Monday, January 22, 2007

Spellbound by the Reformers?

When I ran in Dispensational circles, I was frequently told that those who left Dispensationalism for Reformed Theology did so because they were spellbound by the Reformers. Perhaps you’ve heard something like this:

“People become Reformed because they love Calvin and the Puritans. They have so much respect for these men that they swallow their theology whole. Reformed Theology is uncritically accepted.”

For me, this was certainly not the case. I became Reformed because of the Scriptures. My journey was a thoroughly exegetical one. While in seminary, I read through the entire Bible multiple times. I read selected chapters hundreds of times. I memorized dozens of relevant passages. I studied the Greek and the Hebrew in countless texts. In short, I became Reformed because I was convinced that this is what the Bible taught.

Of course, I came to appreciate the Reformers and the Puritans. I read a few contemporary Reformed books (R.C. Sproul, namely), but I never took anyone’s word for it. I always went back to the Scriptures to check and see if these things were so. This is what dispensationalists had taught me to do.

Furthermore, I have many friends and acquaintances who moved from Dispensationalism to Reformed Theology. None of them embraced Reformed Theology because of being spellbound by the Reformers and Puritans.

I’m not sure how this myth got started, but I suspect that it is often recycled because Dispensationalists cannot fathom that the Bible might teach something different. There must be some other explanation. So, who’s the one that is spellbound?


Doug said...


Good to see you continue with this endeavor. I must say that being a baptist, it seems I'm in the crosshairs on this one.

As far as you being spellbound. I'm not sure. I would say from reading about your journey out of dispensationalism you seemed tortured about the prospects of becoming... as if you could see the inevitability of it but still wanting to resist what you had always despised.

As far a Calvin is concerned, he was for an official state church and persecutor of other christians wasn't he? It's hard to respect that.


Eric Adams said...


Good to hear from you. Yes, I was a tortured baptist. As for Calvin, it's not quite like you stated it. That's another myth that continues to be circulated. Nevertheless, it's about God's word, not Calvin. I hope to post about once a week.

Press on,

Sean Brandt said...

Someone you might remember once accused me of being "spellbound" by R.C. Sproul, of all people.

Eric Adams said...

Did I do that? Or is this an anonymous K-State alumnus?

Sean Brandt said...

No--it wasn't you!

It wasn't a K-State alum, either, but someone who came to K-State from somewhere else to work for CCC.

I guess I won't say who--doesn't matter now, and he apologized later. But it's kind of funny to think of it now.

Steve and Jess said...

I'm in an oddly different rotation: I grew up Reformed (CRC), became Arminian after teaching a Sunday school class on Hebrews at a Missionary church (a cross between the old Methodists with Mennonites), and now I'm coming back to the Reformed (or ancient, depending on how you look at it) view on baptism, alcohol, and various other topics.

Rather confusing to find that you don't fit any of the labels any more.