All Articles For Gritters, Barry

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Previous article in this series: April 15, 2015, p. 317. Introduction Since summarizing what it means to be Reformed is really summarizing what it means to be Christian, we are necessarily brief in this series of editorials. So far, we have said that to be Reformed is 1) to embrace the beautiful truth of God’s gracious covenant of friendship, and 2) that this covenant is to be understood Calvinistically. That is, the “doctrines of grace,” or the “Five Points of Calvinism,” and the “Five Solas” of the Reformation are the necessary and controlling biblical framework for understanding the covenant. In this...

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Previous article in this series: April 1, 2015, p. 292. More than the Five Points Calvinism is more than the “TULIP” of the Five Points. Identification with Calvin’s thought is at least an embrace of the Five Points. Real Calvinism is not “Four Point Calvinism” in which one denies, for example, limited atonement. Real Calvinism is also a genuine embrace of the Five Points. That needs to be said with an exclamation point, because a flurry of books have been published recently to explain Calvinism, but accomplish only to explain away Calvinism. Those who outrightly reject Calvinism are honest. But these...

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Previous article in this series: March 15, 2015, p. 269. Introduction What it means to be Reformed, as we have seen so far, is to believe heartily the biblical doctrine of the covenant, to confess that truth openly, and to live it with greatest joy. Covenant! This is Reformed. And Christian. In this 90th anniversary year of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (1925-2015), we are reflecting on the heritage God has given to us as a Reformed denomination. There are many things that we could say about the PRCA but, being Reformed Christians, what we want most to say is...

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Previous article in this series: March 1, 2015, p. 245. From God’s covenant flows everything! If God’s covenant is the heart of the Christian faith and life, as well as the heart of what it means to be Reformed, one would expect that from this central truth come many other truths. As a matter of fact, from the covenant comes everything. This first “C” in our five identifying characteristics of a Reformed church leads to everything else in the Christian and Reformed faith. In the effort to clarify what is Reformed, we can say “covenant” is the heading under which all...

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Previous article in this series: February 15, 2015, p. 220. This 90th anniversary year of the Protestant Reformed Churches (1925-2015) is good opportunity to remind ourselves who we are, to reflect with joy that God has preserved us as a denomination, and to express humble gratitude for what God has given us. It also makes us plead (paraphrasing but slightly, Psalter #27): “O God, preserve us; for in Thee alone our trust has stood.” And exclaim: “The lines are fallen unto us in places large and fair; a goodly heritage is ours, marked out with gracious care.” Grace has brought us...

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“What does it mean to be Reformed?” is a question I have asked catechism students for most of my ministry in order to help them become, so to speak, ecclesiastically self-aware. After all, they are members of Protestant Reformed Churches, and catechism serves to prepare them to become mature, confessing members of these churches. The word Protestant in “Protestant Reformed Churches in America” is not as significant as the word Reformed. “Protestant” refers mainly to the PRCA’s origins in 1924/25. For a time we were protesting Christian Reformed Churches. Eventually, after the protests were unsuccessful, we took to ourselves the...

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Previous article in this series: January 15, 2015, p 173. Sine Timore Aut Favore is the old Latin expression for “without fear or favor.” An older elder always used these words when he prayed before the consistory entered into the sanctuary for worship: “Lord, fortify our pastor to preach without fear or favor.” That is, enable him to preach and apply truth without fearing the reactions of any who may hurt him, and without favoring any who may continue to give him gifts if he remains silent about their transgressions. The older I become, the more I realize the importance of...

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If much thought is given to the pre-service prayers in the consistory room, these prayers can be very helpful and encouraging to the minister. During a couple periods of my ministry, one elder rarely failed to include in his prayer the phrase “without fear or favor.” The phrase was used in the context of a petition for the minister’s preaching. The elder prayed God to enable me to preach without fear or favor. It is an important expression, the significance of which every minister should pay attention to. “Without fear or favor” is the literal translation of an old Latin...

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This is the second half of the Convocation address delivered on September 10, 2014. Previous article in this series: November 15, 2014, p. 77. “By these words, Paul means that the church is the faithful keeper of God’s truth in order that it may not perish in the world. For by its ministry and labor God willed to have the preaching of his word kept pure and to show himself the Father of a family while he feeds us with spiritual food and provides everything that makes for our salvation.” (Calvin’s Institutes). And, “In consequence, this commendation applies to the ministry of the Word;...

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(An expanded version of this convocation address is being prepared for publication in our seminary’s Theological Journal.) Who will train your and your children’s future ministers? Who will govern the institution where your pastors are trained? This question is more difficult and more important than you might realize—also for the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC), which might surprise you. Will you and your church train them, as you and your church band together with other churches of like precious faith, instituting a denominational, ecclesiastical seminary? Or will an organization, not from the church, and not governed by the church—a para-church organization—train them? The...

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