Global Reformed Theology

In today’s world, the question will naturally arise, though not in the minds of many Reformed theologians, of the nature of Reformed theology and belief in a world where Christianity is shifting to the South and the East. There are many more Christians now in Africa and Asia than in the West. What was representative for Christianity used to be Western, American or European. However, now the picture is different. What does that mean for the Reformed faith? Questions arise concerning the whole approach to theology as well as the confessions.

Certainly, it is necessary for the Reformed world to wake up to this reality. For instance, the Presbyterian Church in Brazil has many more members than the PCA. Even the PCA (which is the largest English-speaking Reformed denomination in the world) is only middlin when it comes to Reformed churches in the world.

One of the main concerns that I have whenever I see attempts to address this question is that social concerns are in danger of swamping the Gospel message. For instance, when people address the Reformed Gospel’s progress in Africa, it tends to be related closely to things like apartheid. Now, the Reformed Gospel has very important ramifications for something like apartheid. However, the Gospel is not to be made equivalent to any particular position with regard to apartheid. Racial reconciliation is a result of the Gospel, not a component of it.

Similarly, is the Westminster Confession of Faith too narrow, too precise, and just too British for the South and the East? Not at all. If we really believe that it is a summary of biblical teaching, then it has no racial or cultural boundaries, anymore than the Gospel itself does. For if we confess that the Westminster Standards contain THE system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture (and not just A system), then we must equate our understanding of the Gospel with the Standards. The Standards are intended to be our confession of what the Gospel is. As such, it addresses the whole human race, and the human sin problem. The solution for sin is the same no matter what race a person is.

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