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March 22, 2006

Comments

Geoff

Ah-ha. Thanks for clarifying. I've been waiting for something like that "without compromising truth" line to show up in a P-RC post.

Yes, we of the reformed tradition should remember that Calvin wasn't perfect, and we are most likely less so. Still, I'd wager that you have less falsehood in your orthodoxy than Pastor Smiles at Joyful Noise Fellowship Center, and in ways that matter.

I'm all for demonstrating visible unity, and living the beatitudes, but to what extent could you "work vigorously to build unity" with Christians like him? Joint bible studies? Joint picnics? Joint missionary sponsorships? Handshakes when you meet at the supermarket?

Garrett

Geoff,

A CREC pastor out here in the midwest has been working vigorously to build unity in his little city for 10 years. He prays with pastors of churches that have a minimal threshold of orthodoxy (Nicene) and they have found how (surprise)they have allot in common. This year they began having joint services once a quarter. As they have gotten to know each other in prayer their has been less pressure between the churches to "convert" the others to their distinctives which has resulted, with the pressure off, in them actually observing and then wanting to learn from one another. The last service had a diverse group of congregations represented including a black one (AME). The AME church had a very professional and robust music ministry but when the quarterly service rolled around to the CREC church (which practices their hymns and Psalms in four parts) the AME pastor was so moved he made the comment that he felt convicted about how his whole church needed to be singing and not just his choir. He asked the CREC pastor to help him with this. There were nine congregations represented at this last service (city has a population of 20,000).

Just one little example but you can probably see how many ministry opportunities (in the example above many hands-on practices are already occuring) can flow from this including all the things you mentioned in your commnents. That small community is seeing the unity of the bride of Christ demonstrated in the flesh.

Geoff

Wow. I'm pretty awe-struck....

anaonymous

One thought. It seems like by naming yourself post-reformed you are encourging catholicity by distinguishing yourself from more of your family. And I don't think any of the characteristics you list were ever rejected by the reformed, just neglected in sin.

Garrett

Anonymous,

You are technically correct but when we are dealing with extra-biblical labels/traditions, at a time when the reformed tradition itself has become isolated in one small sector of its former theological domain, I think it is helpful to rhetorically lay aside that label for a more open identity. To draw this out further, the reformed tradition in this country once contained such vibrant strands as sacramental/liturgical Presbyterians and experimental-revivalistically-oriented Presbyterians, high sacraments and low sacraments German Reformed, Dutch Reformed Covenant of Creationists, and Calvinistic Congregationalists just to name a few. There were millions of them in a country that had 50 million people. As revivalism worked its way out through the reformed tradition it lost its distinctive identity and surrendered its masses to the independents and Baptists. Those who were left, barely discernable from Baptists in many ways, became more and reactionary and forgetful of the richness of their tradition. I think we are on the far arid end of that trajectory.

Andrew

Garret:

So, do you think that the test for orthodoxy is the Nicene Creed (this sounds pretty good to me)?

If so, what do you do about Emergents who say they "believe" what the Nicene Creed says, but when you get to the issue of the word "believe," the issue of uncertainty comes up, or truth as localized, etc.

On the other hand, there are Fundamentalist Dispensational churches who teach that there is more than one way to God (one way for jews, one way for christians); which seems blatantly heretical to me.

I am struggling with this, because I want to be a peacemaker, but I want to fight for orthodoxy. Sometimes I have a hard time drawing the line.

Cheers

Andrew

PS- By labeling yourself post-reformed, are you not in a way working against unity with the rest of the reformed?

In other words, You encourage striving for peace with RC, EC, et al; but your very PR project has you distancing yourself from people you should be also striving to unite with in peace.

Does this make sense? I'm a little under the weather today, so I hope I'm being coherent.

Geoff

Here's where the rubber meets the road: How would you work vigorously to build unity with these guys... http://www.capchrist.org/ ?

Garrett

Andrew,

A couple things. Being Nicene doesn't mean someone can recite it to you. If they are ignorant of it, as some American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists can be, I would try to meet them where they at and work with them to get them up to speed. Regarding this:

"On the other hand, there are Fundamentalist Dispensational churches who teach that there is more than one way to God (one way for jews, one way for christians); which seems blatantly heretical to me."

Again, being a former Fundamentalist myself, I would want to be very careful about labeling things "heretical." Oftentimes, Fundamentalists are just unclear about the continuity between the OC and the NC. Again, I would be patient and seek to bring them into the fold. If they are saying these two roads (one through teh works of the Law, teh other through grace) which is going on now, then this is a serious breach of Nicene orthodoxy. Its a little messy and with Fundamentalism, sorting things out can be complex, but the Christian life is complex. On the ssue of EC's who massage "believe" that could be problematic. I sense that on the fringe of the EC we could be seeing a repackaging of some earlier liberal heterodoxy. So, life is complex, the Bible (when worked through the matrix of life) is complex, and unity will be complex. Its when we want to make one size fits all solutions that we run into trouble.

Garrett

BTW - What do you with a term like "reformed" when:

1. Those who control the definitions in your circle have defined it so small it makes you suspect.
2. These same folk are spending all their energy going on heresy-hunting expeditions in their own camp and dissing everyone else outside of it as either foolish or of questionable orthodoxy.
3. It has become such a minority position that the label means little to nothing in the wider church.

I grant that it is an experimental position but then so are all positions at the end of one philosophical era and the beginning of another. I think we are at one of those break-points.

I think if we know what we believe and are well-grounded in that we should not be afraid step out beyond the label someone else wants to affix or take away from us.

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