Thursday, April 6, 2017

Why I am Reformed

It is usually not my style to go into the specifics of what I believe. It’s obvious from my profile that I am a Christian. I surely hope that most of my friends recognize that in me, although I am far from perfect. In my checkbox on Facebook, I am Reformed.

Over my lifetime, I have attended several denominations. I was raised United Presbyterian. When I lived in Columbus, I attended a United Methodist Church. When I came home, I returned to my Presbyterian Church and was eventually married there. During my young adult years (literally 1983), the Presbyterian Church in the United States united with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America and became the Presbyterian Church (USA). While this denomination still believed as I do in DOCTRINE, it became more liberal in practice and I decided to move on. That was a tough decision.

I attended a small church up the street. It was a Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). They were lovely people and took me in and became wonderful friends. However, after three years, I discovered we were not on the same page AT ALL. Now, if I weren’t planning a family, I could have agreed to disagree and have been fine. But how do you tell your children, well I (we?) believe this, but we don’t believe that. You don’t.

In 1982, I was invited to the baptism of a friend. It was in a Southern Baptist Church. I spent the next 11 years at this church and both my children were born while I attended there. When my daughter was 8 and son was 3, we decided to attend another Baptist church where some friends were attending. It was smaller and more like family. To be honest, I felt like I was re-creating that feeling of the church in which I was raised at their ages. It was a very special season of life. I was also employed there for two years.

Changes occur and I am not one to church hop, but when my son asks to visit other churches, we tried some. Then when he entered college, he was going to work every Sunday, so I went back to the Southern Baptist Church. Mainly, I went back for the choir. My kids were out of school and now it was time for me.

While I still have a relationship with that church, and I worked there for ten years from 1986 until 1997 in their Preschool, I decided to come back to the smaller church. Why? Family. I attend alone and may be alone someday and this church will gather round me for my spiritual and physical needs.

These are all denominations, but no denomination defines me. I am Reformed. There is no “Reformed” Church within 25 miles and I simply am not driving that far at this stage of my life.

What does that mean? Put simply, it means that I follow the teachings of the Reformers and those that have followed them. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrich Zwingli, John Knox, and their students.  Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. His intent was to start a dialog with other theologians. Luther wanted to change the Roman Church from within. His main disagreement was about the sale of indulgences, intended to "buy" loved ones out of Purgatory and to Heaven.
Well, in a nutshell, it didn’t work that way and he was excommunicated from the Roman Church in 1520.

Many denominations came from the Reformers. Luther did NOT want his followers to call themselves Lutherans, but they did. There were others as the Reformation grew and spread.

When we think of the Reformers, we think of the Five Solas.
Sola Scriptura—by Scripture alone.
Sola Fide—by Faith alone
Sola Gratia—by Grace alone.
Solo Christo—in Christ alone.
Solo Deo Gloria—Glory to God alone.

These are a foundation set of Biblical principles held by theologians and laypersons to be central to the Doctrine of Salvation by (Reformed) Protestants.

Me and 8500 of my new friends.
The speaker is John Piper
I had the extreme pleasure of attending a conference of The Gospel Coalition, which they have every two years. The theme this year was naturally, the Reformation. I heard 9 speakers in plenary sessions and three more (well, one overlapped) in workshops. The music in keeping with the theme was hymns of the faith. With churches doing more contemporary music these days, I never realized how much I missed these old hymns. With 8500 of us singing, it felt like we were knocking on Heaven’s door.

I didn’t know that Martin Luther wrote, among other hymns, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It is known as the Reformation Hymn. It sounded awesome with 8500 voices singing a cappella.

This conference sends you home with enough books to keep you reading for two years. I was amazed! I did buy a couple of others.

I don’t know what the theme will be in two years, but I am looking forward to doing this again. I hope it's close enough to drive.

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