Michael Horton on the Young, Restless, and Reformed

Over at the White Horse Inn blog Michael Horton shares some of his thoughts on the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement.

What I found of particular interest is his explanation of how "Reformed" ought to be defined.

“Reformed” has a specific meaning. It’s not defined by movements, parachurch ministries, or powerful leaders, but by a confession that is lived out in concrete contexts across a variety of times and places. The Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) define what it means to be Reformed. Like Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anabaptism, Reformed Christianity is a particular tradition. It’s not defined by a few fundamentals, but by a whole system of faith and practice. If being Reformed can be reduced to believing in the sovereignty of God and election, then Thomas Aquinas is as Reformed as R. C. Sproul. However, the Reformed confession is a lot more than that. Even the way it talks about these doctrines is framed within a wider context of covenant theology.

It’s intriguing to me that people can call themselves Reformed today when they don’t embrace this covenant theology. This goes to the heart of how we read the Bible, not just a few doctrines here or there. Yet what was once recognized as essential to Reformed faith and practice is now treated merely as a sub-set (and a small one at that) of the broader “Reformed” big tent...For centuries, the “Reformed” label has been embraced by people from Anglican, Presbyterian, and Reformed traditions. Only in the last few decades has it included those who do not embrace a covenantal interpretation of Scripture, which encompasses baptism and the Supper, the connectional government of the church, eschatology, and a host of other issues that distinguish Reformed from non-Reformed positions. I often run into Christians who say that they are Reformed—and also dispensational or charismatic, Baptist or Barthian, and a variety of other combinations. Like the term “evangelical,” “Reformed” is whatever you want it to be. It’s hard to challenge pragmatic evangelicalism’s cafeteria-style approach to truth when “Reformed” versions seem to be going down the same path (emphasis added).

Dr. Horton proposes that the young, restless, and reformed movement should be called "Evangelical Calvinism" rather than "Reformed".

Reformed Baptists may not necessarily belong to the YRR movement, but I think Horton's point is still relevant to us. Should Reformed Baptists refer to themselves as "Reformed" or is "Evangelical Calvinist" a better description? Share your thoughts in the comments section.