I have a friend, they were invited by the local vicar along to church some years back and quickly got very involved. More than that, it is oh so clear that they have had a wonderful encounter with the Gospel. They love Scripture and set aside time each day to read it and pray. There’s only one problem, I don’t think they would really have much awareness about labels like Evangelical, let alone being “Reformed.”
I was thinking about them as I was writing about the urban forgotten although they don’t fit that category. However, they made me think about one of the potential barriers that reformed evangelicalism can create for itself.
Remember my comment that I know people who are intelligent but not intellectual, not into fancy terms, not very self confident and likely to feel excluded by cliques.
Now, theologically I am unashamedly reformed but I think we can risk creating reformed cultures that exclude and alienate. I have headed reformed people talk, bluntly with a sneer, about other Christians and congregations and assessed them as not Reformed, or not Reformed enough. They are describing people who love the Lord, trust in his sovereignty and know they are saved by grace alone but they do not have the right language or terminology.
I think that there are a few of Jesus’s parables that speak to that situation!
So, some things to think about:
1. What does someone have to be “in the know” about to survive in our church?
2. Do people feel able to admit that they don’t know the meanings of words and terminology without being looked down upon?
3. Do our preachers and teachers clearly communicate God’s Word without a dependence upon jargon and highly specialised technical language?
4. Is our belief in the doctrines of grace characterised not just by our words and ability to know them but our attitudes and actions?