I recently read an excellent post by Dustin Neeley on the Resurgence blog called Justification by Theology (thanks Nathan), which honestly, I have been waiting for for some time now. I have become increasingly weary of the way the “reformed” label gets appended to so much of our vernacular in a way that almost seems prideful.
To be clear, I have very few problems with reformed theology, and I would not dare to single out the reformed camp as the only one susceptible to theological pride.
And I do not think that it is pride to identify oneself with a particular theology. But I do think that we are more than capable of trying to wear our reformed theology like it is a badge of honor. We operate as though we have God’s special approval (after all, we probably have a higher view of God than everyone else anyway – I’m being silly, but stick with me). And since we are so confident in our theology, it is a simple thing for us to slip into the habit identifying ourselves first as Reformed, instead of as Christian. There is so much good about reformed doctrine, but as Dustin Neeley so aptly stated, we are not justified by our theology.
Paul lamented that he could not refer to the church in Corinth as spiritual, but worldly, because they disregarded the unity of the church, instead choosing factions and claiming “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” (1 Corinthians 3). Can we be guilty of the same when we try to distinguish ourselves by our theology instead of seeking to be unified under the gospel of Christ?
Of course we must continue to study God’s word and strive for sound theology, but let us also keep theology in it’s proper place. We can come to a deep understanding of the incredible truths of God through careful study and systematic understanding of the Bible, but we can not stand before the righteous God on the merits of a system. We will stand in Christ or we will not stand at all.
So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).