A Big Post-Conference Question
The Conference on Theology in Manila featuring Dr. Michael Horton enlightened many Filipino believers on what exactly are these Reformed “doctrines of grace,” and how these are different from evangelicalism’s doctrine of salvation.
At the conference breaks, I spoke with a few people who have embraced these doctrines of grace, sometimes also called the “Five Points of Calvinism” or TULIP. It’s wonderful to hear about their pilgrimage from evangelicalism (which I certainly did as well many years ago), and how Dr. Horton has made these doctrines so much clearer, assuring them that what they believe is not aberrant, and that many other Bible-believing Christians share their belief.
In the same conversations, I kept hearing the word “Reformed” as they described themselves or their churches. I suspect that, being at the starting point of their journey away from evangelicalism to Reformed Christianity, they have an incomplete notion of what it is to be Reformed: being Reformed consists in affirming the Five Points.
Like me, this is but the beginning of a long but beautiful pilgrimage from Finney to Ferguson, Hybels to Horton, Ryrie to Riddlebarger. Starting from my discovery of unconditional election, I proceeded to learn how Reformed Christianity is distinct from evangelicalism: confessionalism instead of “me-and-my-Bible-ism,”Â Trinitarian-centered salvation instead of man-centered freewillism, sacraments instead of testimonies, Scripture-informed worship instead of creative worship, and covenant theology instead of dispensationalism. Piece by piece, my pretentious evangelical vestments were stripped from my body, redressed with precious Reformation garments.
Evidence of this pilgrimage is surfacing among conference attendees. Some have asked if John MacArthur, a dispensational premillennialist, is Reformed (Kim Riddlebargers says that John Mac himself never claimed to be “Reformed”). I just learned that a few of my friends who have studied Reformed doctrines are now attending classes being taught by someone who claims to be “Reformed” but is a part of a group of churches adhering to John Mac’s views. At another post-conference church meeting, Dr. Horton had about 10 minutes to explain how Reformed Christianity differs from evangelicalism!
What about the Christian Reformed Church, or some “Presbyterian” churches? Are they Reformed? How do I know if a church is truly Reformed? You will find the answer to these big questions in these articles:
- “John MacArthur on Calvinism, Dispensationalism, Israel and Hermeneutics: A Few Comments” by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger
- “Why John MacArthur is not ‘Reformed'” by Riddlebarger
- “Are Reformed ‘Evangelical’ or ‘Evangelicals’?” by Dr. R. Scott Clark
- “How Many Points?” by Dr. Richard A. Muller
So in your journey from evangelicalism, remember this: the Five Points is just the beginning of your pilgrimage to “Reformed” Christianity!
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