I’ve had many people ask why I left the church that I did for a PCA church. Usually the question comes out of confusion as to why someone would leave such a great place. I grew up there and grew in my faith in incredible ways, served as a student leader, on the worship team, and men’s ministry, and what made it the most difficult to leave were the people. And I mean it has everything we needed: a church program for every stage, great, well-produced music (of which I was a part 😉 ), dynamic speakers, small groups, large groups, it’s like a picture of the larger church in the world! And most of all, the Bible is upheld as the sole, infallible, highest source for truth and life practice, and they preach the gospel from it. So why leave?
Calvinism is natively experiential. Before it is a theological system, Calvinism is deeply affectional, God-centered, cross-magnifying religion. A man may loudly trumpet his adherence to the distinctive tenets of Calvinism, but if his life is not marked by delight in God and His gospel, his professed Calvinism is a sham. In other words, there is no such thing as “dead Calvinism.” Such is a theological oxymoron for one simple reason: Calvinism claims to be biblical religion, and biblical religion is not only profoundly theological, it is deeply experiential and engagingly affectional! Wherever men and women claim to be Calvinists, their lives and their ministries will pulse with life—the life of living, Spirit-inspired, Christ-glorifying, God-centered truth. – Ian Hamilton
In studying Hosea this past spring at Trinity, it was hard for many of us. The constant language of judgment seems to take on a life of its own, and as gospel people, on this side of the cross and resurrection, we think, “What’s the point?”
I came across this passage in the scripture readings for Lent (found here): “My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.” Psalm 119:120.
The difficulty of the language around judgment in Hosea and other prophets lies for many not in the fact that it’s there, but in the continual, repetitive nature of it. “Okay, I get it,” we say. But that seems to be the point. The repetition is meant to drive into us a remembrance (because we so easily forget!), as it was Israel at the time, the nature of God’s holiness and the healthy level of fear this should invoke.
“While some of our habits are acquired by choosing to engage in certain practices (e.g., signing up for drivers’ ed. or registering for piano lessons), many are acquired without our knowing it. And this might happen especially when we are unaware of it. If we are inattentive to the formative role of practices, or if we treat some practices as thin when they are thick, then we will be inattentive to all the ways that such practices unwittingly and unintentionally become automated. We will fail to recognize that they are forming in us habits and desires, oriented to particular ends that function to draw us toward those ends at an affective, unconscious level such that we become certain kinds of people without even being aware of it.
I recently had a good discussion with a friend about some of the reasons I left a Dispensational church. I previously documented a number of reasons here in my journey from Dispensationalism to Reformed Presbyterianism, but I also wanted to look up resources that speak to the issue and found a few articles and sites that are worth perusing. It’s interesting to note that the major founders of Dispensationalism left Presbyterianism in particular.
Sola Scriptura: The Scripture Alone is the Standard
The doctrine that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority was the “Formal Principle” of the Reformation. In 1521 at the historic interrogation of Luther at the Diet of Worms, he declared his conscience to be captive to the Word of God saying, “Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons — for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another — I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God’s Word.” Similarly, the Belgic Confession stated, “We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein…Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God… Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule” (VII).