Note: the following essay is written partly in a serious vein, and partly tongue-in-cheek. I’ll leave it to the reader to discern between the two.
I wrote in my last post a little about the early days of my journey toward affirming the doctrines of sovereign grace, commonly nicknamed Calvinism. I came to a point where I understood that such people are sometimes called Reformed, and so I was able to declare to my roommate one evening, “I think I’m Reformed.”
In the 40+ years since that announcement, I’ve become more and more convinced that the Bible teaches these doctrines, often called the 5 Points of Calvinism, though the naming of these points with the acrostic “TULIP,” is a caricature of the actual teaching of Scripture on these matters.
I also have learned that there are degrees to which people identify as Reformed. And because social media exists, many are not afraid to let people know how their beliefs don’t represent the true Reformed faith. And I guess I’ve come to accept the fact that I may be Reformed…but Not Reformed Enough™.
I attach a “trademark” designation to this, because this group is so vocal and so organized that there must be a union somewhere. Local Reformed Thinkers and Pipe Smokers Union 1646 or something. “You can’t be one of us…not with that credobaptism you got there!” I am convinced they are not trying to simply be divisive. I know they’ve thought through all the implications of their theology so much so that it all hangs together or it will surely fall apart. Maybe I haven’t contemplated all the ramifications. Or maybe I came to different conclusions.
I would surely place myself in the Reformed camp in terms of my belief in the 5 Solas (Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone) and the 5 Points. I affirm most of what I read in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (as well as the classic creeds and confessions).
Where I am Not Reformed Enough™ is that I affirm the baptism of believers rather than infants, I generally speak of the ordinances rather than the sacraments, and I play my guitar in church even though guitars are not mentioned in the Bible. I also don’t smoke a pipe, but I’m willing to learn.
For the most part, the discussions the Reformed™ and the Not Reformed Enough™ have are cordial and affirming. We understand that on the critical things – the authority of Scripture and how God saves sinners – we are in agreement.
At the end of the day, labels aren’t essential; doctrines are. And I understand that my “more Reformed than I” friends think their distinctives are important doctrines. But as long as we can boil it down to the pressing teaching of the Bible – God. Saves. Sinners. – we’ll get along just fine.