Associate Pastor, Agros Reformed Baptist Church
Since the time of at least Martin Lloyd Jones, there has been a resurgence of Calvinism in the mainstream evangelical world. Christians have flocked back to the theology of the English, Dutch, and Scottish Puritans. In addition to this, the young, restless, and reformed movement has introduced some of the theology of the Reformers and the post-reformation divines into the mainstream of evangelicalism. The most lasting impact of this movement is the broader adherence to TULIP. While it can be argued that this has been great for evangelicalism, simply limiting “reformed Theology” or “Calvinism” to TULIP or the doctrines of grace actually limits the scope of what the Reformation and post-reformation entailed. Losing sight of what made the reformed so great has resulted in many of the important practices being lost, and many unhealthy practices and doctrines being adopted.
Taking a Look at the Term “Reformed”
So, what is being “reformed”? Answering this question is difficult, and one might even argue that defining the term is near impossible because of the wide range of theological positions of the Reformers. Some people draw the line at TULIP, others at confessional adherence, others at paedobaptism, others at the lack of instrumentality in worship. There have been even more people that extend the scope of reformed theology to reconstructionism and theonomy, or even continued apostolic gifts. The borders of the term “reformed” have become so transparent that one might argue that it doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. This is evidenced by the fact that the term “reformed” usually includes a qualifier (Reformed Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, Reformed Charismatic, Reformed Theonomist, etc.). Rather than fighting over what the term means, perhaps it is better to simply give the term reformed away to those that want to use it. Now, I’m not arguing for retreat, but there is really no use to fight about terms, especially at the expense of losing what it means to stand in the Biblical tradition of the Reformers and post-reformation divines. Regardless of which term one prefers, it may be helpful to simply set forth what makes following in that tradition so spiritually enlivening.
It’s one thing to wear the title of “reformed,” and another to benefit from the spiritual practices of the Puritans. Rather than being concerned about beards, pipe tobacco, cigars, and so on, the modern reformed should be focusing on what truly made the post-reformation so great. In this article, I will lay out one of the spiritual practices which all believers can benefit from, “reformed,” or not. While Calvinism is certainly a product of the post-reformation, it is not the end of it. Instead of focusing on and even arguing over what the term “reformed” means, modern Calvinists should take up the experiential religion of the Calvinists, starting with family worship.
Modern Christians Should Adopt the Spiritual Practice of Family Worship
The Dutch Reformed divine, Wilhelmus á Brakel considered catechism the best way to instill the fundamentals of truth and godliness (The Christian’s Reasonable Service, xxxvii). Many biographers and historians even use the amount of families who practiced family worship as a way to highlight the efficacy of a puritan pastor’s ministry. It may be due to the negative sentiments that people have of Roman Catholicism, or something else, but many modern day Christians have abandoned this practice of family catechism, or family worship. Family Worship and catechism is not just for children either, it is for everybody that lives in a home. Family Worship was considered such a staple of reformed theology in the post reformation period, that men could be barred from the Lord’s Supper for neglecting it! If you are a modern Calvinist, one way to put your theology into practice is by having family worship in your home.
The spiritual practice of family worship benefits the whole family in 5 ways:
Family worship is a reformed staple, and far more important than online debates, beards, and craft beers.
How to Start Family Worship in Your Home
First, I recommend any and all resources Pastor Joel Beeke has on the topic. At Agros Reformed Baptist Church, we encourage all of our members to practice family worship. We recommend the following topics for family worship:
The most overwhelming part about starting family worship is wondering how it’s supposed to look. If you attend a reformed church, ask your pastor to come and lead it for you a few times. Your pastor may even invite you over to join him for family worship!
All Christians can benefit from the spiritual practice of family worship. It is the best way to keep a family’s affections on things above. The Westminster Divine William Gouge’s house was said to have been like a temple itself. There was never a time where one could not hear psalms being sung, Scripture being read, and spiritual things being discussed. May we, as modern Calvinists, attempt to recover the practices that made the reformed church so great!
Here are some helpful resources to use in family worship:
All Agros Biblical Theology Book Review Church Church Government Ecclesiology Ethics Faith & Certainty Grafton Liturgics Log College Press London Baptist Confession Lord's Day Ministry Pastoral Theology Pastorate Presbyterian Presbyterianism Puritans Reformed Theology Sabbath Sacrifice Second London Baptist Confession Southern Presbyterians Sunday Sunday Worship Theology Thomas Witherspoon Westminster Westminster Confession Of Faith William Gurnall