It recent years the Evangelical church has seen a resurgence of reformed theology. It is my personal opinion that this is directly related to the corresponding resurgence of expositional preaching. In my mind these two trends are a reminder that the Church belongs to Christ, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against her. No matter what is happening in politics or pop-culture the Church cannot be destroyed. This is what is so encouraging about the current reformed movement.
I have found that an interesting excercise is to compare the reformed theology of today with that of previous periods in Church history. As I do this I am encouraged by many things, however I am also troubled by several things. I want to say now (as loud as I can) that this is a generalization based on my observations. I am talking about trends that I see, not every believer who considers himself reformed! The thing that troubles me the most is the seemingly cold attitude of the present form of reformed theology. Without getting off of topic, compare the position of many today on what happens to infants when they die with the position of someone like C.H. Spurgeon (I know that there are dear brothers on both sides of this issue, but I think that this is an adequate example of my observation).
Another example, that I would like to spend a little bit more time on, is the view on the role of emotions in the Christian life. It has become a popular notion, especially with regard to Lord’s Day worship, that we must work to filter out our emotions. I have often heard the claim that modern worship is too emotional. My point is not to affirm or deny the previous statement. My point is that we must be discerning on this issue, not blindly accepting one position over another. Here is what Jonathan Edwards wrote on this subject:
And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame that these things have a tendency to move our affections (Religious Affections pg. 44)
This view of the emotions has also found its way into preaching. I have heard many discount the importance of appealing to the emotions in a sermon in favor of an emotionless dead pan presentation. In order to hold to this view one must completely discount the emotions as part of the Christian life; the Christian life must be merely intellectual. For if the emotions did play a role in the Christian life then it would be necessary for our pastors to encourage and edify us in this area of the Christian life through preaching. Here is what Edwards said:
And the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that His Word delivered in the holy Scriptures should be opened, applied, and set home upon men in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions of the Scripture, and other good books of divinity; because although these may tend was well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the Word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men’s hearts and affections (Religious Affections pg. 44)
My concern is that the current trend within the reformed theology “may tend was well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the Word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men’s hearts and affections.” If this is the case, the current resurgence of reformed theology that we have seen in our day will soon fizzle out.