I have a friend who identifies himself as a reformed Christian. This is a new development in his faith journey, and he is very excited about all the implications of the Gospel, the Sovereignty of God, and all that amazing stuff. There is nothing wrong with the reformed tradition in my understanding of the tradition. I find myself more inline with the Reformed Tradition in a lot of areas of theology. There are some things that I just can’t buy into though. Mainly the L in T.U.L.I.P. (if you don’t know what that means then google it).
One of my concerns with the resurgence of the reformed tradition among young Christians is the way that they are identifying themselves. This was highlighted over a silly twitter dialogue about sports and idolatry. My friend at one point identified himself as a “Reformed Christian”. This set off an alarm to me. My fear is that those who identify themselves with this term are putting their tradition first and Christianity second.
Now, you may read that statement and say that I ma over reacting. To be honest I hope that I am over reacting. The problem to me is that those in the reformed tradition are using that term to create a division between their group and all the rest of the Christian Traditions. And the formed group are not the only ones who do this, they have been the most vocal lately. They have been the ones who have been drawing lines in the sand. But every tradition in the Christian faith has a tendency to do this. Charismatic Christian, Reformed Christian, Home-Church Christian, Social-Justice Christian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Episcopal, Anglican, Arminian, etc. We have created labels, labels have created divisions between our traditions, and that has caused confusion in the world outside the church looking in.
I have long believed that Christian makes a horrible adjective, Christian Music, Christian Television Christian Dentist, Christian ________. Now I am also concerned with the labels that we are putting on our selves. ________ Christian might be helpful in creating groups that we find ourselves in agreement with. But all these divisions cause confusion to the world.
Did Jesus call us to be reformed, charismatic, Greek orthodox, etc.? Or did he call us to himself? Would Jesus identify himself with any of the labels that we put on him and his teaching? Why do you put them on ourselves. Why can’t we just be content with calling ourselves Christians? The kingdom is big enough for all of our traditions that look to Jesus the son of God, that believe in his death on the cross as the final sacrifice for all of our sins, that believe in his resurrection from the dead, that believe that Jesus is still alive, that he has called his followers to continue to build his kingdom, that heaven and hell are real (these are much more complicated than any of us can claim to understand).
They will know we are Followers of Jesus by our love for one another, not the labels that we put on ourselves.