Who Reforms the Reformers?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Who Reforms the Reformers?
    Scraping off Tradition is an Ongoing Responsibility


    One thing I have noticed in recent discussions in a couple of group conversations is that Reformed believers (or Calvinistic-Baptists, Doctrines of Gracers) have a hard time discerning their own traditions, and evaluating it in the light of the Bible. A case in point is this issue of infant-baptism: Not only is it not discerned as being a post-apostolical innovation (Translated: It ain't in the Bible), but it is now a very part of the definition of Reformed, for some, at least! I have been told by members of two different groups that I am not Reformed because of my faulty view of the covenants (as exemplified by baby-baptizing belief). And I have had to admit to them - as I admit to readers now - that most of the Reformers themselves did not sufficiently see the truth on this issue. Tradition was too much with them.

    In a frustrating irony, those only partially reformed have almost cornered the market on the label "Reformed". But, like I have often told my students, history books are written by the winners. The same goes for theology books. Yet our definition of the word "Reformed" must include some of those who predate Luther, and even Huss).

    All Reformers were just men, after all. Each one of those more well-known names (Luther, Calvin) brought with them all kinds of baggage that they were not able/willing to shed. If you are a Reformed reader, I suspect that your views on the L of the TULIP is more firmed up than Calvin's (mine is too). I have yet to find a place in his writings where he clearly enunciates that L. I have actually found in a number of his commentaries indications of a contrary belief, especially his treatment of 2 Pet. 2:1. However, by the same token, I was pleasantly surprised, in the Institutes, to find him more enlightenedly lenient on the Sabbath than I was led to credit him with.

    Similar observations go with Luther. At any rate both of these Reformers, great men of God to be sure, had their blind spots. They also both had their respective pupils, Beza and Melanchthon, who rolled back the previous gains, esp. in the area of scholasticism and sacramentalism, thus, to some degree, aiding the work of the Counter-Reformation.

    So which of these becomes our model, from which we get our term, "reformed"? All of them - but not only them. Or perhaps we should think of them as Paul admonished the Corinthians: "Follow me as I follow Christ." In other words, as far as Luther or Calvin follow Christ I will follow Luther or Calvin.

    Reformers? I would say the term applies to them but also to those of England years before, John Wycliffe, and even before him. The Scottish form of Reformedness did not even exist then - though it claims to be IT. What many call "Reformed" today (adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith, infant-baptism, Sabbath-keeping, etc.) is merely the revisionist majority report.

    And what about infant-baptism (paedo-baptism)? It is merely part of that baggage that most of the Reformers couldn't get off their backs. And now it is certainly entrenched, reinforced, in fact, by modern scholasticism. And, yes, I need to add this, believed in by a number of sincere Christians. I recognize that.

    At one time I had wanted to believe in the view myself, since I was co-elder in a church here in Del Rio (amongst the goats and sheep) where the other elder was Presbyterian. In the interests of the unity of our church I tried hard to "see" what I could just not see. He kept showing me John Murray, RC Sproul, Bahnsen, Matthison. I kept seeing passages like John 1:13, a verse that teaches, aside from other things, precisely against what paedo-baptists "assume". Actual verses outweigh necessary inference, anecdotal personal stories or horizontal analogies.

    Something else I've noticed in my study of this issue - aside that it is not taught in Scripture - is that it is not historically proven to have been carried down from Bible times. Yes, Sproul, Warfield, and several others, I have noticed, say that it is. But when it comes to citing just who taught this, as far as they can go is Cyprian, Tertullian, and a couple others. These citations, like their enlisting of Polycarp as witness, fall apart upon closer scrutiny.

    So, getting back to the original point of reformedness: the true essence of it is to shed the baggage that has grown on the church - and to get back to the good, pure, necessary truth. Especially jettisoning those things that tend to actually cast aspersion on God's actual (real) grace that is only found through God's Well-Beloved.

    This was my point for bringing up the Matthew Henry quotation earlier here at BB. I keep seeing a lot of unhealthy belief in a different variety of grace that is actually climbing over the wall, and not entering through the Door. Many converts in paedo-baptism will, I believe, find that their sprinkling at birth to be no guarantor for new birth. The grace for that new birth requires God's initiative, and is linked with personal faith, not proxy foresightedness.
     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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    Excellent post. :thumbsup:
     
  3. Jon-Marc

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    I've never known what "reformed" means. I'm not reformed; I'm born again.
     
  4. ReformedBaptist

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    It typically refers to the Reformation. But as the OP has shown, among certain circles it means something else. ie. infant baptism, covenant theology, calvinism.

    I have seen "reformed" to refer to the Reformation and specifically to the five solas of the reformation.
     
  5. saturneptune

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    It has been pointed out numerous times on this board by those who hold to doctrines of grace and sovereignty that very few if any embrace the total teachings of John Calvin or any other theologean. That tired argument has been used by the free-willers over and over. Why is it so hard to understand that the doctrines mentioned in this thread do not have to cover Calvin's view on Baptism. It may be a good case for calling Calvinism doctrines of grace.
     
  6. asterisktom

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    Thank you. It was written out of frustration with a local situation here in my neck of the ... sagebrush.
     
  7. ReformedBaptist

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    I have encountered that too. I gently shared with the gentleman who referred to me as not really being 'reformed' that such reasoning is actually divisive. While our pedobaptist brethren do differ with us on baptism, et. I would think they should rejoice in many modern Baptists coming to correct understanding of the Scriptures as it regards the doctrines of grace.

    I did participate in a joint service with a Presbyterian church where we shared communion together and our Baptist pastor shared the pulpit. It was truly wonderful.
     
  8. asterisktom

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    That is always wonderful when that is possible. I think that all Christians should strive to honour the unity among true Christians that God's Word (Eph. 2 and 4) says that we already have, thanks to His working.
     

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