Saturday, June 09, 2007

We’ll resume our regular programming after this brief pause for “station identification”…

Just to clear up any doubts that anyone might have: I am a “fully-Reformed”, five-point Calvinist. I heartily and gladly embrace all the “Doctrines of Grace”.

Some might wonder, from time-to-time, just how “Reformed” I am, because I don’t wear my Calvinism “on my sleeve”. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m not well-read on Calvin or Luther. I haven’t studied all the various Reformed confessions, or read deeply from the great Reformed theologians. I came to a fully Reformed or Calvinistic understanding of Christian doctrine over time as the Lord gave me to see that what we call “the Doctrines of Grace” was what the Bible taught. In other words, I’m a Calvinist because it’s biblical. In fact, the titles “Reformed” or “Calvinist” are not biblical designations. I prefer biblical designations: “follower of the Way”, “child of God”, “believer”, one who has been “born again”, “saved”, “sanctified”, “justified”, “Christian”. That’s how I prefer to be known.

Have you ever noticed, when the subject of religious affiliation comes up, most Roman Catholics identify themselves as “Catholic”? Anybody ever notice that? I don’t think—I don’t recall—ever hearing a Roman Catholic identify his- or herself as a Christian. Have you noticed that? It’s always, “I’m Catholic”. I have to admit, when I hear that, I think to myself, “You’re right; you are Catholic. Because, if you believe all that stuff that they teach, you sure ain’t a Christian!”

I’ve been reading some of the other blogs “out there”, and I think it’s ironic, how some of us lead with our theological system. We want other people to know we’re Reformed—fully Reformed. I tell you, some of us sound like the Roman Catholics!

Brethren, I’m a Christian, first! Not Reformed, not Calvinist…Christian! Born-again, blood-washed, Spirit-indwelt Christian! I’m saved…and satisfied…with Jesus…alone!

Now, if you ask me to label myself, I have no trouble telling you, I’m a Calvinist. If you press me further, I’ll admit I grew up a Methodist (A.M.E., actually) and, at heart, I’m still very much a Methodist (think Whitefield, not Wesley). And, I’m a product of the Black Church. Merely cerebral, Psalm-singing Christianity has never been my cup of tea. Give me a faith which is “on fire”:

O that in me the sacred fire
Might now begin to glow;
Burn up the dross of base desire,
And make the mountains flow.

O that it now from heaven might fall,
And all my sins consume:
Come, Holy Ghost, for Thee I call;
Spirit of burning, come.

Refining fire, go through my heart;
Illuminate my soul;
Scatter Thy life through every part,
And sanctify the whole.

(Charles Wesley, 1707-1788)

However, I just want to be known as a Christian. My theological system is to my Christianity sort of like a skeleton is to the body. If a person had no skeleton, he’d collapse. We need our skeletons but, no one wants to see an exposed skeleton walking around! That would be gruesome! The skeleton needs to be covered with muscles and skin and hair. A bare skeleton is not attractive.

Some of my Reformed brethren need to “chill out” and stop trying to be “more-Reformed-than-thou”. The bare skeleton of your theological system is not attractive…at all. It’s cold, hard and sterile. No fire and no life. The average person on the street (you know, the ones who need to hear about Christ) couldn’t care less how Reformed you are. And let me add this, for my Black Reformed brethren: You’re not going to reach the Black community carrying around a theological air of superiority, looking down your nose at the Black Church.

Let’s all get down off our theological high horses, and be known as Christians, first.


We’ll now return to our regular programming.

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