Why I Am A Reformed Evangelical
The Protestant Reformation lies at close to the heart of my Christian faith.
I remember studying the iconic reformers in my high school Church History class: Wycliffe and Huss, Luther and Calvin, Zwingli and Knox.
Wycliffe was the man who stirred the national conscience of England, Luther the firebrand who challenged the dominion of the papacy, and Calvin, the great theologian who penned his famous Institutes.
I have struggled with the Calvinist- Arminian distinction, but recently I have come to accept the fundamental Calvinist (Reformed) doctrines as my own.
However, no doctrines should be accepted without carefully weighing them against Scripture, even ones from godly men.
The Calvinist TULIP acronym is true, but I appreciate its refinement at the hands of the late theologian R.C. Sproul.
TULIP, for those unfamiliar with it, stands for Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.
The acronym thus captures the wickedness of men’s hearts, the sovereign and tremendous grace of God, and the eternal security each believer possesses before Christ.
R.C. Sproul offers a helpful re- interpretation of TULIP here, contending, for instance, that total depravity can best be understood as radical corruption.
However, in addition to being Reformed, I am also evangelical and Pentecostal, fully believing in the supremacy of the Scriptures and the reality of God’s gifts for the modern day believer.
The five solas of Reformation theology stand at the crux of my faith: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), sole fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), and soli Deo gloria (to God be the glory alone).
I believe that too often our church is ineffective, and I have read of this distinction elsewhere, because we either fail in our hearts or in our heads. We may have great theological knowledge, but we fail because we do not love others as we should and display the unselfishness of Christ. Or we may have a heart that is an imitation of Christ’s, but we don’t defend the Scriptures as we should because we lack Biblical and theological knowledge.
God is calling us to a pure and radical faith, one that is set apart from the world, and one that embraces both the heart and the head as integral parts of our Christian faith. As my favorite verses read:
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
(II Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV)
God calls us to radical holiness, and in it you feel the power of His Spirit and know that you belong.
I am proud to be Reformed, proud to be evangelical, and proud to be Pentecostal, but I am most proud to be a Christian.