Sheldon Clowdus

Disciple . Husband . Father


Why I Believe What I Believe.
I would like to attempt to explain why I believe the things I believe.  There are a couple of reasons I would like to try this.  First, I hope that in seeing my journey that maybe someone will decide to explore their own beliefs and determine why they believe the things they do.  It is not enough for us to believe something about God, the Bible, the church, etc. just because we have always believed it or because our parents taught it to us.  We all need to regularly take our belief system back to God through prayer and study of the Word to ensure that we are in line with scripture.  We need to believe what is truth instead of trying to make what we believe into truth.  Second, while I believe my theology to be biblically accurate, the general system of belief I subscribe to is not a very popular one in my communities.  Most of this is due to a misunderstanding of what that belief system actually is and some is because my beliefs contain some views of God that make some people uncomfortable.

While I am continually studying and testing my beliefs (and changing them when I discover I have been in error), the vast majority of my theology fits quite nicely under the Reformed heading.  Now knowing how to label my theology, one of a few reactions may have just occurred in you:

  1. Nothing.  You don't have any idea what reformed theology is.
  2. You scowled in revulsion or derision because by naming myself among the reformed community I have admitted that I am a Calvinist.
  3. You smiled in relief and admiration because you, too, are reformed.
Granted, some of you probably reacted differently than one of the three options I gave you above but I have found that those three encompass a great deal of the people I come across.  What I would like to do is explain what reformed theology is (or at least give you some resources that will explain it much better than I could), tackle some of the objections to reformed theology, and finally, give you my point of view on the issue.  If you are still reading this, then lets continue on.

What is reformed theology?

The most logical first step is to define exactly what it is we are talking about when we say "reformed theology".  Everyone has a theological position or a theology that they subscribe to.  Whatever we think of God, of His character, His motives, His attributes, this is our theology.

Reformed theology has its roots in (surprise!) the protestant reformation.  There is a great article HERE that does a much better job than I can in teaching and summarizing what reformed theology entails.  Included in that article is this list:

  1. Reformed theology is not some new revelation, or new brand of theological thought, but is, in its best examples, what the church has rightly believed throughout its history. Similarities between its doctrines and that of other traditions should be welcomed and celebrated as a "family resemblance" with others in the household of God.
  2. Reformed theologies take seriously the idea of God's sovereignty over all things. Therefore Reformed theologians seek the implications of God's creation of all things in space and time.
  3. Reformed theologies traditionally base their convictions on the Word of God in the Old and New Testaments. Most Reformed theologians would go on to say that the Word of God is, first and foremost, Jesus Christ, and theology must always find its first allegiance to him.
  4. Reformed theologies affirm that Jesus Christ is God's witness to the world in terms of love, grace, mercy, and justice. Reformed theology has always affirmed that God's salvation, offered in Jesus Christ is always granted without regard to merit.
  5. Reformed theologies have upheld the importance of the two sacraments (baptism and the Lord's Supper), and contend that both have correlate effects in spiritual reality, if not actual change in the substance of the sacramental elements.
  6. Reformed theologies, believing that God's sustaining providence suffuses all things, have always instructed Christians that the proper response to God's provision for all creation is fervent gratitude that shows itself in devout thought, speech and action. Therefore, Reformed communities have always been involved in shaping and ameliorating the civil societies in which they live.
  7. Reformed theologies take the ministry potential of the laity very seriously, and many Reformed groups (not all) have the peculiar tradition of ordaining certain lay members to participate in the ministry of the church as elders and deacons, but not making them members of the clergy.

Some notable reformed theologians include John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John Calvin (yes, that Calvin),Jonathan Edwards, J.I. Packer, and C.H. Spurgeon.

In the next post I will deal with what is undoubtedly the most contentious aspect of reformed theology: The Doctrines of Grace, or as they are also known as, Calvinism.  My only request is that you do not dismiss me out of hand because of what you already think you know about Calvinism.  Most who adamantly dislike these doctrines do not fully understand what they are teaching.  One reason I don't advertise that I am a Calvinist (how I hate that label!) is because of the negative connotation it brings with it.  I just ask that you come back and read with an open mind and I promise that I will present the scriptures as accurately and completely as I can.  You can make up your mind after that.

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband, and a father. I teach 5th grade in my hometown of Rome, Georgia.


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