If You’re Not Reformed You Are Irrelevant

October 22, 2014

Allen M. Rea | Pastor
Dunn Memorial Baptist Church, Baxley, GA

At MacArthur’s famed, or infamous, Strange Fire Conference last year one of the speakers was Dr. Steven Lawson. Lawson, now heading his own ministry, is a Reformed Baptist closely associated with R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur. In the session entitled “Calvin’s Critique of Charismatic Calvinists,” Lawson said, “In fact, Dr. MacArthur has said, ‘If you’re not reformed right now, you are basically irrelevant.’ I would add to that, ‘You’re wrong.’ But there has been a ground swell and it has been spread far and wide to this Reformed resurgence to mainline denominations, to independent churches, to Baptist churches, and there’s been a host of gifted teachers who have led this parade.” [1]

A statement such as this is simply offensive. Now I am a Traditionalist, or a Rogerist, as some would like to refer to me. I realize that in the pop culture of Reformed theology no one necessarily is concerned with offending a Traditionalist. I have always appreciated the ministry of MacArthur. I have a well-worn and duct-taped copy of his study Bible. I consult his commentaries and, to my knowledge, have read everything that he has published. I obviously find myself in disagreement with some of MacArthur’s statements. Now,let me assume first off that Lawson has correctly quoted MacArthur. This conference gained national attention and is offered free at MacArthur’s ministry website. I believe, then, it is safe to assume that MacArthur did not disagree with Lawson’s statement. If we can safely assume the validity of the statement then let me share with you why I find it offensive.

At least three times a week I labor in sweat and blood to prepare expository sermons from the Word of God. I preach the Word as I have been commanded (2 Timothy 4:2). I do not believe the Bible is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, I believe it to be infallible, inerrant, and sufficient. To piously pronounce that people are irrelevant if they differ with you on theology is a leap in logic at best and blind pride at worse. I was trained in the notion that the Word of God is living and active and needs neither amending nor apologies. Dr. Lawson, I am a Traditionalist. I am young and settled; however, I am not irrelevant because I preach and teach the Word of God.

I do not possess a Ph.D. from a prestigious institution. I do not rub elbows with “the gifted teachers” of Lawson’s Reformed “parade.” Jesus warned us against arguing over who is the greatest (Mark 9:33-37). I, however, have reached my conclusions from the Word of God. I do not believe myself to be “wrong” simply because I do not like the smell of tulips.

I hear a lot about “sola scriptura” coming from my Reformed brothers; nevertheless, I see the movement producing books on systematic theology, biographies, and even the movement itself. Where are all the commentaries? I would rather be textual than theological. I see conferences based on Knox or Calvin. How about a Reformed Evangelism Conference?

I am young, settled, and traditional. I pastor a church in small town Georgia. Dr. Lawson, such a statement offends me. However, if Lawson truly believes one such as myself is “irrelevant” and “wrong,” if being a Traditionalist that extends altar calls and believes Christ died for the world is “wrong,” then I have no desire to be “right” in the eyes of Lawson. I extend an invitation: Who would like to be “irrelevant” and “wrong” with me?

Luke 17:10,

Allen M Rea


[1] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-4/calvins-critique-of-charismatic-calvinists