When People Want to Believe the Worst About Reformed Theology
A new report ponders if some people are determined to believe the worst about Reformed Theology. Maybe they should be asking if people are “predestined” to believe the worst. Get it? Predestined to believe the worst about Reformed Theology. Because they are predestined….Ok, never mind.
Listen, when I was in the Arminian camp I had friends that were Reformed and I thought they were crazy. I thought their theology was absolutely wrong and that they had a fundamental misunderstanding of Scripture. But never broke fellowship with them.
No matter how wrong I thought they were, our theology agreed where it matters most. We agreed on the Gospel, Jesus, the role of the church, the Trinity, baptism, and the inerrancy of Scripture. Just to name a few. I had more in common with them then with liberal theologians and Christians that want me to believe the Bible is not inerrant, that the Trinity may not exist, that Jesus is not God, and salvation is by anything other than grace through faith.
So I stayed connected with my Reformed friends because we agreed on the important doctrines of Scripture. Now that I a solidly convinced that Reformed Theology is biblical, I too believe that some people are simply determined to believe the worst about Reformed theology. It’s not because there isn’t sufficient evidence in Scripture to confirm the basic tenets off Reformed Theology, but because it offends our Western idea of good and freedom.
Simply put, as Americans, we believe everyone is “basically good,” even though the Bible says “there is none good,” and that our “heart is desperately wicked.” We barely reserve such sentiments for terrorists and international criminals. The idea that such adjectives would be applied to the sweet lady next door or the amazing gay couple down the road is absurd to our post-Christian American mind.
The truth found in Reformed theology is nothing short of biblical in its description of the human condition. While moral therapeutic deist churches tell their congregations how awesome they are, Reformed churches stick close to the Scriptures teaching of how sinful we are. An article at The Gospel Coalition portrays the difference between these churches accurately:
“In some churches, it is a word that conjures up images of an angry and capricious God who acts arbitrarily to save some, but consigns most sinners—including deceased infants—to eternal perdition. For many professing Christians, it is the mother of all swear words.
“Let the pastor breathe it in the presence of the deacon board and he risks firing, fisticuffs or worse. A God who chooses is anti-American, anti-democracy. It bespeaks a long-faced, puritanical religion, a doctrinal novelty invented by a maniacal 16th-century minister whose progeny manufactured a theological “-ism” that has plunged countless souls into a godless eternity.
“In other churches, it is a cherished word that describes a beloved doctrine, one that bestows comfort and unshakable confidence that not one maverick molecule, not one rebel subatomic particle exists outside of God’s loving providential control—even in the matter of salvation. Want to start a lively conversation? Then utter the word: predestination.”
Though the description above is directed at predestination, it could very well be directed at Reformed theology by many that oppose it.
As I’ve studied Reformed theology more, and asked God to reveal His truth in Scripture, I have become more convinced of the veracity of Reformed theology. Only Reformed doctrine brings the entirety of Scripture into a cohesive faith that makes sense.
It is through Reformed theology that tough questions like “why do some people get saved and others don’t?” can be answered. I have found protection from “ministry traps” like the newest evangelism method that promises to “win souls” by employing this fool-proof technique. And I’ve enjoyed a more robust church experience where prayer, community, and the exposition of God’s Word is the central focus (rather than concerts, lights, and videos).
Expository preaching, a staple of many reformed churches, doesn’t cherry-pick Scripture and avoid tough passages. Preaching through entire books of the Bible means addressing every verse, every topic, every uncomfortable account found in the pages of God’s Word. The poplar “topical” method of preaching found in many churches leaves congregations lacking in their knowledge of Scripture as entire books are ignored.
There is certain dangers that must be constantly resisted with Reformed theology. The danger to pride from believing one is right will creep into the heart if we are not careful. The temptation to look down on those not adhering to this theological position or that position is very real. As with every denomination or theological persuasion, focus must constantly be redirected to Christ and the Gospel.
I’m convinced that some simply want to believe the worst and have no interest in a friendly dialogue about the truth claims of Reformed theology. But with so much common ground between Reformed theology and Arminianism, it should be our goal to build one another up, not tear down.
We are Christians. The differences in our non-Gospel positions should not define us. Our love for Jesus and the Gospel should define us.