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Who are the NeoReformed?

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By Virgil - Posted on 26 February 2009

by Scot McKnight
I have been using the term "NeoReformed" now for a year or two and a few of my friends have asked me what I mean and why I don't just calls such folks "Reformed". This post will sketch who they are and why I call them "Neo" Reformed. I begin with a confession: I'm not a Calvinist; I'm an anabaptist. But, I have never had any problems with the variety of theologies at work in the big tent of evangelicalism. Calvinists are not only among us, they have important elements to bring to the table. I've sat on the essence of this post for months, but I think it is time for us to make it public. I do so with a certain degree of sadness, but feel compelled to call us to a unity that is presently threatened.The evangelical tent is big enough to welcome to the table Calvinists and Arminians, anabaptists and charismatics, and I love it when Catholics and the Orthodox join us. This is not a personal battle for me with Calvinists; it's a particular kind of divisive Calvinist that I have in view.

Formerly the disagreements with Calvinists or the ones they had with others didn't stop us from gathering inside the big tent. But in the last decade something happened, and I call it the rise of the NeoReformed. Here we go but first a question or two:

Are you seeing a rise of reformed folks? Do you see some militancy -- whatever their strengths? What are your thoughts? Why do you think some youth are attracted to this new form of Reformed theology?

One of my favorite Reformed theologians is Michael Horton. We don't agree on theology but I like this guy and I like to read his stuff. Michael recently wrote a piece that uses a different image than the big tent image above. He says evangelicalism is like the village green of early American communities. It was where folks, all folks, gathered to chat and share commonalities. He says evangelicalism is the village green but evangelicalism is not the church. Churches have confessions, and his confession is Reformed. He says we need to worship in our churches and that the village green is not enough; it is where we join with Christians most like us. The key point I make here is the distinction between being evangelical and being Reformed. Michael Horton, I am assuming, thinks the best form of evangelicalism is Reformed; and he probably thinks Arminians and Anabaptists are wrong at some important points. Fine. (I think the same of Reformed, and I think they are sometimes wrong at central points.) But Michael Horton knows that a local church (or denomination) is not the village green. I agree with him 100%.

But ... and here's our problem...

Click to read the entire article

Kyle Peterson's picture

I've only been around for 35 years but I haven't really noticed much of a shift. The Reformed crowd I grew up with (mostly of the Dutch flavor) were more than kind and awfully accomodating. This perhaps is due to the fact that they were pretty immersed in the theology and it was such a large part of their heritage. It was only after college I began running into people who fought tooth-and-nail to defend the hundreds-of-year-old creeds and beliefs.

As Scott mentioned the theology does have some admiral points and I usually find that those who subscribe to reformed theology are looking to associate themselves with a piece of history or prefer to have pre-set guidelines so they simply need not explore them on their own. Then you run into those that demonstrate an attitude of superiority which echow the type of control they believe some should have over the message of the gospel.

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