Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What's a "Traditional" Presbyterian? And how does "Reformation" back to the "truly" traditional boundaries happen?

I found it helpful to read [this article] by Dr. Benjamin Shaw from GPTS.

Of course, there are many more particular issues that could be added to the few that he mentions: idoltraous images of Christ, the lack of evening services and midweek prayer meetings, the de-emphasis upon preaching, the emphasis upon music, the use of choirs, the wearing of clerical garb, etc.

But so much of what is traditional was "born yesterday" in the history of the church, and especially of Presbyterian--and that for good reason. Not only does it fail to be biblical; but, in so many cases, the new "tradition" either implicitly obscures or explicitly counteracts something biblical and important.

As I was reading Dr. Shaw's article, I felt a kinship in his experience. The church I grew up in was EPC, not mainline.

And the seminary I went to actually had me read for class many of the volumes in which I discovered that you could substitute the phrase "liberal Presbyterian" for the phrase "traditional Presbyterian" in most people's thoughts and dialogue, and almost always be more theologically and historically accurate.

But, after reading the article, I find myself wondering if there aren't a great many people who look at those liberal and spiritually unhealthful (and in some cases, simply wicked) "traditions," and think that they are important components of our faith that ought to be celebrated, rather than recent intrusions that need to be purged.

That brings me to the main point of his article. It isn't just for the PCA. It stands for all of us. In doctrine, worship, morality, and polity--as in much of the rest of life--if we don't understand why the boundaries are there, we are precisely those for whom the boundaries are most necessary!

Reformation is a long work. In the age of imperfection (until the Lord returns), it is a lifetime work for every believer, every elder, every congregation. In reforming particular things, it can be a work that spans generations.

Along the way, there is much educating to do. Sometimes, people just have never been exposed to the biblical teaching. And there is much loving to do. There are folks who either can't--or, more often, will never exert the mental effort to--understand why something ought to be changed. But they will tolerate much, if they know that you love them.

But in all Reformation, as we marvel at the holiness of God and honor that holiness by a relentless pursuit of being biblical...

let us also marvel at the patience of God. How very much of what we have held dear turns out in actuality to offend Him and deserve wrath!

And how marvelous that, for the sake of His Son, and the love in which He sent Him, He has patiently borne with all these failings... continuing to extend to us the sacred indwelling and powerful working of His Holy Spirit!
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also... the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect... And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will... But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
2Timothy 2:1-2, 2:9-10, 2:24-26, 3:14-4:2

No comments:

Post a Comment