Five Myths About Reformed Theology: Part 1

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Michael Horton has been asked by my least favorite people (Mars Hill Church in Seattle) to write about five most common myths about Reformed theology. Since I don’t want to link to their website, I’ll post these in five parts.

I agree that these are some of the most popular myths I hear from those who oppose Reformed theology. But I would add one myth that would top all of these five myths; in fact, this is way more popular than all myths about Reformed Christianity. What is this myth?

“REFORMED THEOLOGY IS THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM, OR THE SO-CALLED T-U-L-I-P.”

Reformed theology is a much, much more comprehensive theology than just these Five Points on the doctrine of salvation. This myth is popular even among Reformed circles when they co-opt dispensationalist John MacArthur, non-cessationists John Piper and Mark Driscoll, and many other celebrity pastors, just to portray Reformed Christianity as mainstream.

Here’s Horton’s first myth.

By Michael Horton Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

1. “REFORMED THEOLOGY IS ARROGANT AND PRIDEFUL”
There are several impressions bound up with this critique.

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First, the very name suggests that we hold up John Calvin more than Jesus Christ. Truth is, “Calvinism” was coined by critics who wanted to marginalize Reformed teaching, when actually Calvin didn’t teach anything unique that you can’t find, for example, in Augustine or Luther. Furthermore, as important as he was, Calvin was one of many shapers of the Reformed tradition. Our confessions and catechisms (none of them written by Calvin) set forth what we believe. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Calvinism is just a nickname” for what we should call “the doctrines of grace.”

Second, sinful attitudes and behaviors come from our own hearts, not from the word of God. Reformed theology exalts God and his grace, while laying ourselves low as helpless sinners and rebels who are on the receiving end of his generosity. Puffed-up pride is about the most contradictory response one can imagine to the deepest convictions Reformed churches confess.

Third, new converts to anything often possess a zeal that easily morphs into a spirit that many perceive as impatient, know-it-all, and harsh. Yet again this doesn’t fit the conviction that only the Spirit can persuade people of his truth, just as he teaches us.

NOTE: Does Mark Driscoll realize that Horton contradicts his slander of “Old Calvinism,” a term Driscoll reserves for historic Reformed Christianity? He says,

Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

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