I find it interesting that it is all of a sudden “cool” to be Reformed. What has now come to be a household word in many respects, was virtually unknown 15-20 years ago. Of that rare remnant who did know of it, most considered it a blasphemous heresy or, at the very least, something that corresponded to a vulgarity.
But, as they say, “times, they are a-changing.” To a great extent the notion of “being Reformed” has paralleled the rise of the internet. Approximately 10-15 years ago, Reformed theology was, like the internet, was a neat little idea played with by only a few. Then it experienced a boom, so that now it is virtually everywhere.
Case in point is the Time magazine article that came out a few years ago. In 2009 Time magazine put out an issue that rated the top movements in America. Number three was what they termed the “Neo-Calvinist” movement.
Unfortunately, the notion of a neo-Calvinist is a broad one, and perhaps has little to do with Calvin and/or Calvinism as such (i.e. the doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as the five points of Calvinism). It might have more to do with whether or not you carry an ESV Study Bible and attend a certain conference circuit.
Nevertheless, suddenly it is cool to be a Calvinist, and seemingly everyone was calling themselves Reformed.
Since being back in Ashland I’ve found that the word Reformed is bandied about rather frequently too. Perhaps it’s just the circles I run in now, but prior to my going off to college and coming to understand RT, it was virtually non-existent. While it is by no means dominant, there is a growing band of souls calling themselves reformed in this Anabaptist deluged area (which I find delightful, but extremely ironic).
From my experience though, the trend in Ashland has followed the national scene. Few really understand the full import of Reformed theology. Most see it as a synonym for being a four (YIKES!) or five point Calvinist.
That is why, for the next several months, this newsletter will be dedicated to filling out some of the overlooked girth of Reformed theology.
I believe this will be useful for Providence church in particular too. Providence church as an organization officially adheres to the full orb of Reformed theology. That the church adheres to the London and Westminster Confessions testifies to this. Yet our membership is rather diverse in its makeup. Within our ranks we have those coming from fundamentalist Baptist, Methodist, Brethren, and Disciples of Christ backgrounds. It’s likely that many will benefit from such a study.
What’s even better is that, after this study, you can be really cool when you “I’m Reformed” because you’ll actually know what it means.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.