I am often asked if the name “Reformed” is a good designation for one’s own theological position in the present era. I believe that it is but I am well aware that there are a myriad of ways this term is used and many of these uses I find unacceptable. This is true of all such historical labels. When I read how some people refer to me and my views on social and theological issues I often wonder how they possibly could have chosen a particular label for me? One blogger, for instance, recently referred to me as a proponent of what is called the Federal Vision. (He meant this in a terribly negative way!) Now I think I know what the Federal Vision is, and while I have a certain sympathy for some of what I hear proponents of the vision saying, I would not consider myself an advocate of something that I have never once written about or ever embraced in print.
So of what value is the label Reformed?
Sam Logan, the president of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) and a great personal friend, asked several members of WRF to respond to the question of what value the name Reformed had in our organizational name? I wrote the following:
I have pondered this question for almost my entire adult life of more than forty years. Like all terms I have looked for meaningful alternatives and modifiers. In the end, I prefer to say that I am a catholic first and then Reformed. The reason should be obvious. This is what the Reformers themselves confessed. Evangelical has a useful role but the 21st century calls it into question more than ever.
Reformed does refer to a historical moment, in the 16th century, in Western Europe. And, of course, it refers to important doctrines recovered/found there. But it doesn't stay there. In time it spreads globally. Though there are Reformed voices that deny classical Christian truths, thus truly catholic truths, in the end I prefer the term without the modifiers. Thus I refer to myself as a catholic and Reformed Christian. By this, I mean that I am rooted in ancient faith, impacted deeply in how I have been formed by the Reformed side of the Protestant Reformation movement. I live in the 21st century but I remain rooted in these historical times confessionally. At the same time this does not lock me into a "single way" of living and confessing the faith.