Monday, October 01, 2007

Will the "real" one please stand up.

Sometimes, theological labels are important in that it identifies where one's conviction is.

From what I gathered, the Augsburg Confessors where labeled with the "L" word by the RC Magisterium as a form of ridicule. It was meant as an insulting term, a designator for a certain brand of heretical movement in Christendom. They were also called "Protestants" too. In fact they were the first Protestants.

Now I read the retraction of this brother here.

What is interesting is that he says that the Augsburgers were the ones who coined the term "Reformed". I wonder if anyone has some information on this. Anyway this is what he says:

I thought being "Reformed" was believing in predestination, or TULIP. Well, that was a huge mistake. I wanted to be "Reformed" and so I changed the definition of "Reformed" to suit my taste. I wanted to be counted in the theological outlook of Westminster, with just a few tweaks here or there, so I fell into the same trap that "Reformed Baptists" fall into today - they claim the title and are not honest to admit that they cannot possibly be Reformed with holding to Reformed Theology. So instead, I redefined "Reformed" to simply mean - I believe in TULIP. Historically, this is a misnomer. It simply is historically impossible to demonstrate. Ask any Baptist where "Reformed" came from, and he'll point you to the Synod of Dorst. Little does he know it is a direct reference, written by a Lutheran, to explain the ecclesiology of Calvin's Institutes. In other words, being Reformed meant 1) Covenant Theology, 2) Paedobaptist, 3) following Calvin's view of the Lord's Supper, and 4) the ecclesiology of the Institutes. In other words, Baptists simply cannot be Reformed in any sense of the word.
To be honest with you, I think the word "Reformed" is getting to be a precious word, it is becoming the "in" word amongst modern evangelicals specially in the Internet. See this article in Christianity Today, I know it is old but it is still a trend amongst the young ones who are noticing the shallowness of what evangelicalism has become.

The Calvinistic brand is important such that there is a fight to find out who is "Truly Reformed". I know it was a word I tagged myself in conversation back in those days when my helicopter was hovering over Westminster or Geneva. In fact I have heard it said as a self-identity with a bit of pompousness. I do not recommend it, IMHO, it is not the place to land, the terrain is rocky and there is flux (see for example Federal Vision, New Perspective on Paul etc). Anyway, I no longer have a dog on this fight, except to say that I doubt if that is that is the place one should park his tent. If you are wandering in the dessert of evangelicalism looking for water, I doubt if you should journey towards Westminster or Geneva, see here for such a journey.

So now I ask my self the question, should I wear my label proudly? I do not deny what my confession is, and in fact I told my pastor colleagues about my retractions, where I have been led. So should I be "proud" in the sense of "boast"? Although I am not ashamed of what I confess, I think not.

Let Christ be everything and us be nothing.

30And because of him[d] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us(AT) wisdom from God,(AU) righteousness and(AV) sanctification and(AW) redemption, 31so that, as it is written,(AX) "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 1 Cor 1: 31

PS. See the former 5 pointer turned 5-Pinter 'calvinist' too.


mark said...

I must confess I've always assumed it was a self-designated term, as in 'Reformed Church of the Netherlands'. I will check this, lest I be incorrect (or perhaps someone else will correct me if necessary).
What I had to get used to after becoming Lutheran (12 years now) was the particular Lutheran usage of the term 'Reformed' to refer to all non-Lutheran Protestants. Previously, 'Reformed' always meant Calvinistic to me. I always thought that was standard English usage until I started moving in Lutheran circles. Previously, one would never refer to Methodists as 'Reformed', unless they were Calvinistic Methodists (few and far between, unless you happen to live in Wales). Similarly one would never refer to Baptists as Reformed unless they were Calvinistic Baptists. But now they are all 'Reformed', because the Lutheran charge is that they all draw their theological principles form the same well: incipient rationalism. The entry point of this rationalism has to do with the answer to the question, Why are some saved and others not? It is most common to locate the answer either in God's will (Calvinism) or man's will (Arminianism). Both answers must be rejected because they do not tally with the scriptural data, but represent man's attempt to apply his own reason where it is of no service. That leads to the bigger underlying question of the place of reason in theology, where Lutherans discern a fundamental error in the Reformed approach. Now, I know you all know this, I'm just rehearsing the tradition aloud here.
I think Lutheran theology has a point here (obviously! :0)), but I'm still not convinced the Lutheran nomenclature is to be preferred over the traditional one, if only because the rest of the world doesn't use it (try calling a Methodist 'Reformed' to his face and see what I mean).
But this may be a little off the track, Lito.
I'll see if I can come up with anything concrete later on.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. Mark,

But now they are all 'Reformed', because the Lutheran charge is that they all draw their theological principles form the same well: incipient rationalism

The Augsburgers are too much ahead of the game, way too much ahead of their time ;-).

The charge is correct Pr. Mark. Both Arminianism and Calvinism come from the same scholastic tradition with the RC. Now linking them with RC scholasticism will earn me no brownie points and I would not be surprised if they send me a suicide bomber;-) How dare I say something against Calvinism!

It is eventually correct to call the modern evangelicals "reformed" even though many of them are Arminians! They do draw from the same philosophical approach to the Scriptural data. If we look the revivalism prevalent in evangelicalism is really a product of reformed puritanism so they are dipping from the same dish.

We need to be precise though when needed.

On another note Pr. Mark, the Lutherans (like an elder brother) can help give stability to a weary worn out and tired evangelical by coming along side and grounding them back to justification - an opportunity for refreshing dried up souls with the living water of the Gospel. If you ask me, I think evangelicals need evangelising (ok so I earn another suicide bomber, sorry).


Dizma said...

**The Calvinistic brand is important such that there is a fight to find out who is "Truly Reformed".**
I am not very interested in the matter of labels. Lutheran Church in Slovenia (and also in Austria and Germany) is officially called Evangelical. Now we must find out who is "Truly Evangelical" ;)

Regards, :)

L P Cruz said...

That is right, the Lutherites did not originate the term Lutheran, they adopted for themselves the term Evangelical, I understand only later did they take up the word Lutheran as a badge of Protest.

There is the orthodox or liberal Lutheran depending on subscription to the BoC.

But now based on the news below,23599,22523014-23109,00.html

may be a labels war will eventually follow too?


Dizma said...

Oh, yes in this case labels are necessary because there is a line between orthodox (Lutheran, Calvinist etc.) and so called liberal - in fact hetherodox (Lutheran, Calvinist etc.) This line seems to me more important than about being Lutheran or Calvinist.

Regards :)

mark said...

Lito, I think I have come across something: the 'Lutherans', so called, referred to themselves as the Reformed Church early on (even in the confessions), but after Zwingli, then Calvin et al also used that title for themselves they came to prefer 'Evangelical', as is still the case in Germany today.
Of course, in the English-speaking world that particular moniker is so devalued as to be useless. We could call ourselves 'Church of the Augsburg Confession', as they do in some oparts of Europe, except that even fewer people know what that is than can identify 'Lutheran'. So Lutheran it is, for better or worse.
It's interesting that some of the oder church signs for congregations in rural South Australia still have 'Evangelical-Lutheran' on them.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. Mark,

I see, now that is interesting. So we have the habit of relinquishing labels. Today we are also relinquishing 'evangelical' because it has been so dominated by revivalistic/pietistic decisionalism.

The only one that stuck is 'lutheran' and may be even that may be relinquished too. This shows that to the Concordians (if I may use the term), the Gospel is more important than the labels. I like that...

It goes to show is that if you got the Gospel wrong, no matter what label you use, you are still going no where ;-)


mark said...