Reforming Religion

Posted: September 3, 2013 in From Me To You, Referrals, Theology
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John Calvin Drawing

John Calvin was one of the most famous reformers of the Christian faith, following closely behind Martin Luther. Calvinism holds many things that I do not — certainly not the least of which is its particular view of predestination and election. While I heartily disagree with some of the fundamental distinctives of Calvinism, a healthy respect still remains. I owe much to Calvin and the other reformers, however much I do or do not agree with them. At the very least, their contributions to the theological discussion have helped me define my own stances more clearly, opening up dialogues that would not have otherwise happened. One of the greatest things to respect about Reformed Theology, however, is its dedication to keeping God at the forefront of thought.

I have been watching a video series of lectures by Dr. R.C. Sproul on Reformed Theology, and some details that were left empty to date in my educational life have begun to fill in. One of the things that has most struck me, however, is Dr. Sproul’s distinction between religion and theology. In the introductory video in this series, he makes the point that Christian institutions should not have a “Department of Religion,” as opposed to a “Department of Theology” (I highly recommend watching this series, if for no other reason than to better understand our brothers and sisters in the Reformed vein of Christianity). His reasoning is that while theology is a study of God Himself, the study of religion is actually a study of how man behaves in the context of his beliefs — better suited and often placed in the sociological sector of an institution’s program — not the beliefs around which the religious man’s life revolves. It may be a small difference to some, but it is a world of difference to me.

As Christians, we need to be dedicated to this principle. We are to be students primarily of God and His attributes, not of our behavior. We need to proclaim that it is He who makes us pure, not that Christians are good citizens simply because we choose to be. We need to be dedicated to sanctifying God throughout our lives, not merely singing songs that make us feel good and treating the Church like just another social group. As he says in the video, the Evangelical world must retain — or recapture, as he hints — the theology that makes us Christians. It is not enough to get together once a week and drink coffee. But coffee’s still good.


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