arminian theologian J. K. Grider:

    And it [Arminianism] teaches that justification is by grace alone, there being no meritoriousness in our faith that occasions justification, since it is only through prevenient grace that fallen humanity can exercise that faith. Elwell Evangelical Dictionary (bracket mine)

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 8:13 pm
  44. So they believe it is common grace as opposed to special grace…It seems that they don’t so much think that grace saves as it gives one free will…

    Eph 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved…

    Turns into “For by grace you are given free will so that you can save yourself”

    Sounds 😈 to me

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 8:41 pm
  45. Exactly, Larry. They just refuse to see it that way.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 10:28 pm
  46. BTW, this post is now on its way to logging the most comments on any one post in our “group” except perhaps for Lane. Ha!

    I wish Lane was here to comment on this topic.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 12, 2006, 10:31 pm
  47. That’s awesome! And thanks to you Gomarus for getting me to post this as a topic. Just imagine if we took the comments from the ESV post that started all of this!

    Posted by theologian | December 12, 2006, 11:12 pm
  48. He will catch up when he gets back πŸ™‚

    Posted by Josh | December 12, 2006, 11:13 pm
  49. I should have named our website The Essentially Reformed Evangelist… although that’s a bit wordy! Heehee.

    I’m not sure if I’d stand up to a narrow definition as I’m a bit of a “mixed breed” when it comes to my theology. Our contributor Paul is much more “reformed” by the above standard than I.

    But if you’ll notice on our blog we rarely discuss eschatology, coventant theology (in regards to the sacraments), and charismatic gifts. We spend most of our focus as evangelists in equipping Christians in all aspects of sharing their faith. We keep our personal views… uhhh, personal.

    Look, I’ve already eluded to too much. LOL.

    Posted by Jeff Fuller | December 13, 2006, 4:29 am
  50. Many I think equate Reformed to the Calvinist doctrines of grace, and regarding soteriology that is true. I rejoice over all who hold to sovereign grace. Likewise, Reformed theology is often seen as simply another name for Calvinism. So we will see various opinions and definitions of what it means to be “Reformed.”

    But there are many, especially those in Reformed churches, who see “Reformed” defined by the Confessions. The point of this discussion was to kick that around. Strictly speaking, I think this is valid, especially if we note a difference between “Reformed” and “Reformation” theology. Just my $0.02.

    BTW, Jeff, don’t change the name of your blog. LOL.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 13, 2006, 12:56 pm
  51. Jeff,

    Maybe you could call it the Reformish Evangelist πŸ˜‰

    I love your blog, and as you probably noticed you are on my blogroll.

    Posted by theologian | December 13, 2006, 1:16 pm
  52. I am sincerely grateful for being on your blogroll. May we make you laugh… make you cry… make you feel like showering us with gifts and money…

    Afterall it IS Christmas!

    Posted by Jeff Fuller | December 13, 2006, 4:42 pm
  53. Well, I don’t know if I could really catch up. I had to read the comments pretty quickly! I’m not back yet, but I’ll put in my two cents here. The lists of what is Reformed look pretty good. I would have to distinguish, however, between someone being soteriologically Reformed and being Reformed. The former I would define as people who hold to the 5 points of Calvinism. Hence, it seems to me that everyone who has commented so far could be termed Reformed in that sense. However, the other sense would be much narrower, and include the covenantal understanding of children, confessional, RP, 5 solas, and right marks. To answer someone who asked, I think that pre-millenial is incompatible with this narrower definition, though not with the broader (witness Tenth Presbyterian Church’s former pastor Donald Gray Barnhouse, a dispy). Almost all confessional Reformed people are amil or post-mil.

    Posted by Lane Keister | December 13, 2006, 8:08 pm
  54. Hey…you can’t comment until you are off vacation, go play with your kids! πŸ™‚

    Posted by Seth McBee | December 13, 2006, 9:02 pm
  55. R.C. Sproul in his “What is Reformed Theology” lists:

    Centered on God
    Scripture Alone
    Faith Alone
    Devoted to Prophet, Priest, and King
    Covenant Theology

    and
    T
    U
    L
    I
    P

    He does not list or discuss any confessions specifically, yet he does mention councils. Yet, mainly in defense of the historical development of Christology.

    Posted by Kymanika | December 16, 2006, 10:47 pm
  56. Thanks for the Sproul summary. I noticed that James M. Boice was very similar in his summary of “Reformed Theology”:
    http://gomarus.wordpress.com/2006/08/24/reformed-theology-by-james-boice/

    He too omits any reference to the Reformed Confessions. He makes a very close association between Reformed and Reformation theology. I was attempting to make a distinction in my comments above, primarily driven by the Confessions — which seems suspect in light of Sproul and Boice.

    Posted by Gomarus | December 18, 2006, 12:57 pm

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