Monday, October 30, 2006

Why I am Presbyterian/Reformed

Recently I had to write a statement of what it means to be Presbyterian. So here is what I said.

To me, to be Presbyterian means to be connected with the Reformed tradition which holds a high view of the authority of scripture, the sovereignty of God over all of life, a belief in the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith in Christ alone, practices a representative form of church government and its theology is continually reforming. I agree with both the historical development of these beliefs and practices as well as their Biblical soundness.

The Heart of Presbyterianism and the Reformed tradition is its perspective on the theology of the church, that is, ecclesia reformata semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei - the church reformed, always being reformed, according to the word of God. The spirit that birthed the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition (though largely lost now) is that he church must always be being reformed by the Word and the Holy Spirit. This belief allows local churches to evolve and emerge in a variety of changing cultural contexts. This is so important in the life of the local church because every local congregation must answer the question, what is God calling us to do in our missional context?” This may require the shape and form of the church to change and morph into something new and different. It may even require a shift in theology in order to incarnate the Gospel in that unique missional context. The idea that the church is always reforming is essential in every age but I think it to be particularly important as we shift form a modern to postmodern culture.

Finally Presbyterianism holds to a representative form of church polity, which I believe to be the most Biblical model of church government. It guards against a pure democracy where the pastor is at the mercy of any tangential disagreement in the congregation as well as the abuse of authoritarianism in a hierarchical model of church government. It places appropriative power and authority in the congregation through its elected elders and the pastor gives leadership and oversight to them while still being only one voice among the other elders.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I dig it! nicely said. I may send the link to my Dad.

dlweston said...

I agree with this statement in theory.

The idea that the church is always reforming is an important one that we pay a great deal of lip service to, but in actuality scares the life out of people!

I especially appreciate that you make the statement about theology shifting as well as the shape of the church. Though there are certain truths that we must hold onto as followers of Jesus Christ, christianity does and historically has taken different shape both in terms of ecclesiology and in broader terms of theology and ethics. That these things would become contextualized seems to only make sense, though that often times gets lost. The directory for worship offers far more leverage in terms of both theology and ecclesiology than is often expressed.

I'm curious about the context in which you had to write this statement. Is this something that the presbytery requires?

Eileen said...

(comment not related to post)

I heard you on the radio yesterday! Very cool... Great job.

bj woodworth said...

I wrote it to move from inquirer to candidate in the ordination proces.

Yes we do give lip service to this but that is why I am hear so we can move from believing in it to doing it.

jazztheo said...

Hello my friend,

it's good to see you moving through the process. I spent 7+ years in the inquirer stage because I just didn't sense the call to the Presbyterian Church. I'm reformed in spirit, just not in the letter.


Matty B said...

Ok so I made a blog site. Em doesn't even know. Check it at

about the priesthood of all believers...I just read a book saying that the reason that men are often not happy functioning in church b/c all priests or "pastors" try to make priests of all members and don't allow the men to be kings.

Meaning in Old Test the priest needed serving, providing, and conquering kings to provide counsel, provision ($), etc for the priest to be freed to vision cast (apostle) and be the priest.

I do believe that we are all priests. Some are kings and priests at the same time, but only a few: BJ and Creasey are prients only. Which I took to basically mean that they don't have to have a job to pay the bills outiside of their "ministry."

Superlong, but what you think?

Matty B said...

uhh correction: all kings are priests as well.
some ppl. are priests only: the pastor, the music minister etc