Following our Van Ruler conference last week, I found myself reading Herman Bavink. He comes from the other side of the Dutch lineage. He was the “brainy” Kuyper, if you will. There I found this short description of the movement from the Lutheran Reformation to the Reformed:
The question for the Lutherans was “how is one saved?” For the Reformed that was valid, but not sufficient. The Reformed asked: “How is God honored?” The first question only began the work of the Reformation. For all the world was to stand open to and be penetrated by the Word of God. The implications for this in terms of the life of the church meant that only only the office of the preacher was to be reestablished, but the liturgy and discipline as well; not only the religious life of a Sunday, but the societal life throughout the week; not only the private life of the citizen, but the public life of the state.
Hence the importance of 1) the life of the community beyond the congregation and 2) the offices as they are found in public life.
I find this interesting in part because Bavink is no radical but articulates what has pretty much been understood as centrally Reformed. But I find this the more interesting because the current direction of the RCA has pretty much forgotten this.
Is it because we presented a scholastic orthodoxy that was so dry that anything exciting was better? Was it because we weren’t paying attention to the exciting ways in which this tradition has evolved through very important theological and ecclesiastical voices? I’m not sure. But I’m not ready to settle for the smaller visions that have been put in front of us.