The thought hit me about a month ago. I don’t know why I’ve never seen it before, but it’s true, clear as day. The modern day reformed guys (and girls) are no different than the very thing most of them grew up in and reacted against–namely the legalistic, traditional fundamentalists.
Let’s start by defining legalism. Legalism is taking an extra-biblical standard that you have chosen for your own personal holiness that’s inherently good and applying that expectation on everyone else, using others as a gauge of your merit, and finding assurance of your salvation through your measurable standard.
So, in walk reformed guys. It’s edgy, it’s cool, and we’re bringing accurate, biblical truth back into Western Christianity. These guys know what the Bible actually has to say about issues, they know better than to think we can attain righteousness through works, and they know their theology, so weaker-minded legalists…watch out!
Ya they can define the finer points of soteriology, have a formed opinion on N.T. Wright’s new perspective on Paul, and they always have fantastic off the wall, theoretical hypotheses about some theological treatise. Oh, and at any given time you can ask what they’re reading and they’re sure to be working on 2–3 books, not including the Bible (that’s a given because of course if they’re reading theology books that would only be on top of their Bible reading, so we won’t ever ask about that).
These guys are doing good. They feel pretty good too. They never would impose their standards on someone else. They’re the essence of devout Christianity because obviously being steeped in knowledge is a strong indication of a person’s spiritual temperature.
Are you catching the drift yet? Modern reformers are finding their merit/assurance in what they know. It’s measurable. If you can understand the ins and outs of the gospel then surely you’ve got the gospel in your heart because only a person who’s blinds have been lifted can understand the gospel. It’s a good feeling to go to bed having finished up your fifth Christian/theological book this month. And at least you know more than the majority of Christians you come across and even more than 3⁄4 of your own church.
Herein lies the ironic overlap of traditional fundamentalists and their reactionary counterparts, the reformed circle.
Do you see other similarities?