Why I Am Not Reformed: Message from Pastor-Teacher Ted Bigelow
From a friend’s link, I recently listened to an interesting message, an hour long look at Reformed Theology: not just the Calvinist Soteriology, the Doctrines of Grace, but the extras of church tradition, a climate in which theological ideas, such as redeeming the culture, become more important than actual scripture.
Pastor-Teacher Ted Bigelow looks at four specific areas:
1. Infant Baptism, a theologically derived teaching (not applicable in the case of Reformed Baptists)
2. A credal faith, in which creeds are authoritative, on the same level as scripture.
3. Hermeneutics: Reformed theology allows double meanings. Bigelow speaks for many of us, that a passage of scripture has only one meaning, though multiple applications of that meaning.
4. The term Reformed is Misleading: they stopped Reforming a long time ago.
Among the highlights:
Regarding Creeds: Over 30 major creeds were developed during the Reformation, of which three are still used today: The Heidelberg Catechism, the 39 Articles (Anglicanism), and the Westminster Confession. A few variations include the two London Baptist Confessions. The creeds were written specifically to address the specific doctrinal errors of that time, leading to emphasis of particular doctrines while neglecting other scriptural teaching. Following these creeds leads to dead orthodoxy, using dated documents instead of scripture. On this point, I’ve not seen such emphasis on the creeds in all Reformed churches, but do recall a local Reformed Baptist church several years ago studying the 1689 London Baptist Confession through their Sunday or Wednesday evening sessions. Rather than studying the Bible, they were going point by point through that particular creed.
Hermeneutics: Pre-Reformation, the Church included four meanings for every text (Literal, Allegorical, Moral, and Heavenly). The Reformers jettisoned the last two of these (moral and heavenly), but kept the allegorical meaning. Bigelow provides several examples of each of these four types of meaning, with further examples of Protestant allegorical treatment, such as the Song of Solomon and the ESV (Reformed influence) translation of Matthew 19:28 with “new world” when the Greek word is quite clearly the term regeneration, not “new world.”
Finally, some good points, well expressed:
The Reformation was not about the church, but about the Bible. It was about the Word of God reforming everything and never stopping — instead of it getting fixed at a place in history and that becoming the high point, because of our natural affection for men like John Calvin and Martin Luther and many others who have led us into understanding scripture at a deep level. …
They (Reformed Churches) are actually Catholic churches that have been reformed into Protestant churches. The proof of being a scriptural church is not one’s theological forefathers, but — surprise — scripture. Not what creed you hold to, but the Bible that you hold to.