4.04.2006

A manifesto

We are Evangelical, Reformed, Protestant Christians, and I'd like to describe what each of those means. This is short so won't do it all justice...

Christian: believer/disciple/follower of Jesus, a subject in the Kingdom of heaven where Jesus reigns as King at His Father's right hand and I seek to do my King's bidding. There is one God, who has revealed Himself to us in 3 persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus was sent by His Father and equipped/anointed by the Spirit to live a life acceptable to the Father, something no one had done in all of creation so far, thanks to Adam's first rebellion. Because of this anointing we call Jesus Messiah (anointed), or in Greek, Christ. Jesus was also sent to offer that life to His Father in a cursed death on the cross. In doing this, the Father places upon His Son the sin and guilt of all whom the Father chose to save, and gives to them His Son's righteousness, making it possible for Him to remain holy, not look upon sin, and yet welcome us back to fellowship with Him in grace.

Protestant: leaving the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s, Protestants still protest the abuses and impure teachings of Rome (and Constantinople's Eastern Orthodox Church). We do not say that there was no church during Roman rule in Medieval times; we claim the whole history as our own, good, bad and ugly. The Crusaders are our spiritual ancestors, as are Thomas Aquinas, Gregory of Nyssa, Charlemagne, Bernard of Clairveaux and John Chrysostem. We didn't find the lost Church at the Reformation; we washed it up of some really dirty spots that we could see.

Reformed: the Reformation in Europe produced several branches. Lutherans in Germany, Anglicans in England, Anabaptists and Reformed. No time now for all the theological complexities, but I'm the latter. Anabaptists went too far in rejecting Rome, re-baptizing themselves because they thought Rome's baptisms weren't legit. Calvin and Luther never did this. Anabaptists were very egalitarian (it would be brother Steve, not Reverend or pastor). They tended to emphasize man's free-will more than God's sovereignty, against Luther, Calvin and the Anglicans.

Reformed, part 2: the Reformed had a wide influence through John Calvin, who was exiled from Catholic France to Geneva, Switzerland. Ministers from all over Europe who were rejecting Rome were also exiled from their homelands, and many came to Geneva. John Knox of Scotland was one. The Dutch were greatly influenced by Calvin, too. The key teaching was God's sovereignty over all things, including our salvation. Also, the sacraments as more than a symbol of grace, but not a physical, automatic receiving of grace. Also the primacy of the Word and Spirit in worship.

Reformed, part 3: being Reformed makes one confessional. I believe the statements put together during and soon following the Reformation best interpret Scripture, and that such statements are helpful and needed for us to stay on track when reading Scripture. England produced the Westminster Confession and Catechism. The Dutch produced the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession and Canons of Dordt. Growing up in a Dutch Reformed denomination, I adhere primarily to the latter. But there is much overlap, indeed virtually no differences, with Westminster. You can find these at the "What we believe" link on the sidebar just under our picture.

Evangelical: emphasizes that the message summarized in the "Christian" paragraph above must be proclaimed to people who don't yet know about it, and that there is a sharp difference between those in the light of Christ and those still in the darkness.

Evangelical, part 2: there is a further distinction here, within Protestantism, especially in the last century (see post below "Holding the Line" for more). Protestants had two different reactions to scientific developments in the last 150 years or so: mainliners accepting and accommodating Christianity to it; evangelicals (fundamentalists?) rejecting it and pointing out Scriptural conflicts with modern scientific assumptions. A key here is the modern scientific study of "Comparative World Religions." Often it results in a soft-pedaling of evangelism and a creeping pluralism: "Well, they've got their own way of making sense of the world..." Evangelicals reject this, believing other religions to be lost in their sins and needing to come to Jesus in faith, believing He is the Christ, and the King who will inherit all the nations when God wraps up this world's history at the end of time.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    thanks for the explanation, it's helpful COUSIN ERIKA

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  2. Rev. Aaron Vriesman5:19 PM

    I would add that Evangelical Christians believe people will flourish when people come to Christ, whereas other Christian churches seem to believe that people will come to Christ when people flourish. Evangelical churches place preaching the gospel ahead of social work, whereas other churches have the reverse priority.

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