Many of my friends and associates work in churches and ministries. Some of them talk quite a bit about being “reformed.” They make it a point to bring this up often. Some even go as far as to include the label on their blogs and websites. Presently, there are debates among Southern Baptist leaders about who is the most reformed, or whether it is OK to breath the word in the context of their ministries. Southern Baptists go as far as to offer conferences addressing reformed theology and to issue informal statements about their theological positions in an effort to garner support and approval from like-minded leaders. Have we taken this discussion too far? The Protestant Reformation occurred hundreds of years ago.
Can we not agree on whether God is sovereign over all things, that humanity is fallen, that the saved are elect, that salvation is in Christ alone, that sanctification leads to the transformation of persons and society? Why is this still being debated? Could it be that denominational leaders are so narcissistic that they want to continue the argument so that they draw attention to themselves and to their own glory for being in such a superior theological position than others? Or are they afraid they are going to lose influence if they don’t line up with their cronies and continue to draw the unassuming masses to their churches?
I have a response for reformers. My answer may sound a bit smug, but I don’t intend it to be that way. My answer goes something like this, “One thing I am sure of—I seek to be conformed and transformed.” I like these words. Conformed and transformed.
By now you know that I am referring to a couple of passages in Scripture, Romans 8:29 and Romans 12:2. Romans 8:29 refers to how God has called us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” In contrast to this type of conformity, Romans 12:2 tells us what not to be conformed to: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
It seems that all the reformed guys are more intent on being conformed to their reformed counterparts than they are on being conformed to the image of Christ. I don’t hear much coming from these guys about the “conforming” that God works in us, the ultimate and complete sanctification. This is the goal of our relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Conformation implies that there is something already established that is the object of our conformation. This is God’s will and it is a concept that we must grapple with in order to understand His will.
The act of transformation involves something in transition, namely ourselves and our constant act of turning our mind toward God in each thing we are confronted with in the world. It is a metamorphosis, a total change from the inside out that is led by the mind. My mind is transformed as I pray, as I read God’s Word, as I involve myself in fellowship with other believers. This transformation is essential in discovering God’s will for our lives.
Be careful of the tendency to ignore conforming and transforming. Sometimes the snare is the theological issue of the day, things that tend to puff up rather than to produce the humility and patience of being conformed to His image. My prayer is that Christians would carefully examine their hearts to see if God is working in them in such a way that produces this image in them.
- On the Platform: Reformed Theology debate (ib2news.org)
- Reformed Theology coming under more published scrutiny by Peter Lumpkins (peterlumpkins.typepad.com)
- Southern Baptist Decline — Sightings (Martin Marty) (bobcornwall.com)
- Worship for a Change (pastorjonev.typepad.com)