Saturday, February 10, 2007

Reformed Gnostics

I'm convinced that far too much is made of the doctrine of "justification by faith alone" in our Reformed churches. I'm not disagreeing with the doctrine, just think it's misplaced. Now by "Reformed" I am including not only Reformed churches, but also churches that hold to Reformed soteriology, such as dispensationalists who hold to the five points of Calvinism, Reformed Baptist lite, and sovereign grace Baptists who also hold to the five points. So much is made of it, that many view this doctrine as central to both salvation and the New Testament itself.

I've heard the following statements from the pulpit: "The doctrine of justification by faith alone is the central message of the New Testament", and "Calvinism is the bible." But justification by faith alone is mentioned in the bible, even if you include references, only a handful of times. And what does Calvinism say about digital recording technology, art, astronomy or farming? I'm persuaded that the Lordship of Christ is the central message of the NT. Also, in my judgment, the knowledge of this doctrine is at least as important as being justified by faith in the first place. So it is preached and taught ad infinitum.

Historically, it is merely the central argument between the Protestant reformers and the Roman Catholic church with regard to the doctrine of salvation. Since our culture today isn't ruled by the medieval Catholic church, I'm convinced that our message falls on deaf ears because our culture doesn't know what we're talking about. Then we view this as our culture rejecting the gospel. Other Christians from traditions other than Reformed Calvinistic ones, who may be completely justified in God's sight, but who don't understand their own justification the same way we do, are then held with suspicion.

Because the knowledge of the doctrine of justification by faith alone is given so much importance, I think it has taken on a gnostic form. We have faith, not so much in Christ, but in our knowledge of this doctrine. But since faith without works is dead, we have worked it out so that our works consist of being able to parrot this doctrine to others. Showing off our knowledge is works enough for the kingdom, and we go on our merry, blissful way.

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