Why I Have Begun to Subscribe to the Reformed God
My friend, and fellow seminarian at Biblical, Mike Landsman, responds to my post “Why I Haven’t (Yet) Subscribed to the Reformed God”.
I am probably not the right person to write about Reformed theology because technically I’m not Reformed. I never grew up Reformed and never heard of Reformed theology until about two years ago.
I thought I was a deep thinking Christian because I didn’t hold much of the Charismatic doctrine I was raised in and because I read Phillip Yancey books.
Then one day I stumbled ass-backwards into material by John Piper, Tim Keller, and R.C. Sproul. It felt like I was picked up and thrown into the deep end of the pool. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about it, but I have been increasingly turning to it for comfort and for a foundation on which to build.
On the surface Reformed theology can sometimes appear to be concerned with doctrinal minutiae at the expense of everything else. I believe this is unwarranted. Luther, Calvin, and other leaders would send people out to plant churches all over Europe, often in places of intense persecution.
Also it must be understood that historically the Roman Church’s magisterium had a thousand years to add unbiblical practice on top of unbiblical practice. Reformed theology is so detailed because it had to be.
Reformed theology is detailed not because no one had anything better to do then navel gaze and think about aspects of God’s sovereignty instead of helping poor people. They had to study, pray, teach, and catechize. They searched the Scriptures and went back to the church fathers and had to formulate doctrines, such as God’s sovereignty, in order to counter the theology of Rome.
Reformed theology makes us, or should make us, uncomfortable. It makes us keenly aware of our spiritual state outside of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. We are all sinners, all deserving of death, and the only thing that differentiates us from others is Jesus.
That drives us, or should drive us, to share the gospel and to talk about the love and grace of God. Anyone who sits back in comfort feeling like they know they are part of the chosen is probably not regenerate in the first place since pride is a work of the flesh.
I think the big issue here is a misunderstanding of the love of God.
We have this pop-culturally shaped understanding of a God who is love, who excuses all sin, and lets all bad behavior or sin go because of grace. Our understanding of God’s love has to start from Scripture not from how we think God’s love can or should operate.
If you want to see God’s love look to the cross.
If you want to see God’s wrath look to the cross.
If you want to see God’s endgame for all things look to the cross and the resurrection.
The God who holds all things, rules all things, and has a purpose in all things is infinitely preferable to a god who responds capriciously, or a god who acts in the way we think is fair.
We like to throw around the idea that God causes all things to work towards good but we always stop short of reading the rest of the verse that explains that all things are promised to work for the good only of those he has called.
The reason why I love the Reformed ideal of God is because I believe the Reformed ideal of God is the God of the Bible. The god I was taught to believe in was a god who was subject to the whims of man and who waited for man to make decisions before reacting to man’s choices.
Like Caleb mentioned in an earlier blogpost, God is wild and untamed, but good. And only in Reformed theology do we see a picture of an untamable sovereign God who is good and who does good even in the face of the most dire of circumstances.
Praise his name he gave us the Scriptures so we can see his character for what it truly is and base our knowledge of him on his self-revelation and not on personal experiences or philosophically based explanations of his character.