Recently there was a discussion of what it means to be “Reformed” on an internet discussion list. The following was an answer given, which I believe to be very good.
Ed Walsh writes:
Professor Byron Curtis, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Geneva College, whom many of you will recognize from other lists, posted the following on one of those lists. It is the definition he gives his new students.
“To be reformed means:
1) to confess with the orthodox churches the consensus of the first five centuries of Christianity, including:
- a) Classic theism: One omnipotent, benevolent God, distinct from creation.
- b) Nicene and Chalcedonian Trinitarianism: one God in three eternally existent persons, equal in power and glory.
- c) Christ, the God-Man, the one mediator between God & the human race, incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended, & coming again.
- d) Humanity created in the image of God, yet tragically fallen & profoundly in need of restoration to God through Christ.
- e) The Visible Church: the community of the redeemed, indwelt y the Holy Spirit; the mystical body of Christ on earth.
The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
- f) The Sacraments: visible signs and seals of the grace of God, ministering Christ’s love to us in our deep need.
- g) The Christian life: characterized by the prime theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
2) to confess with the Reformation churches the four great “Solas:”
- a) RE the source of authority: Sola Scriptura.
- b) RE the basis of salvation: Sola Gratia.
- c) RE the means of salvation: Sola Fide
- d) Re the merit of salvation: Solus Christus
3) to confess with the Reformed churches the distinctives of the Reformed faith:
- a) In salvation: monergism not synergism. God alone saves. Such monergism implies T.U.L.I.P., the Five Points of Calvinism from the Synod of Dordt:
T = Total Depravity
U = Unconditional Election
L = Limited Atonement, or, better, Particular Redemption
I = Irresistible Grace
P = Perseverence and Preservation of the Saints
- b) In worship: the Regulative Principle of Worship “Whatever is not commanded in public worship is forbidden.” God alone directs how he is to be worshiped in the assem- bly of the visible church.
- c) In the Visible Church: Covenant Theology & Covenant Community. The Church is the New Israel, incorporating believers among Jews and Gentiles alike. Infant Baptism ordinarily follows from this understanding. Sacraments are not merely human observances, but acts of Jesus Christ, marking out the visible church.
- d) In life: Life is religion: there is no sacred/secular destinction. As such Christians have neither jobs nor careers; they have vocations (callings). Every calling is “full time Christian service,” because every Christian is a full-time Christian.
4) finally, in everything, as Christians everywhere joyfully affirm: Soli Deo Gloria. ‘To God alone be the glory.’
Byron G. Curtis
Assistant Prof/Biblical Studies