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What does "Reformed" mean?

Questions and Answers  1 - Pipestone CRC

From the Pastor’s Desk



What does “Reformed” mean?


If you are puzzled by the term “reformed” in our name, you’re not alone. When advertisers and marketers send mail to our church, they (or the computer spell checkers) often correct our name to “Pipestone Reform Church.” The idea that most naturally comes to the mind is that we are a church that is trying to reform people, as in some kind of rehabilitation center. That’s not exactly right. Rather we trace our name to the protestant reformation of the 16th century.


How did this reformation come to be? For hundreds of years the organized Christian church was the Roman Catholic church. But over time this institutional church became powerful, corrupt, abusive, and overbearing. The church arrogantly set itself up as the only sure interpreter of scripture. It started to teach and proclaim that salvation came by human works or merit. It taught that sin must be confessed and forgiven by church authorities. It taught that heaven could be purchased from the church for yourself and for your loved ones, even after death. It created new sacraments that are not warranted by scripture. It exercised inappropriate control and authority over the scripture and over its members. It was unfaithful to the plain doctrines of salvation. There were many other abuses as well.


But the Lord raised up the people whom we call “The reformers” in the 16th century. In 1517 one of these reformers, Martin Luther, posted his 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenburg, Germany, outlining the abuses in the Catholic church. These theses, among other factors, were the spark that ignited the protestant reformation and spawned a renewal of the church and many new reformed church denominations.


So then, what is reformed theology? If it could be boiled down to one central idea, it is this: The sovereignty of God. In short, the triune God is over everything. He is the ruler, the King. He is the creator. He is the savior. More than that, we would say along with scripture that God is sovereign in salvation. From beginning to end salvation is the work of God and God alone. Salvation belongs to the Lord! From this, reformed churches have emphasized the “Solas” of the reformation that I mentioned in my other welcome letter.


Beyond this, reformed theology is a complete and comprehensive way of understanding life in a world that is ruled by God for the glory of God. It is about how we see ourselves in “God’s story” and how the reality of God’s sovereignty relates to everyday life. Christianity isn’t something that we do on Sunday. Rather it determines the course of our everyday life. We live for Jesus Christ each day and seek to bring glory to His name in our work and play.

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