Are Calvinistic Congregationalists Reformed?

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
This from Spencer Snow at the Aquila Report:

Are Calvinistic Congregationalists To Be Counted Among the Reformed?
I, for one, am not ready or willing to give the definition of ‘Reformed’ such a narrow meaning


"Thus, it is the Congregationalists who also believed in a gathered church of visible saints. It is true that they continued to practice paedobaptism, but the fact is that they, by their statement of faith, believed that only those who were visible saints who were visibly repenting of sin and visibly turning to Christ were the only proper subjects for church membership. It was also the Congregationalists who, like the Baptists, embraced the completeness of the local church in such a way that connectionalism in the Presbyterian sense is not needed and not Biblical." [Read more]
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Unfortunately, I disagree with this guy. The thng I disagree with hm about is word usage and it's importance. I don't think yu can just slap "reformed" on anything yu want. By the way, even if I don't fnd them to be reformed, I still enjoy them, the writings, and sermons. So, I wouldn't "throw" them out.... So to speak...
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Unfortunately, I disagree with this guy. The thng I disagree with hm about is word usage and it's importance. I don't think yu can just slap "reformed" on anything yu want. By the way, even if I don't fnd them to be reformed, I still enjoy them, the writings, and sermons. So, I wouldn't "throw" them out.... So to speak...

I'm not sure you read the article. His point is that the strict definition of "Reformed" advocated by men such as yourself would necessarily exclude men like John Owen, Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather. That's a valid point. He isn't advocating "slapping" the word "Reformed" on anything. Your comments fail to meaningfully interact with his question.

His point is that those who seek to apply the term "Reformed" in a strict and rigorous fashion aren't as neat and tidy as they claim to be.

Was John Owen Reformed? How 'bout Jonathan Edwards? If your answer is 'yes' then why? Why are they "Reformed" while not affirming the Westminister's definition of the church but Baptists aren't? Why is their departure from the Westminster Standards or Three Forms of Unity considered acceptable while the Baptists is not?

Or are you going to be consistent and say that these men (adored as they are) are NOT "Reformed" in the "historical" and "proper" sense of the word.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Ah yes, it is an old dispute. But I do like occasionally to remind my brothers and sisters that this is the "PuritanBoard", not the "PresbyterianBoard."

Yes, I think everyone can fairly call Owen et al Puritans. If so, I certainly think they are somewhere in a subset of that big topic headed by the title "Reformed."
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Edwards is a bit trickier since not only did he serve a Presbyterian congregation as a young man, but when he was being sought to go to Scotland he openly affirmed the Westminster Confession with no reservation.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
Would this also apply for the Anglicans? I find it quite ridiculous to say that someone like Ussher whose works were so influential in forming the WLC could not be considered reformed himself. Could the same thing also be said for the Polish Reformed and Hungarian Reformed because they also had an episcopal system. I understand the desire to not allow the term reformed to be watered down but it begins to get silly when our definitions seem to retroactively de-reform groups that were considered part of the Calvinist tradition.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
I think I'm interacting quite well. I don't think you see my point. Being reformed has a historic meaning. If you start calling things reformed that really aren't, then you are slapping it around. Just because someone doesn't like my answer doesn't prove their point.

Like I said, I might call certain men, Puritans, but not reformed. I still read John Owen, Edwards, etc. I don't exclude all they say because they're not reformed.

[Edit] rethinking what I wrote, I need to qualify something. I have much to learn as well. I hold an understanding of what reformed is as of now, but wanting to learn more.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
As I've said elsewhere... The term "Reformed," like most words in most languages, can have more than one meaning depending on context. One meaning is to signify a broad tradition that encompasses the likes of these particular congregationalists.

If there are Baptists today who survey the landscape of broad theological traditions and choose to identify themselves most closely with the Reformed tradition... well, I'm glad they pick that one over other choices. Even if they don't agree with some central aspects of Westminster, which we might say lies at the heart of the Reformed tradition, I'm still happy they identify most strongly with what is "Reformed."

Purists who imagine the narrow meaning of "Reformed" is lost that way are, I think, missing the fact that words can have both narrow and broad meanings. "Reformed" is one of those words. It has been so for centuries. People can handle that, really. We're used to that in words. Intelligent people can still have precise communication even though the words they use are by nature fluid and rich in various meanings. To insist that only the narrowest meaning may ever be used is to try to hem in language in a way that its natural fluidity simply won't put up with.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I believe these guys held to a Covenant Family hermeneutic in the Covenant of Grace. That is Reformed. The Baptists do not. As I mentioned in a follow up post to Vic concerning John Owen, I believe that Reformed goes outside the boundaries of Presbyterianism. The Dutch, Anglicans, and even Congregationalists that hold to the Covenant of Grace and understand that their Children are in Covenant with God follow the Reformed tradition and hermeneutic.

But I have a lot to learn on this. I am looking forward to gaining some solid answers on this question.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Remember Edwards is President Edwards

Edwards is a bit trickier since not only did he serve a Presbyterian congregation as a young man, but when he was being sought to go to Scotland he openly affirmed the Westminster Confession with no reservation.
He also subscribed to the Westminster when he became President of Princeton.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
And I believe the Anglicans make this conversation even more interesting. No Regulative Principle of Worship? No problem! You're Calvinists (at least 4-point, Baxter) and you sprinkle your babies and that's all that matters to us!

And who gets to decide what issues are negotiable and which ones are not? Who is it that has the right to say "not holding to the RPW or Presbyterian ecclesiology is fine but infant baptism is a non-negotiable!"
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
And I believe the Anglicans make this conversation even more interesting. No Regulative Principle of Worship? No problem! You're Calvinists (at least 4-point, Baxter) and you sprinkle your babies and that's all that matters to us!

And who gets to decide what issues are negotiable and which ones are not? Who is it that has the right to say "not holding to the RPW or Presbyterian ecclesiology is fine but infant baptism is a non-negotiable!"

I don't believe that it is concluded that all Anglicans fall into the category of Reformed. It seems you think that is what is being said by this post. Not all Presbyterians are Reformed. Sprinkling or baptizing Babies isn't all that matters. Pastor Sheffield, I think you have been around the Puritanboard enough to know that isn't what is believed. Haven't you been?

In the other thread about who is Reformed we discussed Lutherans. They baptize their babies and children. They aren't considered Reformed.

BTW, I love your avatar. Is that Knox?
 
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