Ashamed of Reformation Theology?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by ArminianOnceWas, Nov 2, 2017.

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  1. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    I am a pastor in a Wesleyan background who began to come to know the Doctrines of Grace over the last ten years and more in-depth in the last five years. I am working to exit my current denomination and connect with a Reformed body for the sake of ministry.

    However I am finding what I perceive to be an issue, and perhaps as newcomer to Reformed ecclesiastical bodies my vision is skewed. But, within the denominations that I am looking and making connection that are historically Reformed, I am finding that there is not much (if any) passion regarding these doctrines, and I get the *feeling* that they would rather appeal to be broadly evangelical rather than isolate themselves by projecting the potentially offensive Calvinistic doctrines.

    Just to clarify, I am not speaking in regard to the bodies that have been considered liberal for many years such as the PCUSA, RCA and CRC. I am referring to Reformed bodies that hold a high view of Scripture. I do not want to name any names and potentially break any rules of this board or be a source of division.

    I suppose, I am needing my perspective or translation corrected here, or perhaps maybe the experience that you men have had could at least somewhat validate my perceived interpretation of what I am seeing.

    One such example, one pastor said he refuses to teaching anything uniquely Calvinistic on Sunday mornings when the entire crowd is there, he will only do it in very small groups of people who are committed to attend on weeknights. Another pastor of a growing church seemed concerned that if he taught the doctrines that he would alienate 50% of his church. One seminary told me that they are trying to appeal to a broad base of Christians and seemed to want to temper my enthusiasm of going there to learn strong Reformed theology.

    Ps. I posted this in the newbie forum and then read that only an elected few could actually reply so I posted here.
  2. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Satan never sleeps, our churches are full of men who have no business in the pulpit. Unfortunately even in Reformed circles we have turned the church into a business and driving goats out of the Church is bad for business.
  3. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Our pastor preached last Sunday on Effectual Calling. We have one of the larger Anglophone PCA churches. So I would question the strategy of the two pastors in question.
  4. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    Yea it's a real kick in the gut to someone who has worked to near transition into a Reformed body so I can be myself and then have the impression that I may be more Reformed than those on the examining committee. There is some PCA and EPC presence in my area, the most well known EPC congregation is consciously Charismatic. There are some distant ARPC and OPC congregations but overall my experience is becoming disheartening.
  5. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Most reformed churches I have been a member in or visited were essentially numb to the Doctrines of Grace as they know of no other theologies. In other words, they were typical for them. The distinction that is important to note is that you have discovered gems and it reflects in your love for those doctrines. It is a blessing to have come out of an Arminian setting, after God has dealt so graciously with you-more so than those I describe and hence, you love these doctrines in a different fashion than these men you and I both describe.
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Things do look slim in your neck of the woods. Lots of solid choices west of you in the I-81 corridor, but that's too far away. Same with the I-40 corridor south of you.
  7. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    in my opinion you have found a true weakness for many reformed congregations. I used to think the Methodists way of having the higher ups choosing a Pastor for a congregation was wrong. To allow a session to choose a pastor is allowing the sheep to choose a shepherd which in my opinion tends to dumb down our Reformed distinctions.
  8. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    I’ve experienced something of what you’re saying at a Church I attended for years. It’s very disappointing. I don’t think we should isolate ourselves a say ‘I am of Calvin’ or ‘I am of Luther’ (1 Cor 1 and 3), but we should embrace the many biblical doctrines that they taught that were (and are) consistent with the Word of God. I think the ‘New Calvinism’ movement is partially responsible for this. Conferences like T4G encourage unity, but at times it seems it’s at the expense of what it is to be a confessional Church.
  9. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would also add that what we’re seeing and experiencing in many Churches has a lot in common with political liberalism. How so? For example, if you suggest that we fully embrace and teach confessional Reformed Theology, you’re suddenly labeled as unloving, elitist, prideful, and in some cases, a racist. And this is all because you’re passionate about biblical theology and biblical worship. Another knee jerk reaction is ‘you’re being divisive.’

    People who behave this way misunderstand what the Bible says about says about love and unity. To them, love is this fuzzy feeling you feel for one another, and it’s not based on biblical principles.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  10. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    You would perhaps best be served by looking not for a denomination, but for a solid individual congregation. Look for a LBCF-confessing Reformed Baptist church (I think there's one or two nearer the coast). Since confessing Baptists don't usually associate into denominations, they don't suffer the Achille's heel of Presbyterian polity, which requires all sorts of splintering when the denomination goes rotten and their individual congregations--which can vary hugely in belief and practice, just look at the PCA--wish to remain reformed. (No offense to my esteemed Presbyterian brethren, just, well--there it is).
    None of the Reformed Baptists in my circle are embarrassed of the Doctrines of Grace, or of other reformed distinctives. There is a book I'd recommend for someone becoming reformed: "Going Beyond the Five Points" edited by Rob Ventura, which seeks to demonstrate that being reformed is much more than just calvinism, though it includes that as well.
  11. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    Part of the issue is I am moving my ordination and will pastor in a Reformed body so it's more than just looking for a church in my area to worship at.

    Secondly, if LBCF churches are not associated into denominations as you say, then it makes it that much more difficult to find them, and I am unable to find any within an hour and half from me (thus far).

    Lastly, since within most Baptist churches divorce is an unforgivable sin for clergy, and my being divorced due to unfaithfulness + abandonment by my spouse (of which I was left with sole custody of the children) that isolates me from the Baptist crowd. An old Baptist minister once told me that according to Baptist polity, a minister could murder his wife (instead of divorce) and find forgiveness in Baptist ministry before he could let her abandon him and continue ministry.
  12. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Sir, I'm happy to say that you are mistaken. Reformed Baptists in my acquaintance recognize that divorce is lawful in cases of adultery or abandonement, so it would not debar one from the ministry. But you're right that LBCF churches can be a mixed bag and hard to find, which I why I suggested the search for a decent congregation, rather than a denomination.

    But on another note, won't it be difficult to transfer your ministerial credentials to a Reformed congregation, given their Wesleyan origins? I imagine the congregations would require you to be an ordinary member for a period of time before calling you to the ministry.
  13. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps the cultural difference between the New England states where it appears you are from and the Bible belt South will explain the contrasting views regarding divorce. I very much am aware of the prohibition of divorced pastors among Baptist life within my region. It was a Reformed Baptist minister that I was quoting in my prior post. I will trust his awareness and observations in this matter.

    As far as the ordination transfer. Why would there be any difficulty? Every BCO I have read from various Presbyterian denominations contain a provision for accepting ministers of non-Reformed denominations. If a Presbyterian congregation calls a minister, the Presbytery examines them based on the BCO.
  14. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Ah, I was unaware of the BCO proviso. I sincerely hope that you will be placed in a sphere of usefulness, and hope also that you will not tar all baptists with the same brush as the southern ones of your acquaintance. Like I mentioned earlier, there is much variety among folk who claim to be RBs.
  15. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    The decision to go to a Baptist vs. Presbyterian denomination is not as trivial as 'what are their views on divorce', brother. If you are going to be a minister of the gospel, you need to get a deep understanding of covenant theology, the regulative principle of worship, the Biblical form of church government, etc. If you fall in the Baptist side in various areas, then find a Baptist congregation and suffer with any perceived issues regarding your divorce.

    If you are convinced of Presbyterianism (as I am) then I would suggest going to Presbytery meetings in various bodies and see how the polity and courts of the churches work. Get to know the men, and let them get to know you. Since we are all connected as Presbyterians (Acts 15, a picture of Christ's body) it is good to know the men you might be laboring with on committees and such in the future. When it comes time for you to be examined, they will already know you and be able to have counseled you before hand.

    Also, before seeking the pastorate in a new tradition, I would advise some time to get to be familiar with the tradition you are jumping to. Make sure you are deeply convicted one way or another, lest you find yourself jumping again. I pray that you will find a place you can minister for life. Take your time.

    Blessings on your journey, brother. Glad that the Lord has opened your eyes to the truth of the doctrines of grace!
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  16. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    I think you are making many assumptions in your reply and the context of the original post is getting lost. It appears that perhaps you read the last few replies only. What you seemed to ignore from the original post and subsequent replies was that I have worked to familiarize myself with Presbyterians as I seek transfer.

    Because my interest is in Presbyterianism, Baptist polity of divorce is not really my issue, but rather I was replying in regard any potential Baptist connection. I do not think the issue quite as simple and black/white as you suggest, and from my post if you translated that the issue is Baptist vs Presbyterianism is about the divorce issue, then you may be overlooking the broader context which was my disappointment that I have found in multiple Presbyterian denominations in regard to what I (and others) perceive to be their light treatment of Reformed theology.
  17. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    Michael, your assessment of the current situation is spot on, we are living in very sad times, unfortunately prosperity produces soft man who lose sight of what it is that God has called them to do. I for one am praying for a reformation in our denominations, it seems that for now that’s all we can do.
  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Most baptists would view the divorce in the context of it was a biblical allowed one or not, in order to establish whether the minister still could pastor in good stead now.
  19. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    Since the subject of divorce is not in the context of the original post it's probably better to move on. But I will reiterate the cultural differences in Baptist life here in the 'Bible Belt" South vs New England or Michigan. Since Baptist churches are autonomous there is no standard across the you.S. Therefore what may apply to my region seems different than yours. So, it's likely best to keep that in mind rather than any of us making a blanket statement regarding Baptist.
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Good point , as the biggest discussion/disagreements seems to be whether if a divorce for whatever reason means pastor either loses being a pastor, or else must never remarry again. I will live it at that.
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