American Evangelicalism, its Listing. We Have Moved to a Pressie USA church (it has its own problems).

I grew up as a son of a Conservative Baptist pastor, and I came to Christ at a very early age (indeed, my tacit theological knowledge was piqued from an early age). After high school (graduating class of 1992, Brethren Christian pcusasealHigh School, Cypress, CA [now located in Huntington Beach, CA]), I lead a rather nominal Christian life for a few years. The LORD moved in as I was with some friends in Las Vegas, and things haven’t been the same sense. At that point the Lord began to use the ministry of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, CA in my life (esp. through exposure they had/have through their radio station 107.9 KWVE), so I began to attend Calvary Costa Mesa, and eventually enrolled in their Bible College for the 96-97 academic year. It became clear to me, as a Baptist still, that there were some minor doctrinal points that were going to ultimately prohibit me from being involved as a pastor in the Calvary movement (which were my aspirations at this point, i.e. to be a pastor)—e.g. they are a semi-charismatic body (originally flowing from Foursquare doctrinal distinctives), and affirm a ‘second-blessing’ theology with the result of speaking in tongues (after Baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs). This was enough of a problem for me to move on. So I enrolled at Multnomah Bible College, Portland, OR (1998). I finished in 2001 with an BA degree in Biblical Studies/Theology/NT Greek, and a wife and daughter; and then went on to pursue the MA in Biblical Studies from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (which I earned in 2003). During all this time my ecclesial affiliation was with various Free churches, like Baptist, Bible churches, EV Free, and once again (for a bit) Calvary Chapel.

Over the years, I have been noticing a major problem in American Evangelical churches; they are inward turned (which all churches at some level are, since we are all still sinners). But what I mean more specifically, is that this turn has become absolutized in a way that I could only characterize as imbibing the ‘Liberal theological’ spirit given ingression by none other than Fredrich Schleiermacher. In other words, the Christian religion, for American Evangelicals, in general, has been taken captive by a dependence upon personal ‘feeling’, and not upon the objective reality of God’s life in Jesus Christ. Indeed, this mode of spiritual existence has gone ‘viral’ among Evangelicalism, to the point that I think it is beginning to implode (if it hasn’t). There is simply no more resources available for Evangelicals to strip; they have no meaningful doctrinal statements (most of them are copy and pasted from each other, generically), they have no inner constitutive confessional statements to provide some sort of ecclesial identity [I am not suggesting here that these kinds of statements should be seen as absolute either], the Bible has become, largely, a Readers Digest of ‘how to’ live a blessed life [i.e. how to thrive financially,], and an ethical compass, and other things that I think have somewhat condemned it (like personality cults).

Is the grass greener on the ‘other side’? Where is the ‘other side’? We just moved on from a small Calvary Chapel church in our area (we attended for almost 2 years), so another ‘Free’ church experience (something that has been my comfortable experience for my whole life). I became friends with the pastor there (a good brother!), and we made ‘some’ connections with people there that will be lasting (I think). But the reality is, is that I (and my wife) still felt out of place; I am a theological runaway, it seems, among Evangelicals—although I would maintain that I have become more Evangelical and not less, given the original pietas that has/had provided trajectory for the Evangelical vibe. Anyway, with all these realities, perceptions, and congruence in place; we have simply moved on. But is the grass greener on the other side?

We have just started (and I mean ‘just’) attending a Presbyterian church (USA) in our area (the Vancouver, WA area), and we were impressed with it. This is the branch of Presbyterianism than most Presbyterians would consider its liberal branch; the branch that is associated with Princeton Theological Seminary.  Now for any of you who have been following me for any amount of time, this move probably seems quite natural; you probably aren’t surprised at all! After all, I have been reading Calvin, Karl Barth, Thomas Torrance and others of like mind for quite a few years now; plus, my network of on-line connections all are in one way or another (mostly) associated with this trajectory (directly or indirectly) as well. So it makes sense to me, that I would finally follow the trajectory set by my interlocutors. We will see how this experiment plays out. Is the PCUSA a ‘Liberal’ church? It depends, of course on how someone defines ‘Liberal’. I would argue that the theological anthropology that funds American Evangelicalism, and even its most Reformed parts (like the OPC, PCA etc) is, or could be, more “Liberal”, ironically, than the charge made against the PCUSA. Certainly there is a mood or ethos of pietism that might be absent from some PCUSA congregations that might lead to a perception of “theological Liberalism”, but I would argue that this is just an ethos, and that the underlying doctrinal distinctives underneath much of American Evangelicalism reach beyond an ethos of Liberalism, but instead to a Liberalism, in fact.

Anyway, I am under no delusion that shifting from one denomination, and tradition to another is the ultimate answer; since we are all just people on the way, in the ‘Way’. But, I am hopeful that being associated with a tradition that has some thought underneath it might provide the kind of ecclesial intentionality that I think is so lacking in the American Evangelical church (which I still count myself as a member of). I could say more, but I will stop. I have made many assertions here, that require further thought and argument to establish; but this is a blog.

I am still quite ‘socially conservative’, and so I ultimately might not fit with every aspect of the PCUSA, either. But then again, I would imagine that as the pastor and church leadership goes at a local body, so goes that body. We think we are at a body, that is quite Evangelical, and resonates with our persuasion. If not, then we will move on.

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24 comments

  1. I try and stay congregational in mind (and thus try and judge congregation by congregation whether or not they have a “Candlestick”) but I’m wary when the larger body has moved in directions that are a way from Scripture. My obvious example is the Episcopalians in the US, where any congregation with good sense should flee. However a body like the PCUSA, I just don’t know enough about but am wary with some things I’ve seen

    You ever look into the EPC or ECO?

    Cal

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  2. Cal,

    I don’t see the PCUSA having moved away from Scripture. Maybe at its more popular or lay levels this might be the reality. But the church we attended is just as Evangelical (as far as the proclamation of the Word) as any church either me or my wife are familiar with. And I have listened to other sermons from both pastors at our new church (I feel comfortable in saying), and they are very sound, and good as far as I’m concerned. The senior pastor at our church has his MDiv from PTS (as does the Associate), but he also has a DMin from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan which is associated with the RCA (Reformed Churches, America), and is quite conservative. And so my sense, Cal, is that the particular PCUSA church we are at is on the conservative side of things within the PCUSA. Just like any denomination, there are distinctions to be made within the continuum of belief that it represents. And so I think we have found a good church.

    Plus, I hold to many Barthian themes (in particular a constructive form of his theory of revelation provided by John Webster). Anyway. we, I think, are comfortable with where we are at.

    I looked at the EPC website, and they are still committed to the Westminster Standards, etc.; that is not something I am comfortable with. And ECO looks kind of “different.”

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  3. No matter where I go to church, I will always be of the American Evangelical mood; I just will. I am not very progressive, I am not Liberal, socially/culturally, and I’m a modified complementarian, etc etc. I read scripture from a very conservative vantage point still (pretty classic). So that’s where I always see myself. Us attending a PCUSA is not really all that indicative of who I am, I am pretty independent minded (hopefully not individualistically though) when it comes to my own developing theological approach (I always see myself being quite Trad, even if I like Barth 😉 ).

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  4. very briefly attended a Calvary Chapel church but quickly moved on. It was just not for me. I found most of their bible teaching to be bible indoctrination.
    I was just not comfortable being somewhere where I felt I couldn’t be my true theological self without offending people or opposing the work of the ministry there.

    I live two blocks away from an Episcopal Church.
    I don’t know why, but I just decided to try it out.
    I have been a member for almost two years now.

    I never imagined I would ever join a “dying, liberal church” but life leads you to do strange things sometimes. I have enjoyed it immensely, and have grown spiritually as well.

    The Priest in charge of the congregation is a devout and scholarly man,
    even though he is a little too liberal for my taste on some issues. He’s a good
    man, though. He knows exactly where I’m at theologically and he’s okay with it.
    He just always reminds me to put obedience to Christ before theological exploration, to love all, and to do all I can to promote justice in this world.

    I hope you find what you’re looking for, Bobby:)

    I love the fact that the Episcopal Church allows you (and encourages you) to use your mind as much as possible and to practice your faith in a reasonable fashion.

    What I love the most about this church is that I have been warmly welcomed.
    I belong here.

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  5. Hi Carlos,

    Thanks for your comment. I was involved with Calvary Chapels on a much deeper level than you, it appears; indeed, I was in its inner hub at Costa Mesa … and rubbed shoulders with its “top” leadership ;-). But like I said, I have grown up free church, Baptist; but really, just an American Evangelical (as far as situation). Our move to our current church (it looks like it will be) is quite pragmatic, really. I used my contacts with Princeton Theological Seminary theology as a compass, so to speak, at least in re. to visiting the PCUSA. We like this particular instance of the PCUSA—i.e. this particular church—and so we will probably become regulars. There is an Evangelical Anglican church pretty close to us that we visited before (and I have professor friends there), but it is too far for us. The Anglican tradition is known to allow for latitude, and yet still finds its moorings from within the Reformed tradition; glad you have found a good fellowship. Blessings.

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  6. One thing the denominations have in common with the free churches is that congregational aspect you allude to: Even in denominations, there are good and bad congregations. One PCUSA church might be very liberal and another one almost indistinguishable from a more conservative (e.g., PCA) church.

    If you’ve found a good congregation with god pastors and elders that’s worth more in terms of your personal spiritual growth (and your family’s) than what denominational name is on the side of the letterhead.

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  7. And Michael, your point was my point when I wrote this to Cal above:

    The senior pastor at our church has his MDiv from PTS (as does the Associate), but he also has a DMin from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan which is associated with the RCA (Reformed Churches, America), and is quite conservative. And so my sense, Cal, is that the particular PCUSA church we are at is on the conservative side of things within the PCUSA. Just like any denomination, there are distinctions to be made within the continuum of belief that it represents. And so I think we have found a good church.

    And any congregation that has “god” pastors has gotta be good! 😉 🙂 hahaha

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  8. Well, it’s about time that you joined a Reformed denomination!

    It’s funny, you are joining a PCUSA church, just as my own church is (very likely) leaving the PCUSA. Our session voted unanimously last week to be dismissed from the Presbytery of Charlotte and into ECO. Now the congregation needs to vote, probably in 2 to 3 months.

    ECO is actually much more to your liking. They are simply the evangelical wing of the PCUSA. They have the same Book of Confessions and the same Book of Order. The parent network, the Fellowship of Presbyterians, includes those evangelicals who are remaining within the PCUSA for the time being.

    I don’t know how how familiar you are with the PCUSA. I still love the denomination, and it pains me to leave. There are so many good evangelicals within its fold, but they are vastly diminishing. In the past few years, there have been significant moves to the EPC and now to ECO, including some of the healthiest churches: First Presbyterian Church of Orlando (EPC), First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs (ECO), and First Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC (ECO) — all with over 3,000 members. Meanwhile the PCUSA itself has been on a very serious and precipitous decline (from 3 million in 1990 to 1.9 million in 2011), and those statistics are not the worse of it (the vast majority of the remaining membership is baby-boomer and older). I know that numbers aren’t everything, but when seminarians can’t find work, presbyteries are firing 2/3 of their staff, the national office is in turmoil…well, you get the idea.

    Meanwhile, the evangelicals are basically being forced out. At the General Assembly of 2011, the “chastity and fidelity” clause was removed from the Book of Order — to allow for “open and affirming” (sexually active) homosexuals to be ordained. At the 2012 GA, the removal of “man and woman” from the Book of Order’s rite for marriage — to allow for gay marriage — was only defeated by 16 votes…not because they didn’t have the support but because some of the moderate liberals didn’t want to further push evangelicals and our mission partners overseas.

    Yet, this is only the last straw in a long series of discontent with the denomination. Universalism is widely presupposed, and religious pluralist attitudes are widely tolerated — obviously hampering any sort of evangelistic thrust. Moreover, the atonement of Christ, in its basic substitutionary outline, is virtually absent from the average PCUSA pulpit, with the evangelicals the sole heirs of this critical doctrine in our confessions.

    To be clear, It’s great that you’ve found a solid PCUSA church. They still exist! But, it is good to be aware of these issues. I have complaints about the PCA, SBC, EFCA, and other evangelical denominations, but the issues are considerably more serious in the mainline denominations.

    I wish your family well in your new church!

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  9. Hey Kevin,

    Thank you for providing that background. I have been looking on-line at things, and I have seen all the things that you have mentioned here in your comment. The church we have found I would say is quite Evangelical, and seems very conservative on the continuum of things. We are just barely beginning to attend, and so I haven’t had a chance to talk to the pastor yet. But I look forward to doing that, and getting his perspective on all the above mentioned things you just highlighted about the PCUSA. The church we are attending has three services, they are in the middle of massive building project and campain; and so just, superficially looking at this church, that way, it does not appear to be in decline. In fact they have a separate building, just for their youth program. Anyway, we will see how it all goes, but we think we are going to be happy here.

    That’s crazy that you guys have just made the move you have, and based on what you have shared that makes total sense. I could imagine that the church we are at could make a similar move at some point as well.

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  10. Hi Bobby,

    It has been a while since I last commented on your blog, but I have been reading it regularly for a few years now.

    I hope that this doesn’t come across as aggressive, but I am interested in your response if you are willing to offer one. You wrote: “I would imagine that as the pastor and church leadership goes at a local body, so goes that body. We think we are at a body, that is quite Evangelical, and resonates with our persuasion. If not, then we will move on.”

    My question is this, how is this not symptomatic of a consumerist approach to belonging to particular community within the body of Christ? And of course, I am not using ‘consumerist’ in a positive sense. 🙂

    If I have become a little too familiar and stepped over the mark, please feel free to delete my question.

    Regards,
    Tony Johnson

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  11. Hi Tony,

    Because we have never ever been in these kind of waters before, I have no idea, really, what to expect. There are some very questionable and “liberal” dynamics associated with the pcusa, and if those are things that are present at this new church, which we wont know until we have some experience there, then we wont stay. I dont feel that committed yet to the pcusa or this particular church to be a reformer, per se.

    As far as being a consumer in a local church in general; I see nothing noble about persisting in a situation where gifts cannot be used, for example, because of doctrinal variance, say between myself and said church. That was the kind of situation we just left, which we stayed in for two years, and is why we have moved to a tradition that could be more in line with our beliefs. And really Tony I have been an enigma in any “Evangelical” church we have been in over the last several and many years. I dont fit in, doctrinally with any evangelical church (at least not from their perception; Im not a Lutheran; Im not Westminster reformed so that keeps me out of most prebyterian churches, RCA and URC churches. So my choices denominationally (if I want to have a teaching role in the church) are severely limited; unless I am willing to self censor myself, and I am not. So going to a church denomination that is associated with the kind of theology I am more comfortable with seems the only option (although I am going to start a Bible study and see where that might lead).

    But no, I dont think my posture is consumerist at all, at this point I am being careful and cautious, and for good reason as Kevin’s comment illustrates.

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  12. Hey Bobby,

    I know we’ve talked about this before; I’m glad to see you’re exploring new alternatives. I’m also flirting with the PC(USA), though lately I’ve been impressed by how our brand of “evangelical Calvinism/trinitarian-incarnational theology” fits well within the framework of moderate Lutheranism (á la Forde and Jenson, for example). Lutherans, for one, have no problem with denying the federal version of double predestination while maintaining a completely objective election in Christ.

    I’ll be attending either Yale Divinity or Princeton Seminary this fall (we’re having a hard time deciding), and that’s one of the things I’d like to do some research on, the interplay between Barth, Torrance and the Lutheran distinctives. Who knows, maybe we’ll do some work together in the future! 😉 As you know I’ve also been “lost in the evangelical wilderness” for some time, and there’s nothing I’d love more than to finally find an ecclesial family to join. The top contenders right now seem to be PC(USA), LCMC (moderate Lutheran) and Grace Communion International. I think I’m too evangelical for the Anglican alternatives. I also flirted with the Disciples for some time, but I found it lacking some historical rootedness, besides being a little too liberal for my moderate taste.

    Well, there you have it. I sure hope we find our place, man.

    Best,

    Joel

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  13. If I were to suggest denominations for the moderate evangelicals and Barthians among us, the more recent mainline breakaways are actually the best options:

    North American Lutheran Church (NALC) — they formed out of the mainline ELCA.

    Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) — they formed out of the Episcopal Church and united with some smaller “continuing” Anglican denominations.

    Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) — they formed out of the PCUSA.

    The NALC and ACNA have been experiencing tremendous growth in these first few years of their existence — of course, that is largely thanks to church dismissals from the mainline. Obviously, I am enthusiastic about ECO and the Fellowship of Presbyterians. I also think that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) is worth considering. Yes, they adhere to the Westminster Standards, but they allow for a more lenient subscription than the PCA. You will find Barthian types in the EPC and other “moderate Calvinists” who stress the universal love of God. My guess is that the EPC and ECO will eventually merge at some point, but hopefully without ECO giving-up their Book of Confessions (Scots Confession, Westminster Standards, Barmen Declaration, etc.). Be aware, however, that the EPC has some very charismatic, nondenom-type churches, which I would avoid.

    All of these denominations take doctrine seriously (relative to the rest of evangelicalism), and they take church history seriously and the Protestant confessions seriously. Yet, they do this with an irenic spirit and catholic sensibilities. They are “moderate” in the best sense of the term, which allows for a sharpened focus on the Kingdom of God.

    You will also discover that, on the whole, your gifts for teaching and enthusiasm for theology will be appreciated. At my own Presbyterian church, I have taught classes on doctrine, evangelism, church history, and biblical exegesis. These have been wonderful opportunities.

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  14. Bobby, I’m the PC(USA) pastor who left the link on your previous post. Thought I would simply respond here rather than there again. I’m in Pittsburgh, PA and did my MDiv at Princeton Seminary and my undergrad at Geneva College – which is a RP church (very dedicated to Westminster). I grew up in a PC(USA) congregation that had a very evangelical youth ministry so I’ve had one foot in both worlds for most of my life (Mainline/evangelical). What appeals to me about the PC(USA) is conversations can be had within the denomination. Ideas aren’t simply shut down and dismissed based on dogma (Westminster standards etc). Now for some that might be scary, and it might possibly lead us to take up positions on issues with which I disagree, but it keeps theological dialogue open and allows me to have conversations with folk of very different theological persuasions. Not only to have conversations but to stay in fellowship with those I disagree with and continue to call them my sister or brother in Christ. I’m also a committed “egalitarian” when it comes to women in ministry and the PC(USA), while not the only reformed denomination that does so, shares this commitment. I think it is common to assume that because a denomination leans “liberal” on some social issues it also must lean “liberal” on doctrinal issues. However, if you look at our book of confessions and read the most recent additions (Confession of 1967 and the brief statement of faith from the 1980’s) I think you won’t find the kind of things we are often accused of (denying the deity or resurrection of Christ or that we affirm a popular “universalism” (the all roads lead to heaven and are equally valid kind) or that we don’t believe the bible to be authoritative or God’s word (we may nuance this last one a bit but I think that’s necessary for anyone who is honest about it). In my humble opinion, most of the churches who have left have done so because of the social issues. But in order to do so they must come up with other more theological issues to make it seem ok. I’m not condemning any church for leaving, I’m one who thinks our denomination should make it as easy, while fair, as possible for congregations to leave with their building, however, when congregations leave it would be nice if they didn’t think it necessary to paint the rest of us as heretical on their way out the door (I’m using a bit of hyperbole here to make my point). Hope the the new congregation works out. I’m enjoying your posts having recently discovered the idea of your “evangelical calvinism”

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  15. All the best to you and your family, Bobby. You have a lot to give to any congregation – hope you can do so here!

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  16. Insofar as I may speak on behalf of evangelicals who have left the PCUSA or are in the process of leaving — we do not believe that gay marriage is a “social issue”; it’s a doctrinal issue. We leave the civil sphere and politics entirely out of our discussion. As for our adherence to the Constitution of the PCUSA, it is a matter of conscience whether we can stay in a denomination that fails to uphold and teach the law of God. (And, I trust that I don’t need to clarify that we are all sinners.)

    Having said that, I certainly appreciate the open atmosphere in the PCUSA, which contrasts well with more fundamentalist churches. However, that is faint praise compared to the PCUSA’s utter lack of evangelistic zeal, bolstered by a de facto (not de jure) universalism. Outside of a couple seminary classrooms, the confessions are ignored. The sad fact is that the values which the PCUSA upholds are the same values that are widely shared in our culture. Fosdick won, not Barth.

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  17. Kevin, I think your final paragraph is what I’m talking about. With one fell swoop you have just labeled all PC(USA) churches as not doing evangelism (despite the new 1001 church movement: http://www.onethousandone.org/Home.aspx) and plenty of evangelism taking place in local congregations, called us de facto universalists, and stated that we all ignore the confessions. And to cap it all off you stated that Fosdick won not Barth. OK, that might be true for some churches in the PC(USA) but can you, with a clear conscience, say that about all that are staying in the denomination? Can you say that about the church where I minister? In one paragraph you have done what I hoped congregations would not do as they leave the PC(USA) and possibly made my point for me about why I stay. I truly wish your congregation well, and I understand that when a divorce happens you almost have to demonize the other (in some ways) in order to make the split psychologically acceptable. But if I may, please encourage your congregation to leave in grace and peace and I hope your presbytery responds to your leaving in the same way.

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  18. Jerome,

    Thank you. I did hear from a representative of GCI, I still need to get back to him. Thank you, I think it was you, for alerting him to me :-).

    Joel,

    That is great to hear that you will be attending either one of those seminaries; I would attend PTS if I were you :-).

    There are some very evangelical Anglican communions around; there is one by us, but a little too far for us to drive every Sunday, and other days ;-). David Congdon is about to finish his PhD (if he hasn’t) at PTS, and I believe he is a member of a Lutheran church (I think the one you are looking at). You might want to contact him.

    I look forward to seeing where you end up, and it would be great to work with you someday.

    Kevin and Jason,

    Nice. Kevin, as you have already noted, there are still Evangelicals in the PCUSA, which your church. obviously represents, Jason’s does, and the one we will probably be attending does as well. So there’s at least three of them left. 🙂

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  19. Jason,

    When did I say “all” or “every”? I’m talking about general trends and an overall atmosphere. I’m characterizing the PCUSA’s majority, not each and every part. Obviously, as I wrote in my first comment on this post, I am fully aware of evangelicals (and moderates who are still rather orthodox) in the PCUSA.

    I am, after all, a seminarian at a PCUSA seminary (Union), that prides itself on being moderate, in one of the most historic presbyteries in the country (Charlotte). I’m fully aware of the 1001 push and the Next Conference that was just held in our city. I’ve had innumerable discussions with pastors, professors, students, and laity about the PCUSA. I think I have a rather good grasp of the denomination and its complexities. Nothing I have said is inaccurate or a mischaracterization of the dominant forces in the PCUSA. To the extent that we are “demonizing” the PCUSA, we have done so for the past 40 years. None of our grievances are new. What is new is the constitutional change that began with 10A but will continue (soon) with gay marriage — no one disputes the inevitability of that.

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  20. By the way, 1001 and Next have done little to assuage my doubts about the overall ethos of the PCUSA. Repeatedly, we are hearing that the PCUSA’s “content” is good, just the “form” needs to change. If anything, it is the other way around. Adding some praise bands and energetic youth leaders is not going to change the PCUSA around; rather, the actual content of her confessions and biblical mores need to be reclaimed. The liturgy is actually one of her strengths, especially to a rising generation that is increasingly exasperated by worship that panders to us.

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  21. Kevin:

    Everything you said about the PCUSA pretty much confirmed what I had heard already;I just had no first hand experience with what has been happening.

    Right now my congregation is in the PCA, though I don’t quite fit Westminster standards myself. I empathize with your feeling as an outside Bobby. I’m low-church but high-sacraments, anti-Constantinian and anti-pietism. In different ways I’d be at both times an Anglican and an Anabaptist.

    Cal

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  22. Bobby,

    I’ve been exploring the Lutheran tradition for some time and really like their law/gospel dichotomy, objective christology, rejection of double predestination, etc., and am even beginning to be convinced by its view of the sacraments…

    In no way can I deny the role of Barth and Torrance in my journey, but upon glancing at the ecclesial landscape, it just seems to me that our flavor of reformed theology is sometimes more compatible with Wittenberg than Geneva…

    Just out of curiosity, what would be some objections to a moderate confessional Lutheranism (like Forde’s) from the evangelical calvinist point of view?

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  23. Joel,

    Well, EC’s Christology is Reformed, and so would reject the Lutheran conception of communicatio idomatium in re. to the hypostatic union. And (2) EC follows the Reformed order of Grace before Law, and this shapes, at a fundamental (prolegomenon) methodological level how we proceed in our theologizing. So we, or at least I see creation itself as an act of God’s Wordly grace, and thus logically and chronologically grace (and/or God’s life/i.e. the Covenant of Grace) must precede Law.

    There are other differences; but these two represent substantial differences. Oh, one more; EC follows the Reformed understanding of a supralapsarian double election; except of course we opt for the Barthian reification of that, and the Torrancian articulation of that as Christ conditioned.

    So I am definitely “Reformed” in all of the above ways, theologically, and not Lutheran. And now my ecclesial identity will take this expression as we are identifying with the heritage of the Presbyterian church.

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  24. Also, one more; I view the eucharist in Reformed and Calvinian ways; through an theology of ascent as articulated in Julie Canlis’ book (disseration published) “Calvin’s Ladder.” I know there are other differences, and ones that definitely make the “Reformed” trajectory different than the Lutheran one (Karl Barth’s book The Theology of the Reformed Confessions would highlight how we also have a difference in re. to the role that scripture juxtaposed with confessions has for the Reformed V. the Lutheran).

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