What Does a Term "REFORMED" Mean?

WRF Theological Commission

Preliminary Statement of Reformed Theological Identity



At a initial assembly of a World Reformed Fellowship in Oct 2000 in Florida, a Theological Commission was allocated and educated to prepared a new Statement of Faith for a 21st century.  A organisation of scholars from around a universe started to work on this nonetheless it was customarily when Bob basement Dulk concluded to comment a devise that unchanging meetings were reason and a devise advanced.  At a General Assembly of a WRF in Edinburgh in 2010, a Theological Commission of WRF presented a Statement of Faith, that was authorized by a GA.  That Statement of Faith stands in smoothness with a Reformed confessions of a 16th and 17th centuries nonetheless speaks to a issues and problems of a 21st century.  It is now accessible in 10 languages.  The World Reformed Fellowship accepts as members those who attest one of a Reformed confessions, together with an confirmation of a management of Scripture and a joining to a aims and objectives of a WRF.  The WRF Statement of Faith has been sum to a list of authorized confessional statements for membership.

At a assembly of a WRF Board in Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, MD, in Mar 2011, a WRF Theological Commission was given a second project: ‘It was changed and approved: a Board appoints a new Theological Commission to residence a clarification and use of a word “Reformed” and a range and clarification of a tenure “Reformed Theology”’. 

The Theological Commission offers this ‘Statement of Reformed Theological Identity’ in feat of a subtract and will benefaction it to a General Assembly of a WRF in Jakarta, in Aug 2019, for approval.

This ‘Statement of Reformed Theological Identity’ stands alongside a ‘Statement of Faith’.  It does not find to conclude again a devout calm of Reformed theology, as voiced in a Statement of Faith.  Rather, it aims to offer a wider answer to a doubt ‘What does it meant to be Reformed?’  It looks during given and how Reformed Christians should ensue meditative about their faith and relating it to their theological heritage.

The Reformed tradition values creedal, catechetical and confessional statements for several reasons.  First, to announce what we believe; second, to learn a church; third, to act as a guarantee opposite blunder and heresy; and fourth, for disciplinary purposes.  At a same time, Reformed Christians recognize that devout philosophy contingency be accompanied by a devout attribute with God, by a kinship with Christ, voiced in a life of faith, tractability and holiness, centred on amatory God and amatory a neighbours.  Intellectual joining to certain Reformed doctrines, no matter how biblical, is insufficient.  In other words, a ‘practice’ of a Reformed faith is as vicious as a ‘content’ of Reformed faith.

A good bargain of work has been carried out by a Theological Commission in sequence to strech a conclusions in this ‘Statement of Reformed Theological Identity’.  A paper was presented to a WRF Board in 2012, surveying something of a motive for a devise and charting a ensue forward.  Then, between 2012 and 2016, a Theological Commission met several times to plead a subtract and to start to delineate a response.  The work was significantly modernized by a three-day assembly in Bethesda in Oct 2016.  In Aug 2017, a WRF Theological Commission co-sponsored, with Rutherford House, a Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference, during that a array of applicable papers were delivered, both by members of a Theological Commission and by other poignant scholars.  A offer assembly was reason in Bethesda in 2018, during that an try was finished to pull together a several threads of a work finished between 2011 and 2018.  The members of a Theological Commission afterwards worked divided on several sections of a breeze Statement.  The ensuing Statement was edited by a Theological Commission and afterwards sent out to several scholars, not on a Theological Commission, for comment.  Finally, a Theological Commission authorized this final chronicle of a Statement of Reformed Theological Identity, that we respectfully offer to a General Assembly of a WRF.  Just as we were beholden to Bob basement Dulk for financial support to finish a Statement of Faith, so we would like to record a interjection to Phil Petronis for financial support to capacitate a execution of a Statement of Reformed Theological Identity.

The Origins of Reformed Theology

As with all theological traditions, Reformed divinity has a history.  An comment of Reformed theological temperament has to constitute it within this history.

Reformed divinity is one countenance of a divinity of a universal church and claims to summarize a Gospel and a training of a Apostles.  In smoothness with a story of a church, Reformed divinity recognises a significance of a early ecumenical councils of a church and affirms a creeds and statements constructed thereby.  These embody a Apostles’ Creed, a Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, a Athanasian Creed and a Chalcedonian Definition.  The judicial Reformers endorsed a creeds for use in worship, always progressing a right to examination these papers and creeds on a basement of Scripture. 

While station in a tradition of a ancient church, Reformed divinity believes that tradition alone, however important, is deficient and insists that ‘the Word of God’ is a customarily ultimate source of seductiveness in matters of faith and belief.  It asserts a final management of Scripture, as endorsed by John Knox and a other authors of a Scots Confession in 1560, when they said, ‘if any male will note in this a admission any essay or visualisation repugning to God’s holy word, that it would greatfully him of his gentleness, and for Christian charity’s sake, to scold us of a same in writing; and we, of a honour and fidelity, do guarantee unto him compensation from a mouth of God (that is, from his holy Scriptures), or else revision of that that he shall infer to be amiss’.  

This joining to Scripture was accepted to be in line with a core divinity of a church by a centuries.  To that end, a Reformers had no goal essentially of starting a new church nonetheless rather sought a ‘reformation’ of a church according to Scripture.  While rarely vicious of many of a distortions of a Gothic church, they believed themselves to be in smoothness with a ancestral church.

The Reformation was one of a array of movements of remodel that existed in a Gothic church.  The Humanist transformation was a vicious impulse for a Reformation.  The investigate of a Greek New Testament prepared by Erasmus led a Reformers to see errors in a church’s divinity and practice.  As these group began to review a Bible in a strange languages, they realised a dearth of a Latin chronicle of a Bible (the Vulgate).  They came to realize that some of a teachings of a church were wrong, partly given they were formed on this unsound translation.  They so adopted certain regulation of Humanism, nonetheless adopting all of a philosophical commitments.

Historically, a Reformation had dual specific origins.  Most famously, it grew from a occurrence in Nov 1517 (All Saints’ Day) when Martin Luther published his ‘Ninety Five Theses’ opposite a use of indulgences.  This was followed by his rediscovery of justification by faith as a heart of a New Testament Gospel.  In 1520, Luther was cursed by a pope bull, Exurge Domine and he was so forced into a position of heading a revision movement, carrying been released by Rome. Around a same time, Zwingli led a remodel transformation in Zurich.  By 1524, a city legislature of Zurich had separated a Roman mass and a reverence of images.

The Reformation grew from these dual (Lutheran and Zwinglian) roots and widespread into several tools of Europe.  The Reformation gifted a poignant multiplication between a Lutheran and Zwinglian movements after a Marburg Colloquy in 1529.  This had been called with a wish of solution questions of a participation of Christ in a Lord’s Supper, nonetheless could not come to an agreement.  From this indicate on, a categorical Reformation transformation divided into dual categorical camps, a ‘Lutherans’ on a one side and those who came to be famous as a ‘Reformed’ on a other side.  Lutheranism was widespread in Germany and Scandinavia, given a Reformed movement, was essentially found in Switzerland, north-western Germany, France, a Netherlands, England, Scotland and Hungary.  It was led by group such as Martin Bucer, John Calvin, and John Knox.

The divinity grown in this Reformed strand had many in common with a Lutheran strand nonetheless also had a possess sold emphases.  The Lutherans constructed a Augsburg Confession (1530) as a matter of their theology.  Over a subsequent hundred and fifty years, a Reformed strand of Protestantism constructed many confessions and catechisms, expressing their bargain of Reformed theology.  Alongside a Reformed and Lutheran movements, a third strand also grown in a 16th century, that contemporaries called ‘Anabaptism’.  This ‘radical Reformation’, tended to cut ties with a ancestral church some-more decisively and saw itself as recommencing a church as a holy society.  The Reformed transformation differentiated itself from this stream.

While a story of a Reformed church is clearly a tusk of a sixteenth-century rebel opposite a training and use of a Roman church, it is equally transparent that a tenure ‘Reformed’ eventually gained a theological history, such that Reformed divinity came to suitable a divinity that arose out of a Zwinglian (later Calvinist) strand of a 16th century Protestant Reformation and that was conjunction Lutheran nor Anabaptist.

The building Reformed transformation can be clearly identified in a 16th century, nonetheless a tenure was not unsentimental to a transformation in eminence from Lutheranism compartment a really finish of a century, when Ursinus’ reason on a Heidelberg Catechism was published underneath a pretension Corpus doctrinae Christianae ecclesiarum a papatu reformatarum (1598).  Thereafter, it became a common tenure for this tide of Christian divinity and church life into a 17th century and beyond.

The Reformed divinity that grown in a 16th and 17th centuries had many in common with Gothic scholasticism and used identical vocabulary, proof and methods, not slightest in a use of Aristotelian forms and concepts.  Although a mangle between a Roman church and a Protestant churches in a sixteenth century was decisive, there are many areas of suspicion and Christian doctrine where there was consecutive smoothness with a progressing Gothic theology.

In a following centuries, Reformed churches were planted in a colonies of a European nations that had Reformed churches.  There was a poignant Reformed participation in many tools of a American colonies, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.  The companion movements of a 19th and 20th centuries saw Reformed Christianity grow in Indonesia, Korea, South India and South America.

Sadly, a churches that have grown within a Reformed tradition have not always been loyal to a strange commitments of a tradition.  Over a final dual hundred years theological liberalism has meant that many churches that branch from that tradition and are historically ‘Reformed’, no longer accept a full management of Scripture and doubt many of a doctrines of a Reformed confessions.  There are, of course, many who mount in line with a Reformed divinity of a 16th century and have remained in smoothness with a classical confessional expressions.  We recognize that a formidable story and ubiquitous clarity of Reformed divinity means that there is poignant accumulation among a adherents, origination it severe to conclude ‘Reformed theology’ in a elementary way.  Nevertheless, a World Reformed Fellowship offers a Statement of Faith and this Statement of Reformed Theological Identity as one try to do so.  The WRF also offers itself as a car to pull together those within this tide of Reformed theology, for mutual support and benefit. 

The School of Reformed Theology

Our bargain is that Reformed divinity is a propagandize of suspicion and not a strand of thought.  For this reason, good caring is compulsory when saying that a sold devout avowal is ‘Reformed’, quite where this involves critique of others within a Reformed tradition who do not share that sold devout assertion.  None of us has a corner on what is ‘Reformed’ and accumulation of countenance has been partial of a transformation given a beginning.  That is to say, Reformed divinity has always been a ‘school’ of suspicion with many ‘strands’.  In a beginning days of a Reformation, scholars via Europe were building Reformed ideas.  For example, Martin Bucer in Strasburg, Ulrich Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger in Zurich, John Calvin and Theodore Beza in Geneva, Pierre Viret in Lausanne and in France, Caspar Oleveanus and Zacharias Ursinus in Heidelberg.  This is to contend zero of Peter Martyr Vermigli who was everywhere!  Add to this a theologians in Holland, Hungary, England and Scotland and we have a sundry and fascinating ‘school’ of thought. 

These several ‘strands’ of a ‘school’ of Reformed divinity did not always agree.  In a 17th century, a Reformed transformation grown in several nations opposite Europe.  There were clever ties between a several inhabitant movements, with many common divinity and use nonetheless any inhabitant church also grown a possess distinctives.  They also constructed confessional statements that differed from one another in structure and calm (for example, review a Second Helvetic Confession with a Heidelberg Catechism and afterwards with a after Westminster Confession of Faith).  Variants of a confessional papers were also written, to denote opposite emphases between Reformed communities.  In England, for example, a Westminster Confession of Faith was finished in 1646 nonetheless versions of this confession, with opposite ecclesiologies, were constructed by a Congregationalists (The Savoy Declaration, 1658) and a Baptists (London Baptist Confession, 1689).  Despite this accumulation and these settled differences, all were ‘Reformed’ in character.  There was a healthy discuss between a ‘strands’ and their brotherhood in Christ was evident.

This healthy, certain discuss among brothers and sisters in a opposite ‘strands’ of Reformed theology, in a suggestion of ‘iron heightening iron’, has infrequently been mislaid today.  Indeed, there have been many battles among Reformed theologians that have shop-worn a repute of a movement.  The bent to reject or ‘unchurch’ brothers and sisters with whom we remonstrate is not convenient to a inlet of Reformed divinity as a propagandize of thought.  There must, of course, be some boundaries, such that if an sold or an ecclesial village has changed significantly divided from a training of Scripture as voiced in a core philosophy of ancestral Reformed theology, afterwards we contingency be available to doubt their self-designation as ‘Reformed’ and take suitable ecclesial action.  In doing so, however, we contingency act with adore and compassion, remembering that a intent of such fortify is to revive group and women to Christ.

Reformed divinity has always gifted diversity.  While joined around a executive management of a Scriptures as being a really ‘Word of God’, Reformed theologians reason opposite opinions on a bargain of what a Scriptures taught per both doctrine and practice.  Nowhere is that farrago some-more clearly seen than in a debates per a inlet of a Lord’s Supper, not slightest between Calvin and a Zwinglians per a accurate inlet of a participation of Christ within a sacrament.         

The chronological use of a tenure ‘Reformed’, then, was positively one of ‘breadth’.  It encompassed all who reason to a devout doctrines that had been rediscovered during a Reformation and had turn perceptible as a form of ecclesiastical life and thought.  For this reason, there is no historically honest ensue to report a monolithic Reformed theology.  Instead, we should demeanour to settle a set of common characteristics of Reformed theologies that themselves emanate a ‘Reformed tradition’.  Some Reformed thinkers give a clarity that to be Reformed means to welcome a ancestral confessions of a Reformed churches of a 16th and 17th centuries and to obstruct theological review to a issues already addressed by those confessions.  This, of course, reduces Reformed divinity and a Reformed tradition itself to being small some-more than recordings of a ancestral voices of a past and leaves it ill versed to bargain with a issues of a 21st century.  Reformed divinity contingency not be cramped to restating in normal terms a debates of a past.  Nor contingency it assume that a decisions finished in past debates are final, or supposing all a answers, or even that they were scold in all that they asserted.

Within a Reformed tradition, there have been ongoing debates about Reformed identity, that explains a multiplicity of definitions.  This contemplative and egotistical mentality, focussing on ‘in-house’ debates, has frequently led to damaging siege and a fake clarity of security.  These attempts to tie down any singular devout avowal into one truly Reformed divinity is futile.  A wider prophesy is required, so it is some-more suitable currently to pronounce of strands of Reformed theology, rather than the Reformed theology.

The ethos of Reformed divinity refers to what it means to ‘be’ Reformed.  That is to say, we do not pronounce simply of what we ‘believe’ as Reformed Christians nonetheless also of what we ‘do’.  The life and poise of a Reformed Christian ought to have a certain inlet and quality, outset out of a core biblical convictions.  There are maybe 4 areas where we ought to see this ‘being’ Reformed in practice.  First, a lives ought to justification a loyalty and loyalty that springs from a windfall of a Holy Spirit.  Second, we ought to adore both God and a neighbours in a ensue that witnesses to Christ.  Third, we ought to live in a self-assurance of a supervision of God in all things, not slightest in a salvation.  Fourth, we ought to act towards other Christians, not slightest other Reformed Christians, as Scripture directs.  In other words, rather than merely inventory a set of devout philosophy that are a sine qua non of Reformed divinity (which we have already finished in a WRF Statement of Faith), we are now seeking to conclude a ‘ethos’ of what it means to be Reformed.  For example, we trust that a clarity and use of Reformed divinity is ‘embracive’ rather than ‘exclusive’.  There are sectors of a Reformed village that reason to a rather slight clarification of what it means to be Reformed, thereby incompatible many people whose core divinity and instincts are positively Reformed.  Our goal is to foster a enlightenment where there is a universal suggestion and a inexhaustible acceptance of others.  The WRF, from a origins in 2000, has advocated and sought to indication a inexhaustible and friendly orthodoxy.

In defining a ethos of Reformed divinity we contingency also highlight a need for piety and respect.  We contingency be common as we state what we trust and take caring to equivocate a audacity that has characterised some in a Reformed tradition.  We need to listen with honour to theologians from other traditions, maybe generally those with whom we many disagree.  Ecumenism has mostly been regarded negatively by those in a Reformed tradition nonetheless posterior a togetherness of a church is an vicious component of a declare to Christ.  Such ecumenical discourse army us to recognize that we do not have all of a truth.  This requires humility, a eagerness to learn and an honesty to being corrected. 

There are few theologians from whom we can't learn something, even where we competence remonstrate on vicious issues.  In all of this, we contingency have an ensue to divinity that is courteous.  The mantra of ‘defending a faith’ can simply be used as a cover for a genius that enjoys a dispute and relishes a fight.  Some Reformed theologians and pastors have been discerning to go to fight nonetheless delayed to conform a Scriptural injunctions about grace, kindness, gentleness, adore and respect.  

Reformed theologians are called to urge a law as we know it from Scripture, this needs to be finished with a friendly and open opinion and with a piety to acknowledge a possess mistakes and to learn a possess blindspots.  Defense of a law does not need a negative, confrontational attitude.  One vicious component here is to benefaction a views of others fairly.  If we benefaction a views of theologians and others with a viewpoint to criticising them, we contingency safeguard that a people in doubt would recognize a display of their views as fair. 

The other vicious indicate to make is that Reformed divinity involves a universe and life viewpoint and is some-more than a famous ‘Five Points’.  Reformed divinity is many some-more extensive than simply soteriology.  Our opinion to culture, including song and a arts, will arise out of a assemblage of a Reformed theology, not slightest a bargain of common grace, as in a work of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck.  The Dutch Calvinist viewpoint is that Christians are to rivet during any turn with a republic and with a culture.  Kuyper himself was a minister, a theologian, a editor of a daily newspaper, a owner of a Christian university, a owner of a Christian domestic celebration and ultimately, Prime Minister of The Netherlands.  He saw no dispute between these roles given he believed that any suspicion contingency be taken serf for Christ.  In defining Reformed theology, we should take mind of this vicious Dutch neo-Calvinist tradition, that is many some-more biblical than a culture-denying escapism of some Anabaptist and Fundamentalist movements that have so shabby sections of a Reformed church.  Reformed divinity should be unsentimental to a enlightenment and so a convincing Reformed divinity will have something to contend about origination and ecology, about scholarship and technology, about medical ethics, about communications and amicable media, about politics and supervision and so on.

The Method of Reformed Theology

Reformed divinity binds that a Scriptures of a Old and New Testaments were ‘breathed out’ by God (2 Timothy 3:16).  The means God used to accomplish this was that, ‘men spoke from God as they were carried along by a Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21).  Given these dual Scriptural truths, a ensue we hoop and appreciate Scripture is of initial importance.

Hermeneutics is a investigate of a ensue in that we appreciate and try to know realities such as works of art, pieces of music, literary works, actions, and gestures.  It involves a investigate of beliefs of interpretation for all forms of communication, both created and nonverbal. 

In propinquity to Reformed theology, hermeneutics deals with a beliefs and methodology of Biblical interpretation and exegesis.  It is a scholarship of interpretation of a Scriptures, that also takes into comment a submit of a church village and tradition.  The routine of Reformed theology, then, centres on Scripture and a interpretation.  The Scriptures are to be examined regulating a grammatico-historical routine and a investigate of a literary genres, as good as by comparing Scripture with Scripture (the analogy of faith).  In regulating this denunciation we are not advocating a ‘modernist’ ensue to Scripture nonetheless rather a ensue used by a ‘theological interpretation of Scripture’ movement.

Dealing with a doubt of a interpretation and reason of a Scriptures implies mentioning a suspicion of explanation and, therefore, lifting a doubt of one’s presuppositions.  This we have in common with other schools of devout theology.  Reformed divinity takes as a assuming that there is an gigantic and personal God, who is truly means of communicating his thoughts and his will in a categories and disproportion of tellurian denunciation and expression.  God reveals himself to amiability essentially in and by a Lord Jesus Christ and in a Scriptures.  He does this in such a ensue that tellurian beings, being finished in God’s image, can know this revelation, nonetheless not exhaustively.  Such is a foundational assuming from that we get a simple beliefs of design communication, impulse and infallibility.  Without this basis, a suspicion of explanation is nonetheless a shoal literary regulation and tends to turn meaningless.  The use and a justification of a Scriptures themselves underline such a perspective.

We see this in a transformation of God in a ‘breathing out’ of Scripture.  This boundless means of communication has a subjective/empirical and personal aspect to it, namely, a work of a Holy Spirit behaving on a inlet of tellurian alertness and formulating thoughts that, in fact, ensue from God himself.  Thus when a Lord reveals his word to Jeremiah, a soothsayer gifted a routine including reception, allowance and inscripturation.  This is generally transparent in a Psalms.  It is, in fact, a common settlement of boundless revelation.

In a use of Reformed theology, we are not intent in eremite studies, that is, giving an comment of a beliefs and etiquette used by people or communities who lived in a past.  Nor are we intent in chronological theology, that is, giving an comment of a theological reflections of people or communities on God’s revelation, such as a eremite suspicion of a people of Israel. 

Since a intent of biblical hermeneutics is a interpretation of boundless suspicion that has been transmitted according to a categories of tellurian language, a suspicion of impulse becomes essential.  By this means, God, by his authority, guarantees and confirms a law of a intent of a study.  This does not obviate a use of reason and an intelligent   allowance of truth.  It enables us to highlight that God’s possess authority, by a means of inspiration, establishes a law of a intent of a study, a Scriptures.  It is also vicious to remember that explanation encompasses both what is voiced in tellurian denunciation and chronological grant and events described therein.  Without a faith in inspiration, nonetheless a symbol of a Lord’s management and competency, a full self-assurance with regards to boundless law can't emerge and blossom, nonetheless rather doubt and doubt dawdle on relentlessly.  That is given Reformed theologians attest a objectivity, impulse and infallibility of revelation.

Biblical Theology, accepted as a story of revelation, constitutes one of a specific contributions of Reformed divinity to a discuss on hermeneutics.  The significance is on a chronological expansion and organic expansion of explanation and so on a on-going avowal of God’s counsel.  The stages of explanation being both graphic and interdependent, it involves a continual routine heading to a full majority of explanation as it is disclosed in a chairman and work of a Messiah, as announced and betrothed by a law and a prophets.  As Christ Jesus is a incarnation of a boundless word, a New Testament also emphasizes hiatus insofar as a forms (priest, prophet, aristocrat and sage) and realities (the sacrificial system) foreshadowed in a Old Testament are clearly manifested and over in Him.

God, a gigantic and personal being has sum all of reality, including tellurian beings in his possess image.  Though a Creator is totally graphic from his creation, this means that both God and tellurian beings are personal.  They consider and communicate, they love, act properly and counsel and act.  The intent of trust is so a explanation that God has given us in origination and story as good as in Scripture.  In sequence to come to a loyal bargain of such a boundless communication, we reason to a one margin of knowledge.  We so contend that it is open to tellurian reason and is a intent of faith.  As both a manifest and invisible aspects of God’s universe are one, faith implies a scold bargain of truth.  Nevertheless, given a effects and outlines of impiety are so deep, tellurian beings are in vicious need of a enlightenment of a Holy Spirit.  It follows that God is a substructure of a cognitive routine of tellurian beings, not customarily given of his work of creation, nonetheless also given of his affability manifested in his work of redemption.  When Scripture says that God ‘knows’ tellurian beings, this means that he seeks them, he remembers them, he chooses them, he calls them and he blesses them.  This boundless beginning establishes a singular value and a raison d’être of tellurian beings.  The Lord, by a Holy Spirit, courteously gives to tellurian beings a trust and knowledge that lead to life.  In this way, a compact attribute is established.

Clearly Jesus-Christ is during a really core of biblical hermeneutics.  It is a light of a Word incarnate, sum with  a knowledge of a Holy Spirit,  that enables us to grasp in law a depth, beauty and aptitude of God’s summary within their times and settings.  The authors of a New Testament quote and impute to a books of a Old Testament in opposite ways (citations, allusions, illustrations, allegories, etc), nonetheless a pivotal of their bargain stays Christ Jesus who is a exegete standard value (John 1:18).

The Characteristics of Reformed Theology

In describing a characteristics of Reformed divinity it is vicious to acknowledge that Reformed Christians share certain aspects of life, faith and faith with all Christians.  This includes a call to adore a Lord a God with heart, soul, mind and strength and to adore a neighbours as ourselves.  We are to worship, ceremony and suffer God, we are to do a informative mandate, we are to work for probity and we are to uncover courtesy for a bad and those in need. 

Having pronounced this, we can nevertheless, brand certain sold emphases that characterize Reformed theology:


Reformed divinity is ‘theological’, it is not visionary nor merely unsentimental nonetheless has always sought to belligerent a Christian life in an distinct admission of God.  It is also theological in a clarity that it strives to be theocentric and to keep God and his excellence as a executive thesis of divinity and practice.  Even when Reformed divinity moves divided from a Confessions it customarily retains this clarity to some extent.


Reformed divinity stresses that Christ is a final explanation of God, and that in him is found all that is indispensable for shelter and a Christian life.  For example, in really opposite ways, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Barth’s theology, both concentration on Christ.  The Confession’s divinity focusses around Christ who is divinely allocated and wholly versed as a go-between of a compact of grace, and ideally fulfils that role.  Barth roughly subsumes a doctrine of God, Scripture and choosing into Christology.


Reformed divinity embraces a component that Scripture is a lawful normal for decisions per life, faith and doctrine and insists that Scripture contingency oversee a allowance of insights from tradition, reason and experience.  The accent of a doctrine of Scripture has been a sold of Reformed divinity and, even in some some-more magnanimous Reformed approaches, a Bible has continued to have an vicious role.


Reformed divinity has always been unwavering of a transparent eminence between God, a Creator, and all else, that is all his contingent creation.  While God can and does describe to his creation, creatures can never explain a right to have a attribute with him.  Along with this approval of God’s transcendence, Reformed suspicion has also stressed God’s supervision over a whole of creation, as good as his emperor beauty in salvation.


Reformed divinity provides a biblical anthropology, seeking to state and lower a bargain of God’s settlement for tellurian life.  Contemporary enlightenment raises a horde of questions for Christians about a inlet of tellurian life and how it is to be lived well.  In sequence to bargain good with issues concerning gender, sexuality, record and amicable justice, we need a transparent comment of tellurian living, grounded in God’s sum sequence and accepted in a light of Christ and his redemption.

Creation and Providence

Since God is sovereign, origination is his realm.  Reformed divinity has not generally been dualistic or ascetic.  It has authorised a place for ubiquitous explanation accepted in a light of Scripture.   History too is seen as a area of God’s transformation and emancipation is an chronological eventuality dynamic by Christ’s genocide and resurrection.  Reformed divinity has customarily been comparatively assured about a march of story and tellurian enlightenment underneath God’s hand.

Sin and Grace

Reformed divinity has analysed a tellurian condition by specifying between 4 states, any of that is dynamic by a attribute to God.  These are: a state of innocence, a state of sin, a state of beauty and a state of glory.  This has enabled Reformed divinity to confederate thoughtfulness on tellurian concerns with a theocentric emphasis.

Reformed theology, while stressing that amiability can't direct a attribute with God, also binds that we are finished for usually such a relationship.  God has finished us and calls us to know, adore and offer him.  This call comes to all tellurian beings, and all are obliged for their response to God, given God’s supervision does not annul tellurian responsibility.  Reformed suspicion has also had a transparent grasp of a abyss of tellurian sinfulness. It has noticed all people as depressed in Adam, depraved by impiety and honourable God’s judgment.  The approval of a abyss of tellurian impiety is accompanied by an approval of a need of God’s beauty in salvation, and a full sufficiency of his grace.  Along with God’s sovereignty, Reformed divinity has customarily had a transparent grasp of tellurian sinfulness and so an approval of a need of God’s beauty in salvation.  The calculable can't strech a gigantic nonetheless God courteously accommodates himself to, redeems and glorifies his creatures, even corrupted creatures.  Finally, Reformed divinity has looked brazen to a day when, with a lapse of Christ, all of his people will be lifted and saved with him.

The work of a Spirit

The auspicious caring of God and his emperor beauty are both a work of a Spirit.   Reformed divinity emphasises a life-giving work of a Spirit perfecting God’s functions in origination and redemption.  The work of a Spirit in emancipation is formed on a work of Christ and mediated by a reading and priesthood of a Word.

The Church

The Holy Spirit unites believers with Christ and unites them to one another.  The common name for a physique of believers is a church.  In a beginning days of a church theologians described it as ‘one, holy, universal and apostolic’.  At a Reformation, several ‘marks’ of a church were identified: a Word righteously preached; a sacraments (baptism and Lord’s Supper) righteously administered and fortify fairly maintained.  Jesus himself prayed for a togetherness of a church and remarkable that a symbol of loyal believers was their adore for one another.  The primary avocation of a church is worship, afterward to do a Great Commission of Jesus to ‘go and make disciples’.  The church contingency always be reforming itself according to Scripture.

Justification by Faith

Springing from a Reformation, Reformed divinity binds to a doctrine of justification by faith.  This is a viewpoint that, while shelter is a benefaction of God’s grace, a accepting by tellurian beings comes by a method of faith in Jesus Christ.  Following Calvin it is mostly deliberate a ‘hinge of religion’, nonetheless not as a determining component for all theology.

The Christian Life

Reformed divinity places a vicious highlight on a active Christian life, issuing from God’s beauty in justification and his ongoing work of sanctification.  The purpose of beauty and a law in moulding a Christian life has been a unchanging significance in many Reformed theology. Reformed suspicion has accepted that divinity is a source of unsentimental knowledge – it teaches God’s people how they enter into his shelter and how they are to live for him.

Church and Society

Reformed theology, entrance from a judicial Reformation, binds that a church should be intent with a society. This has been voiced in opposite ways, nonetheless a courtesy for multitude has been consistent.  In Genesis 1:28, Adam and Eve were given what is mostly called a ‘Cultural Mandate’.  This involves populating a earth and sportive stewardship and shortcoming for it.  This has poignant implications for charge and ecology.


Covenant is a sold significance in Reformed theology, in expressing a attribute between God and humanity.  The covenants finished with Abraham and Moses and a new compact finished in Christ are executive to a self-understanding as a one people of God in both aged and new testaments.  Some Reformed theologians, including a Westminster Divines, opted for a bi-covenantal emperor theology, centred on a Covenant of Works in Adam and a Covenant of Grace in Christ.   Others deserted a suspicion of a Covenant of Works nonetheless insisted nonetheless that a Adam/Christ together is pivotal to bargain impiety and salvation.

The Context of Reformed Theology

The Church

Reformed divinity arises out of and is nurtured by a church.  It has a transparent joining to a viewpoint that a church is dynamic by God as his selected people.  This involves an approval of a smoothness of a church with Israel and with a early Church and a Gothic Roman Catholic Church.  Reformed churches are unwavering that they mount in a birthright given by God with roots prolonged before a Protestant Reformation.  Theological thoughtfulness is grounded in a Hebrew Scriptures as good as a New Testament and builds on a suspicion of a early and Gothic church.

Reformed churches highlight a significance of a internal congregations entertainment for worship, portion one another in adore and participating in God’s goal by proclaiming his dominion in Christ.  Theology should capacitate churches to do this faithfully. 

Reformed churches are also wakeful that they exist as partial of God tellurian church, voiced in their possess denominations, other churches and by wider Christian organisations.  They recognize a significance of divinity portion a wider method of a Church.

Reformed divinity recognises a churned inlet of a church and affirms a eminence between a manifest and invisible church, while observant a significance of church discipline.  Theological thoughtfulness should be tested by a Church, both in a internal and wider forms.


Reformed divinity is confessional and to a border that we wish to explain to be ‘Reformed’, we should find a centre of Reformed divinity in a classical Reformed confessions of a 16th and 17th centuries.  Many confessions have been sum within a Reformed tradition and no one singular admission alone defines a Reformed tradition.  Reformed divinity also affirms a priority of Scripture over confessions, arguing that a admission is contracting for a village customarily insofar as it corresponds to Scripture.  It also affirms a existence that any admission can be nice nonetheless a Scriptures competence not be.  Another of a accrued advantages of a Reformed confessional tradition that continues to yield a division to a complicated church, is a fact that it reminds us that no interpretation of a Scriptures is to be finished in a vacuum.  We mount on a shoulders of those who have left before us.  Our bargain in a benefaction will be in a light of a past, that offers a useful visual to a postmodern and individualistic ensue of interpreting Scripture.

Two complicated examples of a ensue in that a confessional tradition has aided a church, concerns a use of confessions in a complicated duration to residence issues of amicable justice.  One instance is a Barmen Declaration, that was drawn adult to plea a German church’s theological justification for Hitler’s Third Reich.  Another instance is a Belhar Confession, that was drawn adult to conflict any theological justification for apartheid.  Whatever competence be their theological limitations, these complicated confessional statements denote a ability of a Reformed village to residence evident amicable concerns in a specific geographical community, in a confessional form.

The Relevance of Reformed Theology

In sequence to decider a stability aptitude of Reformed theology, one poignant doubt that we contingency ask is possibly or not a pre-modern divinity has something to contend to a postmodern society, or indeed to other non-western cultures and to other Christian traditions.

Some Reformed theologians boot postmodernity as denying a existence of law in foster of sum relativism.  This mispresents many postmodern thinkers, nonetheless of march some reject any claims to truth.  More generally, postmoderns are heedful of ideologies masked as law and are distrustful about reaching law merely by receptive arguments, observant that people seem always means to find receptive justification for their possess interests.  Instead they wish to see commitments lived with firmness and beliefs that are reason authentically.  They wish to trust in something that will make a disproportion to a universe and enthuse them to go over themselves.  They will consider Christianity in those terms.  In response, Reformed divinity can offer a ensue of meaningful God grounded in his actions, not erroneous tellurian efforts, that engages a whole chairman in all of life.  It should be means to offer a holistic and gratifying prophesy of tellurian life, while severe a assumptions that life and law are ungrounded.  Thus, Reformed divinity should be prepared to residence a despondency per law in postmodernism and be means to rivet in discourse and share a gospel with postmodern people and with post-Christian culture.

In reflecting on these opposite approaches, we trust that a charge is to delineate a Christian faith in a ensue that is intellectually rigorous, nonetheless appeals to postmodern people as comprehensive, genuine and moving.  In seeking to rise Reformed divinity in this way, we need to counter-balance a significance on propositions in Reformed theology, with a renewed bargain of narrative.

At a best, Reformed scholasticism of a 17th century attended delicately to a content of Scripture and, on that basis, offering a resolutely argued set of devout affirmations in ways that connected with a judicious suspicion forms of a day.  In a era, we are called to a same charge nonetheless in a really opposite egghead and amicable context.  It is here that a re-emphasis on account competence offer Reformed divinity well, as it connects with post-modern and non-Western cultures effectively.  In a way, a call to concentration some-more on account is a call to go behind to a indication of a Bible, that is itself a display of a grand account of God’s work in a universe and is filled with countless smaller narratives.  Narrative divinity is not discordant to egghead rigour; good divinity can be voiced possibly in enchanting account or in judicious arguments. Narrative divinity is not discordant to facticity given redemptive story itself is a story and a genuine story.  The Reformed tradition should make a many of several modes of theology, generally a systematic and a narrative, to promulgate good a cache of Scripture.

A array of Reformed theologians have sought to urge a Christian worldview, including Abraham Kuyper, Cornelius Van Til, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Richard Mouw.  These scholars are useful in a postmodern age, in display that law involves a integrated design of a lives.  Nevertheless, these and other Reformed writers are not wholly gratifying to postmodern people and so we contingency do some-more to promulgate with them.

Speaking generally, postmoderns are not seeking a grand judicious prophesy of a world, an integrated psychic system.  Rather, they are seeking account that fires a imagination, a prophesy that can enthuse them, not a complement that puts all in neat categories.  They are looking for a faith that can hoop a complexities of life and give them a clarity of a worthiness of living. 

The biblical account gives us a meta-narrative of humanity, as good as providing a story of those who movement from genocide to life by Christ.  This account is non-modern meta-narrative, in a clarity it is not formed on a proof immanent in a chronological process, nor does it generate a supremacy of any sold domestic or mercantile system.  The biblical account is formed on a artistic actions of God via history.  This account climaxed in a Lord, and so this is a customarily loyal meta-narrative of reality.  Van Til is scold that Christians should be mortified of their possess presuppositions when they confront a universe nonetheless focusing on judicious coherence competence not be a many useful strategy.  Maybe a artistic retelling of a clever acts of God and of his wisdom, in contrariety to a fake ideologies of today, is a some-more useful and obligatory task.

It competence be that Reformed theology’s over-emphasis on devout skill and correctness creates it reduction means to promulgate with postmodern people.  The cost of perplexing to erect an ever purer Reformed faith diminishes a aptitude to a postmodern world. 

One ensue of opening adult some of these issues would be to rivet in a box study.  For example, if we were perplexing to rise a Reformed divinity that would be applicable to Asians, what would that demeanour like?  A Reformed divinity for Asia contingency respond to a needs of Asian societies.  This is conjunction to disagree for concede on a law of a Gospel, nor to disagree for a amicable Gospel.  The Gospel is not a apparatus for elucidate amicable problems, it is a commercial of a secure adore and clever acts of God.  However, God, in his wisdom, does not intend merely to save individuals, he intends also to replenish a whole world.  This renovation includes saving a cultures and transforming a societies.  This is an area in that Reformed divinity can make poignant contributions for a dominion of God in Asia.

When we introduce a need for a Reformed divinity within an Asian setting, we do not meant that Asian cultures somehow enclose higher knowledge than occidental cultures.  All cultures are pleasing nonetheless depressed cultures, as a Dutch Reformed tradition has emphasized.  The meta-narrative of God’s redemptive devise serves as a critique of Asian cultures as good as indicating to a loyal aspirations of Asian cultures.  Theologians can implement a Reformed worldview ensue to assistance renovate multitude to accommodate a yearnings of Asian people, as good as renovate a emotional of a people to assistance them find their loyal destiny in God.

From Calvin to a Canons of Dort or a Westminster Confession of Faith, we have gained in systematic completeness and skill of denunciation nonetheless for many Asian churches, a highway from Calvin to Dort is substantially not a best direction.  Calvin’s papers paint a form of assured dance to a stroke of a emperor God before a evils of a world.  A Reformed divinity for Asia needs to redeem this devout tradition.  Sometimes, Reformed people exaggerate about their theological habit and put down other Christian traditions.  To a minority churches in Asia, such narrow-minded squabbles do a good harm to a Gospel witness.  The Asian churches need to learn to dance in fun notwithstanding their debility in society.

Reformed divinity has put off many people and churches, generally in a southern hemisphere, given it has seemed to them as cold, divisive, realistic and western.  By describing and building a biblically tolerable Reformed theology, that creates room for devout issues that are vicious to a life and goal of inland churches, rather than being tranquil by a western European, anti-Roman Catholic origins of Reformed theology, we will do a good use to a Reformed village and maybe win some-more people to a Reformed worldview.  

Respecting a aptitude of Reformed theology, as remarkable above, we should also be peaceful to rivet with other traditions within Christianity in a Christian manner.  Our prophesy for Reformed divinity is an intentionally ecumenical future.  Our confessions and catechisms have historically enabled a ‘kinship’ with other churches and believers who share a same, or a similar, confessional position.  For example, those who reason to a Westminster Confession of Faith are a worldwide companionship of Reformed believers.  However, there has mostly been a disaster to rivet with other Christian traditions.

In this regard, we competence good rivet in another box study.  For example, a ensue in that Reformed divinity engages with classical Pentecostalism.  If Reformed divinity is to overcome a jointly disastrous views between Reformed and Pentecostal Christians, it will be required to foster and kindle artistic contention between Reformed and Pentecostal Christians.  Many Pentecostals have recently begun display an seductiveness in Reformed divinity and this offers areas of probable dialogue, as good as areas where we could learn from one another.  In doing so, we recognize that both Reformed and Pentecostal Christians reason to a common devout intention, namely to conform a good commandment to adore God with all a heart, and with all a soul, and with all a mind and to adore a neighbour as ourselves. 

One ensue to foster such discourse would be to try 5 of a pivotal elements in classical Reformed spirituality, together with a rough review as to how any of these competence ring to a larger or obtuse border with facets of Pentecostal friendship in ways that competence jointly raise discourse between Reformed and Pentecostal Christians.  These component are: a excellence of God, a chagrin of sinners, a activity of a Word, a indispensability of a Holy Spirit and a avocation of self-examination.  Despite poignant differences, there is some-more common belligerent between Pentecostals and a Reformed in a box of a doctrines of God, Scripture and a Holy Spirit, while a commonality in propinquity to chagrin and self-examination lies in a fact that currently they are mostly neglected by both groups.    

This is customarily one example, however, of a need for Reformed divinity to be intentionally ecumenical in a ensue to other traditions within Christianity.  Historically, a Reformed faith has been during a forefront of authentic ecumenical involvement, carrying taken a lead from John Calvin, who was during a forefront of ecumenical undertakings.  His time with Martin Bucer in Strasbourg (1538-1541) was a time of dynamic unionist dialogues between Lutherans and a Reformed.  Although these talks were not eventually successful, this did not finish Calvin’s seductiveness in ecumenical activity.  In 1541, during a Colloquy of Regensburg, he and Philip Melanchthon came to an agreement on many of their Eucharistic thought, nonetheless eventually this did not lead to a togetherness for that he worked.  Calvin’s efforts were innate out of his bargain of a inlet of a church and a unity.  His steady efforts led to a Consensus Tigurinus, a request widely authorized by Reformed churches.  This led to a ordering of a traditions of Zwingli and Calvin and was a poignant theological achievement.

The Future of Reformed Theology

In looking to a destiny of Reformed theology, we contingency recognize a strengths that have enabled it to tarry and grow so far.  Nevertheless, we wish to disciple a confessional Reformed divinity that is contextualised, so that it is not an antiquarian investigate nonetheless a critical force for good, traffic with a issues that sold nations face and presenting a Reformed response to these issues.

One poignant grant that Reformed divinity can make in a future, concerns a clarification of a church.  In a theologically opposite and divided benefaction context, no emanate captures a farrago of Christians some-more than attempting to find a common biblical bargain of a inlet of a church.  Reformed suspicion offers a ensue forward, following Calvin, who tangible a church in this way: ‘Wherever we see a Word of God quite preached and heard, and a sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there is not to be doubted a church of God exists’.  It is a church that has both manifest and invisible aspects and is tangible by a commercial of a Gospel.

As we find to labour a Reformed divinity to make it fit for a future, there are certain areas that need some work.  In particular, we contingency redeem some of Calvin’s core themes. Reformed divinity has turn so overlaid with fact and gain that a lapse to Calvin’s probity of structure and countenance would assistance us enormously.  These core themes have not accurately been mislaid in Reformed divinity nonetheless mostly they have been overlaid with a thousand education and explanations, in a routine losing a simplicity, clarity, beauty and rural courtesy of Calvin’s possess countenance of them. 

In particular, we need to redeem Calvin’s clever significance on a Person and Work of a Holy Spirit.  He was magnificently a clergy of a Holy Spirit.  Similarly, his joining to a divinity of common beauty has been mostly neglected, solely in a Dutch tradition.  Above all, his high Trinitarian divinity has not always been accepted and appropriated within a tradition.  Many complicated Reformed theologians have seen a Trinity simply as a devout plan to be enclosed somewhere in a doctrine of God.   The ensue in that Calvin non-stop adult his whole theological complement out of a centre in a Trinity is a dictatorial indication that we ought to recover.  Other neglected areas embody Calvin’s significance on a Fatherhood of God and on adoption, his self-assurance that faith leads to justification on a one palm and windfall on a other palm and his significance on a significance of kinship with Christ.

We contingency also reaffirm a vicious attribute between dual of a elemental elements of Reformed theology, namely, a supervision of God and a beauty of God.  When Reformed divinity has placed too many significance on a supervision of God and neglected a adore and beauty of God, we have finished adult with a cold, legalistic, deterministic divinity that has denied a giveaway offer of a Gospel.  When Reformed divinity has placed too many significance on a adore and beauty of God and neglected a supervision of God, we have finished adult with a weak, magnanimous Christianity with no genuine clarity of God’s probity and judgement.  Only when God’s supervision and God’s beauty are reason in scold change will Reformed divinity be loyal to a training of Scripture and loyal to a possess best instincts.

A final indicate would be to disagree that a expansion of a Reformed divinity for a 21st Century requires a many closer attribute between a church and a academy.  On a one hand, a church has mostly been questionable of a academy, desiring that supposed ivory building theologians have small courtesy for a church and dismissing arguments about educational leisure as an forgive for vacating from a confessional position of a church.  On a other hand, a academy has mostly noticed a church as unwell to take severely a vicious work theologians do in a areas of biblical, historical, systematic and rural theology, accusing a church of saying a academy simply as a appurtenance to shake out possibilities for a ministry.  We need to redeem a clarity of togetherness of purpose between church and academy.

Reformed divinity contingency also contend a voice on open issues, quite in a areas of ethics, morality, probity and peace.  Too often, Christians have conformed to a prevalent views within their multitude instead of vocalization prophetically from Scripture.  The church contingency be peaceful to denote moral indignation in a face of evil, not slightest when tellurian beings are oppressed or exploited.  It contingency also supply a church to pronounce prophetically to multitude and enlightenment and beam Christians in their lives as citizens.


What we visualize is a Reformed divinity that will constantly re-examine a devout formulations in a light of Scripture, a certain Word of God.  It will be a Reformed divinity that will be resolutely anchored in a life of a church, a Reformed divinity that has a roots in a 16th Century nonetheless a tip branches resolutely in a 21st Century.  It will be a Reformed divinity that is recognized as a propagandize of suspicion and not a singular strand.  It will rise a universe and life view, will be open to a heading and running of a Holy Spirit and will equivocate overly realistic formulations.  It will be deferential of those with whom it disagrees, will uncover piety and honour and always be peaceful to learn.  It will be a Reformed divinity that binds on to a elemental beliefs of a complement while being peaceful to try and to examination and to take risks.  Above all, it will be for to God and will be used to explain a law of a Scriptures to a depressed universe in sequence that some-more group and women and children competence come to know a Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Article source: http://wrfnet.org/articles/2019/08/what-does-term-reformed-mean

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