“Our clash with liberal theology (even evangelical theology) has also indicated that modern man means more by theology than merely textbook doctrines. When modern man talks about theology, he often talks about politics, education, economics, labor unionism revolutions. Theology has become a very comprehensive term in today’s world. Can the Reformed faith cope with it?” (pg. 145, Contemporary World Theology: a layman’s guidebook)
Written more than thirty years ago, Conn’s question remains as fresh and pertinent as ever. Can the Reformed faith cope with the complexity of today’s world? There are plenty that would say it can’t, its finished and the next reformation is on the horizon but it will not be one distinctly indebted to the past reformers. Then there are others who would suggest that the Reformed faith is impervious to challenge because it is largely a theological tradition, and not those who espouse relation to it.
Both these answers miss the mark for Conn, the way forward was to envision theology not as a textbook of doctrine [and by way of inference the Reformed faith]; the way forward was to realize that the Reformed faith at its best is to be sure a theological tradition but one lived out by a community of God’s children. The Reformed faith wasn’t the counsel of Dort alone, it was people living in the light of Dort and much more. The way forward is to look afresh at our ecclesiology. The church is not a collection of individuals, its a body; the life of the church in the New Testament was full-orbed, or what we would call today holistic; and the spiritual life of the church was much more than what occurred behind the walls on Sunday morning, it was the kingdom life of the Spirit manifested in lives of people who were living letters of Christ to the world. (pgs. 144-145)
What did this sort of life mean? “It means preaching the kingship of Christ, the rule of God, that all life belongs to the Lord – not just “church” life, or even merely home life, personal life, school life. It means all societal life patterns and relationships.” (pg. 146)
For the Reformed faith to cope with and survive the comprehensiveness of the 21st century it must have a living theology, lived out by the Spirit filled people of God who are seeking to manifest God’s rule on earth, to the ends of the Earth [especially the cities], to the end of His glory forever and ever. Amen.