What is Reformed?

The first thing we should point out is that “reformed” is shorthand for “reformed and reforming.” In other words, we haven’t “arrived.” We live with the expectation and the hope that God is still growing and changing us. That said, “reformed” has three common meanings. In each of those meanings, we are reformed, but we are still reforming.

Reformed means we were born in a REVOLUTION…but we pursue UNITY

Life_of_Martin_LutherThere was a revolution in the Roman Catholic Church over five hundred years ago. Catholic leaders had over a thousand years become invested in their traditions and were too intertwined with politics and power to be free to pursue changes or reform. So “reformed” is, first of all, a moment in history.
The Reformed churches were one group of churches of the Reformation that left the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, we’re Protestant. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century changed Christianity forever. Roused to action by the corruption and abuses they saw in the Roman Catholic church, visionary pastors and leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin spearheaded a movement that transformed Christianity and eventually led to the emergence of the Protestant denominations that exist today.
But we’re not rebels at heart. The original reformers never intended to leave the church but instead sought to reform it and pursue reconciliation and unity with others. The Reformers were guided by the conviction that the church of their day had drifted away from the essential, original teachings of Christianity, especially in regard to what it was teaching about salvation—how people can be forgiven of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and receive eternal life with God.
The Reformation sought to re-orient and reconcile Christians around the original message of Jesus and the early church.
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity.  Essentials that we still hold to and that lead us to unity today.
The Five Solas are:
Sola Gratia (“Grace Alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Solus Christus (“Christ Alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
Sola Scriptura (“Scripture Alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
Soli Deo Gloria (“To the Glory of God Alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.



Reformed means we have a Dutch HERITAGE…but our future  is for EVERYONE


When the first church of our denomination was founded in New Amsterdam (now NYC) in 1628, we were a Dutch colony. And for most of our history, we have identified ourselves as a Dutch church and have been sustained by Dutch immigration. So “reformed” can also refer to a national identity. Our little church here in Firth was started by Dutch immigrants in 1919, and our Sunday morning worship services were held in Dutch until the mid-1940s.

The Reformed Church in America, however, recognizes that the gospel is for all people—and we must be too. A third of the 400 churches the RCA has planted in the last decade were African American, Asian, Hispanic or multicultural. And though we will always celebrate our history, we are excited to see the gospel of Jesus Christ reach people of as many different backgrounds and countries as possible!



Reformed means we emphasize what GOD IS DOING…but that moves us to what WE ARE DOING

We trace our roots bajohn-calvin-2-sizedck to the teachings of John Calvin (as do the Presbyterians). Calvin’s writings are both logical and heartfelt, scholarly and pastoral, orthodox and creative, and the best thinkers in our tradition have embraced these tensions. Over the years, Reformed thinkers like Calvin often steered the conversation towards the sovereignty of God (God’s authority and rule). They focused a lot of attention on ideas such as predestination and election, both of which emphasize God’s control over all things.
While these concepts are biblical, what has been largely forgotten about Calvin and his followers has been the vibrant faith that they lived out.  Calvin worked incredibly hard in Geneva, Switzerland which led to his early death.  It was a life well thought and  well lived.
As B.B. Warfield wrote: “The Calvinist is the man who sees God: God in nature, God in history, God in grace.  Everywhere he sees God in his mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of His mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart.  The Calvinist is the man who sees God behind all phenomena and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God behind all phenomena and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God, working out His will.  The Calvinist makes the attitude of the soul to God in prayer its permanent attitude in all its life activities; casts himself on the grace of God alone, excluding every trace of dependence on self from the whole work of his salvation.”
Contrary to stereotypes about Calvinists, our dependence on God does not limit our mission or outreach but it is our dependence on God which leads us increase our efforts to follow God in His mission for the world.  As the RCA has declared in its previous mission statement: Following Christ in mission, in a lost and broken world so loved by God.
So we continue to allow God to reform us by His Word and Holy Spirit, focusing on what He is doing, while at the same time we seek to love Him  and serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength!