Ministering toward congregational maturity : a Reformed perspective
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The purpose of this thesis is two fold: 1) to highlight some of the key elements of the Reformed tradition which I have found helpful in ministering in the congregation I service and 2) to examine the nature of fundamentalism and how the Reformed perspective on life offers a viable alternative. The work consists of the Preface and Introduction, four chapters and an appendix and bibliography.
Chapter One identifies the theology and practice of infant baptism as the chief expression of covenant theology and the beginning of a Reformed ministry. The practice of infant baptism requires covenant theology; only with this can the distortions of the practice be corrected and its criticisms answered.
Chapter Two, building upon Chapter One, identifies confidence as the chief result of the living within the Reformed tradition. The heart of such confidence is the knowledge that our salvation is grounded in the love and initiative of God. Churches grounded in covenant theology are able to offer their people a "solid rock" on which to build their spiritual life. This is opposed to the insecurity rife within fundamentalism, symbolized most dramatically in the revival, especially that of revivals for children.
Chapter Three focuses upon the "reality and function of doubt within the believer's life. "It is our confidence before God which enables us to accept and understand the presence of doubt within the believer's life and the manner in which God uses doubt to deepen our faith. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather a potential within a living faith. While doubt is not always present, it is always potential.
Chapter Four, flowing from the previous three, articulates some definitions for Reformed spirituality. While the Reformed tradition is theologically strong, our practice of spirituality has been incomplete. To further this dimension of life, it is helpful to utilize the insights and practices of a spiritual tradition rejected during the Reformation and afterward--that of monasticism. The Appendix consists of the various survey forms I used in gathering information. They proved useful and, with modification, could be used elsewhere.