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Paradox of Becoming Reformed March 17, 2009

Posted by peterong in Rants, Reflections.
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I am writing this partly because I had to do an outline for Bavinck’s “our reasonable faith” for a seminary class, and as much as I pride myself in being truant in my studies, which perplexed me because I love scripture. i love theology. but somehow the whole experience of writing this outline made me reflect on this journey towards being presbyterian and what is there tension in my heart. one of my tension has been that I find the intellectualizing of this gospel narrative to be so excruciatingly sterile to me (I know that I sound judgmental but please give me some license to share my heart). The picture that I can’t get out of my mind is when I watch csi and they are picking apart the body and looking at it with such forensic acuity but don’t take into account the corporeal aspect of this body that they are examining. who they are? what made them happy? what were their fears? who did they love or loved by? it is about solving a crime. it is to about solving a problem. to recreate a story without affection or adoration. that is what i felt when i outlined Bavinck. it was cold. it was filled with theological acuity. it brought something that is so bloody. the cross is put as a vocabulary of atonement or the fulfillment of the messianic vision of the suffering servant. so the cry on the cross becomes something to exegete and not receive the profound humanity in that moment. 

theology has been such a wonder to me. it has been a gateway of seeing the grand picture of the unfolding story of redemption that we are participating but somehow, what i am wanting is what Peter Ahn, pastor of metro community church, shared today at our PaLM meeting, that we often preach the theology of resurrection at easter sunday but we don’t recognize that good friday came before easter sunday. in the little exposure that i have been to reformed folks and also from what i see and experience  is that there is a lot of layers removed from the pain of this fallen world. god is sovereign. when people struggle to figure out how to passionately pursue god. it is futile, we are depraved

i have tension. and i never felt so ashamed of this affection i have for god. i question if i really know what i am in love with. as if it is infantile. as if a cloud of calvinists are scribing their theologies and guarding the intellectual property of scripture and look at me with such disgust. i suspect that i have not capture true reformed culture but i can’t shake this feeling that i am become a part of an infantry that is guarding a fort of our leader but i am not eating at the table with my lord. i am not communing but guarding. even the sacrament of communion is a theological creed. i love the creed. but they are not jesus. they are words. 

and right now. i am yearning for the the first chapter of john. the word became flesh and dwelt among us. I am putting down Bavinck for the time being…and I am going to worship…and hoping that this deep affection i have for this wonderful Jesus is not a source of an outline.



1. Steve - March 17, 2009

Yo dude, excellent reflection. One of the things that Reformed theology (and theologians) is good at doing is atomizing theology, making it “sterile” as you put it. I suspect this also has something to do with their modernistic outlook and assumptions. We are, for the most part, in a postmodern context, and this tension is very real that exists in many of us.

I ask that God may give me more of him, so that even in his suffering, I too may hurt with him. In his delight, I may find joy in him. I pray my feelings may be faithful feelings.

2. Jas - March 17, 2009

thanks for sharing Peter. It’s good to hear your ‘voice’ in this again.

3. Jonathan Roque - March 20, 2009

Peter, I admire your transparency. This message comes from a fellow Bavinck Gleaner.

4. cate song - April 4, 2009

Hi Peter – I don’t even know how I stumbled upon this blog of yours… but I’m glad I did. 🙂 So relevant to a discussion that I’ve been having with a friend this past week, about reformed theology and its role in our everyday lives. I’m going to point him to your post, and you guys can go at it. haha… j/k. My friend – he’s Presbyterian, but I wouldn’t say that he’s sterile to the gospel at all. In fact, he’s one of the most passionate God-followers that I’ve met in my short lifetime, and so I think there is a deeper layer here in reformed theology that has yet to be uncovered. I say keep going and don’t look at the the study of reformed theology as separate from your personal knowledge of God, but that it’s all part of the same journey. Thanks for sharing. -cate

5. John - October 30, 2009

Hi Peter. You don’t know me and I came upon your blog by chance. Thanks for writing and I can understand what you feel. I am a presbyterian pastor and have read tons of reformed stuff, but God is never more real than when I experience him overseas. My practice has been not to separate study from experience or faith, but try to integrate them both. I don’t know how successful I have been though. May God bless you.

6. Andrew jones - November 13, 2009

I am just discovering bavinck. Interesting to see him talked about in the Korean American context

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