Thursday, July 28, 2016

What is a Reformed Church: Scripture as Authority (Part 2)


So Scripture comes from God. But is Scripture sufficient? Put another way, are there other places of authority I can seek? Or has God spoken elsewhere and thus I can "supplement" Scripture with "new revelation"?

The Reformed Church holds to the sufficiency of Scripture. That sets the Reformed Church apart from Roman Catholicism (and Eastern Orthodoxy) on the one hand, and the Charismatics on the other hand. Roman Catholicism believes that the church, especially the "see of Peter" at Rome, has magisterial or ruling authority over the church. Eastern Orthodox holds to a similar stance except it is spread out among their patriarchs. In Charismatic churches, the issue of ongoing prophecy competes with the biblical view of prophecy as expressed in 2 Peter 1:21, and thus acquire at least some form of semi-canonical status. While not all charismatics are the same, it is clear that belief in ongoing prophecy today must logically lead to opening up the (now closed) canon of Scripture and thus clearing the path for God to speak in these new prophecies apart from Scripture.

Scripture alone is sufficient for all of faith and life. This is what is taught in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, in that Scripture is adequate (Greek artios), and it is practiced by Jesus Himself. The fact that God locates authority only in His Word logically leads to saying that Scripture is sufficient, for God did not put His authority anywhere else. Thus the claims of Rome (Roman Catholicism) and Constantinople (Eastern Orthodoxy) are at once rejected. Against the Charismatics, Hebrews 1:1-2 shows us that God's revelation has ceased and finalized in the Scriptures we have. The gift of prophecy is to proclaim God's words, and with the closing of the canon, that gift is now limited to the proclamation of God's Word from the pulpit, for God does not reveal anything new today.


Scripture is made up of 66 books and uses a wide variety of styles, genres and vocabulary. It might look like Scripture is intimidating and hard to read, and it could be hard to read and understand. Yet God who authors Scripture inspires it in order for us to understand, as the Word brings faith to us (Rom. 10:17) and equips us (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Scriptures are at the same time easy and difficult, easy since it is made to be understood yet parts of it may be difficult. This is expressed in the Westminster Confession as follows:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (WCF 1.7)


The Scriptures are the ultimate authority for the Church, and it is thus in the Reformed Church. The Creeds and Confessions frame our doctrinal conversations, yet they too are to be derived from Scripture as our ultimate authority. The Scriptures, fully inspired, authoritative and clear, grounds us in what God actually says, and, together with the derived standards of the creeds and confessions, form the basis for the life and practice of the Reformed Church.

What is a Reformed Church: Scripture as Authority (Part 1)

Scripture as authority

If the creeds and confessions are the doctrinal constitution for the church, the ultimate authority is Scripture. The creeds and confessions frame our doctrinal conversations, but the source and authority in all things are the Scriptures themselves. The Scriptures only are revealed from God, fully inspired from God, consist of the canon of the 66 books of the Bible, and are sufficient and clear for us. Therefore they alone can function as our ultimate authority in all things.

Authority - Scripture Alone

In especially this time and age, many people are skeptical of authority and authority claims. They rightly see that claims of authority imply the necessity for them to submit to said authority if the claim is true. Human authorities have a terrible history of abuse and committing evil, and therefore it is understandable that claims of authority will be met with skepticism or even hostility.

The Reformed Church during the Reformation has already rightly recognized the problem with illegitimate authority. But unlike the modern and postmodern skeptics, the Reformed Church did not throw away authority altogether. It is after all impossible to throw away all authority, for the trashing of all external authority only leads to the tyranny of one's internal authority — oneself, whether in proud self-confidence (modernism) or proud self-abasement (postmodernism). The Reformed Church faced off against the illegitimate authority of the Roman Church and turned back to the proper source of authority — God. Only the God who is all-good and all-loving and who creates and dictates all reality can be trusted with absolute authority. God alone has final authority, so God alone is the only final authority, and thus the Word of God is the ultimate authority, the Word of God that is the Scriptures. It is not the sayings of the church, the traditions of men, that have final authority. It is not even the authoritative deliberations of the church and the creeds and confessions that have final say, but only what God says goes.

In the Scriptures, the final authority of Scripture is upheld by Jesus many times throughout his preaching as he appeals to Scripture, "It is written," especially in confrontation with the Devil (e.g. Mt. 4:4,7,10). For "To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn" (Is. 8:20). As it is beautifully stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith:

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.(WCF 1.4)

Revelation and Inspiration

The Scripture are revealed by God and thus they are God's Word. They are inspired from God, and this is done through the "breathing out" from God (2 Tim. 3:16; the Greek word theopneustos) What this means is that God is the main author of all of Scripture, and it is as if God Himself is speaking in the same way as the breath of a person comes from the person. As 2 Peter 1:21 states, the prophecy that is Scripture does not arise from the will of man but from God who uses men to convey His divine Word in human form.

Scripture is revealed from God and its author is God, yet it also has a human author. As it was mentioned in the comment on 2 Peter 1:21, prophecy of Scripture comes from God who uses men to convey His divine word in human form. Thus, we do not deny the human element the human authorship, of Scripture. Luke himself expresses his comments on his first book, the Gospel of Luke, like he was writing a research project, as he wrote:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, (Acts 1:1)

Thus, we do affirm the human element in Scripture, yet God who is sovereign uses men to convey His divine Word through human words, as 2 Peter 1:21 so clearly says. Everything in Scripture therefore is inspired from God (2 Tim. 3:16).


The word "canon" comes from the Greek and it meant a rule. The Canon of Scripture tells us what is Scripture. The Reformed Church, in places like WCF 1.2, defines the canon as the 66 books of the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Thus defined, anyone wanting to know what Scripture says can go to that definitive collection of books and know that whatever one reads is indeed Scripture inspired from God.

This delineation of the canon is in contrast to the canon of the Roman church, which has extra books in their canon called the Apocrypha. In recent times, liberal "Christian" scholars have also claimed additional books that have been removed from the original canon, the additional books being collectively called the Gnostic texts. In the minds of these liberal scholars, the original canon of Scripture contains many more books like these Gnostic texts, and over time the "winners" of the orthodox party remove the books they didn't like and define the canon their way. The canon for these liberals is a human invention, not a divine artifact.

So who gets to decide what is canon and what is not canon? If God is the one who inspired Scripture, then surely God is the one who gets to define what He has inspired and what He has not inspired. And just as God inspired Scripture through human agents in history, so likewise the canon of Scripture gets recognized in history. One can look at history and see how the church recognizes certain books as canon, together with a list of criteria they think a book in the canon should have, but ultimately the canon just come into being in history . The canon is after all a historical artifact, not an inspired list. When an author writes a book, a canon of his writings has been established (consisting of that book). If he writes 5 books, his canon now has those 5 books, but nowhere has he created a canon through lists. Any list of his writings come after the canon is established, not before. Likewise, the canon comes into being as God inspires book after book of Scripture, thus it is a historical artifact not an additional thing that requires authentication and validation, as opposed to how Roman Catholics tend to think of the matter. God defines the canon through inspiring these books and not others, and the Church as the recipient of that revelation recognizes the canon, not creates it.

[to be continued]

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What is a Reformed Church: Confession and its benefits

Confession and its benefits: Setting parameters that are good for everyone

As the constitution of the church, the creeds and confessions function to frame the general framework for how one ought to read and interpret the Bible, a framework which the church is convinced is derived from Scripture itself. But how does having this framework help us in the life of the church?

The main thing that we always need to remember is constitution is not about specific law. The creeds and confessions of faith are consensus documents expressing the doctrines that many Christians can agree on. Being consensus documents, that means they tend to omit idiosyncratic peculiarities of some theologians, and take no stand on minor points of doctrine that Christians can legitimately disagree with. Also, they might sometimes focus on what they think are the important issues of their times. As we read the creeds and confessions, we need to try to keep those in mind so that we do not mis-read the confessions.

The Creeds and Confessions, as constitution, obviously regulate and dictate the way the church teaches and preaches and operates. This strictness if you will means there are guidelines for preaching and teaching and ministering. That might sounds restrictive, but we should see as protection, just like laws against murder are not restrictive but are there to deter and punish murderers, and thus protect citizens. This protective quality is good for believers, because it provides some, albeit not foolproof, protection against false teachers who will seek to destroy their faith in Christ. It promotes stability and direction in the life of the church, which can focus more effort on instruction, discipling and evangelism instead of fighting doctrinal fires of controversy all year round (or worse).

A second benefit of confessions is that it protects everyone from doctrinal speculations and cultural expectations which may not be grounded in Scripture that some believe to be biblical. This is where the doctrine of Christian liberty comes in. No one, not even a pastor or an elder, can demand anyone in he congregation to do something not commanded in Scripture and not mandated in the Confessions. No one can demand another person in church whether they should or should not drink alcohol, whether they should or should not dye their hair, whether they should or should not send their children to public schools, and the list goes on.

On issues that are mentioned in some fashion in the Confessions, reading the confessions correctly also means resisting the impulse by some to take what certain parts of the confession regarding godliness a-contextually. The main example here is the issue of Sabbath keeping. The Westminster Standards for example seem to prohibit games on the Lord's Day and mandate keeping the whole day holy to the Lord. Many neo-puritans might come away from reading the Westminster Standards thinking that soccer or even a game of Monopoly cannot be played between friends and family for fun on Sundays. They read "all the day" and think 24 hours, or at least the time between one's awaking, and one's going to bed. These people deny these parts of the Westminster Standards as case law, and thus their failure to read the Confessions properly as constitution. Now, if that is their personal conviction on how the Sabbath is to be kept, good for them. But it is a travesty when they think their way is the only way to keep the Sabbath.

Holding on to the confessions thus is a very beneficial exercise for the church. It guides and protects believers from false teaching on the one hand, and guides and protects believers from unbiblical expectations on the other. Against the chaos of free, independent churches, there is direction, guidance and stability. Against the authoritarian demands from other church members, or even leaders, there is the liberty found in Christ. The Reformed Church because of its confessionalism, when practiced, is a stable and healthy church, and all believers should hasten to her and her benefits.

What is a Reformed Church: Confession and being biblical

Confession: It is biblical

A Reformed church holds on to the historic creeds and confessions. But what relation do these creeds and confessions have to biblical truth? After all, if it functions as the constitution for the church, does this not make it above Scripture in terms of authority?

The struggle to understand how something that is not the Bible is the constitution has produced two responses to the question. The first response is to say that the confessions are held to because (quia) they are biblical. The second response is to say that the confessions are held to insofar (quatanus) as they are biblical. Both try to preserve the final authority of Scripture while having the confessions as the constitution of the church. The former has Scripture as authority, and then see the Confessions as authoritative because they are biblical, while the latter says that the confessions are authoritative, but only insofar as they are biblical.

How should a Reformed church think of the relation between the confessions and the Bible? The confessions are to be held both because they are and insofar as they are biblical. Just like the people examining a constitution, the confessions are periodically examined as to whether they are biblical. Thus, the confessions are to be held insofar as they are biblical. But just as most of the time after the period of examination of the constitution the people follow the constitution as the ultimate "law" of the land, so likewise in a Reformed church, the confessions are taken as authoritative because they are biblical, after the examination period is over. Therefore, like a constitution which could be amended, confessions could be amended if found wanting. But any such examination is not the everyday experience, which is that we follow the confessions as authoritative because they are biblical.

Of course, many today flock to the slogan "no creed but Christ." The problem is that itself is a creed. Everyone forms for themselves some form of creed and confession that they live by, as what they think Scripture teaches. Instead of living on an unspoken and unexamined creed, why not look at the Reformed creeds and confessions as those that have been tried and tested over the ages, and then live by them as you are convicted by the biblical truth in them?

Monday, July 18, 2016

What is a Reformed Church: Confession As Constitution

Ways of holding on to the confession

A Reformed Church holds to the historical catholic creeds and the Reformed confessions. But what role do these have in the life of the church?

There are couple of ways these doctrinal statements could be understood and used in the life of the church. They could be treated as summaries of correct doctrine (Paradigm 1). They could be treated as historical documents to be honored (Paradigm 2). They could be treated as guidelines towards greater truth (Paradigm 3). They could be treated as basis for godly living (Paradigm 4). Or they could be treated as the doctrinal constitution of a church (Paradigm 5). All of these can be listed as follows:

  1. Confessions as doctrinal summaries
  2. Confessions as honored history
  3. Confessions as signposts
  4. Confessions for godliness
  5. Confessions as constitution

If the creeds and confessions are treated as summaries of correct doctrine, then the creeds and confessions are data-mined for doctrinal propositions. Such a practice is more likely to occur in what are called "fundamentalist" churches. These propositions are abstracted from their original context and then taken to be transcendental truths. That might work for most statements, but sometimes this does not work. For example, Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) 21.8 states that we must on Sunday rest from "worldly employments and recreations." If one takes the confession-as-doctrinal-summary position, then one has to believe that playing any game with family and friends on Sunday should be prohibited, not even board games with family and/or friends. But this I would assert is an incorrect way to read and practice the creeds and confessions.

The opposite error is treating them as historical documents to be honored, paradigm 2. Such a practice is found in many mainline Protestant churches especially those who were Reformed (and who might still consider themselves reformed). Such churches treat the creeds and confessions as showing us the work of God in their particular historical contexts, and mark how God has worked mightily at that time. Therefore, the creeds and confessions are to be honored, maybe even read during a worship service, but the content of the creeds and confessions may or may not be important. What is important, such churches assert, is the "spirit" of the creeds and confessions, which seems (and is) vague and ambiguous.

Those who hold on to paradigm 2 might also hold to paradigm 3, but those holding to paradigm 3 might not hold to paradigm 2. Paradigm 3, the confession-as-signpost position, takes the creeds and confessions as pointing a trajectory towards greater truth and knowledge. This paradigm is associated with a Hegelian and modernist view of progress, and is found whenever optimism in human progress can be found. Therefore, it is associated with Liberal churches and those who hold to liberation theology on the one end (left-wing), and it is also associated with churches in the Charismatic "New Apostolic Reformation" on the other end (right-wing). In either case, if any of these churches hold to the creeds and confessions, it is to use them so as to go beyond them; the creeds and confessions are just stepping stones towards "final" orthodoxy.

The fourth paradigm, confession-for-godliness, sees the creeds and confessions as primarily to provoke godly living, to provoke general growth in godliness. This paradigm can be found in Pietist and evangelical circles, and sometimes overlap with churches who hold to the first paradigm. For those who hold to paradigm 4, the particular doctrines may or may not be important, but what is important is that the confessions lay the framework for godliness. The emphasis among its advocates will be on practice, and thus they will emphasize parts of the confessions and catechisms dealing with the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. Needless to say, the same issue with WCF 21.8 applies here.

The fifth paradigm, confession-as-constitution, hold the creeds and confessions as the doctrinal constitution of the church. As constitution, they hold normative authority for all teaching and doctrinal discussions. As constitution, they are general and not specific laws. As constitution, they function as the "system of truth" constraining discussions on doctrine on the one hand, and allowing diversity within the system of truth on the other hand.

Problems with other ways of holding to the confessions

The problem with the first paradigm is that it treat the creeds and confessions as being specific instead of general. One problem for this paradigm is making a specific case law (e.g. WCF 21.8) into a general prohibitive principle. Another problem for this paradigm comes when something not discussed in the creeds and confessions come along. If one takes the creed-as-doctrinal-summary position, there is no way the creeds and confessions could be used to address anything not found or discussed in the creeds and confessions, at least no legitimate way according to this paradigm.

The problem with the second paradigm is that the "spirit" of the creeds and confessions cannot be divorced from the actual contents of the creeds and confessions. Also, "honoring" the creeds and confessions without actually following them is paying them lip service and treating them like sacred relics rather than actual documents with statements in them. The problems with the third paradigm are the same as those with the second paradigm, with the extra problem that one is imposing an unbiblical narrative of "progress" on the creeds and confessions.

Concerning the fourth paradigm, it partakes of the problems with the first paradigm, while it also has the problem of imposing an unbiblical frame of prioritizing the "practical" aspects of the creeds and confessions more than their other parts. In their desire to make the creeds and confessions law instead of constitution, both the first and fourth paradigms ignore the category of "case laws" and thus impose strict practical constraints on believers.

Confession as constitution

The Reformed churches at their healthiest see the creeds and confessions as their constitution. They are there to set the standard for teaching and doctrinal discussion, drawing a line in the sand of what is tolerable and what is outside of the bounds of orthodoxy. The way they are structured also shows us the way our doctrinal discussions ought to be structured, so that we would not veer towards unbiblical ways of thinking.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What is a Reformed Church: Prolegomena (Part 2)

Thematic markers of a Reformed Church

The Reformed Church is a church rooted in history. As I have mentioned, two markers of the modern age have been a trend towards the priority of individual piety, and a trend towards divorcing the church from her history through the centuries. The Reformed Church reject both of these trends, while desiring to be biblical and historical.

Before we move on to the specifics, what are the thematic markers of the Reformed Church, markers which form the foundational pillars for a Reformed view concerning the faith and the church? The first thematic marker is that of the unity of the internal and the external. This runs counter to the first trend. But what does this actually mean? The "internal" or "individual" refers to one's individual piety. Thus it refers to private reading of the Bible in private devotions. It refers to one's time of prayer before God. It refers to personal fasting and any other exercises of piety (if any) a Christian may be engaged in in his personal time.

In contrast to this the "external" or "corporate" refers to what one does in the public setting of corporate worship. Therefore, it refers to going to the public worship at church. It refers to partaking of the Lord's Supper. It refers to going for prayer meetings at church, fellowship events at church, and participating in any event done in public in the life of the church.

The Reformed church holds that the internal and the external should be linked. They are not to be equated, as if going to church is the same as reading the Bible by yourself, but neither should they be pitted against each other. Therefore, a Christian ought to attend worship on the Lord's Day, Sunday, as well as reading the Bible by himself. Neglecting personal devotion is to fall into the error of formalism, that is just going through the motions of religion. But neglecting to join in the church's worship is to fall into the opposite error of pietism or spiritualism, that is pretending to obey God by being "spiritual" while denying what God has actually told us to do.

The second thematic marker is that the Church is a historical Christian church. Primitivism, or the error that always desire to go back to the example of the apostolic church, is rejected by the Reformed church in her purest times. Primitivism is wrong not because the apostolic church is wrong but because trying to emulate the apostolic church flattens out historical differences.

Think about it: We recognize there are changes in a language throughout time, and cultural values change over time, so why should we think that there are no real differences that should exist between the church today and the church during the time of the apostles? In the Reformed church, we hold to real historical progress, but this progress is one of the movement of God's redemptive plan, not of Man's advancement in knowledge. True biblical progress is a progress of God's plan through time. Man's idea of progress, especially as coming from the Enlightenment, is all about Man getting better and better. The Reformed church believes in the former progression of God's plan while rejecting the latter view of human progress that downplays and denies sin.

The progression of God's plan implies that God is constantly at work in the Church. Therefore, the church is always situated in history. While we ought to always take Scripture as our authority, yet we ought to interact with and appropriate the treasure and insights given to us by the pastors and theologians that come before us.

So what does this look like? It means that we see how God has developed his Church and critically engage our forebears and adopt their insights where biblical, on the issues that we might face. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and do not have to re-invent the wheel every single generation. It means that when we come to any topic we might be interested in, we learn how Christians before us have thought about the topic and critically engage it with the Scriptures.

The church in older times have given us much in this regard. Besides the writings and reflections of Christian pastors and theologians through the centuries, what stands out are what we call the creeds and confessions of the Church. Creeds and confessions are official documents issued by the church to tell us what they hold to be true. They are not private reflections on biblical topics, but public statements on those topics, and thus they have an air of authority around them. The creeds and confessions come into being as God's plan progresses through the history of the church, and thus they acquire an important place in the life and beliefs of the church.

The Reformed church, as a historical church, holds to the Christian creeds and confessions. Of the Christian creeds of the catholic faith (not Roman Catholic, but ancient catholic and early medieval catholic), we hold to the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed (or Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed), the Athanasian Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon. Of the confessions of faith, the Reformed church has formulated various confessions depending on where they are located (whether they began in France, England, Netherlands or Germany) and depending on their interactions with each other and the Lutherans. Of the Reformed Confessons, there are the Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession of Faith, Canons of Dordt), the Second Helvitic Confession of Faith, the 39 Articles of the Church of England, the Westminster Standards (Westminster Confession of Faith, Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms etc), the Savoy Confession of Faith and the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. Depending on which path Christians have followed and will follow, they would confess one or more of these Reformed Confessions. Some of these confessions differ from each other on doctrines that are important yet do not affect the essence of the Reformed view. Thus, various Reformed churches might differ on important doctrines without either of them being un-Reformed.

So, in conclusion of this section, the thematic markers of a Reformed Church are as follows:

  1. We hold to the unity of internal and external piety
  2. We hold to a historical progression of God's plan in the history of the church
  3. Therefore, we hold to the importance of consulting the wisdom and insights of our forebears.
  4. Therefore, we hold to the importance of the creeds and confessions of the historic Christian church.

These are the thematic markers of the Reformed church, which is to say the framework the Reformed church utilizes in thinking about doctrines and all other topics, to which we shall look at next.

[to be continued]

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What is a Reformed Church: History (Part 1)

Brief history of the Church: Situating the Reformed Church

There are many different churches in the world today. Some call themselves "Presbyterian," others "Methodist," others "Assemblies of God," and others claim to be just "Christian." All Christians follow Christ, so why are there so many churches? Also, why "reformed"? Isn't that another division of Christians in a world where there are already too many divisions?

The issue of why is there such a thing as a "reformed" church is one rooted in history. To understand what "reformed" is and why it is important that the church be "reformed," we need to understand some basic church history

The church as we know it began at Pentecost, as described in Acts 2. After the times of the apostles, the church continue to grow and multiply in Gentile areas especially within the Roman Empire. As the church grew, it began to express her thoughts and teachings using Greco-Roman ways of thought, and came to know itself as the Catholic Church. As the Roman Empire declined, the Ancient Catholic Church took on many of the previous functions of the declining Roman Empire, resulting in the medieval papacy and the Medieval Catholic Church. That church became corrupt over time, thus in the 16th century the Reformation erupted onto the scene of history.

The Reformation was a call by the Reformers to return back to the Scriptures, to pure worship of God, to devotion towards God that is line with what is taught in Scripture. The Reformers sought to reform the church as they recognized that the Medieval Catholic Church was a corruption of the true church. The Reformers believed in the promise of Matthew 16:18 that the gates of hell will not prevail upon the church, and therefore the Reformation was not about overthrowing the Medieval Church and creating a new one in its place. The Reformers saw themselves as "Reformed Catholics" as they wanted to preserve what were true in the Medieval Church while at the same time removing the corruptions within her.

After the times of the Reformation, two major trends began to emerge. The first trend is that of a privitization of faith, or making faith an internal, individual matter between a person and God. After the Reformation, the beginnings of Pietism in the 17th century and the Enlightenment in the 18th century centers matters of faith onto the private and the individual. This trend is not necessarily bad since faith is indeed deeply personal, but the modern trend over-corrected such that the corporate and external dimensions of faith have been minimized or even rejected. The second trend is that of divorcing the Christian faith from the history of the church. Whereas the church all the way until the Reformation has always seen herself as being in continuity with the past, in the modern period, people began to recast the Reformers in their image and think the Reformation was all about rejecting all of church history and going back directly to the apostolic period. In scholarly speak, the first trend is known as pietism and invidualism, and the second trend is known as primitivism. These two trends combined have contributed to the many Christian movements and multiplication of denominations in the Age of Modernity (approximately 17th - 21st century), with mixed benefits to Christianity.

The Reformed Church is the Church coming out of the 16th century Reformation, before the two major trends in the modern age transformed what people thought about Christianity and practiced it. Needless to say, the Reformed Church rejects both of these trends. While we do not believe in going back to the 16th century as if it were a golden age, we think the Reformers and the Reformed Confessions penned during those times to be more correct in their views of the Christian faith and of the church.

[to be continued]