Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Can People Be Too Reformed?

Here is an opinion for discussion.

Reformed Theology is not monolithic.  There are disagreements among those who otherwise agree upon the Doctrines of Grace.  There are some who say that one cannot be Reformed unless one is Presbyterian.  Others say that one must hold to a literal six day creation. Others demand that the Lord's Day be celebrated in a very strict sabbatarian fashion.  However, these points and many others are not held in universal agreement by those who are otherwise Reformed with regard to the doctrines of Grace.  In other words, some people are unnecessarily exclusive of many fine brothers and sisters who disagree with their particular convictions.  And, what's more, they tend to be obnoxious about it.  Stubborn.  Arrogant.  This is "too" Reformed in my humble opinion.

There is a tendency among those who are newly Reformed to go through what I call the Hurricane Stage (pronounced hurricun, like the town on I-64).  They value their Reformed doctrinal purity so far above the relationships around them, that they blow through upsetting everything and everyone around them.   They make no friends for Reformed Theology.  Most of us have seen this sort in bible colleges or seminaries.  A little too fascinated with the particulars of their recent theological discoveries so that they do not know how to engage in effective ministry.

I do not believe that the way to bring people around to our way (and most of history's way) of understanding the Scriptures is to simply inform them of where they are wrong every time we get a chance.  Even when they are silent, Hurricane Reformers seem to exude something that makes their impressions of those they disagree with very obvious.  And most of the time, it does not appear loving in the least.

As true as our doctrine may be, it is quite possible to present it lovingly, as Paul has said, "Speak the truth in love."  In many parts of our State, our doctrines are not only foreign, they have been fought against by preachers for decades.  The result is that many trusting and trustworthy people have come reject the Doctrines of Grace through very little fault of their own.  The way to deal with these people is not to simply tell them, with an air of final judgment, that they must repent and believe something totally different from what they have been taught all their lives.  They will reject you.  I know this all too well.

Instead, these people require patient teaching that works to overcome decades of contrary instruction.  This does not happen over night.  Those who expect it to will not be able to advance Reformed Theology throughout the State of West Virginia.

If anyone with interest and wisdom comes across this, please discuss it so that we can all become more wise.

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