We recently had a booth at the Tualatin Crawfish Festival. I always enjoy working in booths, and have done so for business, politics and church. There are always lots of friendly people, and its always a pleasure to promote the that are near and dear to our hearts.
Of some surprise to me was the fact that nearly every person who stopped to talk with us asked the question “What is Reformed?”. This is somewhat understandable due to the fact that the name of our church, prominently displayed on a banner, is Shepherd King Reformed Church. But it was surprising to me how little people understood of the meaning of Reformed, even among Lutherans who identified themselves as such. I guess this simply verifies how little interest people have in matters of doctrine and church history, even among Christians. In some larger sense, I believe this reflects upon the church itself, and how far it is distancing itself from matters of truth and Biblical veracity. When each church is sure it has the whole truth, there is no need to look any further. After all, to find more truth might force us to decide whether truth matters, and whether we might be wrong and need to change. And change is rarely easy. Let us each pray that we might be humble enough to recognize and pursue truth beyond our selves, and even beyond our own congregation.
In answer to the question of What is Reformed? I offer the following brief summary.
Reformed refers to the doctrines of the Reformation which led to the formation of Protestant churches, separate from Catholicism.
These doctrines fundamentally recognize that God is sovereign over all of life. This sovereignty is expressed in various ways. I list below some of the key points, and how Shepherd King applies them in practice:
- Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
- Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
- Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
- Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
- Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
Sovereignty over God’s relationship with man: Covenant Theology (God relates to man through His covenants with man, children are to be included in those covenants)
Sovereignty over history: Postmillennial eschatology (optimistic view of the future) rather than Premillennial or Amillennial.
Sovereignty over ethics: The laws of the Old Covenant provide the foundation of ethics, that is, right and wrong before God.
Sovereignty over salvation: The five points of calvinism outline the key elements of salvation (Doctrines of Grace)
Sovereignty over man’s understanding of God: Presuppositional Apologetics (Understanding of God requires acceptance of the Trinitarian view of God, and of the Bible as the revealed Word of God)
As stated earlier, this is a brief summary. A search for any of these topics will lead to plenty of material to help understand them.