“Jesus Isn’t Reformed”

I happened to see this very provocative statement on, of all places, a Reformed blog. I don’t know the confessional orientations of most people who read this blog, but I assume that some at least are Reformed types (as I myself am). For those of us living within this broad tradition called “Reformed,” for those of us familiar with the fantastic hype-rhetoric about how much more “biblical” the Reformed Faith is than everything else, how much more concerned with “Truth” it is than everyone else, how much more “consistent” to the essence of Christianity itself being Reformed makes one, the statement “Jesus Isn’t Reformed” is quite arresting and provocative.

It puts all the insanity in today’s Reformed world in a much more helpful context.

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9 Responses to “Jesus Isn’t Reformed”

  1. Tim,

    I think you are right. It’s quite a provocative title. But, to me, it’s not provocative only; it’s probably correct. Jesus isn’t Reformed. He isn’t Protestant. He isn’t Roman Catholic. He isn’t Eastern Orthodox. He isn’t even a Christian. He’s a messianic Jew.

    The difference between Jesus and us — and to me it’s a big one — is the difference between the religion of Jesus and a religion about Jesus.

    I have thought about that difference often, and it honestly troubles me. It makes me question the wisdom of my church choices up until now. For example, when I hear a church assert that I, and others, ought to align myself with it because it the one true church, the church of Christ, I cringe. So far as I can tell at the moment, the only folks with a shot at having that are the messianic Jews, and even they can’t seem to agree among themselves.

    Frankly, the issue of Christ and the church (or churches) is a puzzle to me.

  2. Steven W says:

    Yeah, well Yahweh isn’t Roman Catholic either now.

  3. Tim Enloe says:

    Yeah, Michael, it is a puzzle. I admit that I was brought into the Reformed understanding of Christianity by people who were themselves either starry-eyed converts from American Fundamentalism or else people who, as it were, took everything their seminary professors ever said about “synergism” and “man-centered religion” and the “pure biblical” basis of Reformed Theology as if it was as indubitable as the Law of Gravity. Consequently, when I discovered the flaws of Reformed Theology, I experienced quite a let-down. I’m not ready to abandon it in favor of “the grass is greener over there” (that would be the same kind of immaturity that got me into it in the first place), but right now I’m stuck between “the honeymoon is over and real life has begun” and the simple fact that everyone has to stand somewhere and this is where I I am standing right now. I can’t pretend to be standing outside all traditions and “just” recapitulating “pure” Jesus-Christianity. I can’t turn back the clock and have just a “New Testament Christianity.” Somehow I have to stand where I am, and genuinely appreciate what’s good in it, but yet not romanticize it and demonize others. Every tradition has its problems. The question, I guess, is how serious those problems are in a given tradition relative to the touchstone against which the tradition should be measured. Well, and of course another question is what is the touchstone. “The Bible” is just a self-serving answer. Anyone can say that, and in fact, everyone does say that.

    And Steven, of course Yahweh isn’t Roman Catholic. I reject Roman Catholic perfectionism for the same reason I reject Reformed perfectionism. All of these things are conditioned expressions of Christianity; none of them are the pure “thing in itself.”

  4. It looks like we agree, Tim. I too am a Protestant Christian with real, though modest, Reformed leanings. I’ll go to a better ecclesiastical place if ever I find one. But right now, I don’t see it. And to be realistic, I don’t suppose I ever shall. That being so, it seems my duty now is to make the best of what the world God gave us actually affords.

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

  5. Frederick Tucker says:

    While “Jesus isn’t Reformed,” Jesus is certainly a (excuse me)The Reformer. For he “Reformed” (take the literal meaning of the word) the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. He “Reformed” the society of Jew and Christians into one society, the Church. Now that’s a powerful bit of Reforming!

  6. Frederick Tucker says:

    In that second-to-last sentence I meant to say Gentiles not Christians.

  7. Tim Enloe says:

    Good point, Fred. Thanks!

  8. kepha says:

    Jesus isn’t Reformed. He isn’t Protestant. He isn’t Roman Catholic. He isn’t Eastern Orthodox. He isn’t even a Christian. He’s a messianic Jew.

    Nice.

  9. Albert says:

    “Jesus isn’t Reformed. He isn’t Protestant. He isn’t Roman Catholic. He isn’t Eastern Orthodox. He isn’t even a Christian. He’s a messianic Jew.”

    I was with you until the last sentence. Jesus was not a Messianic Jew. Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Messianic Judaism (if what you meant was soemthing akin to the contemporary movement) is another reaction to Jesus within a certain tradition. In that case, they generally attempt to reconcile Evangelical Protestantism (of the popular Dispensationalist variety) with Rabbinic Judaism (usually more Conservative than Orthodox or Reform) – not very successfully, in my opinion.

    Judaism then – like Christianity now – was not a monolithic belief system. The more we understand of it, the more we realize its diversity. It was only in reaction to the destruction of the Temple, the later failure of the Bar Kochba revolt, and the challenge of the fledgling Church that the rabbis would evolve their religion into a more monolithic theological structure.

    The question should not be which of the Christian traditions Jesus followed (the answer is none of them) but which of these traditions (or some combination) brings us closest to Jesus. Another way of putting it is what elements of these traditions did Jesus intend the Church to follow.

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