Theology for the Long Haul

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hello, My Name is Phil and I'm Moderately Reformed

Now, I have to confess that I've been hanging out with some guys who identify themselves as Calvinists. For me, the common connection has more to do with shared beliefs in other areas than an adherence to the 5 points of Calvinism (or the 5 points of anybody for that matter). The Western church can be pretty fickle, and more recently it has fallen susceptible to popular emerging heresies and old school liberalism (you may have heard me harp on these issues a time or two before). Conversely, many in the Reformed traditions have maintained a high view of Scripture, an affirmation of gender distinctions, and a meaningful connection with the historic and ancient churches. These convictions among others have come to be increasingly important to Corrie and I over the years.

In recent weeks there's been a hot debate in reformed circles over how Calvinist one needs to be in order to identify themselves as reformed in any sense. Some have argued that you cannot identify yourself with reformed theology unless you swallow the whole camel (White horse Inn Blog); while others have taken a more judicious stance (The Gospel Coalition). As for me, I’m calling myself moderately reformed, Below is a diagram that shows what that might look like, and some passages of Scripture (not a comprehensive list)that might support how one could come to draw such (amazing) conclusions.

In this whole discussion I would encourage persons of the reformed traditions to remember that John Calvin was not Jesus Christ. We need to be cautious how we approach the Bible, knowing that we all will be tempted to read it through the lens of our own traditions and theological commitments. The text must be the master of our doctrine, and not our commitments or/and our desire to fit God into a tidy and rationalistic construction. Issues like this one require a surrendered soul, much prayer, a strong exegetical analysis of the text, and a commitment to Christian unity. That said, what are your thoughts? Feel free to post them here(even if you disagree with me).

In the above diagram the "5 Points" are listed on the left. The color of the points dim with my confidence in that particular point. On the right are my comments with Scripture passages.


  1. I find myself agreeing with an awful lot in Reformed Theology until it gets extrapolated beyond a point.

    I believe God is sovereign, but a sovereign God could allow participation on some level it He desired too. I don't see the control factor in the verses used to promote this point, which usually point to how powerful God is.

    I believe in election, but not the necessity of it being unconditional. If God knows who will choose his Son, why couldn't God call them?

    Jesus doesn't fail if we deny Christ, I still don't understand why Calvinist insist this is the case. Salvation can be available to everyone without it hurting God's sovereignty.

    POTS? To me a person who REALLY denies Christ is understands what he is doing and this is probably a very rare occurrence.

    Hmmmm, maybe I don't agree with Reformed Theology as much as I thought!