Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Is Reformed Theology?: catholic, evangelical, and reformed

     In video #2 R. C. Sproul continues to build on lesson #1 by emphasizing again that it is the study of Theology Proper (the doctrine of God), which guides everything that is considered in Reformed Theology.  Thus, when considering the coherent systems (Systematics or Systematic Theology) in God's Word, Reformed Theology moves into study of other biblical doctrines carefully while keeping God's character and attributes as the controlling factor.  As we learned last time, Reformed Theology is thoroughly and intentionally God-centered.  The doctrines of God's sovereignty and holiness are lauded in Reformed Theology.
     Before getting further into the what characterizes Reformed Theology, Sproul wants us to know that Reformed Theology is grounded in the Scriptures, is historically orthodox, and has the gospel of Christ as it's foundation.  Thus, the Reformed faith is catholic (not Roman Catholic) in the true sense of the word . . . it holds strongly to the essentials of the faith that are clearly taught in the Word, and are believed universally by Christians.  The essential Christian doctrines have been fought for in biblical times and throughout history as various heresies have arisen, but have been struck down at various church councils and by doctrinal confessions/creeds/catechisms (perhaps a new confession is in order to handle the seeker/purpose driven movement?!).  In short, the Reformed faith believes and confesses the essentials of the faith that all Christians cherish.  Reformed Theology is also evangelical in that the biblical gospel was recovered by Luther and others as they separated from the Catholic Church in the 16th century.  Though Luther objected to many things going on in 16th century Roman Catholicism, it was the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone that he labored to re-establish and defended most vigorously.  Luther's insistence on justification "sola fide" (by faith alone) is still a matter that distinguishes Protestants and Catholics to this day.
     Is anyone seeing that Reformed Theology is a refreshing alternative to what we see so commonly in the visible church today?!  Contemporary church ministries are often not grounded in Systematic Theology (e.g. Scripture is so often taken out of context to fit a chosen topic) and Biblical Theology (e.g. the drama of Christ's redemption is often replaced with moralistic "life coaching"), most contemporary churches do not adhere deliberately to the essentials of Christianity as taught in the Scriptures and are established in church history (many do not even provide the most basic doctrinal statement anymore), nor do they take pains to make sure the gospel message is protected, preached, and cherished.  As someone who reviews sermons often, I say with sadness that in much of today's 'preaching' God and Christ are hardly even mentioned in any sort of orthodox sense and the gospel is often strangely absent.

Rick Warren endorsed, Seeker/Purpose-driven pastor Perry Noble's (NewSprings Church in Anderson, S. C.) view of ministry.

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