Some of our brethren and sisters are getting tripped up by our message, practice and theology. Without a doubt we could do a better job of communicating these things.
The problem is there are so many issues and the chaos in the Church and society so great it can seem overwhelming at times. We lack the resources and abilities to withstand this tsunami of heretical destruction.
In attempting to right the wrongs there is a lot of misunderstanding. Much of this misunderstanding is just ignorance but the most difficult element to combat is the purposeful slandering of our work to reform the Church.
For some reason, some of our Reformed brethren have set out to reveal our Roman Catholic identity. Of course, we are not in any way identified with the Roman Catholic Church and believe it to be apostate. While we pray for the revival and reformation of the Roman Church, we do not believe the path to restoration is for us to water-down our Protestant faith and practice.
Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity is reformed just as our name suggests. How our name or practice is being maligned as Papist is beyond reason.
In the “About” section of our website, the second paragraph states:
“Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity exists to worship and serve God in Trinitarian-centered liturgy, community, and mission. These essentials of the true Church have been apostatized in the modern evangelical Church just as it was in the Roman Catholic Church during the medieval period. Therefore, reformation is essential for us today as it was during the days of the Great Reformation.”
In our Mission Statement, we confess our commitment to the following foundations of the Reformed Faith:
- The verbal and plenary inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.
- Worship that dynamic, reverent, and joyful through the preaching of the Word, Biblical celebration of the sacraments and a high view of Scripture that fills our liturgy.
- The “solas” of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solo Christo, and Soli Deo Gloria
- The Second London Confessional standards, ancient church creeds, and appropriate guidance from the Westminster Standards.
- Commitment to true biblical shepherding through the balance of exhortation and right exercise of church discipline.
- Evangelizing the world through local, national and world missions by preaching the gospel, establishing believers in local, faithful churches, and teaching them obedience in all things commanded through the Word.
Our faith is built upon Jesus Christ the cornerstone and upon the foundations of the Apostles and Prophets. This sole reliance upon the Word of God is best expressed in the Five Sola’s of the Reformation and the London and Westminster confessional standards.
It is hard to imagine a clearer affirmation of the Reformed Faith. Yet, there are some who are ignorantly and/or maliciously seeking to ignore our clear commitment to the ancient faith.
It is our opinion there are several reasons for this animosity.
- Our Call to Unity
- The Revival of things Ancient
- The Restoration of Biblical Liturgical Worship
- The Commission to Victorious Evangelism
We realize this may seem fantastic to many but let us bear this out.
Our Call to Unity
We believe it is a great shame upon the true Church that we are schismatic, sectarian and just flat out disagreeable over the most trivial of issues.
One of the most repeated commands to the Church is unity and love. Yet, we are so far from this elementary instruction it is embarrassing. It is our opinion that our lack of unity and love is one of the most destructive and grievous sins found in the Church today.
Due to the strong reactionaryism of those who are filled with so much hatred and animosity, it is important that we make our disclaimer early on in our call for unity. When we speak of unity we are not calling for the abandonment of the ancient faith and doctrine but a solid distinction and defense of it.
The liberals tell us doctrine divides. However, the truth is that orthodox doctrine should unite God’s people. It is true, and rightly so, that doctrine should make a clear distinction between those who believe and practice God’s Word and those who reject it.
Yet, many times this is not what we are witnessing in the Church. In my Fundamentalist upbringing, I have seen those who have sought to make divisions in the Church over such trivial issues as the wearing of cowboy boots, wired rimmed glasses and the use of stringed instruments.
While these are extreme circumstances, they do exist and not just among the Fundamentalists. However, the traditional schisms are not much better.
At one time Baptists and Presbyterians were able to work together in the advancement of the gospel both locally and globally. Of course, both were thoroughly Reformed in their theology and practice. This was one of the main reasons the London Baptists set forth their 1689 Second London Confession of Faith. This public acknowledgement of the Reformed Faith was for the purpose of showing our allegiance to the Reformation doctrines and our rejection of the false association with Anabaptists.
Even during the midst of The Great Reformation, the schismatic influences were at work to destroy the work of God. Fast-forward to 2014 and we are seeing the fruit of division that was not properly settled anytime during the last 500 years.
We do not believe that the Church can go forward in victory unto we fulfill the oneness and unity commanded by Christ.
In John chapter 17, Jesus prays for the sanctification of His disciples through the Word of God. We know this prayer for His disciples was for both present and future disciples and not just those present with Him during His early ministry. In verse 20 Jesus prays, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”
Yes, this prayer and will of Christ is upon the Church in all places at all times. So, it is important that we understand His prayer and will as revealed in this passage.
As we stated, the Church is to be sanctified by the Word of God in verse 17. Jesus then goes on to pray for the oneness of His Church in all ages.
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” —John 17:21-23
To say that we are liberal, Roman Catholic or any other disparaging term to malign us is to say the same of Christ. He is the source of our message and we do not speak upon our own authority but from Him.
The Revival of things Ancient
Protestants can be rather hypocritical on this point. Conservatives like to talk about the past but most of the times are really not interested in restoring it. There is always some fear or reactionary thinking that stops them short of revival.
We understand that not all things of the past are good and true. You can find every heresy or abominable practice throughout history. So, it is important to understand that we are speaking of the true ancient faith that is built upon the apostles and prophets.
However, just because we understand that the Roman Church is apostate does not mean that all of its practices were so at all times. Remember, they became apostate but like all apostates there are still remnants of true doctrine and practice which remain.
A couple examples include the doctrine of the Trinity and their emphasis upon daily prayer and mortification.
Instead of a desire to win those who have been taken captive by Satan there is an alarming level of hatred among Protestants against Roman Catholics. We have forgotten that it was by the grace of God that we were rescued from the apostate Church. This is our heritage with the good and the bad found throughout history.
So, we who consider ourselves Augustinian should remember there were good times. While we need to be able to discern when a Church is apostate, it is equally important for us to understand that the true Church will also have inadequacies.
The 1689 Second London Confession of Faith states concerning the Church:
“The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.”
And yes, before you have to go and look, the Westminster Confession of Faith states the exact same thing. By the way, ignorance of our confessions is one of the problems causing this reactionary thinking. But I digress.
The point is that we must be able to clearly understand the mixture of errors in the true Church and the apostasy of those who are or become the synagogues of Satan. Only with this understanding can we find true unity and be faithful to defend the faith against Christ’s enemies.
Therefore, it should be understood that there are many things in the past that are good and beautiful and should be restored. Many of the icons, paintings, symbols and memorials are not evil in and of themselves.
Commenting on the Second Commandment in his work titled A Body of Practical Divinity, John Gill wrote:
“It forbids all superstition and will worship, human traditions, precepts, and ordinances of men; and the introduction of any thing into the worship of God, which he has not commanded, (Isa. 29:13; Matthew 15:8; Col. 2:20-23) and all images, figures, and representations of the divine Being, and of any of the persons in the Godhead; and, indeed, making the likeness of any creature, in heaven, earth, or sea, in order to be worshipped, and used for that purpose, (Deut. 4:15-18; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:23) and not only images of heathen deities, which were to be broken and burnt, but those of Christ, as a man crucified, of the Virgin Mary, of angels and saints departed, worshipped by Papists (Deut. 7:5; Rev. 19:20). Though all pictures, paintings, and sculptures, are not forbidden hereby, only such as are made for, and used in, divine worship; but not which are for ornament, or for the use of history; and to perpetuate to posterity the memory of men, and their actions; otherwise there were images of things, of lions, and oxen, and the cherubim, in the tabernacle and temple, by the express order of God (Ex. 25:18; 1 King 6:32, 7:29).”
The glorious heritage of the expressions and practice of the true Church needs to be restored. In spite of all the name-calling, slander and evil intent, Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity will not turn its back on the saints who went before us and left us a beautiful heritage.
The Restoration of Biblical Liturgical Worship
The so-called worship wars have been a huge disservice to the Church largely because they focus on the wrong issues. In spite of this, we must continue to restore Biblical worship.
Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity believes our worship is to be centered on the Word of God. This is a little different than the evangelical premise of the centrality of preaching. While this is true to some degree it does not go far enough.
All of worship is to be dominated by the Word. The expressions, doctrine, language and examples of the Word should fill our singing, praying, reading, preaching and communion. Everything should revolve around the Word of God.
This is why Reformed Holy Trinity places great care upon these things. We put as much effort into making every element of our worship Scriptural as we do the exposition of God’s Word. Every element of our worship services should be presentations of the Word of God.
This is not to say we are deemphasizing preaching. Even preaching must be elevated from its present Fundamentalist and Evangelical forms. What we are saying is that all of worship should be lifted to its divine and glorious nature as we have been commanded to practice.
Worship is to be in sincerity and truth. We are not abandoning the sincerity element of worship for formalism but truth is just as essential as sincerity. We would argue they cannot be separated.
The Commission to Victorious Evangelism
Reform Church of the Holy Trinity affirms the supremacy of Jesus Christ over the world. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). Either this is true or it isn’t and the Church must stop playing games in this matter.
The apostle Paul warned us to turn away from those who have a façade of godliness but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). This is a serious issue that some are trying to either dismiss as semantics or vilify as heresy.
However, it is the denial of Christ’s power and authority realized in heaven and in earth that Paul reveals to be heretical. Yet, from educational scholars to internet housewives there is an increasing attack on Christ as King.
This is astounding since the Scriptures are so clear that the Faith to which we hold and the faithful who hold it shall overcome the world through Jesus Christ.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” —Colossians 1:16“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” —Colossians 2:15“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” —1 John 5:4“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” —Revelation 11:15
The rhetoric is becoming more and more vitriolic from conservatives who say one thing but do another. We expect this from the liberal left but when it comes from those who say they hold to the same faith as us, it reveals the seriousness of our demise in the Church and in society.
It may also reveal that many of the Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and yes, elements among the Reformed are not really of us. For, Paul says, if they were truly of us they would continue with us. Instead, they have separated themselves from the ancient faith and have caused catastrophic schisms that are tearing the Church apart.
Our message is simple to those who name Christ and who say they affirm Reformed doctrine and practice; it is time to put up or shut up.
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” —1 John 2:9“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” —1 John 4:20
Whatever your choice we will not continue to allow you to stab us in the back. It has been said, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” It is time to choose this day whom you will serve.
“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” — Matthew 12:30“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” —Revelation 3:15-16
So, why did we choose the name Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity?
- To identify our affinity with the Reformed Church.
- To identify the God whom we serve.
- To exemplify the catholicity of the Church.
- To express the unity of the Church.
- To deny unbiblical sectarian division.