reformers are the new legalistic fundamentalists.

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 34 of your own church.

Herein lies the ironic over­lap of tra­di­tional fun­da­men­tal­ists and their reac­tionary coun­ter­parts, the reformed circle.

Do you see other similarities?

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