Thursday, January 5

So.....What Is A "Reformed" Baptist?

Since this is such a nuanced question I will start by saying much of what I have to say is from my own point of view (as read in Scripture) as to what I associate with the word "reformed". The Reformed Baptist Theological Review has a very good article that you can read here. I am not saying that I agree with everything that they have come to conclude (especially their conclusion about the Lord's Day) but I especially like their emphasis on the Second London Baptist Confessional.

So what do I consider a "Reformed Baptist"? For starters my definition will be different from that of many others. I praise God that I am a Baptist, who holds to the Scriptural teaching of immersion of the believer, the priesthood of the believer, and the inerrancy of Scripture to name a few. But when we think of the word "reformed" there is always some negative connotations that come to many traditionalists minds. The first would be the sprinkling of infants. Though many of the early Reformers held to this practice it was not the main premise of the Reformation. So what was the main premise of the Reformation? Most would agree - Luther's conclusion on Justification by Faith along with Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) being all sufficient and totally authoritative regarding all faith and practice (as opposed to Rome's view of the Church being the final authority). Also, as you read the writings of Calvin and some post-Reformers like that of Edwards you find a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God in all things - including conversion. Their emphasis went far beyond a mere intellectual agreement with some facts that concluded with a formulated prayer, rather they held to the notion that man was utterly fallen and completely unable to understand, receive, or comperehend the Good News of the Gospel outside of the working of the Holy Spirit - Eph. 2:9 - "not as a result of works" - NASB I Cor. 1:30 - "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus". Do we hold to these truths as essential - I certainly hope so. So, in essence, many of us would be "reformed" in regards to the main premise of the Reformation.

Gene Edward Veith in the edited book "Here We Stand" said it brilliantly when he concluded that the main battle today in evangelicalism is not the "secondary issues" that many have squabbled over for so long. He stated:

"Classical Protestantism has always taught that Jesus Christ died to save sinners, but many contemporary evangelicals are downplaying sin, salvation, and the atonement. The new gospel replaces salvation with therapy. Sin gives way to self-esteem; the doctrine of justification by faith is replaced with the doctrine of positive thinking. This new version of Christianity recasts the Bible from the Word of salvation into a step-by-step manual for happy living. The hard edges of historic Christianity - the Bible's stern moral demands, unpleasant doctrines such as hell, Christ as the one way to salvation-are minimized in an effort to reduce Christianity to a feel-good religion. The focus of the new theology is not God, but the self."

Veith hit the nail right on the head with that synopsis of modern day evangelicalism. Are we really fighting for the Gospel that our Lord entrusted us with? Do we cling to God's sovereignty in all things and completely trust His character and Word? Do we hold to the exclusivity of the Gospel as being the only way to redemption? These are all things the Reformers held to very dearly. So if you answered yes to those questions, then I would have a strong persuasion that you are a "reformed" Baptist or one that is reforming. I do not think that I am a Baptist because of my eschatology or view on Israel's future fulfillment in Scripture. I also do not consider myself "reformed" because of a persuasion concerning infant baptism (of which I do not hold to). Rather, I would like to consider myself a Baptist who is constantly reforming into the image of Christ!

3 Comments:

Blogger David Poehlein said...

Amen brother. If only the baptismal water was warmer on that cold December Sunday. Seriously though, I treasure the knowledge that I belong to such a church as I now do. I walk around every day knowing there is much more i need to do and learn, but I am indeed a "reformed" Baptist and that is a good start. God is soverign and I thank Him daily for choosing me as a teeny part of his plan.

1/08/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. It was very helpful.

1/17/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I found this blog by doing a Google search for "Reformed baptist eschatology". I'm a member of a reformed baptist church, and definitely am a believer in the doctrines of Grace and sovereignty of God. I differ though regarding eschatology. I am dispensational, apposed to believing in replacement theology. I also believe in a pre-millennial, pre-trib biblical view of end times. So in that sense I go against the stream with most of my church brethren. What is your opinion here?

7/07/2009 09:36:00 PM  

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