What do we mean by Reformed?
Harshit Singh: Thank you for being here! Just had a quick question for us. You know we say that we belong to the Reformed tradition in EIC. I was just wondering if you guys could help us understand what we mean by Reformed. Anyone, just go for it!
Vineet Sasane: Well, what it doesn’t mean is that something in the 15th century, we just start from there. But it goes all the way back to Augustine and Saint Paul, and all that he wrote about the sovereignty of God and salvation, the depravity of man, and it’s purely by the grace of God that we are saved, only on the merits of Christ. So it doesn’t start from the 16th century, but it’s from the Bible.
Samuel Boppuri: I think Reformed theology is all about God being sovereign, God is great, God is powerful, and he saves people for his glory. The book of Ephesians talks about the glory of his grace, the aspect of glory is there and the aspect of grace is there. And if I can sum it up in two words it is for the glory of God, it’s about the grace of God.
Nathan Eda: We mean the salvation is all of God and only of God and to the glory of God. Man is dead in his sin and trespasses and cannot do anything to save himself and God in his sovereignty and gracious love brings man out of darkness and into the marvelous light. That is what I think of when I think of Reformed.
Samuel Boppuri: And also I think we don’t like to use the word Calvinism because whatever Calvin said we believe. I mean not the entirety of what Calvin said. But as far as the doctrines of salvation are concerned, whatever he said, they are biblical. And therefore we believe in the doctrine of grace not just because Calvin said or Luther said because whatever they said it’s our responsibility to examine their sayings or their writings in the light of the Scriptures and then we should embrace them. And therefore we are Reformed because it is biblical in the sense that God is the one, who saves people.
Harshit Singh: Okay! So, I know you are slightly trying to avoid that use of this Calvin-Calvinism phrase. But what about TULIP?
Samuel Boppuri: Well the TULIP again, it’s there in the New Testament.
Harshit Singh: Okay! I am glad that it is in the New Testament.
Samuel Boppuri: You know, the Total Depravity of mankind is there in the Scriptures. Men are dead in their sins and trespasses and then the Holy Spirit has to regenerate the hearts of men and women through the preaching of the gospel. So we don’t resort to any manipulative tactic in order to save people, it is through the preaching of the gospel. God saves men and women whom he chose before the foundation of this world. Just because he chose men and women before the foundation of this world, we are not saying that he is narrow-minded. But we’re only saying that he is sovereign, I mean that’s why we are using the word grace. If God has to be exalted and if God is gracious you will after examining the Scriptures you will end up embracing the Doctrines of Grace. Because it is God who saves people, and men and women are dead in their trespasses. It is through the preaching of the gospel according to the electing grace of God, that people are saved and therefore, you know, we embrace TULIP.
Harshit: So, we do embrace TULIP?
Samuel Boppuri: We do.
Harshit Singh: And you’re not apologetic about it?
Samuel Boppuri: No!
Harshit Singh: Or embarrassed about it?
Samuel Boppuri: No!
Nathan: And the reason we’re not apologetic and embarrassed is because this is the teaching of the Scriptures. It comes back to Sola Scriptura, as one of the Reformed traditions. Scripture alone is our authority for faith and practice.
Harshit Singh: But that’s not the word we are constantly throwing around when we meet like Doctrines of Grace and TULIP. Is that what we do when we meet all the time?
Nathan: I think when we meet we open the Scriptures and say, “What do you think–what is the Scripture saying here? What does that mean within its context and how do we apply it?
Harshit Singh: Yeah!
Vineet Sasane: Another thought came to mind is we keep a distinction between law and the gospel. We don’t mix everything together, we keep justification and sanctification separate, yet related. So we are careful so that we don’t bring our works in our standing before God and at the same time. We say wherever God savingly works the fruit and the evidence will definitely follow. And so in that sense, we don’t go back towards Rome. So, we’re careful about that.
Nathan: Yeah! Christ alone is our everything and Christ alone works in and through us to work out his plan for us. It’s not anything that we do that serves as merit to us. But it is a fruit of what Christ has done and we do that because we love Christ without being transactional in our relationship with Christ.
Harshit Singh: Do you want to expand more, like talk more about the solas, the five solas as we talk about this?
Nathan Eda: All right, so the five solas typically you know in the reformed tradition. We talk about sola scriptura, the scripture alone is our authority for faith and practice not any other body but the scripture alone. Now having said that I do have to say that when the people of God gather in the church and covenant together they submit to the scripture collectively. In other words, you can’t have a vagabond Christian, who says I don’t subscribe to any church because I can’t really subscribe to any statement of faith.
Harshit Singh: We’re not saying that!
Nathan Eda: Yes and then the second thing is sola fide, faith alone. Sola gratia through grace alone, so salvation is all of God and it is only through his grace Soli Deo Gloria, which is for the glory of God alone. All of this works for the glory of God alone. So that’s essentially the solas. Harshit Singh: So did you come to all five solas?
Nathan Eda: In Christ.
Harshit Singh: What I’m hearing again and again from you guys is that what we are about is very God-centered in understanding of Scripture, God’s word. It’s God’s theology rather than a man-centered approach to life, Scripture, and faith. So, not denying creeds and confessions and the importance, a lot of us, many of us embrace it, some loosely. But I think we all do understand and subscribe to the Calvinistic teachings summarized in TULIP and the five solas from the Reformation era. And we do that because we believe and think that it’s found in Scripture and based on Scripture. And Scripture is the basis of what we do and what we believe.
Are we embarrassed of being called Calvinists?
Nathan Eda: No!
Harshit Singh: Do we throw around these words and phrases Calvinism, TULIP all the time?
Nathan Eda: No!
Harshit Singh: Then what do we do?
Samuel Boppuri: Well, we would rather open the Bible and exposit the scriptures, whatever the Bible says we say whatever the Bible teaches we teach. It is in the Bible, it is in the Bible.
Vineet Sasane: I think like when a packet of yummy food comes, we soon forget the label and the wrapping and we just dive into the yummy food and that’s what I think EIC. We don’t throw around labels that much, but we just feast on the beauty and richness of the gospel.
Harshit Singh: That’s a great helpful illustration. Thank you, very much brother. I think that helps us to understand what EIC is about when we say that we are Reformed.