Let me be clear from the start. My goal is not to be an “antagonist.” In the following explanation of the origin of the title of my blog page, “The Reformed Agonist,” my hope is that some readers will not be put off by what they read. However the concept of being “reformed” as it relates to my belief system affects every thought that I have. In this sense of the term “reformed” I am speaking about Reformed Theology. Therefore, if you are not reformed in your understanding of Christian doctrine, this blog could be difficult to come back to. I must also presume that some readers are just beginning to learn what their beliefs are. In reality we are all just beginning to understand. We all are just scratching the surface of knowledge and struggling with how it all fits together. Remember the contrast of terms. As an “agonist” celebrates the conflicts and the working out of our faith, the “antagonist” contends against or blocks another’s belief.
As we approach the hallowed day of October 31, most in our culture anticipate the fun and somewhat mysterious Halloween celebration. If you did a “man on the street” survey most would not know the origin, nor even care, because it is tradition. Something they have done from their youth and for generations they presume. History, particularly Church history, is not a subject that carries much weight in our educational process. Thus we often blindly follow tradition without once considering why we do what we do. Even as many congregations within the Christian church take exception to Halloween and offer an alternative, do they know why they do what they do?
Irony may be a bit of a mild word to describe the fact that on the very same date, October 31, in 1517 a Saxon monk protested tradition within the church by posting on the door of a church building 95 reasons that he believed the church was wrong on a particular topic. Though this event is commonly celebrated as the start of the Protestant Reformation, and many congregations celebrate Reformation Day on or around this date, often the larger point of reformation is missed. What are we reforming from and what are we reforming to?
The Protestant Reformation began long before Martin Luther. Men like John Wycliff and John Huss died for reformation of the Roman Catholic church in the 14th and 15th centuries. The apostles constantly worked at reformation. Christ preached reformation of the Church to the Jews. The prophets were reformers of Israel. The Church has been reforming since Adam and Eve fell.
Basically the “Reformed Agonist” is a reforming agonist. Though my doctrinal belief system comes out of the 16th and 17th century Protestant Reformation, the struggle is to constantly take information and ideas that are taught in church traditions and are influenced by my own sin nature and compare them to the word of God kept in context. Remember we do not go alone. Jesus Christ, the very Word of God, has said He is doing the reformation. We are not to congratulate ourselves on our efforts nor punish ourselves for our failures. He is doing the work. He says “Return faithless people; I will cure you of your backsliding.” [Jer. 3:22] He doesn’t say to cure yourself of your backsliding. “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them” [Hosea 14:4] No condition is given. He loves us freely. He is not angry with His children. He is healing us. That is being reformed.