Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is Reformed or neo-Reformed theology contrary to being missional?

That is the contention made by David Fitch at Reclaiming the Mission. His post, Why Neo-Reformed Theology Won’t Jive With Mission: I Plead My Case, suggests that Reformed theology (which he defines as the five Solas of the Reformation) is inherently incompatible with mission. David argues that in the absence of a church to reform, reformed theology becomes individualistic and that is why it incompatible with mission:

This is important for me because I contend such an individualism works against the church taking up a communal, incarnational particpation in God’s Mission in the world. In relation to a.) such individualism too often makes the church an ideologizing entity which uses Scripture as prooftexts to rally people around one position over against another. We turn into a defensive and/or antagonistic people. We do this because we no longer see the church’s role in guiding interpretation. As a result we lose our ability to come together as a people in submission to one another to discern interpretation of texts for new issues we face in the culture. In relation to b.) salvation becomes an individual transaction for me instead of something God is doing in the world to make all things right in which I participate through conversion. We make Jesus private. We lose Mission. And in relation to c.) church becomes eventually something that we must offer as appealing to individuals. We set ourselves up for attractional and/or consumer church. We lose the ability to be shaped by church into a way of life in God’s Mission in the world. In short then, I contend that Reformed theology has much to offer and learn from. But it is eventually ill suited to shape a people in Mission within Christendom. It remains ecclesiologically functional within Christendom type cultures (like Dallas Texas, Nashville Tenn and Grand Rapids MI). This is why I’m an Anabaptist with Catholic appreciations.
Having just finished reading and reviewing a book about John Piper's missionary theology in God's Desire for the Nations, I think one would be hard pressed to make this case. While there are some segments of the more old school traditionalist Reformed that are seemingly more concerned with theology than mission, many of the "young, restless and reformed" crowd are very engaged in mission work and church planting.

What do you think? Check out David's post and comment away, it should be spirited to say the least!


Aussie John said...


David's word's seem to reveal a very limited knowledge of his subject.

Even the truth of your comment "the more old school traditionalist Reformed that are seemingly more concerned with theology than mission" is only true in a limited sense in my experience. I too,"think one would be hard pressed to make this case".

By the way. How is the back progressing?

Arthur Sido said...

My back is much better, thanks!

I think David has a pretty narrow defintion of "reformed" and an equally narrow defintion of "missional".