Reformed Theology: Boxers or Briefs?

Recently, Christianity Today did an interview with Marc Driscoll of Mars Hill Church (see a few of my posts on this happenin’ guy here, here and here).

Driscoll and the ministry of Mars Hill are interesting and fascinating.  Driscoll parted ways with the Emerging Church biggie-leaders (such as Brian McLaren) over theological differences, but still maintains his “cool” and relevant ways of reaching popular culture. 

When asked in this interview, “Are young people becoming more sympathetic to Reformed theology?” Driscoll responded,
“The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging. Reformed theology offers certainty, with a masculine God who names our sin, crushes Jesus on the Cross for it, and sends us to hell if we fail to repent. Emerging theology offers obscurity, with a neutered God who would not say an unkind word to us, did not crush Jesus for our sins, and would not send anyone to hell. I came to Reformed theology by preaching through books of the Bible such as Exodus, Romans, John, and Revelation, along with continually repenting of my sin. I am, however, a boxers, not briefs, Reformed guy. I am pretty laid back about it and not uptight and tidy like many Reformed guys.”

I enjoyed Driscoll’s comparison of Emerging and Reformed, and so far my heart leans toward a mix of the two.  I’m not sure if my idea of this combination jives with Driscoll’s exactly, but I am intrigued by the fact that someone is putting the two together in some biblical fashion (the emerging crowd DOES have interesting observations to make, especially about the “modern” church growth movement and community). 

Ron and I have been leaning toward Reformed theology these days, at least the God-is-sovereign-over-all-and-we-exist-to-glorify-Him-brand of Reform theology (not even sure if this is necessarily “Reform,” although the Reform folks I’ve met sure seem to “get it” more than a lot of other Christians I know).  I would have to say we fit in the “boxers” category of Reformed thinking, though.  We are pretty laid back about it 🙂

As far as church style goes, we really, really enjoy the candles-and-dark-contemplative atmosphere of Sunday morning worship, with quality music and worship-based prayer.  Truthfully, liturgy (at least the way we have experienced it) doesn’t seem to hold much promise of personal interaction with God (although the whole idea of corporate worship v. a-bunch-of-individuals-worshiping-in-the-same-room is one to be explored and we are considering this).  We are saddened and worried about the “business” side of Churchianity that has been prevalent in our culture for some time now.  We also lean towards going back to biblical guidelines for men’s and women’s roles, how church services should be conducted, how church leadership should be set up, ideas on modesty and virtue, multi-generational worship and education and ministry, etc. etc. etc.  It is captivating to see how many ideas and tips the Bible holds on modern issues.  Funny that God set it up that way, eh?

Well, here’s to all of us sitting back and re-thinking our paradigms of church…it sure can’t hurt to think it all through.  I hope you’ll join me on a quest for wisdom and insight in all-things-church.  Even knowing we cannot find all the answers, the journey toward truth is a blast.

7 thoughts on “Reformed Theology: Boxers or Briefs?

  1. “I’m not sure if my idea of this combination jives with Driscoll’s exactly”

    Let’s learn a new word. It is “jibe,” not “jive.”

    I used to make the same mistake.

    v. tr. Slang
    To cajole or mislead.

    To be in accord; agree: “Your figures jibe with mine. ”

    from a nautical term…

    v. intr.
    To shift a fore-and-aft sail from one side of a vessel to the other while sailing before the wind so as to sail on the opposite tack.

    “the journey toward truth is a blast”


  2. Hi! I found your blog googling on Olga Masters for her quote–and I think you are a kindred spirit! We enjoy some of the same blogs anyway, and I’ve enjoyed reading a bit of yours just now. I was attracted to your name right away–our pastor is fond of that quote.

    We are from a church that has been described as a “three streams, one river” church–the stream of liturgy (we’re one of the many congregations who’ve left the Episcopal church), the stream of Bible-based preaching, and the stream of the Spirit (especially in what some might call charismatic worship, and also in healing ministry–more emotional than physical, usually, though we’ve seen God do both).

    Many who visit say they’ve never known liturgy to be so meaningful as they experience it at our church. When the liturgy, which is so based in God’s word (at least the Book of Common Prayer is), is filled with the Spirit, it really comes alive, and as you said, the power of the corporate worship is a different thing than just me and my private relationship with God.

    You may be interested, in my archives from Easter (was it in April this year?), to read about our Holy Week services–they are so creative and unusual. (There are pictures too.)

    Well, I’ll be back–Have a great weekend!


  3. Before I found conservative Lutheranism, I was at an Episcopal church. It was my introduction to the liturgical tradition, and I must say the Episcopal melody for the Agnus Dei outstrips the Lutheran, any day of the week. Just beautiful.

  4. Jeanne,
    Yes — I think we are kindred spirits! I do believe I have clicked over to your blog before, from the Choosing Home blog!
    I loved reading about your church, and was able to find your posts on Holy Week on your blog (scroll about halfway down for photos and explanation of events). Your church seems like a lovely place. I love the “three streams” idea. It reminds me of my FAVORITE church, Household of Faith, in Oregon. They describe themselves as “Reformed, Charsmatic, and Evangelical.” When I first read that, I thought, “huh?”  But, I have since fallen in love with the idea. Why are churches of this type so few and far between? I hope and pray for a revival of this sort — strong on the Word, strong on sharing our faith, strong on the Holy Spirit. Yes! Yes! Yes!

  5. Deborah – Couldn’t you put a disclaimer on these discussions so that sleepy moms with 7 mo olds that will wake up early can’t read them after 9 pm?!! : ) This is an issue that is SO near to my heart. I ache with the desire to see this in real life. I have read of Household before – they seem to be a lot like a church that we wanted to be a part of. We took off, left Amishville IN and went to DC, in our attempts. The Lord closed EVERY single door we tried to open. Now, we sit here longing for that kind of Body – it doesn’t seem to exist here. (In this part of the country….) SO, now what?!! Do we keep trying to move? Do we continue having home church? That isn’t our desire – but neither is bringing our kiddos home and deprogramming them. A few yrs ago when my mom was dying from cancer, we were sitting in our local church Body and the pastor said, “There are simply some things in life that God just really doesn’t like, but really can’t change.” My children GASPED. (audibly) That’s pretty typical of what we have available to us. We feel so lost. AND if I don’t get my self to bed right now, I will be so tired I get lost on my way upstairs!! : )
    Thanks for letting me blog on your blog. : ? Send me my rental bill, will ya? ; )

  6. Dawn,
    You made perfect sense to me, sleepy or not 🙂
    Yes, we are LONGING for this kind of Body too — it doesn’t exist in THIS part of the country either (we thought it was just because we were in California, land of fruits and nuts).
    We have been attending a mega-church for the past 4 years. The more God has changed our hearts on many ideas, the more we don’t jibe with what our church is all about (e.g., our church just bought a six-million dollar health club so that “we can reach out to the community.” We are more of the type that thinks everyone should reach out to their communities — neighbors, families, etc. — like that wonderful book UNITING CHURCH AND HOME explains.)
    We are considering becoming a part of a church that is into multi-generational worship — it is a good 1/2 hour away from home. We already know many dear people who are a part of this church so it won’t be hard to fit in 🙂 The other trouble is this whole Reform-thinking. We are definitely more Reform than we were before — and this mutli-generational church we are interested in comes from an Arminian background (although they say they are not either/or but accepting of both).
    My husband has a strong desire to help start a new church. He always says, “I am NOT a Pastor — but I would love to help a pastor!” We really would love to be on a team that gets one of these churches started. This is our prayer, and our hope. So…we’ll see what happens. If you guys want to move to Northern CA, we’ll help you start something here — we already know of several families that would go for it!

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