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What “Reformed” Means: TULIP, City on a Hill, or Neither?

15 September, 2010

Here’s an interesting article critiquing the ‘new Reformed’ for not being Reformed enough, focusing only on personal salvation — but this coming from a theonomist, who boils the essence of being Reformed down to building a godly society (i.e., taking America back for Christ).

Having the vision of the City on a Hill, the Puritans were much more concerned with the legal and cultural issues of their societies than with the psychological and philosophical issues of man’s existence, as it is with the “new Reformed.” Justice and righteousness was their priority, not over spiritualization and mystic experiences. They developed law codes, economic theory and practice, social organization, education, and science. They did not worry about the minutest irrelevant details of the personal spiritual life of a Christian. They saw value in incarnating the truths of God in their culture, not in internalizing theology. Their view of the world was one whole, under the Law of God, spiritual and material, church, family, and state, mind and matter, law and grace. They wouldn’t be able to grasp the dualism of the modern “new Reformed” churches. “Covenant” was for them not a religious term. It was the building block of all relationships, spiritual and temporal, and all covenants – in the civil realm, the marketplace, church, family, or school – were to imitate that supreme covenant between God and mankind in Jesus Christ.

Does anyone else feel like this is six of one and half a dozen of the other?

At any rate, I’m skeptical that either contemporary American evangelical piety or historic American Puritan society should be considered representative for what Reformed theology and practice might mean. How about giving the Reformed confessions a glance, for starters?

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One Comment
  1. 15 September, 2010 9:14 pm

    I think the author has misjudged the movement. Most of the Vision of these churches is “City on the Hill”

    Yes, they do tend to deal a lot with personal issues — But that is because we live in a very individualistic culture with very individualistic minds. You must slay that individualist dragon before the vision of “incarnating truths” becomes real. The truth is until reprogrammed – that Americans are heartless individualists.

    I don’t think anyone plans to fix the individual and leave them isolated in their individualism.

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