Happy Reformation Sunday — for yesterday!
For some reason, I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis lately. I’ve begun to doubt whether I can legitimately claim what has long been my preferred theological moniker — reformed evangelical Anglican.
It’s not the Anglican and evangelical parts that make me anxious (and even if they did, Michael’s excellent recent series of posts would have done wonders for my nerves). It’s the ‘reformed’ bit that’s troubling me.
As I lie awake pondering primary and secondary causality, I find myself deeply divided. It’s the distinctive language of reformed theology that’s doing it to me. On the one hand, I find that lots of it — primary and secondary causality, divine permission, etc — leaves me cold. Especially when it gets invoked at the start of a discussion, effectively putting an end to the conversation before it can even get going.
On the other hand, though, I often find myself arriving at the conclusion that you can’t faithfully speak about the good news of what God has done in Jesus without the traditional reformed language — or something very much like it. (This is more or less where I got to as I reflected on the sneak preview Mark provides of Jesus’ final defeat of evil, for example.)
I’m not sure I’ve sorted this all out yet. But at the moment my working hypothesis is that reformed language and terminology should only be used in so far as it ‘lives’ evangelically — that is, as it speaks to us of the gospel, and in turn helps us speak of the gospel.
I know this needs unpacking. So you’d be very welcome to take me up on it in the comments.