Posted on: 12/11/08:
Dr. Bradley, professor at Covenant Seminary, has placed finger on one of the perennial disagreements within the Reformed tradition. I wish I could say that I'm surprised, but for many there is an implicit problematic theological commitment -- the spirituality of the church -- that privileges the socio-economic and political capital of a certain group, thus prohibiting efforts towards justice/righteousness (both internal and external to a local church) beyond a Sunday morning sermon and sacraments. And this problem is further compounded within many Black Calvinistic and Reformed churches and literature.
Over the past month, I had a "aha movement" in several conversations across the country. There are lots of Anglican, Presbyterian and "Reformed" types (both mainline and conservative) who do not have a Reformed worldview--the kind you read about in Al Wolter's book Creation Regained, William Edgar's book Truth in All It's Glory, and Henry Van Til's book The Calvinist Concept of Culture.
There are many folks with Calvinist views of sin and salvation (T.U.L.I.P--God-sin-Christ-faith) but are void of a Reformed view of creation and culture (creation-fall-redemption-consumation)--Keller article. It was a huge "aha moment" that explains a lot. The confessional, doctrinalist, and highly pietist old southern denominational tradition with its emphasis on the church as an alternative community and an escape from culture (Dabney, Thornwell, Turretin) may explain why missionally minded Reformed folks do not find a reference point in those circles. So Edgar, Wolters, and Van Til don't even mention these guys. I wonder why that is? You're just not going to get creation-fall-redemption-restoration from Thornwell, Danbey, Edwards, and the other pietists some are beginning to argue. Does this sound right?
Maybe this explains the absence of an emphasis on the Kingdom or the conflating of the Kingdom with the church?
NOTE: I'm NOT saying that faith and repentance should not be a major emphasis. It should (Eph 2:8-9). But conversion is not an end as we see in Eph 2:10. I dunno...just thinking out loud.
Why fight against slavery, racism, etc. when what really matters, at the end of the day, are your reflections on your own piety. HIV/AIDS, who cares? Keep your kids away from non-Christians at all times.
The slave owning Puritans, like Jonathan Edwards, and the many Puritan slave ship chaplains weren't really burdened by redeeming creation either, I guess. Calvinistic pietism but far from Bavinck or Kuyper. You get piety from Edwards but not redeeming the whole creation, cultural mandate, etc. Right?
Why are some mainline and conservative denominations Calvinistic and not Reformed. I dunno? You can fully embrace T.U.L.I.P and reduce Christianity to individualistic personal piety, withdrawal from culture with a false sacred/secular distinction, confuse the Kingdom with the church, be void of a doctrine of creation, etc. Wow.
This may explain, in part, why so many of my Calvinistic friends read Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, Henry Van Til, Al Wolters, and others and reject it.
Maybe this explains why many Calvinists have no interest in justice issues, being incarnational in culture, seeing that all of life is spiritual, etc. Somebody oughta do a book on this!!