What is Reformed Theology? In short, Reformed Theology is an approach to the scriptures that emphasizes the sovereignty of God over all matters (including our salvation), the sufficiency of the Scriptures as our only guide for faith and practice, and the centrality of God's grace in the work of salvation. ﷯ Typically, Reformed theology is associated with the theology of John Calvin but Calvin's own theology was simply an attempt to return to the theology of the Apostle Paul and the other first-century Christians. Thus, while we are a Reformed and Calvinistic church, we first and foremost seek to be a Biblical church and that the categories simply describe what we discover in the Scriptures. What does it mean to say that God is sovereign in all matters? It means that while we think and act, making real decisions and choices, God still providentially governs all things (including those actions) for he is the one that has made all things and has ordained the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). We are not fatalists because we make decisions and act according to the will we are given and we are responsible for our actions because we choose to do the things we do. At the same time, God still directs those actions with his almighty hand. What does it mean to speak of the sufficiency of the Scriptures as our only guide for faith and practice? It means that the Bible is the absolute authority over our lives. Further, it means that when there are questions about a teaching in the Bible, the Bible interprets itself — the clear passages interpreting those passages that are unclear to us. We believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, given through the Prophets and Apostles, and as such, it is not only without error in the original manuscripts, but it is without the possibility of error. Thus it is the Scriptures and not church tradition, teachers, or even our human reason that will lead us to knowing God. What does it mean to say that God's grace is central in the work of our salvation? It means that God does the work. It means that no work that I might do or can do will earn my salvation. It means that my salvation is due to nothing in me or that God foresees in me — not even in my decision to be a disciple of Christ — I contribute nothing to my salvation because if I did, then grace would no longer be grace and I would have something in which I could boast (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:9). In theological terms, this view is called, "Monergism" — "the work of one." Salvation was worked in my life by one person — God. And the only reason that I turned to God in repentance was because God called me to spiritual life first. Solas... This view of Reformed theology is sometimes summarized by five Latin phrases:﷯ Sola Fide: Salvation is by Faith Alone...salvation is received by faith, not by works of any kind. Sola Gratia: Salvation is a work of God's Grace Alone. Solo Christo: Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Sola Scriptura: It is from the Scriptures alone that we are instructed in faith. Sola Deo Gloria: All of this work of salvation is for the glory of God, not for the glory of men. What about the "Five Points" or the "TULIP"? Between 1618 and 1619 a synod was held in the Dutch city of Dordrecht to refute the teachings held by the students of Jacobus Arminius. The Arminians, as they are now called, raised five challenges against the Biblical theology of the church of that day. The refutations of the five arguments became known as the "Five Points of Calvinism" or by the English acronym, "TULIP." The TULIP stands for: Total Depravity: because of the fall every part of a human has been tainted and twisted by sin. Unconditional Election: God elects his own on the basis of his divine will, not on the basis of anything in us. Limited Atonement: Jesus' work of atonement, while sufficient for all, was only applied to God's elect. Irresistible Grace: Those God calls will come to him through Jesus. While we may resist for a season, ultimately God's grace cannot be resisted to death and damnation. Perseverance of the Saints: Genuine believers will persevere in faith until their dying day. That does not mean that believers won't stumble and fall into sin, but it does mean that when believers stumble in sin, they repent and turn back to God. A Cloud of Witnesses We do not stand alone in the Reformed tradition, but we stand alongside of many committed believers that God has called and used mightily. People like: John Calvin, John Knox, Zacharias Ursinus, the Puritans, John Bunyan, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Witherspoon, John Adams, Charles Hodge, J.C. Ryle, Charles Spurgeon, John Gresham Machen, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and D. James Kennedy. We also stand alongside of many modern Reformed Christians, people like: Joni Eareckson Tada, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, Mark Dever, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler, Tim Keller, Sinclair Fergusson, and Derek Thomas. So, what is Reformed Theology? We believe that it is the faithful unfolding of the teaching of the whole counsel of God...the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. ﷯